Every year critics and audiences alike decry Hollywood for the "fact" that not very good movies come out anymore. There are two reasons why this statement is false: 1) Quite a few good movies come out every year, they just mostly don't make it to your local theater unless you live in LA, NYC or Chicago. You have to search for them. 2) Studios backload all of their prestige pictures at the end of the year in order to still be a part of the cultural conversation in time for the Oscars.
If you've only seen a couple of good movies in 2016, these next five weeks might bring you several outright masterpieces or quite a few overhyped disappointments. Here's a look at the most exciting flicks coming out for the rest of the year and whether they will be worth your time.
· Moana: Disney has been on a roll this year with "Zootopia," "The Jungle Book" and "Finding Dory," so this should be a no-brainer. A young woman teams up with the demigod Maui (voiced by The Rock) to go on an epic adventure. This should be fun for the entire family.
· Lion: A young Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta thousands of miles from his home. Decades later he returns home to search for his long lost family with only Google Earth to guide him. This could either be a crowd-pleasing tearjerker or a cheesy mess.
· Allied: On the surface this just looks like another WWII thriller with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, but having Robert Zemeckis in the director's chair means it will at least be visually interesting. Pitt and Cotillard are both quite choosy about what films they do, so this should be a safe bet.
· Rules Don't Apply: This is Warren Beatty's first film as an actor in 15 years and his first as a director in 18 (I'm not counting the Dick Tracy TV Special), so that should be enough right there. "Rules Don't Apply" will be a must-see for fans of Beatty and film historians alike.
· Jackie: The trailers for this look incredible, with Natalie Portman playing post-assassination Jacqueline Kennedy. Director Pablo Larrain gives the film a realistic sheen that should make this a powerful examination of a strong and determined woman.
· La La Land: A jazz pianist and a singer fall in love in a modern take on classic Hollywood musicals. With Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash") directing and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in front of the camera, this might be a modern classic.
· Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: I'm just excited to get a Star Wars movie that's not connected to the larger trilogy and that's constructed like a heist picture. A group of badasses team up to steal the plans for the Death Star and get them to the rebellion. Perfection.
· A Monster Calls: One of the finest young adult novels I've read in years is being adapted by the brilliant J.A. Bayona ("The Orphanage"). A young boy gets help coping with his mother's terminal illness from a giant tree monster. A beautiful story.
· Patriots Day: A look at the Boston Marathon Bombing from director Peter Berg, who gave us another smart look at a tragedy this year with "Deepwater Horizon." Berg is one of the few directors who could take this story and make it work cinematically.
· Live By Night: Ben Affleck directs and stars in a Prohibition-era gangster flick based on the book by the brilliant Dennis ("Gone Baby Gone") Lehane. Affleck is three for three as a director, so this could possibly be the best gangster picture since "Miller's Crossing."
· Hidden Figures: Based on the true story of a team of African-American women who helped launch NASA's first successful space mission. Expect a tear-jerking and heartwarming look at the women who helped make our country proud.
Less exciting but could still be great:
· "The Eyes of My Mother" (12/2)
· "Office Christmas Party" (12/9)
· "Nocturnal Animals" (12/9)
· "Collateral Beauty" (12/16)
· "Sing" (12/23)
· "Passengers" (12/23)
· "Assassin's Creed" (12/23)
· "Fences" (12/30)
· "Gold" (12/30)
· "Paterson" (12/30)
· "Toni Erdmann" (12/30)