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 the adaptation of a worldwide bestseller, a galvanizing documentary from Ava DuVernay, and a gripping retelling of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion. So let’s jump in and look at the weekend’s best releases, courtesy of your friends here at The Cheat Sheet.
1. The Girl on the Train
Based on Paula Hawkins’s bestselling novel of the same name, The Girl on the Train has been a film adaptation waiting to happen. Universal picked a solid director to do the job too, tagging Tate Taylor (The Help, Get on Up). Heading up the cast is the equally talented Emily Blunt, alongside Justin Theroux, Lisa Kudrow, and Allison Janney. It’s a story that lends itself well to a movie format, helped along by the considerably strong source novel.
The basic narrative follows the recently divorced Rachel, a woman who spends her days drinking and spying on a young couple. When the wife of that couple mysteriously disappears, Rachel comes up as the prime suspect. Her frequent blackouts and unstable mental state lead us to believe she could be the one responsible, as she’s led through a maze of extramarital affairs, criminal intrigue, and more. Critically, The Girl on the Train isn’t exactly knocking it out of the park with its 48% Rotten Tomatoes score, but most reviewers seem to agree that Blunt carries the dramatic weight wonderfully all the same.
The United States is in a state of racial unrest right now, and there’s little denying the fact that we have a full-blown epidemic on our hands. Institutional racism has become one of the most prevalent issues at the forefront of American politics as a result. Ava DuVernay’s (Selma) Netflix documentary releasing this weekend dives into that topic headfirst, taking us all the way back to the passing of the 13th Amendment, and how it set up a century-and-a-half’s worth of problems for black Americans.
Rotten Tomatoes currently has 13th sitting at a stellar 97%, with critical consensus describing how it “strikes at the heart of America’s tangled racial history, offering observations as incendiary as they are calmly controlled.” More than that, it’s a much-needed look at one of our country’s most shameful problems, told to us in a historical perspective that tracks back through decades of government-funded racism in the United States.
3. The Birth of a Nation
Important historical context in American history seems to be a predominant theme of this weekend’s new releases. Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation tells the true story of Nat Turner, a slave preacher who later organized the bloodiest slave rebellion in American history. Many are already hailing Parker’s directorial debut as an early Oscar contender, buoyed by its 80% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Critical consensus points out how the film “overpowers its narrative flaws and uneven execution through sheer conviction, rising on Nate Parker’s assured direction and the strength of its vital message.” Overall, it’s definitely worth your time this weekend, especially as we start into the busier weeks of the fall movie season.
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