This weekend, an interesting mix of 2016 award hopefuls and 2017 crowd-pleasers flood the marketplace. From a look at the origin of McDonald’s to the latest M. Night Shyamalan joint, there’s something for just about everyone. In addition, there’s also the nationwide expansion of awards hopeful “20th Century Women.” With that small tease in mind, let’s check out what this slate actually has to offer:
Best Bet This Week
“The Founder” (The Weinstein Company)
Ever wonder how McDonald’s became as ubiquitous as it is? Well, this biopic of Ray Kroc will fill in some of the blanks. Michael Keaton is terrific as the milkshake machine salesman who would more or less steal an empire. He’s the best part of the movie, bar none. Aside from him, it’s a solid biopic, but his performance is what makes the film. It really should have come out back in November or December in order to more realistically contend for Oscar attention. Furthermore, a long standing embargo crippled this one from Jump Street as well. Regardless, it’s out now and easily is the week’s best bet.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 85%
Oscar Hopes – A long shot Best Actor candidate in Michael Keaton
Screen Count – 1,100 Screens
Also Opening of Note
This independent film noir boasts a really top notch young cast. It’s just a pity that they’re mostly wasted. The trio of Emory Cohen, Bel Powley and Tye Sheridan star, though none are truly given much to do. In addition, while there’s a bit of “Rashomon” to be found here, there’s no comparison between the two works. After a debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, it has taken its sweet time to come out, with good reason. It’s the kind of middling indie that often goes unheard of and just dies a quick death. There’s hints of a far superior flick here, which makes its mediocrity all the more painful.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – Not enough reviews yet
Oscar Hopes – Don’t hold your breath
Screen Count – Limited Release
“Split” (Universal Pictures)
After about a decade in the doghouse, filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan is slowly getting back in the world’s good graces. James McAvoy is getting some buzz for his showy turn, though up-and-comer Anya Taylor-Joy actually delivers the best performance in the movie. There’s a twist or two to be found, though they’re fairly underwhelming, in addition to a final scene that does actually attempt something bold. This, oddly enough, is the cinematic equivalent of eating McDonald’s. It’s mostly tasty going down, but don’t focus on what you just ate/saw or it might lead to second guessing. As a result, it ends up being middle-of-the-road Shyamalan. For a mid-January release though, it’s decidedly above average.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 79%
Oscar Hopes – Not a chance
Screen Count – 3,015 Screens
“xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” (Paramount Pictures)
Who would have thought this would become a franchise? (Apart from Vin Diesel, that is.) Go figure, the star is now apart of no less than three big franchises. Without question, this is his least beloved, with the “Fast and the Furious” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” series far more highly acclaimed. “xXx” now boasts a trilogy, with this one very much attempting to feel like a “Fast” spin-off of sorts. If you dig Diesel, this seems like a fun enough diversion.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 64%
Oscar Hopes – Almost certainly no chance
Screen Count – 3,600 Screens
“The Red Turtle” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” (High Top Releasing)
“Staying Vertical” (Strand)
“The Sunshine Makers” (FilmRise)
“Trespass Against Us” (A24)