By Vincent Abbatecola
Top Three Best
3) Everybody Wants Some!! – In 1993, Richard Linklater brought us on a nostalgic trip to the ‘70s with the comedy “Dazed and Confused.” This year, he brought us to the ‘80s with a story that follows incoming college freshman Jake (Blake Jenner), a talented high-school pitcher who moves into a house with other members of his college baseball team. We then follow the team as they live it up the last few days before the semester begins. It’s difficult to single out any one performance for praise because the interactions and dialogue come so naturally through the characters. As Linklater has shown in some of his other films, he knows how to tap into the essence of being young and the fun times our youthful years bring us. And for two hours, we remember our own coming-of-age experiences as we watch the characters live through their own.
2) The Witch – In his directorial debut, Robert Eggers delivers one of the best horror films in several years, one that doesn’t go for easy scares like most modern horror movies, but instead delivers an intelligent story with an unsettling atmosphere and relentless sense of dread. The movie centers on a family in 17th-century New England who, after getting cast into exile from their village, build a farm on the edge of the woods. One day, the family’s infant son mysteriously disappears, and everyone soon expects there may be something evil lurking just beyond their home. I can’t remember the last time a recent horror movie shook me up like this one, and with intense performances, a growing feeling of paranoia, and a slow build to a shiver-inducing conclusion, Eggers proves he has the ability to become one of our next great horror directors. “The Witch” will make you believe there are still filmmakers out there who care about what makes a good horror movie and can craft films that the genre deserves. We all enjoy a scare now and then, and this movie gets the job done, and so much more.
1) Sing Street – As a filmmaker, John Carney has focused a few times on original stories about hardworking musicians trying to achieve their dreams, as he did in 2007 with “Once” and in 2014 with “Begin Again.” In his new film, aspiring musician Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is a 15-year-old living with his dysfunctional family in Dublin in 1985. One day, he meets Raphina (Lucy Boynton), a young woman who dreams of moving to England to become a model, and he offers her a spot in his band’s music video, despite not having a band. He soon decides to create one, and Conor and his bandmates then discover they have the potential to make it big. With mature performances from the film’s young actors, an inspiring story, and original songs you’ll want to download as soon as you get home, you should witness this blissful blend of film and music as soon as you can. When the movie ends, you are sure to feel dizzy from the joy of what you just watched, and you couldn’t ask for a better sensation when coming out of a movie theater.
Top Three Most Anticipated
3) Doctor Strange (November 4) – Based on the character created by Steve Ditko, this latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe follows top neurosurgeon Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who, after being injured in a car accident that ends his career, sets out on a journey to heal. While on his quest, Strange meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who becomes his teacher and trains him in the mystical arts. With Phase Three of the MCU getting off to an explosive start with “Captain America: Civil War” back in May, we will now get what looks like will be one of its most visually stunning movies to date. And with a lead performance from Cumberbatch, this could turn out to be close in quality to the best of the MCU’s solo installments. The film is directed by Scott Derrickson, and the cast also includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, and Michael Stuhlbarg.
2) Passengers (December 21) – Directed by Morten Tyldum, the film follows the spaceship, “Starship Avalon,” as it takes thousands of passengers on a 120-year voyage to a colony planet. 90 years before the ship is set to reach its destination, a malfunction occurs, which prematurely opens two hibernation pods, leaving mechanic Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and writer Aurora Dunn (Jennifer Lawrence) facing the realization they may not survive the remainder of the trip. As recent movies like “The Martian,” “Interstellar,” and “Gravity” have proven, stories about survival in space always make for memorable entertainment, and having two of the world’s biggest movie stars headline this film pretty much guarantees it won’t only be a thrilling adventure, but a well-acted drama, too. The cast also includes Michael Sheen and Laurence Fishburne.
1) The Masterpiece (Fall 2016, exact date TBD) – Based on the non-fiction book “The Disaster Artist” by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, the film tells the hilarious and emotional story about Sestero living in San Francisco to achieve his dreams of becoming an actor and crossing paths with Tommy Wiseau, who soon becomes the director, producer, writer, and star of the 2003 cult film “The Room,” which is regarded as being one of the worst movies ever made, in which Sestero is given one of the leading roles. The book offers an eye-opening view of what went on behind-the-scenes of “The Room,” and it’s every bit as topsy-turvy as you would expect. Given the immense cult status of Wiseau’s baffling creation, seeing a dramatized making of it promises a delightfully off-kilter and fascinating viewing experience. The film will star and be directed by James Franco, who will play Wiseau, while his brother, Dave, will portray Sestero. The cast also includes Seth Rogen, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver, Bryan Cranston, and Sharon Stone.