Summer movie season may be over, but that doesn’t mean that audiences will have fewer exciting movie options to choose from in the coming months. Several notable movies — from the latest in this year’s long line of horror flicks to the long-discussed, controversial Snowden biopic — are set to hit the big-screen this week. Can’t decide which title to buy tickets for first? Here are our staff’s picks for the three best movies in theaters right now.
Directed by Oscar winner Oliver Stone (Platoon, JFK, Nixon), this R-rated drama delves further into the personal story of Edward Snowden, the divisive figure who leaked evidence of the NSA’s illegal surveillance video to journalists and subsequently fled the country as one of the most wanted men in the world. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Snowden, while Shailene Woodley plays his longtime, real-life girlfriend, Lindsay Mills.
Given the controversial subject matter it explores, it’s no surprise that the movie has earned a strong buzz in the lead-up to its premiere. But early reviews have been mixed. Currently holding a 45% score on Rotten Tomatoes, critics have panned Stone for playing it safe in his direction and for painting Snowden as a bonafide hero, rather than delivering a more objective portrayal of his motivations.
Despite that, the true story makes for thrilling material and Gordon-Levitt has earned high praise for his performance in the titular role. As The Seattle Times put it, “The finely shaded performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead role is a revelation.”
2. Operation Avalanche
Matthew Johnson co-writes, directs, and stars in this conspiracy thriller, which follows the story of two CIA agents who go undercover at NASA to expose a potential Russian mole. Under the guise of learning more about the Apollo project, they tap phones and break into offices — only to uncover a shocking NASA secret. Owen Williams co-stars, as does Johnson’s co-writer, Josh Boles.
The movie has earned mostly positive reviews, scoring an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. Though the premise might be a bit wacky, critics have praised the “fast and fun” material for being a fresh and welcome entry to the found footage format.
3. Blair Witch
Directed by Adam Wingard, the sequel to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project follows a group of college students who venture into The Black Hills Forest of Maryland in order to investigate the events surrounding the disappearance of one character’s sister. They soon realize that the legend surrounding the forest is all too real. James Allen McCune, Valorie Curry, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, and Corbin Reid co-star.
Scoring a 56% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has earned mediocre reviews so far. Though critics call it a vast improvement over 2000’s pitiful Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, the movie fails to be anywhere as near as memorable as the first film, with Variety calling the project “something of a missed opportunity.” Despite this, the movie does deliver a few new twists and scares, which may be enough to appeal to hardcore horror fans.
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