Well folks, the Lion King has roared, the Avengers have avenged, and Hobbs and Shaw have, um, Hobbsed and Shawed. The slam-bang summer is over, with some triumphs and many, many disappointments, so now it’s time to get to the good season, the fall, when we get your awards hopefuls, your Toronto favorites, and, yes, even a couple of potential blockbusters. Your Flavorwire has pored over the many new releases, big and small, and these are the dozen movies we’re looking forward to most.
‘Hustlers’ (September 13)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’s Lorene Scafaria writes and directs this loose adaptation of Jessica Pressler’s article “The Hustlers at Scores,” in which a crew of exotic dancers at New York’s most notorious strip club decide to take their sleazy finance-bro clients for all they’re worth. It sounds like an irresistible smash-up of The Wolf of Wall Street, Striptease, and the heist picture of your choice, with a top-notch cast (including Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, and Cardi B) and the welcome touch of a female director to make sure the whole thing doesn’t get too male gaze-y.
‘Pain and Glory’ (October 4)
Full disclosure: your correspondent has already seen this one, which Sony Pictures Classics has been screening for critics since the spring, and for good reason – it’s a straight-up masterpiece by director Pedro Almodóvar, featuring the finest work of Antontio Banderas’s career to date (he won Best Actor at Cannes, and deserved it). And it may be Almodóvar’s most personal film yet, with his frequent star playing, whaddaya know, a filmmaker at the end of a long career, wrestling with his personal and professional disappointments.
‘Parasite’ (October 11)
South Korean director Bong Joon-ho (Okja, Snowpiercer) won the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year for this remarkable mixture of light con artist comedy and brutal class drama, in which a family of hustlers works and worms their way into the trust of a wealthy family, only to find their own lies undone by someone else's. Your editor got an early peek at this one as well, and it serves as yet another confirmation that Joon-ho is one of the most vibrant, entertaining, and provocative filmmakers of our time.
‘The Lighthouse’ (October 18)
The Witch was easily the must-see horror movie of 2016, a dread-filled crawl into darkness and fear, and writer/director Robert Eggers has taken his time putting together this follow-up feature, which wowed critics and audiences at Cannes. It concerns the goings-on at a mysterious New England lighthouse in the 1890s; its keepers are played by Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, making this a dream pairing of delightfully gonzo indie dudes. There is exactly one other actor in the film, Valeriia Karaman, credited as “Mermaid.” Sign me up!
‘Harriet’ (November 1)
In 1997, actor Kasi Lemmons (best remembered as Clarice Starling’s roommate in Silence of the Lambs) flipped to filmmaking and directed one of the best damn movies of the decade, Eve’s Bayou. But she’s struggled to match that picture in the ensuing years, though her three subsequent features (The Caveman’s Valentine, Talk to Me, and Black Nativity) are all well worth seeing; maybe this high-profile Harriet Tubman biopic will turn that around. Cynthia Ervo, who dazzled us all last fall in Widows and Bad Times at the El Royale, plays the title role, while the well-stocked supporting ensemble includes Janelle Monáe, Leslie Odom Jr., Clarke Peters, Vanessa Bell Calloway, and Lemmons’s husband, Vondie Curtis-Hall.
‘Honey Boy’ (November 8)
We’ve raved before about Alma Har’el– the gifted filmmaker behind the narrative / documentary hybrids Bombay Beach and LoveTrue– and her collaboration with the ever-quotable Shia LaBeouf, whose love of the former film led him to finance the latter, and to then co-star in this, her latest. LaBeouf also penned the script, based on his own experiences as a child actor and his struggles with adulthood and mental health; Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe, Natasha Lyonne, Maika Monroe, and FKA Twigs co-star.
‘Knives Out’ (November 27)
Rian Johnson wrote and directed arguably (and believe me, people will argue) the best Star Wars movie since Empire, and god bless him for using that commercial cachet to make a decidedly, deliberately old-fashioned entertainment: a doors-locked manor house whodunit, in the style of Agatha Christie. After his A+ genre work on The Last Jedi and Looper, it should be fun to watch Johnson return to the light, playful vibe of the wildly underrated The Brothers Bloom– and, after Logan Lucky, to hear Daniel Craig chew on a Southern accent again.
‘Uncut Gems’ (December 13)
With their previous feature, Good Time, Josh and Benny Safdie proved themselves the real deal, New York filmmakers whose sense of grit, squalor, and desperation put them on a level comparable to the greats whose work had clearly inspired them. Their latest couples the thrill of watching them work on a bigger budget and canvas with one of our favorite occasional movie miracles: Adam Sandler shaking off the laziness of his self-generated comic vehicles, pairing up with a real filmmaker (like Paul Thomas Anderson or Noah Baumbach), and making a movie that finally, fully utilizes his gifts.
‘Black Christmas’ (December 13)
Actor-turned-director Sophia Takal’s Always Shine was one of the best indies of 2016, a DePalma-inspired psychological thriller with a heavy dose of female agency and genuine psychosis. So we’re more than willing to overcome our customary remake aversion to see what she might do with a new take on Bob Clark’s groundbreaking 1974 slasher, which established many of the tropes of that horror subset, for good and ill. Takal also co-wrote the script, with film critic/screenwriter April Wolfe of the late, lamented L.A. Weekly.
‘Little Women’ (December 25)
Greta Gerwig follows up on the triumph of Lady Bird (and quickly too, thanks for that) with her new take on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, which immerses her Lady Bird co-stars Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, and Tracy Letts into a jaw-dropping ensemble that also includes Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, and Bob Odenkirk. Some skepticism is understandable here; we just had a perfectly good and inarguably timeless Little Women back in 1994, and there’s no shortage of other cinematic interpretations as well. But it’s mighty hard to resist this combination of talents.
‘Marriage Story’ (Undated, Fall)
Two falls back, Gerwig was working the fall festival circuit alongside her frequent collaborator and off-screen partner Noah Baumbach (they wrote Frances Ha and Mistress America together), whose Netflix-funded The Meyerowitz Stories was also one of the year’s best. Their coupling – which came around the same time as the end of his marriage to earlier collaborator Jennifer Jason Leigh – is reportedly the not-too-hard-to-track inspiration behind his latest, also for the ‘flix, which stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as young parents weathering a tough divorce.
‘The Irishman’ (Undated, Fall)
And finally, also from Netflix, we have perhaps the most keenly anticipated movie of the fall, thanks in no small part to its many, many returns and reunions: It's Martin Scorsese’s first gangster movie since 2006’s The Departed, his first collaboration with Robert De Niro since 1995’s Casino, his first collaboration with Harvey Keitel since 1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ, Joe Pesci’s reunion with this Raging Bull / Goodfellas / Casino crew after years of self-imposed exile, De Niro’s big reunion with Heat co-star Al Pacino (I know not of this Righteous Kill and I’ll hear no more of it), and, somehow, Scorsese’s first collaboration with Pacino, ever. That’s a lot of reasons to be excited for this one. Now if they’d just give it an actual release date we might know how much longer we have to wait…