It’s almost September folks! The air is filled with buzz about potential Academy Award contenders, what’s hitting and missing (or going to hit/miss) at the various fall film festivals, and other such signs of the end of the summer. I’m getting a slight jump on this monthly post and putting it out in the middle of the week, since frankly, the end of August has been a wasteland. Next month looks more promising though, especially in a few key spots. Take a look below for the month’s top picks, as always, and sit tight for more on most, if not all, of them over the next 30 days or so…
Here now are September’s best cinematic bets:
10. Rebel in the Rye – A biopic of J.D. Salinger should have been a slam dunk Oscar player. Unfortunately, this flick from Danny Strong just never kicks it into gear. Nicholas Hoult is a solid Salinger and Kevin Spacey has an ace supporting turn, but this was a bit of a disappointment to me when I saw it last week. It’s intriguing, but should have been better.
9. Tulip Fever – This long delayed film is supposedly actually coming out at long last, years after the fact. Alicia Vikander is now an Academy Award winner, and yet, The Weinstein Company kept holding this one back. The odds are that it’s perfectly serviceable, but not the prestige player they’d hoped for. Anyway, I guess we’ll see pretty soon?
8. Brad’s Status – Ben Stiller goes the indie comedy route for his latest outing, this one helmed by Mike White. It’s going to the Toronto International Film Festival next month, so perhaps there’s something there? Stiller could be in line for a nice little year between this and his latest Noah Baumbach collaboration. Stay tuned for more on this one once TIFF begins…
7. Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House – Despite a poor title, this biopic of the man known as Deep Throat has potential. Liam Neeson as Mark Felt seems like awards bait, even if filmmaker Peter Landsman hasn’t gotten a project to the stage yet. It’s as timely a subject as ever, so if the execution is there, expect plenty of attention for the movie.
6. It – Under the radar, this horror remake has gotten some excellent early reviews. I see it next week and will report in then, but this could end up as one of the better Stephen King adaptations ever. The Shawshank Redemption is unbeatable in my book, but among horror, there’s room beside The Shining for top marks. Check back in by the end of next week for more!
5. American Made – Tom Cruise has relied on pure action for years now, but this upcoming drama with Doug Limon seems to be something closer to what he did in the 90’s. If it’s top notch, maybe even Cruise can get back in the Best Actor conversation? That might be a high bar to clear, but it looks like a fun time, if also a dark one. Early word is solid, though not spectacular.
4. Stronger – The combination of David Gordon Green and Jake Gyllenhaal vie for Oscar love with this true life tale. Call it a hunch, but if Gyllenhaal is as good here as I think he might be, there’s a chance that he makes a real play to take Best Actor this year. Spaced out enough from Patriots Day, this more intimate look at the Boston Marathon bombing has big time awards potential. A strong launch at TIFF is required though, of course.
3. Kingsmen: The Golden Circle – A sequel to the incredibly fun Kingsmen: The Secret Service, this should be a nice little action diversion before the precursor season gets underway. Bringing back Colin Firth is curious, though it looks delightfully enjoyable that there’s American counterparts to the Kingsmen, including Channing Tatum. Count me in for this one in a big way!
2. Battle of the Sexes – The first really big Academy Award contender of the fall hits in this retelling of the epic tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Comparisons to Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump are unavoidable and possibly could really work in this one’s favor. Steve Carell looks to be having a great time as Riggs, potentially becoming a Best Supporting Actor frontrunner, while Emma Stone could easily contend as King in Best Actress again after winning last year for La La Land. Watch out for this one, Oscar wise…
1. mother! – Darren Aronofsky knocked out the script for this one in five days, then recruited Jennifer Lawrence for the lead role. That must mean this is something else, right? We’ll see when it premieres at the Venice Film Festival next week, but it could either be a huge awards contender or just an A-list filled genre effort. Personally, I’m hoping it somehow turns out to be both. More on this one once the initial reports from Venice come out. I can’t wait.
Honorable Mentions: All I See Is You, American Assassin, Flatliners, Home Again, Lucky, May It Last: A Portrait Of The Avett Brothers, Ninjago, The Unknown Girl, Victoria & Abdul, and Woodshock
Be sure to check these all out during the month of September!