So Summer has passed, and one could say it was less than a stellar example of financial success, with a number of big-budget blockbusters such as King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, The Mummy and Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge failing to register with audiences, as their respective studios would have liked: I imagine Guy Ritchie is glad he’s under Disney’s wing for their live-action remake of Aladdin, after his retelling of the Arthurian legend failed to recoup its production budget.
Consequently, it’s up to the Autumnal auteurs to restrike the match to light up the cinematic screen once again. A somewhat ironic statement, seeing as a lot of the filmic fare during this period are either awards-friendly dramas or films that are more artistic and cryptic in their aesthetic: recent releases such as Goodbye, Christopher Robin and mother! all but confirm this propensity of Autumnal cinema.
However, I’d like to argue that this can only be a good thing, the promising possibility of a recuperated passion for original visions.
So, rather than sitting back in your darkened student rooms ready for some Celebs go Dating, or getting cozy on the sofa ready for the third or fourth revisit to Marvel’s The Avengers, I’d like to suggest a few picks that have either got my film fanatic nerves flexing or my entertainment eyebrows elevated. Get Siri/Cortana/Alexa/Pen-In-Hand to note these down.
(Do bare in mind that I have deliberately omitted Justice League and Thor: Ragnarok, not just to increase awareness of the lesser-known films, but because you’ve more than likely booked your tickets for both already).
Blade Runner 2049 – 5th October
I’m sorry, but the objective voice is all but impossible for me when I realise how imminent the release is to the sequel of one of the greatest artistic visions of all time. Blade Runner cemented science-fiction’s claim to being something more than an eye-popping premonition of a possible future. It tackled with philosophical issues of identity, imperialist principles of segregation and slavery, the psychological impact of violence on its perpetrator. Not your standard entertainment. And it seems as though the same is promised for director Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up. That name is one of many reasons to get excited. With such an eclectic yet celebrated filmography that includes films such as 2013’s Prisoners and 2016’s Arrival, his helming of the long-awaited follow-up was a sigh of relief for fans who feared for the worst (including myself). And with music by Hans Zimmer, cinematography from renowned master Roger Deakins and a cast that includes the forever charismatic Ryan Gosling and the return of Rick Deckard himself, Harrison Ford, Blade Runner 2049 is a film that cannot be avoided. See it on the biggest screen you can find: it promises to be a bevy of visual and narrative spoils.
The Snowman – 13th October
A Scandinavian crime thriller in the vein of the Department Q film series and The Girl with Dragon Tattoo, based on the ever-adaptable work of Jo Nesbø, starring the brilliant Michael Fassbender as the detective on the case? What else could you possibly want? Well, maybe the return of the director who’s made a living off of films that deal with a distinct chill: whether that be the Cold War in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or the literal frost of Sweden in vampire horror Let the Right One In, Tomas Alfredson is exactly the kind of filmmaker you want behind this type of slowly unravelling, morally complex crime thriller. Plus, he’s assembled quite the formidable array of talent. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’s Rebecca Ferguson and J. Jonah Jameson himself, Mr. J.K. Simmons, both support Fassbender in the film, in addition to cinematography from Collateral and Edge of Tomorrow DP Dion Beebe. Here’s hoping it delivers on this promise and gives us a twisted, morose taste to tide us over towards the more hopeful fare coming our way in December.
The Mountain Between Us – 20th October
Continuing the frosty trend, director Hany Abu-Assad’s newest film The Mountain Between Us looks set to be a refreshingly character-driven mountain-survival story, featuring strong performances from its two alluring and esteemed leads: Kate Winslet and Idris Elba. As Baltasar Kormákur’s comparable, mountain-based Everest made a good spectacle-driven impression two years ago, it’ll be interesting to see how Abu-Assad differentiates his narrative from the pack. With the star power of Winslet and Elba, one would expect that this responsibility rests upon these cinematically-versed thespians’ shoulders. However, with his filmography firmly set in the realm of festival-friendly fare such as the Palestinian crime drama Omar, Abu-Assad could bring an efficiently unorthodox flavour to the film. An interesting proposition, well worth checking out: consider my ticket booked.
The Death of Stalin- 20th October
Trust the King of political satire, Armando Iannucci, to choose Stalinist Russia as his next target of infrastructural scrutiny. The furiously funny writer/director/producer has already dismantled our British government in The Thick of It and In the Loop, as well as the American institution with Veep. And now he turns his eyes to the East with the Russian government, what is arguably the most clandestine yet controversial administrative system in recent times, now unprotected against an open attack from Iannucci’s arsenal of witticisms and criticisms. And amassing a great cast to deliver these with the likes of Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Tambor, and the welcome return of Michael Palin to live-action entertainment, Iannucci has seemingly spared no expense in bringing this satirical vision to life. What’s bound to be banned in Russia, is greeted with open arms by those of us who enjoy seeing the powers that be succumb to a little public pressure.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer – 3rd November
A guaranteed conversation stirrer, controversial Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’ new film looks set to shock and enthral in equal measure. Following on from the ideological disruption that was The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer seems to be more narratively focused, in spite of the confidentiality of its plot details: what you can and should know is that it centres on a cluster of characters played by an illustrious cast that includes Nicole Kidman and the always underappreciated Colin Farrell. Furthermore, being dubbed as a psychological horror, do not go in expecting an easy watch: if you need any confirmation as to why that is, Lanthimos’ societal-shaking debut feature Dogtooth is the first port of call. Expect unwavering, unnerving filmmaking that’ll test your intellect and visual pleasure threshold.
Murder on the Orient Express – 3rd November
Despite an abundance of adaptations for screen and stage, director and actor Sir Kenneth Branagh has revisited the revered Agatha Christie murder mystery, imbuing it with a vigorous dose of increased production value and contemporary narrative technique in order to open the train doors, if you will, to those unfamiliar with Christie and her celebrated book collection. With such classical hits as Hamlet, Cinderella and the Shakespearean Thor under his belt, Branagh feels like the ideal fit for this kind of reimagining. Starring as the iconic detective with the most fabulous facial hair, Mr. Hercule Poirot, Branagh is supported by the likes of Penélope Cruz, Dame Judi Dench and Daisy Ridley in what promises to be a rollicking good mystery at the movies. And expect top-notch, tense and tightly-framed imagery and action as well: Locke and Eye in the Sky DP Haris Zambarloukos has taken the cinematographical reins of this one. A must-see.
And there you have it, my picks for this Autumn. Yet I haven’t even touched the surface of what’s to come. Let me know if there’s any films this Fall that you’re excited to see. Or maybe you’re just too damn excited for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Either way, it’s sure to be a cracking season of films.