Anticipation is better than realization. Some of us find this out on Christmas mornings; the idea is a major theme in Macbeth and The Great Gatsby. There's a certain kind of moviegoer who looks forward to the year's final quarter -- the sort of moviegoer who ought to know better.
Still, here we are on the cusp of a serious season. We know we ought to live in the moment, to enjoy what we have, but we just can't help ourselves. We have to peek at the schedule and dream of wonders to come.
But before we begin our latest round of reviews of movies we haven't seen yet, let's go over the rules: Opening dates not guaranteed; studios can change release dates at whim. Some movies will open in Arkansas that we have missed in this roundup; it's possible some mentioned below will not open. Please turn off your mobile devices and no gambling, please.
The Florida Project -- The Cannes hit, one of the season's most talked-about indies, follows a 6-year-old girl (Brooklynn Kimberly Prince) and her single mother (newcomer Bria Vinaite) as they muddle through living in a cheap motel near Disney World. Director Sean Baker made a splash with his debut film -- the iPhone-shot Tangerine -- but this look at America's "hidden homeless" has a puncher's chance at Oscar recognition. Willem Dafoe shows up in a supporting role as the motel's bighearted manager.
The Foreigner -- Former James Bond director (1995's GoldenEye, 2006's Casino Royale) Martin Campbell directs 63-year-old Jackie Chan in a midbudget actioner about a London-based Chinese businessman who seeks revenge after his daughter is killed by an act of terrorism. With Pierce Brosnan as a shady British government official.
Marshall -- one I have seen -- and a pretty entertaining one at that. A courtroom drama based on an early case taken on by the young Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman), who went on to become the first black Supreme Court justice. Based on the sensational Joseph Spell case, in which a black chauffeur was accused of raping his high-society employer (Kate Hudson).
Professor Marston and The Wonder Women -- A very intriguing premise, adapted from Jill LePore's book. In the 1940s, Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston invents the iconic Wonder Woman character, drawing from two strong women in his life: his wife Elizabeth Marston and their lover Olive Byrne.
The Snowman -- As big a fan as I am of Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo's crime fiction, especially the novels that feature morally complicated Harry Hole, the trailers make this look like another sub-Se7en shocker. We can hope for better, with a cast that includes Rebecca Ferguson, Michael Fassbender, Chloe Sevigny and Val Kilmer.
Una -- A young woman (Rooney Mara) confronts her former neighbor (Bloodline's Ben Mendelsohn) about a sexual encounter they had when she was 13. Adapted from David Harrower's 2005 play Blackbird, the drama has drawn good early reviews.
Geostorm -- Probably not a great movie, but Dean Devlin's eco-thriller has a cool over-the-top trailer.
The Mountain Between Us -- Two strangers (Idris Elba and Kate Winslet) bond when they are forced to embark on a treacherous journey after their plane crashes in remote mountains. Early buzz is pretty "meh."
Only the Brave -- Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch and Jennifer Connelly star in the true (tragic) story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite firefighting team.
Same Kind of Different as Me -- An international art dealer (Greg Kinnear) befriends a scary homeless man (Djimon Hounsou) in an attempt to save his failing marriage. People on the internet have not been kind to the trailer.
Wonderstruck -- Todd Haynes is one of my favorite directors, so I'm all in on this film that tells the stories of young Rose (Millicent Simmonds), who, in 1927, runs away from her New Jersey home to find silent screen idol Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore) and Ben (Oakes Fegley), who after his mother's death in 1977 runs away to look for his missing father.
All I See Is You -- Blind woman (Blake Lively) regains her sight and rethinks her life and marriage. Marc Forster (Monster's Ball) directs.
Jigsaw -- So you thought he was dead, did you? Well, here's some more gore to look at. Bwwahh-haaa-haaa. Whatever.
Novitiate -- The Hollywood Reporter asks, "Who could ever imagine that a film about nuns struggling to come to terms with the Second Vatican Council (aka Vatican II) might be sexy?" Apparently Maggie Betts' feature debut is just that.
Suburbicon -- George Clooney directs Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac in a Coen brothers script that's been lying around a while. Middling early reviews, but I remain hopeful.
Thank You for Your Service -- Jason Hall's directorial debut tackles post-traumatic stress syndrome in returning vets. It's based on the nonfiction book of the same title by David Finkel and features an intriguing cast that includes Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Beulah Koale and Amy Schumer.
A Bad Moms Christmas -- Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn reunite to wreak bad momism over the holidays.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer -- Director Yorgos (The Lobster) Lanthimos directs Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell and Alicia Silverstone in his latest narrative koan, about a surgeon contemplating a huge sacrifice.
Lady Bird -- Greta Gerwig's so far well-received directorial debut stars Saoirse Ronan as a young woman living in northern California. It has been called a snarky-sincere comedy -- one reviewer says it's "one of the year's great joys."
Last Flag Flying -- The reliable Richard Linklater directs Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne in this story about a Vietnam veteran who reunites with two men he hasn't seen for 30 years after his Marine son is killed in the Iraq war. It's a sort-of sequel to Hal Ashby's classic 1973 film The Last Detail.
The Light of the Moon -- Jessica M. Thompson's directorial debut, a drama about a woman sexually assaulted in New York, has been drawing warm praise from some trusted quarters. We'll see if it opens here.
Thor: Ragnarok -- In which the Marvel Universe goes all World Wrestling Entertainment, with the mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) facing off against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in a gladiatorial contest. But you guys know more about this one than I do.
Daddy's Home 2 -- Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) have to deal with their idiot dads (John Lithgow and Mel Gibson, respectively) over the holidays. The presence of Linda Cardellini and John Cena is somewhat mitigating.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri -- One of the year's most talked-about (in cineaste circles at least) films stars Frances McDormand as a furious grieving mother seeking justice for her daughter's unsolved murder. Supporting cast includes Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage and Woody Harrelson; writer-director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) hasn't made a dull movie yet.
Justice League -- Another Zack Snyder superhero movie. With Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller. Everyone get excited.
Mudbound -- Somewhat under-the-radar festival favorite about black and white families co-existing in '40s Mississippi after World War II has garnered good reviews and sports an intriguing cast that includes Carey Mulligan, Mary J. Blige, Jason Clarke and Garrett Hedlund.
Roman J. Israel, Esq. -- From the studio: "Denzel Washington stars as a driven, idealistic defense attorney whose life is upended when a turbulent series of events challenge the activism that has defined his career. Colin Farrell co-stars as the ambitious, monied lawyer who recruits Roman to his firm."
The Star -- An animated family adventure about a little donkey and other manger animals who become the unsung heroes of the first Christmas. Aww. Stars the voices of Zachary Levi, Kristin Chenoweth, Christopher Plummer and Tyler Perry.
Wonder -- Much loved young adult book about a fifth-grader with "facial differences" (Jacob Tremblay) comes to the big screen. Directed by Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), it also stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Mandy Patinkin.
Molly's Game -- Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut has Jessica Chastain running an underground poker club for Hollywood celebrities, athletes, business tycoons and the Russian mob. Based on Molly Bloom's memoir Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker. Deal me in.
Call Me By Your Name -- Reviews have been strong for Luca Guadagnino's 1983-set story about the son of an American professor (Armie Hammer) who becomes enamored of a teenage graduate student (Timothee Chalamet). This film was seen as an awards contender when it surfaced on the festival circuit earlier this year.
Coco -- Pixar's latest animated heart-jacker has aspiring musician Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) teaming up with trickster Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) for a journey through the Land of the Dead. Other voices include Alanna Ubach, Edward James Olmos and Benjamin Bratt.
Darkest Hour -- The year's second film about Winston Churchill -- after Churchill, which featured Brian Cox in the title role -- is supposedly the better one. Our Piers Marchant was impressed by Gary Oldman's portrayal of the British statesman when he saw the film at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Murder on the Orient Express -- Kenneth Branagh directs Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz and himself in this retelling of the Agatha Christie novel. Whaddya wanna bet it's stylish?
The Disaster Artist -- The long-awaited movie about Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau and the making of Wiseau's 2003 cult film The Room. Dave Franco plays Greg; James Franco plays Tommy. So far the buzz is excellent.
He's Out There -- And so, apparently, is Jigsaw.
Polaroid -- Don't let the high school loner take your picture with his vintage instant film camera.
Wonder Wheel -- Set in an apartment building near the Coney Island amusement park in the 1950s. Ginny (Kate Winslet) is a former actress working as a waitress in a clam house; Humpty (Jim Belushi) is her carousel operator husband; Mickey (Justin Timberlake) is a lifeguard who dreams of becoming a playwright; and Carolina (Juno Temple) is Humpty's long-estranged daughter, who's now forced to hide out from gangsters at her father's apartment. Dramatic stuff ensues.
I, Tonya -- Working class Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) rises through the ranks of the stuck-up at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. It's too bad she has an idiot husband with a scheme. Another film Mr. Marchant approves of.
The Shape of Water -- Guillermo Del Toro's otherworldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War-era America circa 1962, stars Sally Hawkins as a cleaning lady in a top secret lab who goes looking for love in all the wrong places.
Ferdinand -- Animated bull goes on a heartwarming journey.
Gotti -- John Travolta as John Gotti? Sure, I'll see it.
Star Wars: Episode VIII -- The Last Jedi -- I think this one is set in a galaxy that's not too close, a few years ago. But I could be wrong. Rian Johnson gets his crack at the saga.
Downsizing -- The usually interesting Alexander Payne's latest movie is a satire in which people (including Matt Damon) discover life is better after they've been shrunk to five inches in height. Reviews have been good-to-glowing, and I'm willing to give it a try.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle -- Jake Kasdan directs, while Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart and Jack Black star in this quasi-sequel to the 1995 Robin Williams film.
Pitch Perfect 3 -- The cleverly named third film in the Pitch Perfect series finds the older (but no wiser) Bellas reunited for one last singing competition at an overseas USO tour, in which they have to face a group that is unfairly accompanying their vocals with instruments. (I'm not making that up.) With Hailee Steinfeld, Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks, Ruby Rose.
The Post -- Steven Spielberg recounts the Washington Post's decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, with an A-list cast that includes Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Carrie Coon, Alison Brie, Bradley Whitford, Matthew Rhys, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Cross, Bob Odenkirk and Tracy Letts.
The Six Billion Dollar Man -- Mark Wahlberg is presumably torn apart and put back together, better than before, in this film based on the '70s TV series The Six Million Dollar Man. We don't know much else, other than it's probably not a comedy.
The Greatest Showman -- A musical inspired by the life and imagination of P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman), The Greatest Showman boasts a medium name cast (Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, Zac Efron, Zendaya) and a director making his first feature film (Michael Gracey). But 21st Century Fox is betting big on it being the next La La Land.
Style on 10/08/2017
Print Headline: The serious season; As we look for ‘good’ films, will our anticipation be rewarded?