The fall season might not have delivered any confirmed runaway hits — except for the Clint Eastwood-directed drama Sully — in last month’s crop of releases. However, September did leave us with plenty to talk about. From the box office failure of Blair Witch to Tim Burton’s critically divisive return to dark fantasy with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. At least we can all agree that director Antoine Fuqua and star Denzel Washington make a dynamite pair, as The Magnificent Seven seems poised to be their third blockbuster collaboration in a row.
Looking ahead, theaters are destined to get more interesting as we inch closer to both Oscar season and big-budget franchise fare like Doctor Strange, Rogue One and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Before we get to all that, however, let’s delve into the broad array of films set to hit movie screens this month.
Here are 10 films to check out in October 2016:
The Birth of a Nation (Release Date: October 7)
Despite its title, don’t worry: The Birth of a Nation has nothing to do with the notorious 1915 film by D.W. Griffith. Rather, director/writer/star Nate Parker tells the story of Nat Turner, the real-life slave who led a rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831. Produced for just $10 million, Parker’s film has emerged as one of the most talked-about of the year, especially after Fox Searchlight picked it up at the Sundance Film Festival in January for a record-breaking $17.5 million.
More recently, discussion about The Birth of a Nation has become mired in controversy, due to renewed talk about serious allegations Parker himself faced back in 1999. However, the film itself is sure to be targeting serious awards consideration, and with a cast that also includes Armie Hammer, Jackie Earle Haley and Gabrielle Union, Parker’s directorial debut isn’t likely to disappear in the coming months.
Check out the latest trailer for The Birth of a Nation.
The Girl on the Train (Release Date: October 7)
Sometimes, the most fascinating films are the ones that make the leap from page to screen. Take, for instance, the fact that several of last year’s Oscar contenders (The Big Short, The Martian, Room, etc.) were based on best-selling novels. Enter The Girl on the Train, which brings the popular Paula Hawkins novel to the big screen. Though the film may not be gunning for Best Picture necessarily, its source material and comparisons to acclaimed films like Gone Girl certainly indicate that it’s a possibility.
Emily Blunt stars as Rachel Watson, an alcoholic woman who becomes fascinated by a couple she sees every day on the train during her daily commute. However, when she witnesses something unexpected, Rachel becomes wrapped up in the mystery herself. Director Tate Taylor has earned praise for his work in films like The Help and Get On Up, and with a cast like Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans, Haley Bennett and Justin Theroux, The Girl on the Train could definitely be one of the fall’s most popular films.
Check out the latest trailer for The Girl on the Train.
The Accountant (Release Date: October 14)
Earlier this year, Ben Affleck made his debut as the Dark Knight himself in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The actor’s casting for the role — and subsequent announcement as director of the solo Batman film — was praised by some due to his background in thrillers and crime dramas. So it seems fitting that he’ll wrap up 2016 with a lead role in The Accountant, the latest release from director Gavin O’Connor (Miracle, Warrior).
Centering on a mathematics genius who covertly works for criminal organizations, the film has seen significant buzz not only from fans of Affleck’s recent work but also from those who have followed O’Connor since his Tumbleweeds days. The director’s career suffered a misfire earlier this year when the Natalie Portman-led Western Jane Got a Gun proved to be the biggest flop ever from The Weinstein Company. Here’s hoping The Accountant can put him back on top.
Check out the latest trailer for The Accountant.
Kevin Hart: What Now? (Release Date: October 14)
Few comedians have accomplished everything that Kevin Hart has. From selling out arenas to establishing a solid film career in films like Ride Along and Think Like a Man, Hart is nearly untouchable as a mainstream comedic presence. Kevin Hart: What Now? serves as a celebration of all that he’s done so far and a look back on the stand-up skill that put him on top in the first place.
While stand-up comedy films aren’t traditionally known to be huge moneymakers (the highest-grossing one remains 1987 release Eddie Murphy Raw), Hart is precisely the right man to draw audiences out to theaters to support his own take on such a concert film. Filmed live in Hart’s hometown of Philadelphia, Kevin Hart: What Now? captures the set the comedian performed during his titular stand-up tour and offers fans of his comedy a satisfying look at him in his purest state.
Check out the latest trailer for Kevin Hart: What Now?
Desierto (Release Date: October 14)
Is it just us, or is Jeffrey Dean Morgan everywhere right now? Just months after debuting as the villainous Negan on The Walking Dead, Morgan is once again playing the antagonist, though this time he’s a gun-toting vigilante targeting a group of Mexicans seeking a better life in the United States. Given all the talk in the political sphere surrounding immigration, Desierto does seem like a pretty topical film right now.
Produced by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón, Desierto was actually directed and co-written by his son, Jonás Cuarón. In addition to Morgan, the film co-stars Gael García Bernal and has already been selected the Mexican submission for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the upcoming Academy Awards. This month, the film is hitting theaters in limited release and might be worth tracking down in your town.
Check out the latest trailer for Desierto.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Release Date: October 21)
Tom Cruise is back for another adventure as the mysterious former soldier in this sequel to the 2012 film, once again based on a novel by Lee Child. In Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Reacher returns to his old military headquarters to find out that he’s being accused of murder. Cobie Smulders stars as the film’s leading lady, and Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai) takes the director’s chair this time around.
Aside from the Mission: Impossible franchise, Cruise has never headlined a sequel to one of his own films. That makes Jack Reacher: Never Go Back an anomaly and stands as further proof that the 2012 original — directed by Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation) — was far more popular than its modest $80 million domestic gross initially indicated.
Check out the latest trailer for Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.
Keeping Up with the Joneses (Release Date: October 21)
Ensemble comedies can be a dicey proposition (just look at the dreadful reviews for this weekend’s Masterminds). However, director Greg Mottola seems to have cracked the code. Films like Superbad, Adventureland and Paul all made excellent use of their respective leads, weaving laughs into a solid narrative that connected with audiences and critics alike.
Keeping Up with the Joneses looks to keep that trend rolling along. Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher play an ordinary married couple who wind up in the world of espionage when they realize that their neighbors (Gal Gadot, Jon Hamm) are secretly government agents. In a month that is sorely lacking in laughter, Keeping Up with the Joneses could be the one comedy out there to win over audiences.
Check out the latest trailer for Keeping Up with the Joneses.
Ouija: Origin of Evil (Release Date: October 21)
Even though no one loved Ouija (that 7 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating – ouch), the 2014 horror film based on the classic board game did earn more than $100 million at the worldwide box office against a production budget of $5 million. So, of course, some kind of follow-up emerged as an inevitability. Now Ouija: Origin of Evil will be the true test of whether Ouija has what it takes to become an ongoing franchise.
What could help this prequel — which delves into the reason behind the Ouija board’s supernatural abilities — connect with audiences is not its unexpected approach to the story, but the involvement of co-writer/director Mike Flanagan. In recent years, Flanagan has earned recognition for legitimately strong work in horror with films like Oculus and Netflix release Hush. Perhaps Ouija: Origin of Evil may prove to be a worthy venture after all.
Check out the latest trailer for Ouija: Origin of Evil.
Moonlight (Release Date: October 21)
In recent years, A24 has been behind some of the most intriguing films out there. Enemy, Under the Skin, Ex Machina, Room, The Witch, Green Room and many more prove that the company has an impeccable eye for projects that aim to find new and interesting ways to tell stories. So we’re looking forward to see if Moonlight, the latest film released by A24, lives up to the reputation it’s been getting on the festival circuit.
Hitting theaters in limited release, the film is written and directed by Barry Jenkins (best known for 2008 drama Medicine for Melancholy) and follows a young Black man named Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) on a journey of self-discovery from childhood to adulthood. A distinct change of pace from the usual blockbuster releases, Moonlight takes a more intimate approach to its story and offers audience a fresh perspective and one of the most acclaimed films released this year.
Check out the latest trailer for Moonlight.
Inferno (Release Date: October 28)
Thanks to Sully, Tom Hanks is already courting Oscar buzz, but the venerable actor still has one more film set for release this year, namely this adaptation of the Dan Brown bestseller. In Inferno, Hanks re-teams with director Ron Howard to play Brown’s heroic symbologist Robert Langdon. Suffering from memory loss, Langdon must team with Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) to figure out what has happened and unravel a global threat.
By now, moviegoers know if they’re interested in seeing Howard and Hanks’ latest Brown adaptation. Both The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons proved to be big hits at the box office (with worldwide grosses of $758 million and $485 million, respectively), despite some pretty poor reviews. So, at the very least, fans of Brown’s stories will want to be sure to check Inferno out in theaters this month.
Check out the latest trailer for Inferno.
There you have it. October doesn’t necessarily have a ton of surprises in store for moviegoers. Cinemas are still going to be crowded with the requisite flood of book adaptations, sequels, horror films, and controversial awards contenders. Hopefully, at least some of these films will live up to the pre-release hype and keep us talking all the way until 2016 comes to a close. Moreover, family audiences looking for a film to bring the kids to this month might be out of luck, since we don’t expect Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life or Max Steel to make much of a splash at the box office. Oh, well. At least November has plenty of stories to tell for moviegoers of all ages.
Once again, here are the 10 films to check out in October:
October 7: The Birth of a Nation, The Girl on the Train
October 14: The Accountant, Kevin Hart: What Now?, Desierto
October 21: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Keeping Up with Joneses, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Moonlight
October 28: Inferno