10 Upcoming Movies You Should Catch

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday November 11, 2021
Originally published on October 26, 2021

Haaz Sleiman in a promotional photo for "The Eternals"
Haaz Sleiman in a promotional photo for "The Eternals"  

This year has already boasted a number of award-worthy releases like "CODA," "Dune," "Bergman Island, " "Mass" and even "No Time to Die."

And a number of films have yet to screen including the highly anticipated, "House of Gucci," "West Side Story," "Being the Ricardos,"and "Nightmare Alley."

The following are the 10 films that stand out among the bounty of cinematic pleasures coming your way this fall, some with surprising queer content.

"Belfast"


In 1990 at the age of 30, Kenneth Branagh scored two surprise Oscar nominations for Best Actor and Director for his filmmaking feature debut, "Henry V," which made him the golden boy of that moment. It might have taken three decades to surpass himself, but "Belfast," Branagh's deeply personal, brilliantly acted, gorgeously photographed, economically written and dynamically directed cinematic memoir is his best work, by far.

The film is set in the mostly Protestant titular city during the tumultuous time (1969) when some Catholic families still lived--and certain extremists did not like that fact.

At the center of the world of "Belfast" is young Buddy (played magnificently by 10-year-old newcomer Jude Hill) who is simply trying to have a childhood and understand the insanity around him. Ciarán Hinds and Dame Judi Dench bring gravitas and fun to the roles of Buddy's grandparents. Jamie Dornan continues to prove he's an actor with tremendous range as Buddy's calm but determined dad. And Caitríona Balfe brings her remarkable gifts to the role of Buddy's conflicted mother watching her hometown turn into war zone.

"Belfast" is a film I found impossible not to love. Opens in theaters November 12th.

"The Power of the Dog"


Jane Campion's spellbinding western thriller, "The Power of the Dog," adapted from Thomas Savage's 1967 cult novel, examines sexual repression in a manner that is complex, scary and exhilarating. Set in 1925 Montana, this masterful cinematic gem centers on widowed Rose (an excellent Kirsten Dunst), who marries gentle rancher George (an affecting Jesse Plemons) and moves in with him and his nasty brother Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch). Rose's misfit son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is also on hand and is bullied by Phil, but the two soon bond.

Cumberbatch is so immersive you can smell his foul odor and, also, sense his arousal around the ranch hands. It's a frighteningly visceral performance. McPhee beguiles in the most enigmatic fashion. His Peter must remain a mystery until the end and the actor is a marvel to watch. The late scenes between McPhee and Cumberbatch seethe with percolating sexual tension. Campion has created a true work of cinematic art. Opens in theaters 11/17 and on Netflix 12/1.

"Parallel Mothers"


Penélope Cruz should always work with Pedro Almodóvar. The master's cinematic eye is as keen and adept as ever and his narrative storytelling is as absorbing and compelling. Cruz imbues her character with such nuance and depth that she's a wonder to watch.

In "Parallel Mothers," two women's fates are intertwined when they both give birth almost simultaneously in the same maternity ward. They are single mothers but have very different stories. Janis (Cruz) is an ambitious photographer who gets involved with a married man, Arturo (Israel Elejalde) helping her right a terrible wrong done to her and so many other citizens who vanished during the terror-ridden reign of Franco. Ana (thrilling newcomer Milena Smit) is a teen who was raped by three men and then had it hushed up by her father. Both women's lives converge in hypnotic, intimate and unpredictable ways. Opens in theaters 12/24.

"The Lost Daughter"


Director-writer Maggie Gyllenhaal has created a complex psychological narrative, based on the 2006 novel by Elena Ferrante ("My Brilliant Friend"). "The Lost Daughter" centers on an enigmatic language professor, Leda (Olivia Colman), who is on holiday and becomes fascinated by a young woman, Nina (Dakota Johnson) and her child, who, in turn, reminds her of her own early tempestuous life and relationship with her own daughters.

Olivia Colman's Leda is contrary, haunted, liberated and often at odds with what's expectedly defined as motherhood. She allows us inside the head and heart of someone we might normally find incomprehensible-- even reprehensible--but we empathize with her— we want to protect her. It's a tribute to Colman's extraordinary gifts. This might be her greatest film work yet. Opens 12/17 in theaters and 12/31 on Netflix.

"tick, tick...BOOM!"


There have been several stage musical adaptations this year, notably "In the Heights," and "Everybody's Talking About Jamie." And, of course, Spielberg's "West Side Story" is coming soon. But sneaking in with less fanfare is Lin-Manuel Miranda's feature directorial debut of Jonathan Larson's autobiographical pre-"Rent" work, "tick, tick...BOOM!" which follows a 29-year-old struggling theatre composer (Andrew Garfield) and his journey from obscurity to, well, still obscurity but personal growth. Robin de Jesús, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexandra Shipp, Joshua Henry, Mj Rodriguez and the fabulous Judith Light also appear.

I'm under embargo from posting any "sentiment" so all I will write is this is one of my favorite films of 2021 and stands superior to ANY of the stage musical adaptations so far this year. Full stop. Opens 11/12 in theaters and 11/19 on Netflix.

"The Hand of God"


Paolo Sorrentino has created some of the most eclectic yet mesmerizing films from his Oscar-winning "The Great Beauty" to the underrated "Youth" to the quirky "This Must be the Place." His latest, "The Hand of God," is his most intimate, based on his own personal tragedy as a teen. Filippo Scotti excels as the young Fabietto (a stand in for Sorrentino) who must survive after a terrible family tragedy. Sorrentino fills his film with many hilarious sequences that divert us from the realities of life. Yet the movie also makes us aware of the fact that while cinema does distract us from our everyday muck, it can also help us cope with all of it better by relating to it onscreen. "The Hand of God" is sublime.

Italy smartly chose "The Hand of God" as the Best International Film Oscar selection. In Italian with English subtitles. Opens in December in theaters and on Netflix.

"Cyrano"


I had no interest in seeing yet another version of "Cyrano." The story's been done to death and, really, what fresh take could be offered? Yikes, was I gobsmacked by Joe Wright's absolutely enchanting, yet rightfully disturbing, musical version.

Adapted from the 2018 stage work by playwright Erica Schmidt and The National (in which Peter Dinklage appeared off-Broadway in 2019), this bold, ballsy concoction is a full cinematic meal with a tour de force performance by Dinklage, sans nose but full of vim and vigor as Cyrano, a man who can write the most poetic of letters but cannot express face-to-face what is in his own heart. Haley Bennett and Kelvin Harrison Jr. are also fantastic, but this is Dinklage's shining 2 hours. Opens in theaters 12/31.

"King Richard"


Reinaldo Marcus Green's "King Richard" has '80s TV movie written all over it (and some of them were terrifically made) but it succeeds beyond that trope thanks mostly to keen direction and an incredible ensemble of actors led by an immersive Will Smith as the fiercely focused father of the now legendary tennis pros, Venus and Serena Williams.

The film traces the early turbulent years when Richard fights tooth and nail to make certain his daughters get their shot, convinced they have what it takes and that his plan is the only plan to get the entire family out of Compton. He was insane but he was also right, if you believe the film—which is non-stop entertainment!

As good as Smith is, Aunjanue Ellis matches him as the matriarch Brandi, who will only take so much of his ego. Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton are winning in every sense as the pro sibs. And Jon Bernthal stands out as their impatient, patient coach. Opens in theaters November 19th.

"Spencer"


Kristen Stewart's immersive performance makes Pablo Larraín" Spencer," a must. And I was shocked. The best compliment I can give her is that I completely forgot I was watching Kristin Stewart. That's how wholly she embodies Princess Diana.

This engrossing work takes place in 1991 over the course of three suffocating days (for Diana) at Sandringham for the royal Christmas celebration. It's more like a military base where everyone does what they're told—or else. It's not realism as much as Gothic horror with a dying Princess at the center. The film is about the loss of identity and Stewart's rendering of a woman stuck in an unending nightmare she can see no way out of. It's heartbreaking. Opens in theaters November 5th.

"The Eternals"

I get it. Marvel movies, by definition, need to be awe-inspiring. But why does that need to result in an over reliance on CGI, ridiculous amounts of mythological plot made to sound intelligent (yet broken down is pretentious narrative-blended babble) as well as uggo creatures that show a total lack of creativity? Oh, and the same basic plot over and over?

Thank the cine-gods that Chloé Zhao ("Nomadland") was able to take all those innocuous prerequisites and create a film that is gorgeously photographed and focuses on the intimate moments between the characters allowing them to breathe. She miraculously manages the visual cacophonies so they're not as headache inducing and distills the humanity—despite the fact that the Eternals aren't human. Gemma Chan, Richard Madden and Angelina Jolie deliver multilayered portraits in a film that fights against such things making "The Eternals" worth the 2 hour, 37-minute sit. Oh, and there's that gay couple (played by Brian Tyree Henry and Haaz Sleiman) you've heard so much about! Opens 11/5 exclusively in theaters.

Frank J. Avella is a film and theatre journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep. Frank is a recipient of a 2019 International Writers Retreat Residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle (Assisi, Italy), a 2018 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, a 2016 Helene Wurlitzer Residency Grant and a 2015 NJ State Arts Council Fellowship Award. He is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW, FIG JAM, VATICAN FALLS) and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. https://filmfreeway.com/FrankAvella https://muckrack.com/fjaklute