August and September are affectionately known as “dump months” in the movie biz. These are months when films with little hope of winning any awards are released. The good news about these dump months, however, is that they lead to the best movie months on the calendar. As September comes to a close, we get the films with legit shots at the most prized statues. So which tickets are worth your hard-earned money? Here are 11 you need to see.
The Birth of a Nation
After The Birth of a Nation premiered at Sundance earlier this year, Fox Searchlight spent an insane $17.5 million to acquire its rights. If the largest deal in festival history tells you anything, it’s that this film is going to be big. The story is loosely based on a real-life slave rebellion that happened in Southampton County, Virginia, in the early 1830s. Drawing some comparisons to past Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave, The Birth of a Nation should be in the thick of award talk.
We’ll be honest with you, we don’t know what to expect from The Accountant. On one hand, aside from Batman v Superman, Ben Affleck has been on a bit of a roll lately, starring in gems like Gone Girl, The Town, and Argo. On the other hand, the trailers have left us a bit unimpressed. All that said, the story of a math savant who works with criminal outfits sounds intriguing enough for us to take a chance on it.
Philip Roth is not exactly on our list of authors whose works we’d imagine on the screen, but lo and behold, American Pastoral is about to become a moving picture. Based on the Roth novel of the same name, American Pastoral tells the story of Seymour “Swede” Levov (Ewan McGregor), a Jewish American from New Jersey whose family falls apart thanks to political affiliations. It doesn’t exactly sound like gripping stuff, but it’s based on one of the greatest novels ever written, so we’ll hold out some hope.
We’re big fans of music documentaries where we, as viewers, get a glimpse of the insanity during backstage parties and the temperamental recording sessions that led to some of the greatest of albums ever. Since that’s the case, you can bet your ass we’re pumped for Gimme Danger, a documentary about The Stooges. Jim Jarmusch lends his talents to this look at one of the most rock n roll bands of all time.
Earlier this month, Hacksaw Ridge premiered at the Venice Film Festival and, upon conclusion, received a 10 minute standing ovation. Yeah. This one is gonna be good. The film, which stars Andrew Garfield, is based on the true story of an American Army medic who received a Medal of Honor despite the fact that he refused to even hold a weapon. His bravery and moral fortitude will inspire you. It’s an absolute can’t miss.
If you haven’t seen the trailer yet for Arrival, the sci-fi epic set to hit theaters on November 11, may we suggest you do so (it’s right above what you’re reading right now). The film stars Amy Adams as a clever-as-hell linguist tasked with communicating with aliens that mysteriously arrive on the planet in giant lima beans. It is expected to pack the action, mystery, and intensity of a great sci-fi film, and infuse it all with enough emotion to leave you fulfilled and drained after watching.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Speaking of emotional. Before you buy tickets to see Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, take a weekend and read the book it is based on. Simply put, it’s one of the best we’ve read in the last few years. The heavy story tells the tale of a 19-year-old American hero who returns from Iraq. The pomp and circumstance upon his return is paired with the horrors he experienced. Every celebratory firework during the football game he’s honored at sends a shock down his body. It’s a harrowing look at the scars of war.
Ever since we saw Nightcrawler, we’ve been clamoring for more creepy Jake Gyllenhaal. Well, Tom Ford has answered our prayers. Nocturnal Animals is this season’s must-see psychological thriller, which stars the aforementioned creepy Jake Gyllenhaal, the equally creepy Michael Shannon, and the very much less creepy but still kinda creepy Amy Adams. After an art director receives a novel by her ex-husband that’s been dedicated to her, she fears it is a threat and that he is out for revenge. Cue: Creepy Jake Gyllenhaal.
Manchester by the Sea
It’s about damn time to show some appreciation for Casey Affleck. The younger Affleck brother has put on dazzling performances in Gone Baby Gone, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and a handful of other movies. Well, his best performance yet is coming later this year, when Manchester by the Sea hits theaters. After Joe Chandler (Kyle Chandler) passes away, his younger brother, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), is left to care for Joe’s son. The problem is, Lee left town to escape some awful memories, which he must now face head-on upon return. It’s heavy, but it’s good.
Hate to break the news, but The McConaissance has ended. We’re now in the thick of the Keatonaissance(?). OK, that one won’t spread as easily, but Michael Keaton continues the hot streak he started with Birdman and continued with Spotlight late this fall with The Founder. The film tells the true story of Ray Kroc, a salesmen who met the founders of a burger joint he would “help” turn into McDonald’s.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Listen, we have no idea what to expect from Rogue One. Could the stand-alone Star Wars movie be good? Sure. It could even be really, really good. But could it also be horrendous and set us on a course for terrible franchise films for years to come? Absolutely. All we know is we’ll see it.