Tag Archives: The Shape of Water

2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Original Screenplay

This category is very tough to work out. Martin McDonagh won the BAFTA award and the Golden Globe in this category, but one could suggest that BAFTA is more British-leaning (McDonagh is British) and that the Golden Globes don’t matter too much (because they don’t). Jordan Peele won Critics’ Choice award, which has lined up plenty with the Oscars in this category, as well as the WGA award; although, McDonagh wasn’t eligible to compete for the WGA award as he’s not part of the organization, so it’s difficult to tell whether or not Peele’s win puts him ahead of McDonagh.

I’m going to lean toward Jordan Peele, mostly because of the WGA win, but also because of the Critics’ Choice parallel and the fact that I think it’s the best nominated original script (and I believe that the Academy mostly gets this category right). And while McDonagh won the BAFTA, Peele also received a Best Director nomination, something that could boost his chances in this category. McDonagh did not receive a director nomination.

It’s tough to eliminate Lady Bird, though, especially because of how prevalent and prominent of a figure Greta Gerwig has been throughout the awards season. If Lady Bird could jump back into contention anywhere, it would likely be here.

Finally, don’t completely rule out Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor for The Shape of Water, as its widespread love will send votes to this category.

The Nominees
Jordan Peele — Get Out
Greta Gerwig — Lady Bird
Martin McDonagh — Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani — The Big Sick
Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor — The Shape of Water

Will win: Jordan Peele — Get Out
Could win: Martin McDonagh — Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
Should win: Jordan Peele — Get Out
Should’ve been nominated: Paul Thomas Anderson — Phantom Thread

 

Featured image via Universal Pictures.

2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Production Design

This race is a bit close. The Art Directors Guild gave their fantasy award to Blade Runner 2049 and their period award to The Shape of Water.

However, The Shape of Water also won the BAFTA award, pushing it over Blade Runner 2049 ever so slightly. While the Denis Villeneuve film may be a bit more deserving, its design astoundingly stunning, The Shape of Water would seemingly take some craft award somewhere beyond music when considering Guillermo del Toro’s massive lead in Best Director, and production design is the most likely and perhaps most obvious place to award it.

The Nominees
Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola — Blade Runner 2049
Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer — Darkest Hour
Paul D. Austerberry, Jeff Melvin, Shane Vieau — The Shape of Water
Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis — Dunkirk
Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer — Beauty and the Beast

Will win: Paul D. Austerberry — The Shape of Water
Could win: Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola — Blade Runner 2049
Should win: Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola — Blade Runner 2049
Should’ve been nominated: Rick Heinrichs, Richard Roberts — Star Wars: The Last Jedi

 

Featured image via Fox Searchlight Pictures.

2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Cinematography

All signs point to Roger Deakins winning his first Oscar for Blade Runner 2049, after a staggering 14 nominations.

Deakins won the BAFTA and the American Society of Cinematographers award this year, and the combination of those two precursors gives him a pretty significant lead.

Deakins is clearly the pick to make, but it’s difficult to completely rule out Hoyte van Hoytema for Dunkirk or Dan Laustsen for The Shape of WaterDunkirk is a craft heavyweight and the visuals, especially for those who had the pleasure of seeing it in 70mm, IMAX or IMAX 70mm, are absolutely stunning. Those technical aspects could be a benefit for it in this category. And Dan Laustsen could potentially ride the widespread adoration for The Shape of Water to a win.

But again, all signs point to Deakins. On another note, shifting out either Laustsen or Delbonnel for Hostiles‘ Masanobu Takayanagi would’ve greatly improved this crop.

The Nominees
Roger Deakins — Blade Runner 2049
Hoyte van Hoytema — Dunkirk
Dan Laustsen — The Shape of Water
Bruno Delbonnel — Darkest Hour
Rachel Morrison — Mudbound

Will win: Roger Deakins — Blade Runner 2049
Could win: Hoyte van Hoytema — Dunkirk
Should win: Hoyte van Hoytema — Dunkirk
Should’ve been nominated: Masanobu Takayanagi — Hostiles

 

Featured image via Warner Bros.

2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Costume Design

The simple fact that Phantom Thread is about fashion and the lead character is a dress designer whose work is shown off in the film positioned it as the frontrunner before any awards were handed out.

And we’re still sticking with it. It won the BAFTA award for Best Costume Design and, well, it’s about fashion — not to mention, Bridges has won this award recently, for The Artist.

But this race became a bit tricky when Phantom Thread lost the Costume Designers Guild award to The Shape of Water, which was a bit surprising, especially because The Shape of Water doesn’t necessarily stand out as a “costume” kind of movie, at least enough to win. It could, though, steal the award.

I’m going to stick with Phantom Thread though. The Shape of Water feels like a guild-specific win, whereas Phantom Thread feels like a film that the Academy would award.

The Nominees
Mark Bridges — Phantom Thread
Jacqueline Durran — Beauty and the Beast
Consolata Boyle — Victoria and Abdul
Luis Sequeira — The Shape of Water
Jacqueline Durran — Darkest Hour

Will win: Mark Bridges — Phantom Thread
Could win: Luis Sequeira — The Shape of Water
Should win: Mark Bridges — Phantom Thread
Should’ve been nominated: Jennifer Johnson — I, Tonya

 

Featured image via Focus Features.

2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Film Editing

There are two major precursors for the Best Film Editing category: the American Cinema Editors (their awards titled the Eddies) and the BAFTA.

The BAFTA went to Baby Driver, which has created the potential for a true spoiler here. Dunkirk came in as the frontrunner and is still considered the frontrunner by many. But considering the fact that BAFTA predicted a few recent film editing spoilers such as Whiplash and Hacksaw Ridge, and the acclaim of Baby Driver‘s film editing, it could certainly steal the award.

The American Cinema Editors awarded their Eddies to I, Tonya in the comedy category and to Dunkirk in the drama category. The comedy Eddie doesn’t usually translate to the Oscar. And while the BAFTA may seem more prestigious, the drama Eddie does, in fact, line up more with the Oscar, which is part of the reason why I’m going to stick with Dunkirk.

As seen last year with Hacksaw Ridge, intense war films can certainly perform well in this category, and Dunkirk does have its fair share of visceral sequences. But the film also has the non-linear structure going for it as well and it could’ve also received even more of a push considering the snub of Lee Smith for Inception.

The Nominees
Lee Smith — Dunkirk
Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss — Baby Driver
Tatiana S. Riegel — I, Tonya
Sidney Wolinsky — The Shape of Water
Jon Gregory — Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Will win: Lee Smith — Dunkirk
Could win: Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss — Baby Driver
Should win: Lee Smith — Dunkirk
Should’ve been nominated: Joe Walker — Blade Runner 2049

 

Featured image via Warner Bros.

2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Sound Mixing

Whereas sound editing is the creation of sounds, sound mixing is the combination of all of those sounds to create an atmosphere. Sound editing creates the sound of a gunshot bursting through the side of a ship. Sound mixing mixes together the tens of gunshots going off at once while voices scream and water rushes in.

As mentioned in the Best Sound Editing write-up, the BAFTA award for Best Sound often lines up more with the Best Sound Mixing category than it does the Best Sound Editing category. Slumdog MillionaireLes Miserables and Whiplash are all examples. While it’s not a perfect parallel, it is reliable, and Dunkirk‘s win should line it up to take home this award at the Oscars.

In addition, Christopher Nolan’s war epic won the Cinema Audio Society award, giving it two precursors. And, as shown by Hacksaw Ridge last year, a war film with intense and brutal sound design could do well in this category.

It’s not without reason to suspect a possible upset by Baby Driver. The film’s mix is its biggest sound asset, the tequila shootout coming to mind as an example of mixing brilliance. Edgar Wright’s film is rather popular and if it turns out stronger than anticipated, it take this award from Dunkirk.

Finally, Blade Runner 2049 is also not out of competition. There can be a lot of crossover between the sound categories and how voters judge/vote on them, and 2049‘s constant presence and sound editing wins make it a stealth contender here.

The Nominees
Gregg Landaker, Gary Rizzo, Mark Weingarten — Dunkirk
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Stuart Wilson — Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Mac Ruth — Blade Runner 2049
Tim Cavagin, Julian Slater, Mary H. Ellis — Baby Driver
Christian Cooke, Glen Gauthier, Brad Zoern — The Shape of Water

Will win: Dunkirk
Could win: Baby Driver
Should win: Dunkirk
Should’ve been nominated: The Lost City of Z

 

Featured image via Warner Bros.

2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Original Score

Best Original Score is a bit of a mix between celebrity status and merit. Sometimes the best score among the bunch is passed on for a more popular name, but the disparity, in that case, between the best and the winner isn’t massive.

It’s a bit easy to rule out Carter Burwell for his Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri score and John Williams for his eighth take on Star Wars. Neither won precursors and while there may be fans of Williams’ compositions, neither feel particularly memorable either.

This year, Hans Zimmer’s brutally intense Dunkirk score, one that almost feels like sound design (the supervising music editor was nominated in the Best Sound Editing category), or Jonny Greenwood’s classically inspired yet singularly beautifully work on Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread seem like the two that most obviously deserve it.

However, both Zimmer and Greenwood will likely be passed over for Alexandre Desplat’s work on The Shape of Water. Not only did he win both the Golden Globe and the BAFTA, but he has also apparently been schmoozing in the time prior to voting, a tactic that has worked for other Oscar nominees this year. His score is undoubtedly beautiful, serves the film wondrously and is not the most heinous of the nominees to award. But it is unfortunate that more powerful scores will miss out.

If the Oscars were truly about the best of the year and not just the most popular or most campaigned, Daniel Hart’s A Ghost Story score would’ve been nominated.

The Nominees
Hans Zimmer — Dunkirk
Alexandre Desplat — The Shape of Water
Jonny Greenwood — Phantom Thread
John Williams — Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Carter Burwell — Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Will win: Alexandre Desplat — The Shape of Water
Could win: Hans Zimmer — Dunkirk
Should win: Hans Zimmer — Dunkirk
Should’ve been nominated: Daniel Hart — A Ghost Story

 

Featured image via Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Independent film studio A24 is a powerhouse that just won’t stop

In 2013, A24 made waves promoting the wild indie film Spring Breakers, even going so far as to launch an Oscar campaign for James Franco with the slogan “Consider this sh*t.” Immediately, they were different. Immediately, they were refreshing.

In 2014, A24 distributed critical gems still talked about today. Most notably among them were Enemy, Under the Skin, Locke, Obvious Child and A Most Violent Year.

In 2015, A24 didn’t just stick its foot in the Oscar door — it shoved it open and sweeped nametags off the table to make a spot for itself. Ex Machina won Best Visual Effects. Brie Larson won Best Lead Actress for Room. Amy won Best Documentary Feature. And they still made other darlings: Slow West, While We’re Young and The End of the Tour.

In 2016, A24 made history, as Moonlight won Best Motion Picture, making it the first film with an all-black cast and the first LGBTQ+ film to do so.

David Bornfriend/A24/Courtesy

Its other films that year continued to expand how we perceive cinema. The Witch further defined the contemporary horror film. Krisha introduced us to Trey Edward Shults. Green Room reminded us of Jeremy Saulnier. 20th Century Women made the word “sublime” tangible. And The Lobster and Swiss Army Man are two of the most fucking bizarre and wonderful movies of recent memory.

And in 2017, A24 looks to do more.

In an age where film is dying in a bland spate of sameness, A24 not only knows to be different, but to have a purpose and to be true. That’s why each film it distributes feels specifically like an A24 film, like a part of the A24 brand. Nothing really feels out of place or, what would be worse, indistinguishable, as the creatives are like gallery curators with little of the stereotypical snob and far more fun.

They go from making a Tinder account for the artificially intelligent robot in Ex Machina to starting a Twitter page for the goat in The Witch, from sending media physical messages in a bottle for Swiss Army Man to opening a shop with ghost sheets for A Ghost Story. And it’s not just out-there gestures like these; A24 hosts meticulously designed plans that place each film in a spot to succeed.

A24/Courtesy

The company also knows to diversify within that brand. This isn’t your Fox Searchlights or your Sony Pictures Classics, where there’s almost too much that’s indistinguishable. With A24, even films seen by only a few feel singular in and of themselves. Free Fire is an action packed, guns-ablazing joy ride, with ravishingly badass posters to accompany. The Lovers is an odd yet deeply realized, deeply felt and deeply funny romantic comedy that’s a bit more friendly to an older crowd, featuring the ever wonderful Debra Winger and Tracy Letts. It Comes At Night haunts our paranoid nightmares, subverting horror expectations and getting people talking. Good Time is a neon trip — a frenetic, chaotic and deliciously addictive crime film with a Robert Pattinson we’ve never met before. And A Ghost Story transcends the dimensions of cinema, glaring into our bodies and our souls like only the most profound pieces of art can.

That’s only what A24 has released in 2017 so far. It would be tough to be evaluative of an upcoming slate, but it’s not surprising that A24 films are the current talk of the festival circuit, as the company has four more that could make their own weird and gleeful stamp on the year.

First, at the beginning of October, comes The Florida Project, from Tangerine director Sean Baker. A testament to diversifying, the film stars children, with the lead, Brooklynn Prince, being merely 7. Critics have already deemed it as one of the great films about childhood with others guaranteeing that Willem Dafoe is nominated for an Oscar.

A24/Courtesy

Nearing Halloween, the more horrific side of Yorgos Lanthimos, director of The Lobster, will be unveiled with The Killing of a Sacred Deer. A Cannes premiere like The Florida Project, Sacred Deer has been received with a bit less unanimity than Baker’s film, but the intensity of the divide makes it all the more fascinating. A24 is a distributor that will take chances, a distributor that wants to make “radical work,” and Lanthimos’ picture certainly falls in that realm.

As November comes, something quite special arrives: Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird. An incredibly successful writer and actor already, giving one of her most moving performances in A24’s 20th Century Women, Gerwig is a talent that needs further platform, and for good reason. Premiering at Telluride Film Festival and moving to Toronto International Film Festival, Lady Bird is one of the most lovingly spoken about films to have traveled to one or both of those cities. More than a few critics have deemed it their favorite of the Colorado festival, and as it’s traveled to Canada, some have even expected the film to resonate in a similarly way to the landmark Boyhood, which, in turn, could lead to a legitimate Oscar threat.

Wrapping up the busy year, A24 will release The Disaster Artist, the James Franco-directed-and-uarring film about the making of the iconically trashed The Room, in December. The film visited South by Southwest as a work in progress, and was lauded at the time. Screening as a prepared cut last night at Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness, the film received a standing ovation from the crowd, who stayed on their feet throughout the entire Q&A afterward, something many festival frequenters had never seen before. Maybe with The Disaster Artist, an A24 James Franco awards campaign could have some results. “Oh, hi Oscars.”

A24/Courtesy

No other distributor (and production company) garners buzz quite like this. The Shape of Water premiered to adoration, but no one is really mentioning Fox Searchlight. Call Me by Your Name is said to be one of the most emotionally affecting films of the year, but few go out of their way to talk about it within the context of the Sony Pictures Classics brand. None of this is to put down those films, but it really does make something clear.

A24 isn’t just a vehicle through which its movies are funneled. It becomes a part of the movies themselves, almost as an auteur figure behind them, which is undoubtedly a reason why, by the end of the year, A24 will be the studio that stands out the most. Its films are almost like events nowadays, something previously ascribed only to studio blockbusters.

But most importantly, A24 is making the movies fun again — not just the movies themselves, but the anticipation of them, the promotional and paratextual consumption of them and the discourse created in their aftermath. Movie-going isn’t just sitting in a theater; it’s everything else too. And if companies like A24 keep innovating, the movies might have a chance.

Featured image via A24.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon do battle in first trailer for ‘The Current War’

Sparks fly in the first trailer for director Alfonso Gómez-Rejón’s The Current War, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse. The trailer promises a battle royale between Edison and Westinghouse, as they compete for dominance in the burgeoning electric power industry. Edison was a proponent for direct current, while Westinghouse pushed for alternating current, and their inevitable clash seems ripe for powerhouse performances from Cumberbatch and Shannon.

Also appearing in the trailer are Tom Holland as Edison’s collaborator Samuel Insull and Katherine Waterston as Marguerite Westinghouse. Additionally, Nicholas Hoult makes an appearance as Nikola Tesla, who was arguably the top mind to emerge from the titular war. Tesla was previously played by the enigmatic David Bowie in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige. Bowie’s performance was a highlight of that film, so it will be interesting to see Hoult’s take on the scientific genius.

The real star of the trailer though, is definitely Alfonso Gómez-Rejón. The Current War is Gómez-Rejón’s follow up to 2015’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which was a film that demonstrated his keen eye for dynamic visuals. Within a few seconds, the trailer for The Current War promises some stunning cinematography, revealing a shot of Edison standing amid a field of lightbulbs. Later in the trailer, we see a time-lapse scene, an unconventional storytelling choice for a period piece, which feels like a callback to the quirky stop motion interludes in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

Benedict Cumberbatch can be be seen later this year in Thor: Ragnarok as Dr. Strange, while Michael Shannon will appear in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. The Current War was produced by the Weinstein Company, and the film will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film’s theatrical release date is set for November 24.

Featured image via the Weinstein Company

25 Most Anticipated Films of Fall/Winter 2017

2017 has proven to be one of the best years for film in recent memory, and the hits are bound to keep coming in the fall and winter. It Comes At Night may have led us down a dark and unsettling path earlier this summer, but we will likely remain wholly unprepared for the brilliant discomfort of Yorgos Lanthimos’ upcoming film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer. (This film has been described as more agonizing than Lanthimos’ previous work, The Lobster, which came this close to showing a man blind himself with a steak knife. Let that sink in.) Regarding films that don’t require an immediate, consolatory hug upon viewing, Baby Driver was a fun joyride — a perfect forbear for the frenetic energy of Kingsman: The Golden Circle. And then there’s a little indie coming in December called Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a family drama about space people who should never have become parents.  

The following list represents the films that make us at MovieMinis spontaneously squee. But since the list only includes 25 films, it doesn’t truly represent the amount of squeeing we do. The cutting room floor is littered with heavy hitters such as Steven Spielberg’s The Post, as well as The Current War, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse. There are also Cannes darlings that didn’t make the cut (but which you should see anyway) such as Michael Haneke’s Happy End and Palme d’Or winner The Square. We feel a great pang of guilt for excluding Justice League (squee!).

Regardless, here are our 25 most hotly anticipated films from the remainder of the year.

25. mother!

Paramount/Courtesy

The illustrated posters of mother! were merely beautiful yet unnerving glimpses into the horror of Darren Aronofsky’s next film. Bring in the trailer and it seems as though the director is returning to the brilliance of the genre that he dabbled in with Black Swan. And if this film really will follow in that one’s footsteps, then audiences should expect committed and haunting performances from Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, as well as a story with some of the most affecting scares since, well, Black Swan. Let’s just hope it appropriately contextualizes the relationship between a 27 year old and a 48 year old because, if it doesn’t, that might be more frightening.

— Kyle Kizu

24. Thor: Ragnarok

Marvel/Courtesy

Taika Waititi is easily one of the funniest filmmakers working today — just see here and here. His films bring loads of heart and even more laughs, something direly needed for Thor, a franchise whose second entry literally self-proclaims doom and gloom. Throw in Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, the magic of Jeff Goldblum, a colorful Jack Kirby aesthetic and elements of Planet Hulk, and Thor: Ragnarok could be one of the best MCU entries to date. Oh, and in the last shot of the most recent trailer, Hulk goes toe-to-toe with Surtur the fire demon. In the immortal words of Ricky Baker, “Shit. Just. Got. REAL!”

— Harrison Tunggal

23. Suburbicon

Paramount/Courtesy

Suburbicon pulses with star power. The film is written by the minds of the Coen brothers, George Clooney (doing double duty as director) and his frequent collaborator Grant Heslov. If that isn’t enough, it stars Matt Damon, who invokes his Jason Bourne days by taking a fire iron to some poor thug’s face. The film also includes Julianne Moore (her third film on this list, she’s in Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Wonderstruck) and Oscar Isaac, whose mustache here deserves it’s own billing. Here’s to hoping that said mustache stays intact over the course of this darkly comic crime caper.

— HT

22. It

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Stranger Things, but a million times scarier. If that seems like an oversimplification of the upcoming Stephen King adaptation, it isn’t anything less than the utmost excitement condensed into seven words. Despite an initial rocky start (writer-director Cary Fukunaga left the project in 2015), It appears to deliver well-acted, visually stunning horror fare — such that will strike an existential fear of killer demon clowns into the hearts of a whole new generation.

— HT

21. The Meyerowitz Stories

Netflix/Courtesy

Welcome back, Adam Sandler. No, seriously. After a string of critically lashed Netflix comedies, here comes Noah Baumbach to remind us all, that when Sandler wants to, he can be one of the most emotionally affecting actors on the screen. Throw in Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson and the full support of Netflix, and The Meyerowitz Stories appears to be the first Netflix Oscar-contender that will gain traction among voters, audiences and critics when it releases in mid-October.

— Levi Hill

20. Coco

Pixar/Courtesy

Coco is a Pixar film. Need we say more? Well, we can. The film follows a young kid who dreams of becoming a musician and, through a spiritual connection with an ancestor, he enters the Land of the Dead. The trailer shows that the film will be a visual wonder, but the subject matter offers a look at Latino culture, one that mainstream cinema largely ignores. And with longtime Pixar veteran Adrian Molina stepping into the director’s chair alongside Pixar legend Lee Unkrich, Coco looks to be informed and genuine in its endeavors as well.

— KK

19. Mute

Netflix/Courtesy

Many may only think of Warcraft when they hear the name Duncan Jones, which is a shame because this is the director behind Moon and Source Code, two phenomenal sci-fi films. With Mute, Jones returns to the universe of Moon, but this time he takes us to the futuristic, seemingly Blade Runner-esque Earth within it. That tiny detail may be the biggest sign that this film could be special. Moon crafted such a thorough sense of society down on Earth, one that Jones has explored for years in planning for Mute, so the storytelling should be refined and invigorated.

— KK

18. Wonderstruck

Amazon/Courtesy

Todd Haynes’ upcoming Wonderstruck is based on the Brian Selznick novel of the same name, and the last time Selznick’s work was adapted for the big screen, the result was the Martin Scorsese stunner Hugo. With Selznick himself penning the screenplay, Wonderstruck seems poised to deliver a timeline-hopping, visual treat that will remind us of that which fills us with childlike wonder — film, museums and, if the trailer is to be believed, cool David Bowie covers.

— HT

17. Battle of the Sexes

Fox Searchlight/Courtesy

Sometimes talent alone can put a film on this list. Recent Academy Award winner Emma Stone, comedic (and now dramatic?) powerhouse Steve Carell, the co-directors of Little Miss Sunshine and the writer of Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours will bring us Battle of the Sexes. But that title, and the story behind it, makes this film about more than just talent — or maybe precisely about talent, that which is underserved. The story of tennis star Billie Jean King facing off against Bobby Riggs is an uplifting and landmark tale, with a whole lot of lively fun throughout, that could make for a wonderful and necessary statement in today’s landscape.

— KK

16. The Death of Stalin

IFC Films/Courtesy

Armando Iannucci may be the king of political satire, his time as Veep showrunner offering us some of the most gut-busting commentary on the current state of D.C. Pair him with the juicy material of the Soviet regime in the immediate aftermath of Stalin’s death — utilizing a bluntly British angle (they’re not even attempting Russian accents) — and you’ve got a comedy to die for.

— KK

15. Roman J. Israel, Esq

Columbia Pictures/Courtesy

Nightcrawler is aging like fine wine, with many critics and movie fans looking back at it as not only an absolutely brilliant movie, but also a significant independent film and a vehicle for one of the best performances of the 21st century from Jake Gyllenhaal. So any movie that writer-director Dan Gilroy does next is on a must-see list. Cue Roman J. Israel, Esq, a film where Denzel Washington has an afro and plays a snazzily dressed defense attorney.

— KK

14. Last Flag Flying

Amazon/Courtesy

Honestly, if there is one film on this list that just can’t go wrong (outside of the movies that have already premiered), it is Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying. Starring the dream-team worthy trio of Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne, the film is a years-after sequel to the Oscar-nominated, Jack Nicholson-led and Hal Ashby-directed The Last Detail. With that set-up, Last Flag Flying could potentially end up being the de facto critics favorite with Linklater’s humanist style mixed with the socially angry, if touching tale of three Navy vets coming to terms with the world they live in that Ashby knocked out of the park back in 1973.

— LH

13. Lady Bird

A24/Courtesy

Casual fans of indie cinema know Greta Gerwig as the magnetic star of films like Frances Ha, Mistress America and 20th Century Women, but those of us obsessed with the genre know that it’s behind the camera where she makes even more of an impact. After writing a number of successful indies, Gerwig will make her solo directorial debut this fall with Lady Bird. While not much is known about the plot, the film follows a high school girl (Saoirse Ronan) as she spends a year in Northern California. Joining Ronan is a heavy hitting cast of indie favorites that includes Timothée Chalamet, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts and Lucas Hedges.

— Kate Halliwell

12. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Fox/Courtesy

Matthew Vaughn established himself as an action director extraordinaire with the first Kingsman — the film’s church scene now infamous as one of the most exhilarating fight sequences in recent memory. With that style, Vaughn’s dry British wit, the brilliant cast and brand new American territory to explore, The Golden Circle is set to be one of the most fun films of the fall — and sometimes, fun is all we need.

— KK

11. Molly’s Game

STX Entertainment/Courtesy

Aaron Sorkin is widely known as one of the great writers — of most mediums — of our time. The fact that Molly’s Game is written by him is enough reason to be excited, but the film is also his directorial debut, which elevates our hype tenfold. Even if the film isn’t good, it will be fascinating to see his visual style directly translated to the big screen. But it seems like there are too many pieces in place for this to be a dud — Jessica Chastain munching on Sorkin’s words is the dream performance we need.

— KK

10. Downsizing

Paramount/Courtesy

When every single one of your films (except your first) received Oscar nominations and endless critical heap, audiences will take notice when your next film comes out. And thus is the case with Alexander Payne, who, to this day, seems incapable of making a bad scene, let alone a bad movie. However, the science-fiction satire Downsizing, starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig, promises to be a marked difference from the traditionally very naturalistic stories Payne has told in the past. Yet, that’s what it makes it this writer-director’s most intriguing project yet.

— LH

9. Hostiles

Lorey Sebastian, Le Grisbi Productions/Waypoint Entertainment/Courtesy

Hostiles may not release this year as it currently doesn’t have a distributor, but it’s set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in a bid for an acquisition. Made by Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper, the film stars Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Ben Foster and Timothée Chalamet, so it’s got a great chance of being picked up for an end-of-year release. And that team of talent is precisely why this movie is so salivating. Christian Bale is never anything less than entirely transformed, Rosamund Pike needs more roles after her Oscar-nominated, frightening turn in Gone Girl, Ben Foster is one of the most underrated actors working today and Timothée Chalamet is on the verge of breaking out with Call Me by Your Name later this year.

— KK

8. The Shape of Water

Fox Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy

The great Guillermo Del Toro returns to the big screen with The Shape of Water, which stars Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon and Michael Stuhlbarg. The film’s stellar trailer teased a sweet romance with sci-fi elements, but also raised the possibility that The Shape of Water is a secret Hellboy prequel centering on Abe Sapien. Even though Del Toro has since debunked those rumors, we’re still thrilled to see him combine the things we love about his filmography — fairy tales with a touch of the macabre and of course, amphibian men.

— HT

7. The Disaster Artist

A24/Courtesy

James Franco can never be faulted for producing/starring/writing/directing in a seemingly impossible amount of projects in one year. What he could have been faulted for in the past, though, is that each project he stood behind the camera on felt like an interesting misfire. Not anymore. With stunning, Oscar-potential raves out of SXSW, Franco seems to have found the perfect source material for his stylings: the best worst movie of all-time, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. With Franco directing and, more excitingly, playing Tommy Wiseau on the set of The Room, The Disaster Artist promises a hilarious, if pointedly tragic real-life story of a failed artist. But really, we can’t wait to hear “YOU ARE TEARING ME APART, LISA!” again.

— LH

6. The Florida Project

A24/Courtesy

Sean Baker turned heads and took home awards with his 2015 film Tangerine, notably shot entirely on iPhones. He returns this year with The Florida Project, which follows a six-year old girl (Brooklynn Prince, this year’s Jacob Tremblay) and her adventures living in a run-down motel near Disney’s Magic Kingdoms. With Willem Dafoe and a host of talented newcomers rounding out the cast, this one is not to be missed.

— KH

5. Blade Runner 2049

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Getting another Denis Villeneuve film immediately after last year’s Arrival is already worth celebrating, but the fact that his upcoming project is a Blade Runner sequel (shot by Roger Deakins, no less) makes the occasion seem like Christmas — of the neon, steampunk, existentialist variety, of course. With Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford teaming up, the hype couldn’t be bigger for this film, which will hopefully answer the greatest question of our time — what happened to the other 2,047 Blade Runner sequels?

— HT

4. Call Me by Your Name

Sony Pictures Classics/Courtesy

The trailer alone launched one thousand Armie Hammer crushes and caused us all to stop and consider spontaneous trips to Italy; the film itself might cause actual meltdowns (in the best way). Timothée Chalamet and Hammer star in Luca Guadagnino’s book-to-screen adaptation as two bisexual Jewish men who fall in love over the course of a sun-drenched summer. The film has drawn rave reviews from early festival screenings and has film buffs all over the world hungry for its November release. Peaches, anyone?

— KH

3. The Killing of a Sacred Deer

A24/Courtesy

Following the surprise Oscar nomination for the dark (twisted) comedy/science fiction fantasy film The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos and Colin Farrell return with an even more twisted, full-on psychological horror film. The early reviews for Sacred Deer, out of the in-competition bow at Cannes, promise that it will blend the calculated coldness of craft found in a Stanley Kubrick movie mixed with the cynical social commentary found in the best genre films. Add in the rising star Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) as what appears to be the villain (but nothing is that simple in a Lanthimos tale) and the where-is-she-not Nicole Kidman as Farrell’s estranged wife experiencing horrific acts she has no fault in causing, and Sacred Deer promises to be the feel-bad movie of the Fall movie season.

— LH

2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Lucasfilm/Courtesy

You don’t hire director Rian Johnson to make a cookie-cutter Star Wars movie. The man behind Looper, Brick and two of Breaking Bad’s most daring episodes seems poised to deliver — dare we say — the best Star Wars entry of all time. Forget getting answers to questions we’ve had since 2015 (Is Rey a Kenobi? Is Snoke actually Sy Snootles? Will Luke get a haircut?). We just want another Rian Johnson movie.

— HT

1. Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Fashion Film

Jürgen Fauth/Courtesy

Quite simply put, There Will Be Blood is one of the best films of the 21st century and Daniel Day Lewis’ performance in it is one of the best of all time. So, with Paul Thomas Anderson pairing up with DDL yet again for what is, apparently, DDL’s last performance ever, this film — rumored to be titled either Phantom Thread or Woodcock — will be a special one in the history of cinema, even if it’s not as breathtakingly affecting and engaging as TWBB (and, of course, it easily could be). Add in the rumors that the film is Fifty Shades of Grey if directed by Mike Leigh and we are more in than we’ve ever been for anything, honestly.

— KK

Featured image via Warner Bros.

Recent Entries »