The Best Movies Released In 2016

Few things bring cinephiles joy quite like spending the weekend holed up in a movie theater, devouring the latest silver screen debuts. Though the biggest question is always, How exactly does one choose what to see? Well, that's where we come in.
Obviously, there will be certain movies throughout the year that feel like must-sees just because everyone is talking about them — can a film named White Girl actually give a compelling look at race and privilege in America? However, if you want to be a more discerning moviegoer, you can visit this cheat sheet. Here we'll give you the lowdown on 2016 releases — and the critics' verdicts on them. Then, you'll be able to determine which one is right for you.
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Also be sure to click here to see the movie reviews on 2017 new releases.
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20th Century Women
Starring: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Lucas Jade Zaman
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 92%
Synopsis: A teenage boy in 1979 is raised by three women.

What’s The Word: The last of the late-year Oscar hopefuls, 20th Century Women has been praised for its visual style and for Bening's work as the matriarch Dorothea. The New York Times declared it a critic's pick, laying on the love for Ms. Bening's work. Manohla Dhargis writes, "Dorothea is at once laid back and uptight, which Ms. Bening conveys with moments of shambling, gestural looseness and sudden emotional spikiness." The New York Post declares: "Despite being set in the late 1970s, "20th Century Women" feels like the perfect movie for this moment."

Though it takes place in 1979, critics all seem to indicate that the film, which focuses on coming-of-age, spans across decades. There's also a rallying cry for Bening to receive the Best Actress Oscar — Oscar noms don't come out until late January. We shall see!

Released December 30
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Hidden Figures
Starring: Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, Masherhala Ali
Rated: PG
Tomatometer: 95%
Synopsis: Based on a nonfiction novel of the same name, the movie chronicles the life and times of Black female NASA employees in the 1960's.

What’s The Word: The film plays out in a familiar fashion, but that's not to say it fails. The PG-rated story is perhaps a tad glossy for historical fiction, but satisfying nonetheless. Writing in The New York Times, A.O. Scott declares, "The movie...expands the schoolbook chronicle of the conquest of space beyond the usual heroes, restoring some of its idealism and grandeur in the process." A lot has been said about the movie's charm and "feel-good" qualities.

Alonso Duralde of TheWrap writes, "Feel-good history, but it works, and it works on behalf of heroes from a cinematically under-served community. These smart, accomplished women had the right stuff, and so does this movie." It's family-friendly fun, and important work at that.

Released December 23
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Silence
Starring: Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 90%
Synopsis: A monk (Andrew Garfield) ventures into 15th-century Japan to find a lost colleague.

What’s The Word: Martin Scorsese directs this film about questioning faith, and most critics seem a little disappointed in the legendary director, if not totally underwhelmed. The detractors complain that the film is too long, and feels it. The New York Post writes, "Silence" comes to us billed as 30 years in the making. Unfortunately, it plays like 30 years in the watching." Other reviews are more laudatory. Writing for Slate, Dana Stevens admits that "Though it contains many scenes of prolonged suffering and a few shocking moments of graphic violence, Silence bears a contemplative stillness at its heart." And Variety seems to sum it up best, calling the movie, "A taxing film that will not only hold up to multiple viewings, but practically demands them."

Released December 23
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Why Him?
Starring: James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mulally
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 40%
Synopsis: Bryan Cranston takes on a rabid James Franco in this tale of father meets potential son-in-law.

What’s The Word: It's not getting rave reviews, but did anybody expect it to? The movie, directed by John Hamberg of I Love You, Man, is sophomoric, crass, and unintelligent. Which, in the face of all these heady Oscar contenders, you just might need. A.O. Scott of The New York Times writes, "Proving definitively that slapping Mr. Franco’s scenery-eating grin on any old drivel doesn’t guarantee entertainment, “Why Him?” is trite, crass and insultingly moronic."

The Boston Globe is a bit kinder, writing, "Not as wild as intended, but reasonably diverting just the same." Here's your holiday diversion, folks, and it stars James Franco.

Released December 23
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Fences
Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 90%
Synopsis: A screen adaptation of August Wilson's play, Fences chronicles the trials of a black family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

What’s The Word: It's an adaptation of a play, so expect Fences to be dialogue heavy and slow-moving at first. Stay with it, though, and you will be rewarded. A New York Times critic's pick, the film rides on Washington and Davis. Washington, who also directed the film, will surely get an Oscar nom for his verbose performance. A.O. Scott of The New York Times says of the veteran actor, "His voice is a mighty instrument, and if you closed your eyes and just listened to Fences you would hear a verbal performance of unmatched force and nuance."

Matt Goldberg, writing for Collider, also cites Davis and Washington MVP's of the film. He writes, "Fences demands to be seen if for no other than reason than Washington and Davis. They're at the top of their game reprising roles that rightfully earned them Tonys for their work. Now they deserve Oscars."

Wilson's play is a literary classic, and the film will no doubt receive a place in the pop culture canon as well.

Released December 16
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Barry
Starring: Devon Terrell, Anya Taylor-Joy,Jason Mitchell, Ellar Coltrane, Jenna Elfman
Rated: Not Rated
Tomatometer: 83%
Synopsis: The life and times of a collegiate Barack Obama, a.k.a. Barry.

What’s The Word: The film follows Obama's early life to a somewhat pedantic degree, but that doesn't detract from the film's overall watchability. This is still Barack Obama, people, and Devon Terrell handles the responsibility of portraying the president well. The A.V. Club writes, "it’s hard to shake the feeling we’re watching a nuanced but slight character study whose significance derives primarily from invisible context." The New York Times declared it a critic's pick, calling Barry a "a satisfying slice of neo-Americana."

One wonders if, considering the current political climate, critics can't bring themselves to dislike a film that amounts to a love letter to Barack Obama. Melanie McFarlane, writing for Salon.com, says as much. She writes: "At this moment, when the idea of looking backward is preferable to playing the maddening game of guessing what kind of future the new regime has in store for us, its fanciful vision of hope in the face of mundane ignorance may be all that many of us can stomach."

Available on Netflix, Barry is a meandering love letter to our 44th president.

Released December 16
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Collateral Beauty
Starring: Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Naomi Harris, Keira Knightley
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 12%
Synopsis: A grieving network exec has conversations with the physical manifestations of death, love, and time.

What’s The Word: Maudlin, mawkish, all of those things — and that just might work. The trouble is that the film uses tragedy as a cheat code. With a dead child, who needs good filmmaking? Richard Roeper of The Chicago-Sun Times points out, "It's quite possible "Collateral Beauty" will move you to tears. Then again, it's quite possible you've been moved to tears by commercials about dogs that befriend horses."

Manola Darghis of The New York Times is downright angry at the film. She rails off words applicable to the film: "artificial, clichéd, mawkish, preposterous, incompetent, sexist, laughable, insulting." Critics seem most angry at the fact that a movie this well-assembled — the cast has at least two Oscar winners — could fail so hard. But it's still a tear-jerker, and if you're in need for sniffly tissue time, why not?

Released December 16
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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Starring: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelson, Riz Ahmed, Alan Tudyk
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 85%
Synopsis: The first of a Star Wars spin-off series, Rogue One takes a closer look at the events of the Rebellion before Luke Skywalker entered the picture.

What’s The Word: Mediocre, but familiar, like a bite of a Twinkie. Rogue One mimicks the look and feel of a epic sci-fi adventure, but fails to ever self-actualize and become a standalone film of its own right. The top critics aren't enthused — A.O. Scott calls it "thoroughly mediocre" and The New Yorker declared the whole "mythopoetic" franchise both "overbaked and undercooked" — but others are more enthusiastic. Vulture gives it the critical equivalent of a congratulatory pat on the back: "The movie didn’t rekindle the thrill of seeing, say, The Empire Strikes Back, but Rogue One will loom pretty large in the Star Wars galaxy — if only because there’s so little competition," David Edelstein writes.

Listen, some people love Twinkies. Others really don't. We give you carte blanche to unwrap this puppy and enjoy it despite its packaging.

Released December 16
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Office Christmas Party
Starring: T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Kate McKinnon
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 43%
Synopsis: Office holiday party occurs and debauchery ensues.

What’s The Word: It's The Hangover but with Christmas cheer. Set your expectations low, and you just might be pleasantly surprised. Most of the praise for Office Christmas Party is directed at the supporting cast, which is stacked with comedy power players. T.J. Miller of Silicon Valley fame leads the ensemble cast with proper "hapless idiot" appeal. The Guardian calls the film a "goofily ridiculous and disposable comedy," which, to be fair the movie never said it wasn't. Jake Coyle, writing in Salon, isn't impressed either: he declares Office Christmas Party "a movie with all the trimmings, but none of the jokes." Nevertheless, the general consensus seems to be that Office Christmas Party can be a decent palate cleanser to follow winter's heavy Oscar contenders.

Released December 9
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The Brand New Testament
Starring: Pili Groyne, Benoît Poelvoorde, Catherine Deneuve, François Damiens, Yolande Moreau
Rated: Not rated
Tomatometer: 78%
Synopsis: This satire on religion takes God and makes him a cantankerous father in modern-day Brussels.

What’s The Word: The joke — making a God a put-upon Grinch who hates ruling the world — is endlessly productive, and worth a 2-hour watch. Stephen Holden, writing in The New York Times, calls the film "a surreal comedy whose endless visual imagination matches its conceptual wit." The Los Angeles Times compared the film's humor to that of Monty Python. The big "unraveling" of the film occurs when God's daughter, Ea, pranks her father by texting everyone in the world the day of their death. (Oh, shit.) And that foible seems to be working for everyone — a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes ain't bad.

In addition, critics have praised the whimsical visual style of director Jaco Van Dormael. Part parable, part farce, The Brand New Testament is all in good, clean, mock-the-Old-Testament fun.

Released December 9
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La La Land
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J.K. Simmons, Rosemarie Dewitt, John Legend
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 95%
Synopsis: A struggling actor (Emma Stone) and a jazz musician (Ryan Gosling) living in Los Angeles — or La La Land — try to forge a relationship amidst the ruins of dashed hopes and dreams.

What’s The Word: Well, it's already a nominated for 9 Critic's Choice Awards. Sure to be a major oscar contender, La La Land takes the appeal of Old Hollywood and applies it to the trials of today's millennials. Stone and Gosling's characters struggle to balance career with their growing relationship, which, in any other director's hands, could come out as pure treacle. But with Damien Chazelle (who gave us Whiplash) at the helm, it's a balance of saccharine and sour. The New York Times says that La La Land "succeeds both as a fizzy fantasy and a hard-headed fable, a romantic comedy and a showbiz melodrama, a work of sublime artifice and touching authenticity."

And, hey, even if you don't like movie-musicals — they can stink, I'll say it — R29's Morgan Baila declared La La Land "The movie musical that non-musical lovers can enjoy." So go enjoy it.

Released December 9
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Jackie
Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard,Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 89%
Synopsis: Chronicles Jackie Kennedy's transition from first lady to national widow.

What’s The Word: Another attempt to understand the enigmatic political figure — except this one works. A New York Times critic's pick, Manola Dhargis calls Jackie "Intensely affecting and insistently protean." Note: no one thinks this film is cheery. Scott Tobias of NPR praises Portman's performance, saying that it "suggests Jackie as a ghostly figure who's haunting the wreckage of her own life." The Nerdist says, bluntly, "Jackie is not a feel-good movie." It's not a date night movie, but it's definitely worth a watch.

Released December 2
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Man Down
Starring: Shia LaBoeuf, Gary Oldman, Kata Mara, Jai Courtney
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 13%
Synopsis: After returning home from war, a soldier (Shia LaBeouf) searches for his son and wife (Kate Mara).

What’s The Word: This movie is receiving the type of scathing reviews that are probably more entertaining than the movie itself. The film's nonlinear storyline has been declared confusing and unreliable to the point of exasperation. The New York Times called it "a sadistic and ghoulish spectacle," so there's that. The real reason to see this movie is Shia LaBoeuf, looking sullen, shaven, and really in love with Kate Mara.

Released December 2
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Moana
Starring: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Auli'i Cravalho
Rated: PG
Tomatometer: 97%
Synopsis: A young Polynesian girl enlists the help of God Maui (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) to remove a curse from her homeland.

What’s The Word: Hands down, this is the movie you should see this weekend. It has an incredibly high score on Rotten Tomatoes, but, more importantly, R29's own Arianna Davis says it's the "diverse, feminist story" that we need. We love it, the critics love it, and the moviegoers love it — The Atlantic calls the film, "an absolute delight, a lush, exuberant quest fable full of big musical numbers and featuring perhaps the most stunning visuals of any Disney film to date." So, you have the vocal stylings of The Rock, an animated tropical escape, and one badass feminist. Enough said.

Released November 23
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Miss Sloane
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, John Lithgow, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 69%
Synopsis: Jessica Chastain is Miss Sloane, a femme fatale in the guise of a Washington lobbyist.

What’s The Word: Miss Sloane can't be blamed for its flaws. Meant to be a high-stakes political thriller, the film premiered on the heels of the 2016 election, and the story misses its mark. To be fair, the mark has been blown to pieces and scattered across the country. Lindsey Bahr, a writer for The Associated Press, says the film "already feels woefully out of date." Miss Sloane takes no prisoners, and adheres to no moral compass. All of this would be permissable if it weren't for the out-of-whack moral compass in the country.

Sheila O'Malley of Rogerebert.com calls the film "old-fashioned." According to O'Malley, Miss Sloane comes from "a more innocent time (say, three weeks ago) when politics as usual actually had some meaning." The country has had all the political entertainment it could possibly want — why would we need to watch a movie?

Chastain, a critical darling, remains above reproach, but with the movie's faulty time, an Oscar nod is doubtful.

Released November 24
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Lion
Starring: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman,
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 76%
Synopsis: Based on a true story, this epic follows the adopted Saroo (Dev Patel) as he uses Google Earth to track down his birth family.

What’s The Word: It's a tear-jerker, but that compliment is decidedly not backhanded. A.O. Scott says it best in The New York Times: " If you have ever been a child, raised a child, lost a child or met a child — or a mother — this movie will wreck you." Young Saroo, played by Sunny Panwar, is separated from his family by way of a train that takes him all the way across India. Deposited in the streets of Calcutta, he survives long enough to find a pair of Australian expats, who end up adopting him. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised Nicole Kidman for her "unglam" portrayal of Saroo's adopted mother. Saroo's search for his parents begins in his late twenties, when he's busy romancing Lucy (Rooney Mara). From there, the mawkish journey begins. (Mawkish here, is not an insult.)

The movie is generating Oscar buzz for Dev Patel, of Slumdog Millionaire fame. The BAFTA-nominated actor is maturing out of his youthful cheer (I refer you to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), and Lion puts his "serious actor" drama chops on display.

Released November 22
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Captain Fantastic
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 75%
Synopsis: A couple raises their children in an intellectually stimulating wilderness home, a setup that’s threatened when the family has to engage with the real world after the mother’s suicide.

What’s The Word: The movie has a “wonderful wryness,” according to R29’s own Elizabeth Kiefer. Some of it is charming, wrote The Hollywood Reporter’s Leslie Felperin, but most of it is overdone movie magic: “This is really a movie for upper-middle class hipsters who once fancied themselves firebrands and status quo-challengers in college, but now consider only buying organic food at Whole Foods and not vaccinating their kids to be radical acts.” Viggo Mortensen is the flick’s undisputed star. “He’s totally believable as a man who’s set his own moral code and lived by it for years,” wrote Ed Frankl at Little White Lies. “As he realizes that he stands to lose his children to the outside world, Mortensen’s performance shifts up a gear, becoming more sensitive and moving.”

Released July 8
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Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 74%
Synopsis: This Harry Potter spin-off focuses on Newt Scamander and his time working on the Hogwarts textbook.

What’s The Word: We definitely don’t need four more Fantastic Beasts movies, but this one manages to pull off a magic adventure. At Us Weekly, Mara Reinstein wrote that the movie “has layered a sophisticated and surprisingly dark origin story that will appeal more to grownups than the younger set.” Eddie Redmayne is also good, Cath Clarke wrote for Time Out: “I'm not sure which is more adorable, Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, or the creatures he smuggles into the U.S. in his battered leather briefcase.” Empire’s Helen O’Hara wasn’t too impressed, but said the movie lays an important foundation for future good work: “With this heavy lifting done, there's every reason to hope for an even more magical adventure next time,” she wrote.

Released November 18
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Divines
Starring: Oulaya Amamra, Déborah Lukumuena
Rated: NR
Tomatometer: 80%
Synopsis: After meeting a dreamy dancer, two teen girls experience life outside of their Paris ghetto.

What’s The Word: Netflix snatched this debut feature after it got a standing ovation at Cannes. At Variety, Catherine Bray wrote that “Houda Benyamina bursts onto the scene with a punchy, pacy directorial debut, playing as gangster thriller and female buddy movie.” At Screen International, Lee Marshall wrote that it “crackles with attitude, anger, and lust for life.” The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw was also impressed: “The overwhelming impression is that Dounia has ambition and vision, a conviction that she might still be able shape her own future. It's an exhilarating film.”

Released November 18
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The Edge Of Seventeen
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 89%
Synopsis: A coming-of-age movie about Nadine, whose life falls apart when her best friend starts dating Nadine's cool-kid older brother.

What’s The Word: It’s true to the drama and tragedy of being a teenage girl. “This hilarious teen comedy is directed by Kelly Fremon Craig and stars Hailee Steinfeld as Nadine, a charming, yet neurotic teenager on the edge of adulthood,” Valerie Complex wrote for Black Girl Nerds. At The Film Stage, Dan Schindel advised viewers to ignore the John Hughes comparisons — “it’s much more honest than that.” NPR’s Ella Taylor wrote that director Kelly Fremon Craig "writes fresh, sharp dialogue, knows what she's doing around actors and is unafraid to get out on a ledge."

Released November 18
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Manchester By The Sea
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 99%
Synopsis: After his brother dies, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) has to move home and care for his teenage nephew. He's marred by an unknown grief, which makes his transition to life in his old hometown difficult.

What’s The Word: It’s wounding and imperfect, but brutal in the most endearing ways. Casey Affleck is also spectacular. BuzzFeed’s Alison Willmore called it “the finest possible incarnation of the sort of starry, delicate drama that is a festival standard.” At The Playlist, Noel Murray wrote that “by the time the film ends, we know so much about these people and their town that they don't even need to articulate their feelings for us to understand them.” Writing for Film Journal, Tomris Laffly called it a “quietly devastating film, which affirms Casey Affleck as one of the finest actors working today.”

Released November 18
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Bleed For This
Starring: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Ciarán Hinds
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 64%
Synopsis: The true story of Vinny "The Pazmanian Devil" Pazienza, a boxer who fought to come back into the ring after a near-fatal car wreck.

What’s The Word: At The Wrap, Claudia Puig wrote that the movie reduces Pazienza’s story, leaving Bleed for This feeling “overly simplified and lacking in heft.” At the Boston Globe, Ty Burr praised the lead performance: “Teller is cornering a market on recklessness in the roles he chooses — the energy from that demonic drum solo at the end of Whiplash seems to carry over into the ferocity with which Vinny pounds at life.”

Released November 18
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Nocturnal Animals
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 72%
Synopsis: When Susan Morrow sits down to read the manuscript of her ex-husband’s book, the plot — which follows a grieving man’s fight to bring his family’s murderer to justice — forces her to see what went wrong in their failed marriage.

What’s The Word: Tom Ford's latest film is stylish (sometimes to a fault), but some parts are too hollow to feel remotely real. “In the end, Nocturnal Animals barely feels like a film made by a human being. You could just dub it a 'stylish exercise' and call it a day. But I just can't shake the fact that Ford somehow wants it to be more,” wrote Time’s Stephanie Zacharek. At Hot Press, Roe McDermott found it all a part of the director’s allure: “Ford's heightened approach to storytelling may alienate some viewers. But his style isn't just for show: It embodies how the characters in his films are concealing truths, wearing masks, reciting social scripts,” she wrote. It has an appeal that is very different from A Single Man, though: “It’s as gratuitously cruel as A Single Man was tender,” wrote Manuela Lazic for Little White Lies.

Released November 18
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Arrival
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 96%
Synopsis: A lauded linguist is recruited to investigate the language used by an alien life form that has just touched down on earth.

What’s the Word: It’s thrilling and smartly written. “For fans of dark, cerebral, Christopher Nolan type sci-fi or even time-related sci-fi this will be right up your alley,” wrote Lauren Warren for Black Girl Nerds. At International Business Times, Amy West said the movie “pushes the boundaries on what a sci-fi film really can be.” Arrival is complicated, but still deft: “It's a monolith, a megalith, but like the gigantic alien craft that comes to rest somewhere above Montana at the start of the film, despite its immensity it hovers elegantly overhead. The film defies gravity,” wrote Jessica King for The Playlist.

Released November 11
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Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Garrett Hedlund, Steve Martin
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 46%
Synopsis: After fighting in Iraq, a 19-year-old army private adjusts to life at home.

What’s the Word: Reviews are mixed on Ang Lee’s latest offering. At Consequence of Sound, Nina Corcoran called it “a war story that should be felt, but instead tells you how to feel.” Us Weekly’s Mara Reinstein suggested that “every person who puts on the special glasses will be able to see that expensive effects can't cover for clunky dialogue and a story more tired than a college student with mono.” Variety’s Owen Gleiberman saw something in it, though: “The film isn't simply a technological experiment; it's also a highly original, heartfelt, and engrossing story. And part of the power of it lies in the way that those two things are connected,” he wrote.

Released November 11
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Almost Christmas
Starring: Gabrielle Union, Omar Epps, Kimberly Elise, Mo’Nique
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 41%
Synopsis: Family drama comes to a head during the holidays.

What’s the Word: It's fine. "In all, it's a pleasant enough way to spend two quiet hours with the extended family, but Almost Christmas probably won't be your next holiday tradition," wrote Devan Coggan for Entertainment Weekly. At Village Voice, Melissa Anderson said it "follows formula for the overcrowded and overplotted Noel-season movie, ladling out too-generous portions of churchiness, multigenerational dance-off, and Mars vs. Venus sermonizing." At IndieWire, Aramide A Tinubu called it satisfying: "It embraces every opportunity for the warm, inviting feelings conjured up by the memories of that perfect slice of sweet potato pie — and anyone who knows what that tastes like won’t be disappointed."

Released November 11
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Loving
Starring: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 91%
Synopsis: An intimate biopic about the Lovings, whose interracial marriage changed American politics forever.

What’s The Word: Ruth Negga is spectacular, but sometimes there’s the sense that there’s not a lot to Loving's narrative. Read our interview with producer Nancy Buirski. “Loving is modest, quiet, and deep. Like all [Jeff] Nichols' work with his long-time cinematographer, Adam Stone, the film highlights the lush beauty of the rural American South,” wrote Ella Taylor for NPR. “It's a patient film, and it requires some patience from its audience. But its rewards are gentle and winning, and for once, a cinematic history lesson that doesn't feel artificial and processed in every pore,” wrote Tasha Robinson for The Verge. “It doesn't trumpet its importance obnoxiously, and it's packed with performances of quiet power, with Negga as the breakout,” wrote Alison Willmore for BuzzFeed.

Released November 4
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Doctor Strange
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Michael Stuhlbarg
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 91%
Synopsis: Stephen Strange, a former surgeon, becomes a sorcerer.

What’s The Word: It's the Inception-est Marvel movie yet, in a good way. Marvel didn’t make good on their promise for equity for minority actors: “For a film that has promised diversity and wanting to move from harmful Asian stereotypes, this movie fails to bring in people of color in a meaningful way,” wrote Joelle Smith for Black Girl Nerds. At the Los Angeles Times, Justin Chang called it “playful and distinctive enough to throw a wrench into the grinding gears of the Marvel assembly line.” At The New York Times, Manohla Dargis called it “so visually transfixing, so beautiful and nimble that you may even briefly forget the brand.”

Released November 4
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Peter And The Farm
Starring: Peter Dunning
Rated: NR
Tomatometer: 100%
Synopsis: This doc looks into the life of a crotchety farmer who is plagued by regret and alcoholism.

What’s The Word: It’s not sentimental, but still moving. “Documentary portraits live or die on the subject at hand — and in his debut documentary Peter and the Farm, filmmaker Tony Stone has a hell of a character to keep you engaged,” wrote Nigel M. Smith for The Guardian. “The film evokes the natural world with a grand poetic awareness of the primal connectedness of things. From the rapturous to the gross, you can't have one without the other,” wrote Stephen Holden for The New York Times. At IndieWire, Noel Murray found Peter Dunning to be a compelling (but sometimes irascible) subject: “He went 'back to the land' presuming that if he respected nature, the Earth would provide. Instead, nothing’s come easy. If he doesn’t keep detailed notes on his sheep, he can’t keep them alive. If he doesn’t drink rum in the middle of the night, he gets the shakes. If he doesn’t tell his family he loves them, they leave,” Murray wrote.

Released November 4
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Hacksaw Ridge
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Vince Vaughn
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 87%
Synopsis: The true story of Desmond Doss, a World War II soldier who saved 75 men without carrying a gun.

What’s The Word: Once you get past the inevitable controversy of a movie directed by a figure as polarizing as Mel Gibson, reviews are mixed. “Once you get to the actual war, the movie becomes respectable, serious, even thoughtful,” wrote Eric D. Snider for his own site. At Baltimore Magazine, Max Weiss was unimpressed: “Man, I thought most of this film was a load of hooey — right down to Garfield's tremulous, moist-eyed performance and that sing-songy cornpoke accent of his.” At the very least, it might be entertaining, even if it is one-dimensional: “Hacksaw Ridge winds up being a rousing piece of entertainment that also happens to be an affecting portrait of spiritual faith and simple human decency,” wrote Matt Zoller Seitz for RogerEbert.com.

Released November 4
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By Sidney Lumet
Starring: Sidney Lumet
Rated: NR
Tomatometer: 67%
Synopsis: An expansive interview with the director of iconic movies like Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men, Serpico, and Network.

What’s The Word: This could've easily turn into a melodramatic deep dive for those annoying film bros you avoided in college. But Nancy Buirski’s perspective invites new and familiar fans, and Lumet seems knowledgable and warm under her lens. “Mr. Lumet comes across as a mensch, but he was also a complex artist whose often literally dark films were filled with shadows, rage and spit, not just nobility,” wrote Manohla Dargis for The New York Times. “The movie is simply Lumet and his films,” wrote Owen Gleiberman for Variety, “which turns out to be an astonishingly satisfying experience, because he's an incredible talker, with the same earthy electric push that powers his work.” At Metro, Matt Priggee suggested this was Lumet at his most open: “Coming away from By Sidney Lumet, you see a master filmmaker as he'd likely have presented himself: a man as complex as his movies and the worlds they explored.”

Released October 28
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Before The Flood
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Bill Clinton
Rated: PG
Tomatometer: 67%
Synopsis: It’s like Around The World in 80 Days, only starring Leonardo DiCaprio and his cargo shorts. (Just kidding! This is a very serious movie about climate change.)

What’s The Word: It’s not boring. “Flood's filmmakers are intelligent in their use of the biggest asset they have: Not only do they keep their movie star onscreen, they work hard to tie viewers' concern for the environment up with his biography,” wrote John DeFore for The Hollywood Reporter. At The Village Voice, Amy Brady called it “frustrating but frequently compelling.” Variety’s Andrew Barker appreciated its sense of purpose: “Before the Flood may not tackle too much new ground, but given the sincerity of its message, its ability to assemble such a watchable and comprehensive account gives it an undeniable urgency.”

Released October 30
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Inferno
Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster, Omar Sy
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 20%
Synopsis: Tom Hanks reprises his role as the Dan Brown protagonist. This time the mystery is wrapped up in Dante’s Divine Comedy.

What’s The Word: Are they serious? “The story may not make any sense, but they're going to throw so much at you — so many jumpy moves, so many tangled threads — that you might not notice (or care),” wrote Manohla Dargis for The New York Times. At Tribune News Service, Katie Walsh was less forgiving: “Will make you, too, feel like you’re experiencing head trauma.” At The Boston Globe, Ty Burr likened it to a cheap airport thriller: “Inferno is the exact cinematic equivalent of an airport paperback, which is what's fine and forgettable about it.”

Released October 28
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Moonlight
Starring: Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris, Andre Holland
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 99%
Synopsis: A young, queer Black man moves through life in a drug-addicted community while being raised by an abusive mother.

What’s The Word: See this movie. Not only because it’s spectacular — which it is — but also because truly no one can ever get enough of Mahershala Ali. “Leaves you feeling both stripped bare and restored, slightly better prepared to step out and face the world of people around you, with all the confounding challenges they present. There's not much more you can ask from a movie,” offered Time’s Stephanie Zacharek. At The New Yorker, Hilton Als positioned the film within a larger conversation about Black masculinity: “As we watch, another movie plays in our minds, real-life footage of the many forms of damage done to Black men, which can sometimes lead them to turn that hateful madness on their own kind, passing on the poison that was their inheritance.” Speaking to The Ringer, the two Black men behind Moonlight — director Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, who wrote the play that served as the movie's source material — perfectly summarized its central question: “We know, thanks to popular media, that Black men can be sexual,” McCraney said. “Can they be intimate? Can they care for each other? Can they be vulnerable? That is a story less told.”

Released October 21
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The Handmaiden
Starring: Ha Jung-woo, So-ri Moon, Min-hee Kim, Tae-ri Kim
Rated: NR
Tomatometer: 94%
Synopsis: A Korean woman working as a handmaiden is involved in a conman’s plot to steal her employer’s inheritance. With surrealist Park Chan-wook at the helm, things will get interesting.

What’s The Word:The Handmaiden is sexy and twisty and so compelling...lodging itself in the points of view of two women who are constantly underestimated by the men around them, and who learn to take advantage of how they're misjudged,”wrote BuzzFeed’s Alison Willmore. “By replacing the class system of Victorian England with the dynamic of the occupier and occupied, Park has tapped into something uniquely complex about a chapter of history that is rarely explored,” wrote Emily Yoshida for The Verge. “The Handmaiden is part romance, part gothic fairy tale and part psychosexual chamber piece, an initially beguiling film whose heavy-handed love scenes work to undermine its dramatic power,” wrote Nikki Baughan for The List.

Released October 21
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American Pastoral
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Uzo Aduba, David Strathairn
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 16%
Synopsis: The film based on Philip Roth's book about a seemingly perfect Jewish family whose life is tested when their daughter becomes a rebel protesting the Vietnam war.

What’s The Word: Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut is a miss. “The filmmaking is prosaic when it should crackle with tension and disruptive undercurrents,” suggested Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter. “Even McGregor's palpable sincerity cannot obscure the film's smug misogyny,” wrote Nell Minow for Beliefnet. “American Pastoral the novel is a primal scream,” wrote Laura Clifford for Reeling Reviews. “American Pastoral the movie is a whimper.”

Released October 21
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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 38%
Synopsis: Jack Reacher is still on the run; this time he comes into contact with his unknown child.

What’s The Word: Skip it. “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is the second movie that Tom Cruise has starred in as this title character. Let's hope it's the last,” wrote Manohla Dargis for The New York Times. At GQ U.K., Helen O’Hara called it predictable: “There's a point in every Reacher book...where the case seems unsolvable. This film never finds that point — and worse, you'll be screaming the answer at Reacher through a key third-act scene while he thinks furiously.” Perhaps Kimberley Jones from the Austin Chronicle said it best: “Never Go Back is boilerplate action-thriller, filmed with an anonymous style and scripted so that characters talk in catchphrases. It clears the bar of competency, but what kind of recommendation is that?”

Released October 21
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The Accountant
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jeffrey Tamboor
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 50%
Synopsis: A math savant is a freelance accountant for some criminals.

What’s the Word: This movie looks like it will be a mash up of The Town and Good Will Hunting. Alas — Ben Affleck needs a win. “This is a real thing starring real people and made with real money,” Indiewire’s David Erlich pointed out. “A frequently frustrating but surprisingly entertaining genre mishmash that's at least upfront about its central conceit: Ben Affleck is definitely, 100% going for it as Hollywood's first autistic assassin,” wrote Jen Yamato for The Daily Beast. "There are parts of The Accountant that are so deeply ridiculous and melodramatically overwrought that people laughed out loud during the screening," wrote R29's Elizabeth Kiefer. "One of those people was me, and for a while, I honestly wondered if maybe the director was just pulling our chain."

Released October 14
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Christine
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Timothy C. Simons
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 83%
Synopsis: Based on the true story of Christine Chubbuck, a news anchor in Sarasota, Florida who committed suicide live on air.

What’s the Word: Rebecca Hall is remarkable. “Hall, in one of her best performances, embodies Christine with searing intensity,” wrote Jordan Raup for The Film Stage. At Buzzfeed, Alison Willmore wasn't convinced, calling it “excruciating, by design and in its very concept.” At The New York Times, Manohla Dargis thought the movie talked around Christine's suicide, instead of through it: "Even as Ms. Hall’s performance makes you believe that something profound is at stake, the movie noncommittally nibbles at the edge of larger meaning, nodding at current events," Dargis wrote. "[These references] embroider the picture, as does Christine’s mental health and girlish bedroom, but none of this gets at why she pulls the trigger."

Released October 14
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Certain Women
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, Laura Dern
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 95%
Synopsis: Three women achieve independence in small-town America.

What’s the Word: Kelly Reichardt doesn’t make slow movies, she makes deliberate ones. If the pacing bothers you, take a breath: She’s a master at work. “Reichardt likes stories that unfold slowly and simply,” wrote Stephen Whitty for the New York Daily News. “Sometimes she'll just let the camera run, making us watch the awkwardness of people who can't connect.” The movie is a “kind, loving, and deeply moving portrait of big-hearted small-town people,” suggested April Wolfe in The Village Voice. “There are no verbose emotional arias or chest-beating screaming matches,” wrote Jason Bailey for Flavorwire. “It's a collection of the tiniest moments, which accumulate into a kind of devastation.”

Released October 14
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The Girl on the Train
Starring: Emily Blunt, Justin Theroux, Haley Bennett, Allison Janney
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 46%
Synopsis: Rachel is an alcoholic who rides the train between New York City and a suburb, fantasizing about a woman who lives in her old neighborhood. When the woman turns up dead, Rachel becomes the prime suspect.

What’s the Word: It’s like one of those old Lifetime movies, but more lame. Fans of the book might be disappointed. “The Girl on the Train is an absorbing, page-turning (or page-swiping) whodunit,” wrote Rebecca Murray for Showbiz Junkie, “but it doesn't have quite the same impact as a feature film.”

At Globe and Mail, Kate Taylor agreed: “Whatever the locomotive power of the novel, this film adaptation only limps into the station.” At least Emily Blunt is talented: “About the only good call in The Girl on the Train was the casting, which gives us two hours of Emily Blunt shredding her soul, soaking it in vodka, and then setting it on fire. The rest is a mawkish, retrograde misfire,” wrote Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson.

Released October 7
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The Birth of a Nation
Starring: Nate Parker, Jackie Earle Haley, Armie Hammer, Gabrielle Union
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 77%
Synopsis: The story of Nat Turner and his slave uprising.

What’s the Word: It’s mostly campy with a lot of lecturing. R29’s own Arianna Davis breaks it down: “Frankly, it's not a very good film at all. So much so that after seeing the movie, I walked out of the screening room relieved, a weight lifted off my chest that I no longer had to figure out how, as a Black woman (and alumnus of the same college as Parker), I was going to separate this Black artist from this Black art. Because, in my opinion, The Birth of a Nation was not art.”

As a cinematic telling of Turner’s story, Slate’s Dana Stevens wrote that Parker’s rendering of him isn’t compelling: “There's a deliberate myth-making quality to Parker's reconstruction of the real-life Nat Turner, who was a much more morally complex figure than the righteous avenger Parker writes, directs, and plays him as.”

Released October 7
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American Honey
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Sasha Lane, Riley Keough, McCaul Lombardi
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 82%
Synopsis: Star, a free-spirited girl from a troubled home in Oklahoma, meets Jake in a supermarket. The next day, she joins his crew of magazine salespeople, teens who lives on America’s fringes and crisscross the country, living an American outlaw fantasy.

What’s the Word: It’s excellent. And the music — E-40, Rihanna, Juicy J — is pretty good, too. When I saw it, I noticed a beautiful religious undertone to the way it was filmed.

“Yes, it depicts teenagers doing things the grown-ups would rather not admit they actually do,” wrote Ty Burr for The Boston Globe, “but it does so with a poetic curiosity and a sense of what it's like to be young, poor, and rootless — both futureless and free.” Also, Shia LeBeouf is pretty hot.

Released September 30
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Goat
Starring: Nick Jonas, James Franco, Ben Schnetzer, Gus Halper
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 75%
Synopsis: After a harrowing assault, a college guy is hazed during fraternity pledging. Drunkenness reveals the frat’s toxic masculinity.

What’s The Word: It’s good — chillingly so. “This isn't an easy film to watch,” wrote Stephanie Merry for The Washington Post. “But it's even harder to forget.” Schnetzer is especially great, suggested Katie Walsh in the Tribune News Service: “Goat wouldn't be as strong as it is without the strength of Schnetzer's lead performance, which provides the emotional anchor around which the rest of the film orbits.” It’s compelling, wrote Jordan Raup for The Film Stage, but “its themes are a bit muddled, and certainly not unique.”

Released September 23
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The Lovers and the Despot
Starring: Shin Sang-ok, Choi Eun-hee
Rated: NR
Tomatometer: 75%
Synopsis: A documentary following a stranger-than-fiction true story: A Korean actress fell in love with a famous director, and was kidnapped by Kim Jong-il. The director was later kidnapped as well, but the couple was reunited by Kim, a movie buff, and forced to be his “personal filmmakers.”

What’s The Word: First of all, can you imagine? Filmmakers Ross Adam and Robert Cannan give this wacky (and, at times, heartbreaking) tale a deep resonance. “Juxtaposing archival footage with a tension-building collection of interviews, Cannan and Adam approach the outlandish crime as a puzzlement, all but wondering aloud how two celebrities could be turned into a dictator's puppets,” wrote Dave White for The Wrap. At the Village Voice, Alan Scherstuhl wrote that the film makes the most of the talking-head style: “Cannan and Adam's interviewees — Choi, intelligence agents, film critics — tell the story with more suspense than talking heads usually muster. The film is brisk and fascinating, ultimately moving, but also less rich than it might have been.” Writing for The Film State, Dan Schindel called the story compelling, but said the movie can feel skin-deep: “The most frustrating aspect of The Lovers and the Despot is its refusal to do more than simply recite its tale, ignoring the interesting concepts lurking within it,” Schindel wrote.

Released September 23
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The Dressmaker
Starring: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 53%
Synopsis: A dressmaker working in Paris returns to the Australian backwoods where she grew up, and causes a ruckus.

What’s The Word: Is it avant-garde? Experimental? Tired? Trash? Everyone is divided. At Four Three Film, Isobel Yeap wrote that it is “a fascinating feminist film. It prioritizes Tilly’s relationship with her mother over her romantic relationship.” The plotting is strong, wrote Elise Nakhnikian for Slant, but “the frequent contemptuousness the film displays toward its characters keeps the audience at arm's length, making all the angst and intrigue on display in Dungatar read as strenuous playacting.” Regardless of the movie's other qualities, the best performance comes from Judy Davis — it’s worth seeing for her alone. Davis’ performance “provides a much-needed anchor in the middle of a whirlpool of discordant, clanging nonsense,” wrote Rebecca Pahle for Film Journal International.

Released September 23
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My Blind Brother
Starring: Jenny Slate, Adam Scott, Nick Kroll, Zoe Kazan
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 79%
Synopsis: A funny lady dates a blind sports star and his seeing brother.

What’s The Word: Slate, Scott, and Kroll make a winning team. At Variety, Andrew Barker called it a “winningly featherweight romantic comedy.” It’s also a part of a new-ish genre of comedies: “The studio-produced romantic comedy may be flatlining, but who cares, so long as snappy indies like this one step up to fill the void?” asked Kimberly Jones in the Austin Chronicle. At the Arizona Republic, Barbara VanDenburgh found its humor very respectful: “It's a slight film, but one that hits all the tricky emotional and comedic notes without a hint of cruelty,” she wrote.

Released September 23
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Bridget Jones's Baby
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 78%
Synopsis: Bridge is back — this time with a bundle of joy and a pair of men who could both be the father.

What's the Word: Bridget Jones would be charming if she were reading a phone book — this movie does right by her and by women who have grown up with the trilogy. "The movie's mores can feel cluelessly retro as the ever-dithering Bridget lurches between one man and another," wrote Dana Stevens for Slate. At Consequence of Sound, Allison Shoemaker wrote that it definitely makes good "on the smooshy stuff, to be sure, but it's the stuff in between that really delivers." At NPR, Ella Taylor got at the heart of what really matters: "Zellweger has precision comic timing, her British accent is close to flawless, and she's having a great time."

Released September 16
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Blair Witch
Starring: James Allen McCune, Valorie Curry
Rated: R
Tomatometer: 42%
Synopsis: A group of college kids face a horrifying ghost in the Black Hills Forest in Maryland.

What’s the Word: A fine reboot that is true to a well-known franchise. “If you must reboot a classic, this is how you do it,” wrote Rosie Fletcher for Digital Spy. At Variety, though, Guy Lodge wasn’t as impressed: “A significantly more accomplished and entertaining sequel than 2000's woeful cash-in Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, [this] nonetheless reps something of a missed opportunity.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Leslie Felperin wrote that the movie was too bound by its source material to ever become something unique and interesting: “By sticking so slavishly to the original Blair Witch film's template, the result is a dull retread rather than a full-on reinvention, enlarging the cast numbers this time but sticking to the same basic beats.”

Released September 16
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Miss Stevens
Starring: Lily Rabe, Oscar Nunez, Lili Reinhart, Timothee Chalamet
Rated: NR
Tomatometer: 86%
Synopsis: A teacher chaperones three students on a weekend trip, and finds herself growing up in the process.

What’s the Word: Just because the teacher befriends one of her male students, don’t expect it to devolve into some tawdry illicit romance. “While her bond with the troubled, inquisitive Billy becomes the script’s emotional core, coaxing forth insights and revelations that neither character is fully prepared to deal with, the story mercifully avoids the predictable route of nudging them into an inappropriate relationship,” wrote Variety’s Justin Chang, “instead raising honest, hard-to-answer questions about what happens when the mentor unexpectedly becomes the mentee.” At The New Yorker, Richard Brody saw little beyond the story’s loose outline: “Rachel is a lonely woman in mourning for her mother, with a fragile veneer of quiet yearning and awkward energy; when that veneer cracks, the effect is powerful despite its air of calculation.” Lily Rabe is great in it, according to Consequence of Sound’s Randall Colburn. “Rabe’s performance here is nothing short of stunning,” Colburn wrote. “The sharp, lived-in tics and details of her character work are instantly endearing, an open window into her vulnerabilities and passions.”

Released September 16
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Other People
Starring: Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford
Rated: NR
Tomatometer: 84%
Synopsis: A young gay man navigates being out to his family while caring for his cancer-stricken mother.

What’s the Word: This is your annual excuse to watch Molly Shannon in anything, because she’s always so charming. “Inherently melodramatic,” wrote Daniel M. Gold for the New York Times, “the film belongs to Ms. Shannon, who vividly etches Joanne in a full end-of-life range: funny, loving, angry, regretful, exhausted, resigned.” At the A.V. Club, A.A. Dowd saw the movie’s heart in spite of its moments of melodrama: “It's a little easy, a little obvious, but there's still an undeniable specificity to it — the sense that it comes from someplace genuine.” The Guardian’s Nigel Smith highlighted Shannon’s deft performance: “Shannon shows new shades in her deft handling of a tragedy she's tasked with bearing. Further proof that when it comes to drama, comedy actors are often the experts.”

Released September 9
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White Girl
Starring: Morgan Saylor, Brian Marc, Chris Noth, Justin Bartha
Rated: NR
Tomatometer: 68%
Synopsis: A wild, optimistic blonde from Oklahoma moves to New York. She does a lot of drugs, has a lot of sex, and tries to get her Puerto Rican lover out of jail. (It's similar to another movie about NYC youth, Kids)

What’s the Word: Here’s an important bit of context, taken from director Elizabeth Wood’s interview with R29: A frequent critique of her script was that her protagonist ought to have had a depressing or abusive childhood to somehow legitimize her drug use or wantonness.

“[I told people] ‘Actually, I think so often a young person that’s white and privileged and acting out is not the result of a bad background,” Wood said. “It’s the result of a really good background where everything has been so protected that they’re willing to take insane risks just to feel alive.’”

Morgan Saylor — you might remember her from Homeland — gives an astonishing performance: “Saylor plays the kind of wild child who acts out because she came from a good background — it takes a certain fearlessness to portray a character who’s never had to be afraid of anything, and the actress steps into the part like she’s running into traffic,” wrote David Ehrlich of Indiewire. “As someone who graduated from a New York liberal arts college known for its wealthy, white student body, who lived a block south of Ridgewood off the M train, and who has been well-acquainted with Leah-types,” wrote Erin Whitney for Screencrush, “I can attest to how honestly and bluntly White Girl captures that culture.”

Released September 2
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Southside With You
Starring: Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyer
Rated: PG-13
Tomatometer: 92%
Synopsis: The story of the president and first lady’s first date.

What’s The Word: “Michelle Obama is [who she is today],” actress and producer Tika Sumpter told Refinery29. “But Michelle Robinson is the girl from South Side. She’s the girl figuring it out still, she’s a second-year associate at a law firm. She went to Princeton and Harvard and is successful in her own right.” The movie showing Mrs. Obama’s first date with the president is a little like Before Sunrise, suggested Detroit News’ Adam Graham, “if those two characters had a really epic epilogue.” Southside With You is largely unconcerned with who its leads grow up to be, wrote Leah Greenblatt for Entertainment Weekly: “It delivers something more modest: a tender, unrushed love story.” At The Wrap, Sam Adams wrote that the movie shows a deficiency: Hollywood’s lack of love stories that star Black people. “Its near-total lack of precursors suggest that if it weren't about one of the most famous Black couples, it would likely not have been made at all.”

Released August 26
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