Essential Viewings for November – December

The fall/winter film season is finally here!

After a disappointing summer season, we’re finally in the “prestige” film months, and get to see the films that studios have been hiding all year.

We’re especially excited because there’s not only Oscar contenders coming up, but some of the most popular festival films ever to grace the silver screen.

From Manchester by the Sea to Rogue One, the staff of Life At 24fps pick their most anticipated films for the fall/winter season!

Garrett’s Essentials

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Nocturnal Animals

In the summer of 2010, I witnessed one of my favorite films of all time, A Single Man.

Not only was that film a lush visual experience, but it was also emotionally stirring and came from a first time filmmaker, fashion icon Tom Ford.

I’ve been waiting six years for his second film and Nocturnal Animals looks like one of the most ambitious, yet understandable, follow-ups in recent memory.

I won’t spoil too much about the plot, but what I can tell you is that the prospect of Amy Adams playing a cold hearted person in a deliciously over the top revenge thriller is what 2016 needs right now.

It also has Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon in it and that’s the cherry on top.

Currently playing in the US!

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Live By Night

This is the year of Ben Affleck.

Although his films have been critically divided to say the least, his fanbase has grown dramatically this year and people have been waiting years for his next directorial effort, Live By Night.

Based on the epic prohibition novel from Dennis Lehane, Affleck steps in front and behind the camera and it looks like he’s crafted his first adult blockbuster.

This doesn’t look like Oscar bait, although I can see it getting nominated for it’s costumes and cinematography, and I hope it’s as entertaining as it looks because I’ve come to respect Affleck’s talents a lot since his first directing effort, Gone Baby Gone.

Fingers crossed this will be a solid entry in his already compelling filmography.

Arrives in select US theaters Christmas Day, everywhere January 13.

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Allied

In the 90’s, thrillers like Allied would’ve thrived and had a big poster plastered at Blockbuster.

But those days are over, but director Robert Zemeckis isn’t letting that get to him and has assembled an amazing cast that features Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.

The film is about an Intelligence Officer trying to uncover if his wife is a spy and if she is…he’s ordered to kill her or be killed.

From the sweeping cinematography to the old fashioned yet thrilling story, I can see this really resonating with adults and people yearning for simplicity instead of blockbusters.

Arrives November 23rd in the US

Michael’s Essentials

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Toni Erdmann

Once I read about Toni Erdmann during the Cannes film festival, I decided to check out director Maren Ade’s 2003 debut film The Forest for the Trees, which I thought was brilliant.

I haven’t been able to catch her 2009 follow up Everyone Else yet, but I’m going to make damn sure to see Erdmann before the year’s out.

Like the other films on my list, I have little to no idea what the actual plot concerns.  I simply love the people involved and the rapturous reception it got from many of my trusted critics.

It’s getting harder to avoid trailers and reviews, but I’m grinding my teeth and praying for a quick VOD release.

Arrives Christmas Day in the US

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Gold

Director Stephen Gaghan is still a little too early in his directing career for me to give him a final verdict, but I remember I was a fan of Syriana, but that was over a decade ago.

On the other hand, once I learned the McConaissance was continuing with this film my interest immediately spiked.

Based on the set photos I’ve seen thus far, this looks to be one of McConaughey’s most transformative performances.

Couple this with a plot description that reminds me heavily of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and you’ve got a recipe for my complete attention.

Arrives Christmas Day in the US 

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Neruda

While several of our writers are gushing over Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain’s upcoming Jacqueline Kennedy biopic Jackie, I have my eye on a different film by him, Neruda.

I enjoyed the hell out of his film No, which brought an urgent performance from star Gael Garcia Bernal, and a beautiful sense of self from Larrain.

I’ll admit I don’t know a ton about Neruda’s specific plot, but we all know it centers on famous Chilean poet/diplomat Pablo Neruda.

Hopefully this is an intimate character study that probes into the minds of one of the finest poets of the last couple centuries, but I’ll settle for a decent biopic with some of his writings spliced in.

Arrives December 16th in the US

Terran’s Essentials

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Moana

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: I bleed pixie dust, sing Grim Grinning Ghosts on repeat in my head, and am planning to be buried in my tsum tsum collection… I LOVE Disney!

Not only is Moana our fifth non-white princess, but she is shaped far closer to a normal human being than the other Disney princesses.

Directors Ron Clements and John Musker thoroughly researched the Polynesian Islands before production started and insisted that Moana be voiced by an actress of Polynesian decent (newcomer Auli’I Cravalho reportedly beat out hundreds and was the last to audition).

Throw in songs by genius Lin Manuel-Miranda and Moana is shaping up to be something special, even for those of you who haven’t seen the back side of water.

Arrives November 23 in the US

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Rogue One

In the first Disney Star Wars spin-off, we follow the struggle by a group of rebels to get the plans of the soon-to-be-built Death Star.

Not only is the franchise bringing in Oscar talent (Felicity Jones and Forest Whitiker), but director Gareth Edwards focused more on practical effects than CGI.

While James Earl Jones reprises his role as the voice of Darth Vader, this is the first Star Wars movie not scored by John Williams.

No matter what happens, we all know this movie will be a record-breaking end to Disney’s already insane year of $5.85 billion in box-office receipts.

The only thing I know I will not like: no ewoks.

Arrives December 16 in the US

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Hidden Figures

Slated for a limited Christmas release, Hidden Figures tells the story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who are instrumental in NASA’s first successful space missions.

Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, this film is starting to pick up Oscar steam, especially for its three leads.

I really don’t know what else to say except this: It’s about damn time.

P.S. Everyone who thought I was going to go for Fantastic Beasts! Suck it!

Arrives Christmas Day in the US

Jaime’s Essentials

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Personal Shopper

Kristen Stewart has come a long way since the Twilight franchise.

I’ve always thought that she was a talented actress and her performances in Clouds of Sils Maria, Certain Women, and Café Society convinced me what she was capable of.

I’ll even go on to defend her performances in American Ultra or Equals and I didn’t like either film that much.

I can only suspect Personal Shopper, a film about grief and ghosts, will add more to her wonderful streak.

Knowing that she is working with Clouds of Sils Maria director Olivier Assayas again, why wouldn’t I be looking forward to this?

Currently playing internationally, in the US March 2017

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After The Storm

Hirokazu Kore-eda has shown modern audiences that he has become one of the most fascinating directors to watch over today.

Kore-eda’s family dramas almost hit in the manner that Yasujiro Ozu pieces do, and with the excellent Our Little Sister already being out, only more can be expected with his latest After the Storm, a film that deals with a family on the brink of disaster.

With an ever so consistent body of work that includes After Life, Still Walking, and Nobody Knows, the least we can expect out of a new Hirokazu Kore-eda is disappointment.

Currently playing in festivals, Release date TBA

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Manchester by the Sea

Playwright Kenneth Lonergan’s third feature film as a director, and the first after an incredibly troubled production behind what would turn out to be one of the decade’s most underrated (and best) features, Margaret, is the festival favorite Manchester by the Sea.

The story revolves around a reluctant father figure and it’s stacked with a stellar cast that includes Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, and Gretchen Mol – what more is there to ask for?

If Kenneth Lonergan’s streak remains, he will be a voice to look out for.

Currently in select theaters 

Brendan’s Essentials

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Jackie

Described as a mixture of Marie Antoinette and Under the Skin, Pablo Larrain’s Jackie has been the talk of the town since its premiere at TIFF.

Seeing Natalie Portman playing the iconic First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, and her experiences during the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination intrigues me the most.

She’s proven to be able to give powerhouse performances in the past and this seems to be the film that could get her another Oscar.

The trailer alone makes me more excited to see what the final product will be.

Arrives December 2 in the US

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Fences

As a fan of both Denzel Washington and August Wilson, I couldn’t be more excited to see Wilson’s magnum opus on the big screen.

Fences is a powerhouse of a play that has the right set of actors to pull off all of the powerful moments.

I have faith that Denzel can pull this off since both him and his costar, Viola Davis, won Tony’s for the play a couple years ago.

This is something that I hope will live up to it’s highly predicted Oscar praise once it’s released.

Arrives Christmas Day in the US

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Silence

It’s always a great event when the director of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and The Wolf of Wall Street releases a new film and Silence is no exception.

Martin Scorsese’s religious drama, Silence, has been heard mostly through whispers ever since he announced production on it.

This being a passion project that Scorsese has wanted to get off the ground for thirty years only boost my curiosity of what the auteur will offer this Christmas.

This could be the best religious experience ever put to film.

Arrives Christmas Day in the US

Images via Disney, Fox, Warner Bros, Weinstein Company, Amazon Studios

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