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’Tis the season for Hollywood to roll out serious films … mostly


October 05, 2017

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Fall officially fell two weeks ago on Sept. 22, which can mean only one thing. No, not leaves changing colors. Not the new TV season. And no, not football.

OK, I guess it means several things.

But a big one is — that’s right, serious movies! In theaters! (They still show movies in theaters, right?)

’Tis the season when movies are so serious that critics start calling them “films.”

And by films, we mean lots of true stories, lots of troubled, complicated protagonists, and lots of R ratings. After all, a film can’t be serious and adult without foul language and graphic visuals, can it? (Sarcasm alert.)

Last weekend, no less than four new films claimed to be based on true stories — “Battle of the Sexes,” “American Made,” “Year By the Sea” and “Cataract Gold.”

The week before we had “Stronger” and “Rebel in the Rye,” and the week before that, “Viceroy’s House” and “Endless Poetry.”

Of course, how true they actually are is up for debate, but alleged-true stories are certainly dominating the movie scene these days, and especially this time of year.

Why? As Oscar-bait, of course — films that aspire to importance, with serious themes and earnest performances, and which Academy Award-voters are encouraged to remember at the end of the year. Which is easier when they’re released October through December.

On deck this year: “The Stray,” “Victoria and Abdul,” "Marshall,” “Loving Vincent,” “Breathe,” “Only the Brave,” “Same Kind of Different as Me,” “Goodbye, Christopher Robin,” “Thank You for Your Service,” “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House,” “LBJ,” “The Man Who Invented Christmas,” “My Friend Dahmer,” “Molly’s Game,” “The Current War,” “The Disaster Artist,” “All the Money in the World,” “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool,” “Gotti,” “The Post,” “The Greatest Showman” and “Darkest Hour.”

Whew!

And, truth be told, there were also quite a few earlier this year: “The Founder,” “Gold,” “A United Kingdom,” “Neruda,” “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” “Tommy’s Honour,” “Cezanne and I,” “The Lost City of Z,” “Churchill,” “Love, Kennedy,” “Megan Leavey,” “Dunkirk,” “Maudie,” “Detroit,” “The Glass Castle,” “13 Minutes,” “All Saints,” “Birth of the Dragon” and “Menashe.”

None of those, however, is a serious Oscar contender. Except maybe “Dunkirk.”

Anyway, all of this proves the point — it’s the fall “serious” season. No sequels, remakes, comic book- or superhero-fantasies. Not this time of year, right?

Well, except for “Battle of the Sexes,” which is a remake of the 2001 TV movie “When Billie Beat Bobby” (which earned an Emmy nomination for Holly Hunter).

And last week’s “Flatliners” is a remake or reboot or sequel or something of a 1990 horror film with the same title. And “My Little Pony: The Movie,” which opens Oct. 6, is also a remake or reboot or sequel or something to a 1986 film with the same title.

Those are new films, right? Not just reissues?

Then there’s the sequel “Blade Runner 2049,” and “Victoria and Abdul,” which is also a sequel, I guess, since Judi Dench is playing Queen Victoria, the same historical figure she played in “Mrs. Brown” (1997).

Also coming this fall/winter are these franchise entries: “Boo 2: A Madea Halloween,” “Jigsaw,” “A Bad Moms Christmas,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Daddy’s Home 2,” “Justice League,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Pitch Perfect 3.”

And then there are the remakes — “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Death Wish” and the animated “Ferdinand.”

That’s right, “Ferdinand” has been filmed before, as a Disney cartoon short back in 1938 titled “Ferdinand the Bull,” and both are based on the same source material.

OK, so maybe it’s only a semi-serious fall.

Hollywood can’t really function without throwing a few sure-fire blockbusters in the mix, right?

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