Ah, October. The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, and everyone is digging deep in their closet to find their favorite sweater or sweatshirt from last year in hopes it still fits. It’s the most wonderful time of year for people who think summer is too hot and Christmas is too commercial. It’s also a good time to love cinema, as the perfect mix of genre films and potential Oscar contenders roll out into theaters nationwide in hopes of pulling consumers from their homes for a few hours of communal entertainment.
You may have missed the announcement we made at the end of August, but in recent weeks our staff has decided to end our long-running series of epic film preview lists in favor of more timely articles. Instead of highlighting upwards of fifty films spread over several months we have focused our attention on the ten titles from the coming thirty (or in this case, thirty-one) days that we feel deserve your time and money. Most will be found in theaters, but some may appear on streaming services as well. We know not everyone can afford ten trips to the theater, but we do hope you make time for a few of these films in the weeks ahead.
The Florida Project (10/6)
If Sean Baker stopped making films after the success of Tangerine his legacy in the world of moviemaking would have already been secured. Thankfully, Baker isn’t that crazy and instead has delivered something entirely different that appears to be just as captivating. Set on a stretch of highway just outside the imagined utopia of Disney World, The Florida Project follows six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her rebellious mother Halley (Bria Vinaite,) over the course of a single summer. The two live week to week at “The Magic Castle,” a budget motel managed by Bobby (Willem Dafoe), whose stern exterior hides a deep reservoir of kindness and compassion.
Despite her harsh surroundings, the precocious and ebullient Moonee has no trouble making each day a celebration of life, her endless afternoons overflowing with mischief and grand adventure as she and her ragtag playmates—including Jancey, a new arrival to the area who quickly becomes Moonee’s best friend—fearlessly explore the utterly unique world into which they’ve been thrown. Unbeknownst to Moonee, however, her delicate fantasy is supported by the toil and sacrifice of Halley, who is forced to explore increasingly dangerous possibilities in order to provide for her daughter.
Brawl In Cell Block 99 (10/6)
Remember when Matthew McConaughey had a streak of hits a few years ago and people started calling that era of his career the ‘McConaissance’? If Brawl In Cell Block 99 is half as good as it looks we could be witness the dawn of the Vaughnaissance. The film follows a former boxer named Bradley (Vince Vaughn) loses his job as an auto mechanic, and his troubled marriage is about to end. At this crossroads in his life, he feels that he has no better option than to work for an old buddy as a drug courier. This improves his situation until the terrible day that he finds himself in a gunfight between a group of police officers and his own ruthless allies. When the smoke clears, Bradley is badly hurt and thrown in prison, where his enemies force him to commit acts of violence that turn the place into a savage battleground.
Blade Runner 2049 (10/6)
This is, by far, the most highly anticipated new release of October. Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years. What happens next is a mystery to everyone who isn’t a critic, but so far the critics seem to love whatever it is that unfolds. We’ll be first in line.
The Foreigner (10/13)
No film has had a longer promotional run this year than The Foreigner. I’m not sure if that is actually true or if it is a fact I just made up, but it certainly feels that way. Jackie Chan stars as a man who is on a quest to understand the events that lead to the death of his family. Pierce Brosnan is a man who has answers, or at least who knows the people that do, and based on the trailer above he is standing in Jackie Chan’s way. A whole lot of revenge-action in the spirit of Taken (and a million lesser films) no doubt ensues.
You know it’s Oscar season when biopics begin rolling out to several thousand screens on opening weekend. Based on an early trial in the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the film follows the young lawyer (Chadwick Boseman) to conservative Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) charged with sexual assault and attempted murder of his white socialite employer (Kate Hudson). Muzzled by a segregationist court, Marshall partners with a courageous young Jewish lawyer, Samuel Friedman (Josh Gad). Together they mount the defense in an environment of racism and Anti-Semitism. The high profile case and the partnership with Friedman served as a template for Marshall’s creation of the NAACP legal defense fund.
Some moviegoers just want to watch the world burn. Or freeze. Or break into due to a series of unexpected earthquakes along well known fault lines in densely populated metropolitan areas. If all three apply to you, or if you enjoy tidal waves the size of skyscrapers, then Geostorm is the movie you almost can’t believe is real that actually exists. After an unprecedented series of natural disasters threatened the planet, the world’s leaders came together to create an intricate network of satellites to control the global climate and keep everyone safe. But now, something has gone wrong—the system built to protect the Earth is attacking it, and it’s a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes out everything…and everyone along with it.
The Snowman (10/20)
There are nowhere near enough modestly budgeted crime thrillers being pushed into wide release these days, but maybe The Snowman can change that trend. When an elite crime squad’s lead detective (Fassbender) investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit (Ferguson), the cop must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.
Only The Brave (10/20)
Starring every other leading man in Hollywood today, Only The Brave is the first big ensemble feature of Oscar season 2k18. Whether or not it has the performances to match its cast list remains to be seen, but the story certainly feels ripe for adaptation. Based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, this film tells the heroic story of one unit of local firefighters that through hope, determination, sacrifice, and the drive to protect families, communities, and our country become one of the most elite firefighting teams in the country. As most of us run from danger, they run toward it – they watch over our lives, our homes, everything we hold dear, as they forge a unique brotherhood that comes into focus with one fateful fire.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (10/20)
All hail Yorgos Lanthimos. I have watched the trailer for this film at least two dozen times and I still have no idea what exactly is going on. A young man needs to take revenge, a doctor has to make a decision, and his family must survive.
The franchise that just won’t die continue to find new ways to showcase horrific deaths you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy. I don’t know why our love for this franchise continues, but I, for one, am thrilled to see it return. Bodies are turning up around the city, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise. As the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one man: John Kramer. But how can this be? The man known as Jigsaw has been dead for over a decade.
If you have an upcoming film you feel should be considered for a future installment of this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the release information.