8. First Man
Damien Chazelle has been a Hollywood wonder kid ever since “Whiplash” broke out big. He received further widespread recognition for “La La Land”, which made him the youngest winner ever in the “Best Director” category at the Oscars.
Now that he’s reunited with his “La La Land” star Ryan Gosling for “First Man”, a biopic about Neil Armstrong (portrayed by Gosling) and the famous space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969, he may have another hit in his hands. Gosling may get his third Oscar nomination but from its trailer, it seems “The Crown” star Claire Foy has even a better part in terms of acting. Considering Chazelle’s ambition, and the plot of the film, the film will probably be impressive on technical side as well.
The co-editor, co-photographer, writer, co-producer, and director of the film, Alfonso Cuarón takes us to 1970s Mexico in his first Spanish-language film since Y tu mamá también (2001). “Roma” didn’t get into Cannes line-up this year due to this being a Netflix film and the subsequent drama followed between the festival and the company.
No need to worry because it’s now appearing in almost all major festivals possible this fall (it’s even the centerpiece of New York Film Festival) and the initial word on has been very strong and promising. The full teaser is also gorgeous. It won’t be surprising if this would take some major awards and maybe we have a potential Venice winner here?
Steve McQueen has yet to make a bad film and while the first trailer for “Widows” seemed to show the action side of the film more, from the second trailer it’s obvious that film will have some emotional depth as well.
The story, based on the 1980s British TV series of the same name, starts out with a group of armed robbers (inc. Liam Neeson) being killed during a heist attempt. Their widows (Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, Elizabeth Debicki) then decide to finish the job their spouses started.
Apart from those already mentioned, the film has a great supporting cast that includes Robert Duvall, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Carrie Coon and Andre Holland. It may sound like a generic action thriller plot but it’s McQueen and we trust him.
5. Bohemian Rhapsody
“Mama, life had just begun” Legendary Queen and legendary Freddie Mercury. The film is a chronicle of the years leading up to Queen’s appearance at the Live Aid (1985) concert. There are few things worrying us about the film.
There were problems on the set, Bryan Singer got fired, they replaced him with Dexter Fletcher who is a fine director but having so many complicated events going on the set and post-production is never good and while the trailers look fine, they use too much of Queen hits there which of course, works to sell them as good trailers but we don’t get to see much from the actual narrative or Rami Malek’s performance.
That said, it’s certainly exciting to see what they have done with the material and hopefully despite all the problems, they managed to make a great film that would honor the remarkable legacy of Queen.
4. The Old Man and the Gun
Probably there were nothing more charming this year than seeing Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek – two screen legends – interact with each other on the trailer for “The Old Man and the Gun”. The film is based on the true-life story of Forrest Tucker, a career criminal and prison escape artist while the script is based on David Grann’s 2003 article in The New Yorker.
It’s also the last chance for us to see Redford on big screen. He announced his retirement not long ago and what we have left for us is just to enjoy his previous works and seeing him to end his acting career on a high note here. Directed by David Lowery, the film also co-star director’s frequent collaborator Casey Affleck as the detective who tries to catch Redford’s character.
3. At Eternity’s Gate
We got a lot of Van Gogh biographies in the past and many talented actors have played him: from Kirk Douglas to Tim Roth. Nothing surprising here, Van Gogh was such a fascinating figure overall. Now Julian Schnabel, himself a painter and a director of such films as “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, “Basquiat” and “Before Night Falls”, has his own version to tell his story, particularly the last days of his life. We’ll see one and only Willem Dafoe as the man himself.
Sure, there’s a notable age difference- as Dafoe is now 62 and Van Gogh was 37 when he died but considering Willem looks younger than his age and according to descriptions and images, Van Gogh looked older than he was, so that shouldn’t be a problem and overall, it’s Dafoe. We know that he can nail the part.
Also it’s not Schnabel’s first painter biopic. “Basquiat” was a terrific film overall. Co-starring Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Emmanuelle Seigner, Rupert Friend, Mathieu Amalric and Amira Casar.
Luca Guadagnino has been on fire recently, receiving Oscar (for producing) and BAFTA (for directing) just this year for “Call Me By Your Name”. And “Suspiria is one of the most hyped films of this season. Remake is probably not the right word to use here. Luca rather prefers it to be called “Re-imagining” of the Argento classic and who can blame him?
From its trailer, it’s obvious that movie has its own distinctive tone and it’s much longer than the original. Guadagnino was hesitant on taking these to prestigious European festivals as he was concerned that the film may not find its audience in those places but it’ll be in Venice Film Festival.
The reception will be interesting for this, will it be divisive as “mother!”? more acclaimed? Or panned? It stars frequent Luca Guadagnino collaborators – Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton in lead roles. Reports differ on how many roles Swinton plays here. Some says it’s two, some three.
No matter how many characters she plays, we know that she’ll make wonders with it. Johnson also is seemingly into more arthouse films in her post-Fifty Shades career (we’ll also get to see her in “Bad Times at the El Royale” this year) and it may be a great opportunity for her to shine as an actress.
1. The Favourite
Described as a “bawdy, acerbic tale of royal intrigue, passion, envy, and betrayal,” the film is set in 18th century England during the court of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman who may get her Emmy next year with “The Crown”). Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) is Duchess of Marlborough and confidante, advisor, and secret lover to the Queen. The power shifts when the Duchess’s younger cousin (Emma Stone) arrives to court, and the two women battle for influence and the Queen’s affections.
If all these don’t sound interesting to you, then here’s more: it’s directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, the same man who gave us “Dogtooth”, “The Lobster” and “The Killing of Sacred Deer” among others. Sure he didn’t write the screenplay this time but the trailer showed that it has all the elements that made him a unique filmmaker at the first place and seeing him what he’ll do with the material is surely interesting. Hopefully it’s yet another deliciously wicked film from him.
Honorable mentions: December releases “Ad Astra” and “Cheney” seems to not doing any festivals but they sure are exciting titles. We’ll also get to see Elizabeth Moss as a rocker in “Her Smell” (alongside Amber Heard, Dan Stevens, Virginia Madsen), Nicole Kidman in “Destroyer”, Matthias Schoenaerts and Colin Firth in Thomas Vinterberg’s next feature film “Kursk”, Chris Pine and David Mackenzie reuniting in “Outlaw King”, Paolo Sorrentino’s “Loro” and many more.