The fall movie season has officially arrived, which means audiences can expect a slew of exciting, new films to choose from in the coming months, as each studio ramps up for a late Oscar push. This week’s staff picks for best movies include a new comedy from Napoleon Dynamite director, Jared Hess, the latest from Tim Burton, and the true story behind the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. So let’s see what’s hitting theaters this weekend and pick out the best of the best.
As a director, Jared Hess has a habit for being ever-so-slightly hit or miss. 2004’s Napoleon Dynamite was an instant cult classic, showcasing the director’s obscure, off-kilter sense of humor. He’s struggled to regain that form in subsequent projects though, having missed the mark with Gentlemen Broncos, Nacho Libre, and Don Verdean. Hess makes another stab at success with Masterminds, a comedy helped by an A-list cast of Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Jason Sudeikis, Owen Wilson, and Leslie Jones.
Critically, Masterminds isn’t exactly knocking it out of the park, evidenced by its paltry 33% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good for at least a few laughs though, with The Hollywood Reporter citing its “soulful goofiness” as one of the film’s defining traits. In terms of comedies in theaters right now, you could do far worse than this one, especially given the genre’s meager offerings over the last year.
2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Tim Burton create an above-average film. And while we had our own hangups about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the wider reception for the movie has largely been positive. It currently checks in at around 61% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critical consensus calling it “a suitable match for Tim Burton’s distinctive style.”
For our own viewing, we were treated to a visual spectacle, albeit one that was awkwardly paced. The story carried its fair share of issues, but there’s no denying that it’s better than most of Burton’s recent work, a fact that’s enough to motivate anyone to at least think about checking it out this weekend.
3. Deepwater Horizon
There’s a good deal of controversy surrounding Deepwater Horizon, as a film telling the story of the men working aboard the oil drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010. The explosion spilled 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, affecting around 68,000 square miles of ocean. Because of that, any story attempting to paint it as a tale of American heroism is going to be at least a little problematic.
That being so, it’s still managed to score a solid 80% Rotten Tomatoes as “an uncommonly serious — yet still suitably gripping — action thriller.” Most critics seem to agree that Deepwater Horizon‘s focus on the human stories behind the disaster helps rein in the drama in a big way. “[Director Peter] Berg calibrates his delivery of the disaster while still holding on to the human scale of it,” Entertainment Weekly claims in their review, painting a picture of a film that’s still worth seeing as a compelling story.
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