This weekend, audiences will be hard-pressed to find something that’s not worthwhile to see. In fact, the weekend is so good, it probably is the best one of the year so far. 2016 has had some strong release slates, but none can match the Oscar-friendly power of this one. When the least interesting title in a weekend is a “Harry Potter” spin-off likely to be a box office behemoth, you know things are going well. The multiplex will be a welcome refuge from the real world once again. As such, let’s dive in and run down the myriad options you’ll have in the coming days in cinemas!
Best Bet This Week
A near masterpiece from Kenneth Lonergan, this is a very special movie. Not only is it brilliantly scripted, it deals with depression, loss and pain in a way you rarely see depicted on screen. Casey Affleck gives the performance of the year so far in the lead role, doing things that will blow you away. There’s one moment in particular where he receives a painful bit of news, and the way his expression subtly changes is so incredibly realistic. At the same time, it’s so infrequently shown in movies that it’s all the more powerful. Michelle Williams is tremendous too, and so is young Lucas Hedges, but this is Affleck’s show. He deserves every award he’ll receive this season. Make it your business to see this film. You won’t regret it one bit.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 99%
Oscar Hopes – A contender across the board, with Casey Affleck perhaps the frontrunner in Best Actor
Screen Count – 4 Screens (Platform Release)
Also Opening of Note
Miles Teller goes all in with this true-life boxing drama. His physical transformation is well worthy of praise, though Ben Younger‘s flick is solid all around. Aaron Eckhart one-ups his supporting turn in “Sully” here as well, putting forward a fuller portrait. Teller is the centerpiece though, and the biggest reason to check this one out. This one hits (no pun intended) all of the genre marks, but it does it in a way that goes down easy. It’s a contender that is well worth seeing.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 64%
Oscar Hopes – A borderline player in Best Actor for Teller
Screen Count – 1,549 Screens
One of the best teen movies in years hits theaters this weekend. We currently have a new review up on the site singing its praises in a big way. Hailee Steinfeld likely will become an even bigger star thanks to this, while Woody Harrelson is aces in a plum supporting role. Any fans of classic teen coming-of-age stories will find a new modern classic in this one. Easily one of the year’s most welcome surprises, this is an absolutely delightful dramedy with way more to offer than you’d expect. You will be shocked in the most pleasant of ways. Do yourself a favor and check it out this weekend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 95%
Oscar Hopes – Sadly, it’s only a fringe contender in Best Supporting Actor for Harrelson and Best Original Screenplay
Screen Count – 1,900+ Screens
“Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” (Warner Brothers)
This spin-off of the widely beloved “Harry Potter” franchise seems destined to dominate the weekend box office. Eddie Redmayne anchors this sure to be financially successful film, clearly having fun in the process. With a whole host of sequels still to come, the joy may wear thin, but right now, this is doing what “The Hobbit” trilogy couldn’t. It’s moving fandom of one long-term project almost wholesale over to another. With pretty solid reviews, the sky is pretty much the limit for this one. Don’t assume any above-the-line Academy Award nominations, but below the line anything is possible.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 74%
Oscar Hopes – A potential technical category player
Screen Count – 4,000+ Screens
The sophomore outing from Tom Ford has been a mildly divisive film, though to be sure, more love it than don’t. It’s decidedly the oddest release this weekend. Ford certainly has an incredible eye for visuals, but it doesn’t add up to his debut film, “A Single Man.” It’s all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon do fine work, but it’s in service of a somewhat hollow project. See it for yourself though, and decide which side of the coin you fall on. If nothing else, it’s edgy, hardly boring, and has a hell of an opening title sequence.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 72%
Oscar Hopes – There’s potential here, but it could easily be shut out, too
Screen Count – 34 Screens (Platform Release)
“Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened” (Abramorama Films)
“The Eyes of My Mother” (Magnolia)
“Hunter Gather” (The Orchard)
“I Am Not Madame Bovary” (Well Go USA)
“Life on the Line” (Lionsgate Premiere)
“Officer Downe” (Magnolia)