In November, we’ll see the release of a large number of Oscar-bait prestige films, meticulously crafted biopics, dramas adapted from acclaimed novels, superhero sequels and even a couple wholly original films. But there will also be plenty of turkeys fighting for screen time at the multiplex before Thanksgiving. Speaking of turkeys, will Trump pardon one like his predecessors occasionally do? Manafort? Kushner? We digress. Here are nine films we are looking forward to in November and a couple that look like straight-up turkey droppings.
THOR: RAGNAROK (Nov. 2)
Already a smash hit outside the U.S., the latest Thor movie is cause for hope due to the livelier, less lugubrious tone (the producers are obviously taking a page from irreverent superhero blockbusters Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy), plus the addition of Cate Blanchett as lead villain and a fantastic director (Taika Waititi, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do In The Shadows). Oh, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finally cut off his Fabio ‘do and looks extra fine.
LADY BIRD (Nov. 3)
We can’t wait to watch the fireworks between Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. Actor Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut explores the hilarious and turbulent bond between a mother and daughter. Currently sitting at 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, this is one film that will be collecting acting and writing awards during the run-up to the Oscars in March.
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (Nov. 10)
Hollywood rarely assembles a cast this expansive and pedigreed. Academy Award winners Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, nominees Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe and the always compelling Michelle Pfeiffer are joined by relative newcomers Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, Tom Bateman and Leslie Odom, Jr. The 1974 adaptation of the Agatha Christie thriller was a critical and commercial smash and garnered six Oscar noms, winning one for Ingrid Bergman.
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (Nov. 10)
Pegged as THE Oscar frontrunner after screening at the Toronto Film Festival, this black comedy deftly balances searing drama and features a commanding performance from Frances McDormand as a grieving mother who confronts local police over their inability to find her daughter’s killer. Supporting castmates Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell are also earning raves.
I LOVE YOU, DADDY (Nov. 17)
We love Louis C.K., but this looks like straight-up Woody Allen plagiarism – jazzy score, high contrast black and white cinematography and a morality tale following upscale, creative types. Chloe Grace Moretz is the not-quite-legal-aged daughter of successful writer/producer (C.K.) who begins a relationship with a much, much older filmmaker (John Malkovich). Top-notch supporting cast includes: Rose Byrne, Pamela Adlon, Charlie Day, Edie Falco and Helen Hunt.
MUDBOUND (Nov. 17)
Out filmmaker Dee Rees’ latest is a moving epic which follows two families, one black, one white living in the Jim Crow south, post WWII. Mary J. Blige’s turn as a matriarch is touted as a potential Oscar nominee. Available to watch on Netflix or in theaters.
COCO (Nov. 22)
We think we will be loco for Coco. Pixar almost never disappoints and their latest is a Day of the Dead riff featuring gorgeous animation, lump-in-the-throat family lore and vocal talent including Gael Garcia Bernal and Benjamin Bratt.
DARKEST HOUR (Nov. 22)
His portrayal of Winston Churchill could finally capture Oscar gold for Gary Oldman, decades after he first stunned and amazed us portraying Sid Vicious (Sid and Nancy) and Joe Orton (Prick Up Your Ears). There really aren’t other clear front-runners for the Best Actor Academy Award, with the possible exception of Armie Hammer, which brings us to…
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (Nov. 24)
Can it possibly live up to the hype? Many reviews have been ecstatic, but some have questioned the rather timid depiction of the man-on-young man sexual relationship. A peach-fucking scene will have audiences tittering, but most will come away with an appreciation of Armie Hammer, who definitely will be in the running for lead actor statues.
Holiday Turkeys: THE STAR (Nov. 17) – Sony’s Affirm Films, aimed primarily at evangelical Christians, rounds up Tyler Perry, Oprah and more for the animated tale (or is it tail?) of the first Christmas, told from a donkey’s perspective. Here’s hoping for lots of “ass” jokes. WONDER (Nov. 17) – Mask plus big stars minus Cher plus faux uplift equals blockbuster. Gobble, gobble.