“Arrival” and “Manchester by the Sea”: Films to see in November

Welcome to November ladies and gentlemen! We’re well into the fourth quarter of the year now, which is still crazy to think about. It also signals the point where it becomes an embarrassment of riches at the cinema. Yes, not only do I have ten really interesting new releases to show you for this month, almost all of my Honorable Mentions would be worthy of inclusion in almost any other month. In fact, two or three really killed me to leave out. You’ll understand momentarily, but just know that this is easily the most stacked month so far. You can’t go wrong even if you tried. It’s just that good a calendar slate…

Here now are the very best cinematic bets for November:

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10. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk – I saw this film back at the New York Film Festival in its intended form. Even with 120 frames per second, 4K, and 3D, it still underwhelmed. Ang Lee’s latest has an interesting visual experiment at play, but the story is just not up to snuff. It may not be my thing, and I’d actually prefer some of my Honorable Mentions below like Bleed for This, Elle, and/or The Monster, but as a curiosity, this is still something to check out. Especially if you can see it as Lee intends, it’s worth subjecting yourself to.

9. Lion – Harvey Weinstein’s big Oscar pony, I see this one in a few days. Of late, it appears like this drama is setting itself up to be potentially the only alternative to a La La Land win in Best Picture. That would be a huge upset, but Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel seem like they could be threats in acting races, so there’s that. Stay tuned for more on this one soon…

8. Nocturnal Animals – So far, I seem to be in the minority in not being in love with this flick. It’s another case where in terms of preference, I’m higher on Bleed for This and The Monster (among Honorable Mentions), but I know many of you are keen to see Tom Ford’s sophomore outing. It looks great, but it’s much ado about nothing. Amy Adams is fine, though better in another title I’ll mention shortly, while Jake Gyllenhaal is very good and Michael Shannon is solid. I know most like it better than I do, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit let down.

7. Loving – Another movie I’ve seen, this is a very solid awards hopeful. Look for more on this one in the next few days, but it’s almost too respectful and low key. Now, I liked it just fine, but I couldn’t quite love it, despite excellent turns from Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga. Jeff Nichols is an unusual pick for this sort of biopic, but it works. Potentially though, Academy members might find louder contenders to get behind than this one.

6. Allied – A possible Academy X factor, this war drama/romance had Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard lighting up the screen for Robert Zemeckis. If it’s good, we might have a late breaking contender. If not, it’ll be another Oscar also ran. All will be revealed before the month is out, so you’ll have to sit tight for now. We just don’t know what to make of it right now.

5. Doctor Strange – I’ll have something more substantial to say before the week is out, but this is one of the most interesting Marvel outings to date. I quite enjoyed myself, with Benedict Cumberbatch an excellent choice for the superhero. It’s weird and offbeat in a good way, showing another side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Again, more to come shortly.

4. Miss Sloane – Quietly, this drama is building some excellent buzz. I don’t think Jessica Chastain suddenly becomes the one to beat in Best Actress, but she could easily get in for another nomination. There’s an embargo in place preventing more overt takes on it, but I’m hearing strong things. Once it lifts, I’m sure there will be more to discuss, so sit tight!

3. The Edge of Seventeen – I absolutely adored this coming of age dramedy. It’s the sort of thing that’s a modern classic in the making. Hailee Steinfeld has never been better and Woody Harrelson steals his scenes in a wonderful supporting turn. Probably too light to appeal to voters, this nonetheless is something special. Right now, it’s one of my top ten of 2016 to date.

2. Arrival – This is likely to be a divisive science fiction film. I liked but didn’t love it, though Adams is excellent here, and so is Jeremy Renner. Denis Villeneuve is making things that no one else is making, and I love him for that. Some will fall head over heels for this one, while others will be left scratching their heads. Me, I’m caught somewhere in the middle, but I’m thrilled that it exists…

1. Manchester by the Sea – One of my favorite movies of the year so far, this is just a devastatingly powerful bit of cinema. Casey Affleck gives the performance of 2016, absolutely breaking your heart. Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams are outstanding too, as Kenneth Lonergan never hits a false note. Without question, it’s going to be a big Academy favorite. I can’t wait to rave more about this one, as I’ve been floored by it since NYFF. Stay tuned!

Manchester by the Sea boat
Honorable Mentions: Bad Santa 2, Bleed for This, The Eagle Huntress, Elle, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Hacksaw Ridge, The Love Witch, Moana, The Monster, Rules Don’t Apply, Shut In, and Trolls

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Be sure to check out these various films all throughout the month of November!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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