By Richard Roeper
TOLD YA SO!
In my 2017 Summer Movie Preview, I listed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Alien: Covenant, Dunkirk, Wonder Woman, Detroit, and Baby Driver among the movies I was most looking forward to seeing.
Fine films, one and all. Dunkirk and Baby Driver are virtual locks to make my year-end top 10 list.
On the other hand: Ah, what do I know!
In that same piece, I told you I was keenly anticipating The Mummy, Rough Night, The House, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and The Dark Tower.
Talk about some rough nights.
As we head into the fall movie season, here’s a chronological look at the movies I’m most excited about.
IT. Arguably the most hyped horror film since… what, The Blair Witch Project? The Exorcist? (As you leap for the keyboard in protest, I look forward to hearing your nominees for any horror film in the last 10 to 15 years with more buildup.)
Stephen King’s massive (1,138 pages) novel from 1986 was adapted into a two-part, four-hour TV miniseries in 1990, with Tim Curry suitably creepy and haunting as Pennywise, a white-faced clown who is actually a purely evil, seemingly immortal being that can take the form of whatever entity one fears the most.
But there was only so much they could do with the material, given the relatively restrained budget and network TV restrictions. The R-rated movie version will no doubt take us down a bloodier path.
Directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama) and starring Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise, It will have a running time of 135 minutes and will reportedly be the first of two cinematic chapters. So prepare to be scared – and left wanting more.
MOTHER! Sometimes the less you know about a film, the more intriguing the prospects, especially when the director is Darren Aronofsky and the cast includes Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a married couple, and two of my all-time favorites, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, as the couple who visits their home and turns their world upside-down and inside-out.
Let’s just leave it at that and we can discuss further after we’ve seen it, shall we?
STRONGER. The Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 was already the basis for Patriots Day, a respectful and intense action thriller directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg. Now comes Stronger, with Jake Gyllenhaal as Jeff Bauman, a regular-guy Bostonian who sustains horrific injuries in the blast (losing both legs) and is thrust into the spotlight as a very reluctant hero. Directed by David Gordon Green.
BATTLE OF THE SEXES. You think the Mayweather/McGregor spectacle was the first time someone staged a decidedly gimmicky but irresistibly fascinating match-up? Please.
In September of 1973, the Houston Astrodome was the site for an exhibition tennis match between 55-year-old self-proclaimed male chauvinist Bobby Riggs and 29-year-old Billie Jean King, the best female player in the world. (Just a few months earlier, on Mother’s Day, Riggs had defeated and embarrassed top-ranked pro Margaret Court in straight sets.) Interest in the match was so high, some 90 million viewers watched on ABC-TV.
Steve Carell and Emma Stone, who look nothing like Riggs and King in real life, look exactly like them in the previews. Given Carell’s remarkable transformation to play John du Pont for Foxcatcher and Stone’s talents (she won an acting trophy last year!), and directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s ability to handle quirky material (Little Miss Sunshine), the arrow is pointing up for the possibility of some quality period-piece entertainment.
BLADE RUNNER 2049. In the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s masterful and highly influential 1982 classic (I’d rank it among the top 10 sci-fi films ever), Harrison Ford reprises his role as Deckard and Ryan Gosling is “Officer K,” who is investigating a dark and potentially world-shattering secret. Directed by the visionary Denis Villanueva (Enemy, Arrival).
Note: The cinematographer for Blade Runner 2049 is Roger Deakins, a great visual artist whose films include The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Skyfall, and Sicario. Deakins has 13 Oscar nominations. Thirteen. Somehow, he has never won. Perhaps the 14th time will be the charm.
MARSHALL. The talented Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in Get on Up, takes on another biographical role, playing the young Thurgood Marshall. In 1941, more than a quarter-century before becoming the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Marshall was an NAACP lawyer working an incendiary case: defending a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) accused of the rape and attempted murder of his employer (Kate Hudson). This is not a through-the-years biopic; it’s a courtroom thriller based on a true story, with a hero at a pivotal early point in his career.
WONDERSTRUCK. Sure to be one of the more adventurous endeavors this fall. Director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Carol), a true stylist who shoots his films as if each frame could be on a wall in a museum, takes on the fantastically imaginative novel from Brian Selznick, which tells the interlocking stories of a 12-year-old runaway girl in 1927 and an 11-year-old boy in 1977 who is devastated by the loss of his mother. Haynes favorite Julianne Moore has roles in each story.
SUBURBICON. George Clooney directs his pal Matt Damon, who stars with the ever-innovative Oscar Isaac and the aforementioned Ms. Moore, in this tale of dark intrigue in the suburbs in the 1950s.
JUSTICE LEAGUE. You’ve got your Batman (Ben Affleck) and your Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and your Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and your Superman (Henry Cavill) and your Flash (Ezra Miller), joining forces to… I’m gonna guess, save the world?
One of these days, the Justice League and the Avengers and the X-Men are all going to show up at the same cataclysmic event, and Spidey or someone will say, “Well, this is awkward…”
MOLLY’S GAME. Cannot wait to see what the one and only Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The Social Network, Moneyball, and we could just keep going) will do with Molly Bloom’s non-fiction memoir about running an exclusive, ongoing, underground, high-stakes private poker game. Jessica Chastain stars as Molly, and the supporting cast includes Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Chris O’Dowd, Graham Greene and Michael Cera.
I’m all-in. – Chicago Sun-Times/Andrews McMeel Syndication