By Adam Schalke
With the conclusion of summer and the initiation of a new academic year at Roosevelt, it is now undebatable that autumn has officially arrived in Chicago. Not only does Fall us bring crisp weather and a bombardment of all things pumpkin-flavored, but it also signals the end of the Summer blockbuster season in our cinemas. Gone away are Marvel’s superheroes and Chris Pratt’s velociraptors, and in their place come a new crop of more sophisticated, critically digestible films, films that may even garner themselves some Academy Awards at the Oscars next year. Here is a run-down of two must-see films of 2015:
Starring Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch
There are several phrases I want to use to describe Mr. Depp’s recent string of films that are unfit to write in a newspaper, but the general consensus amongst filmgoers is that “Black Mass” could bring about a reversal of his fortunes. In this biopic, Depp (taking on a dramatic new appearance for the role) plays James “Whitey” Bulger, the notorious crime boss who comes to terrorize Boston in the late seventies, and later becomes an informant for the CIA in order to help collect information about a rival mafia family. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Bulger’s brother, William, the President of the Massachusetts Senate, whose career and reputation was often under scrutiny due to his relation to Whitey. As far as I’m concerned, the film will probably provide an answer as to whether or not Johnny Depp’s can redeem himself from his recent run of lackluster films, as well as if Benedict Cumberbatch still has enough goodwill in the states to keep the film afloat if Depp flounders (with the hype of a new season of “Sherlock” increased film appearances, and his upcoming lead in Marvel’s “Doctor Strange,” I have very real concern about Cumberbatch-fatigue breaking out in America). Nevertheless, the film’s trailer seems to indicate a seasoned cast firing on all cylinders and a promising start to the Fall film season. “Black Mass” will be out on Sept. 18th.
Starring Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, and Emayatzy Corinealdi
When I first heard that Don Cheadle was directing and starring in this Miles Davis biopic, I couldn’t help but think to myself “about damn time”. I found it mind-boggling how such an icon of American music and culture can go so long without representation in another medium (The British have done it so many times that portraying Paul McCartney may as well be a rite of passage for actors in the U.K.). Regardless, with the very talented Mr. Cheadle starring and directing and a soundtrack by jazz great Herbie Hancock, “Miles Ahead” looks to be a promising addition to the of films coming this season, as well as a long overdue tribute to one of the most creative minds in American culture. Furthermore, given the noticeable lack of representation of people of color at last year’s Academy Awards, one must only hope that this film does well enough to earn the support of critics in order to bring some critically-needed diversity to the event. “Miles Ahead” is out on October 15.
Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Mia Wasikowska
What “Crimson Peak” will likely lack in Oscar potential, as films of its genre usually don’t fare well in awards shows, it could very well compensate for that with its potential to be one of the creepiest and best-executed horror films of recent memory and lurk its way into becoming a classic. The film tells the tale of Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) and his sister Lucille (Chastain), who try their best to keep the horrors of their haunted manor, the aforementioned “Crimson Peak”, hidden from Sir Sharp’s new bride Edith (Wasikowska). All three actors are superb at what they do, and the film is directed by horror/fantasy kingpin Guillermo Del Toro, who created the fantasy staple “Pan’s Labyrinth” in 2006 as well as 2013’s “Mama”, his first collaboration with Ms. Chastain. With acting and directing talent at their prime and a trailer drenched in old-school ghoulish delight, “Crimson Peak’s” potential looks so impressive that it’s almost sinister. You don’t have to believe in ghosts or things that go bump in the night to enjoy this movie, but you do have to believe the hype. “Crimson Peak” is out on October 16.
Starring Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett
In the 1970’s, Robert Redford built a career and status as a national treasure on creating suspenseful and fine-tuned political dramas, and after decades of diversifying his acting portfolio, receiving critical acclaim as a director, and laying the groundwork for American independent film, Redford returns to form with the upcoming “Truth.” In this biopic, Redford plays veteran news anchor Dan Rather, whose career at CBS comes to an end after accusations of deep bias following a controversial coverage of President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign. Joining Redford is Cate Blanchett as Mary Mapes, the producer of “Sixty Minutes” who became caught in the turmoil and saw the future of her career intertwined with Rather’s. Seeing Redford and Blanchett together in a film of this caliber is the thespian equivalent of seeing Superman and Wonder Woman join together for the first time. These two are truly the best at what they do, and watching them create art together is bound to be a sincere delight. “Truth” is out on Oct. 16.