This weekend, an Oscar hopeful biopic and a surprise horror sequel highlight the new releases. Both are hitting theaters along with a small collection of other titles, making for an interesting grouping. Considering how it’s the middle of September, the change in the air is palpable – not just weather wise, either. The movies are changing too, with prestige fare beginning to come out. Last week’s “Sully” saw an awards-worthy title hit screens, which is a far cry from the popcorn flick-dominated summer months. With the New York Film Festival about to begin Press and Industry screenings, more will be revealing themselves soon. For now though, let’s discuss what we have coming this weekend, including whistleblowers and witches!
Best Bet This Week
“Snowden” (Open Road)
There were numerous ways in which a biopic of Edward Snowden could have gone off the rails. Luckily, Oliver Stone avoided almost all of the pitfalls. A prestige title starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the controversial figure, this is a top-notch biopic. Reviews overall have been pretty split, but Gordon-Levitt and Stone were certainly compelled by Snowden’s tale, and it shows. This is the best thing hitting theaters and well worth seeing. Check it out and decide for yourself how you feel about the man. Edward Snowden: patriot or traitor?
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 58%
Oscar Hopes – A potential dark horse contender in Best Picture and Best Actor for Gordon-Levitt
Screen Count – 2,400 Screens
Also Opening of Note
“Blair Witch” (Lionsgate)
While this horror sequel was a bit disappointing, it also did what it set out to do. It can’t hold a candle to the original, but if you like found footage, this works. Basically, it’s Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard playing around with witches. It’s a mixed bag, but when it works, it really works. It’s more unsettling and tense than terrifying, but nothing beats “The Blair Witch Project.” This is as much a remake as a sequel, and does fall short of the early buzz. That being said, it should do solid business and please less picky horror fans. Witches are back, so look for another sequel, likely in short order.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 49%
Oscar Hopes – No chance
Screen Count – 3,000+ Screens
“Bridget Jones’s Baby” (Universal Pictures)
Another sequel this weekend, this time with star Renee Zellweger returning to one of her iconic roles. Reviews have been surprisingly kind, especially considering how unnecessary this outing seems. In another world, this could have been a pseudo prestige title, gunning for awards, but that wasn’t to be. Still, it seems like a solid romantic comedy option. Watching Colin Firth turn on the charm is probably more than enough for some audiences. If biopics and found footage isn’t your thing, perhaps this will do the trick for you?
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 82%
Oscar Hopes – Pretty unlikely, though Golden Globe attention is possible
Screen Count – 2,920 Screens
“Operation Avalanche” (Lionsgate Premiere)
Another found footage option for your weekend viewing. This comes from the minds behind “The Dirties,” which is an underrated entry into the sub-genre. This time around, it’s about the possible faking of the moon landing and the subsequent government conspiracy. This is a low budget flick, but an undeniably effective one. Matt Johnson is a young talent worth keeping an eye on. You’ll have to search a bit for this, but it’s a very solid option, especially if you like found footage but not horror/witches. If that’s the case, give this one a look.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 83%
Oscar Hopes – Nope
Screen Count – Limited Release
“The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” (Abramorama)
“Command and Control” (Independent)
“The Good Neighbor” (Vertical Entertainment)
“Miss Stevens” (The Orchard)
“Mr. Church” (Freestyle Releasing)
“Silicon Cowboys” (FilmRise)
“The Vessel” (New Territory Pictures)
“Wild Oats” (Weinstein/Dimension)