Maybe it’s me, but I thought that the October opening of the Oscar season this year was kind of a dud. The two leading Best Picture contenders released widely in October, The Birth of a Nation and The Girl on the Train, were over-hyped. Even the movies you might expect to be better than average crowd-pleasers were okay entertainments at best. One possible exception is The Accountant. Audiences seem to like it even though critics didn’t warm up to it. Its Rotten Tomatoes rating is 51% Rotten but its IMDB average rating is 7.8 so far. That being said, there was no movie released in October that was a “must see” for me. November, on the other hand, could rock.
November releases, on average, make up almost 12% of the total annual box office. Ticket sales are usually more than 40% higher than the average month. You would expect November to be a magnet for crowd-pleasing, Oscar-worthy movie releases. In fact, since 1990, 13.9% of all Best Picture nominees have been released in November, including the last three winners. Based on my own data, there is a 58% chance that I will “really like” a movie released in November. So with those kind of odds in our favor, let’s take a look at what interests me in November.
Seven of Awards Circuit’s top twenty Best Picture contenders will be released in November. I’m going with four of those seven and a “summer blockbuster” type being released in November.
Doctor Strange. Release Date: November 4 “Really Like” Probability: 75%
Because Thanksgiving is such huge family movie weekend, you will usually find a “sure thing” franchise blockbuster released during the month of November. The box office king for the last three Novembers was the last three movies of the Hunger Games franchise. Before that it was the Harry Potter franchise. This year Marvel Studios and Disney Studios are making a big bet by launching the Doctor Strange franchise, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, in November. Entertainment Weekly has compared it to Inception and The Matrix in its “puzzle-box quality”. We already have an idea how good this movie is going to be because it had its Los Angeles premiere on Oct. 20th and premiered internationally on Oct. 25th. Early IMDB voting has it at an 8.4 rating so far and Rotten Tomatoes is at 96% Fresh based on 49 reviews. The November 4th U.S. release suggests that the producers are confident enough in this new franchise that it will be a “must see” movie by Thanksgiving.
Manchester by the Sea. Release Date: November 18 “Really Like” Probability: 65%
Every year The Black List surveys production companies to identify the best scripts they’ve read that haven’t been picked up for movie production. In 2014 Manchester by the Sea was near the top of that list. Two years later it is one of the leading contenders for Best Picture. Casey Affleck plays the lead character and is the current front runner for Best Actor. Can this Boston area based movie replicate the Oscar magic of last year’s Best Picture winner, Spotlight, another Boston based film released in November?
Moonlight. Wide Release Date: November 4 “Really Like” Probability: 60%
This film has come out of nowhere to become a legitimate Best Picture contender. Moonlight opened in four theaters last weekend and earned $413,174 in ticket sales. That is one of the top 25 average sales per theater opening of all time. It already has a 99% Certified Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.5 average rating from IMDB. It is about a young black man growing up in South Florida as he struggles with his sexual identity.
Arrival. Wide Release Date: November 11 “Really Like” Probability: 55%
Can a movie about a linguist trying to prevent an alien invasion really be a Best Picture candidate? According to Awards Circuit, that is, in fact, the case. Amy Adams plays the linguist and is right in the middle of the discussion for a Best Actress nomination. So far, it is 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes based on 49 critic reviews. This movie is going after the audience that loved The Martian last year. Count me in.
Hacksaw Ridge. Wide Release Date: November 4 “Really Like” Probability: 50%
This film, based on a true story, features Andrew Garfield as a conscientious objector who wins the Medal of Honor in World War II despite the fact that he refuses to kill. Awards Circuit currently has it ranked 14th in the Best Picture race. Very early feedback on the movie is positive. The IMDB average rating is 8.7 and Rotten Tomatoes is 94% Fresh. It is an interesting premise and should make for an entertaining movie.
This is the first month since I started forecasting the upcoming movie month that I am really excited to see all of my picks for the month. There were even three Best Picture contenders that I left off my list. Does it get any better than November and December for great movie watching?