We’re perched between the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival, which means, for all intents and purposes, the Oscar race has begun in earnest. Or, as this article by Jason McKiernan posits, it may have already ended, as the eventual Oscar winner has debuted during this festival season every year since 2004. Not that it’s going to keep the fall’s later releases from trying — just try and stop Disney from giving Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies a huge push — but it does highlight the front-runner mentality that’s taken over the awards lately. It’s like pre-season polls in college football: once you’re ranked #1, you tend to stay ranked #1 out of sheer inertia, unless some kind of disaster befalls you. So if you emerge from the festivals as the prohibitive favorite, it’s hard to blunt months of being called the favorite once voting rolls around. And there are no trap games on your schedule to worry about.
The Green Inferno is likely going to be blissfully free of any concerns over Oscar campaigns. It’s Eli Roth’s latest horror film and What Do We Say About Horror Films?™ They open and they’re cheap. This only cost $6 million, and while The Visit is also a horror film, it’s playing a much kinder, gentler playground than Roth’s cannibal gore-fest, so they’re looking for different crowds. Hardcore horror fans looking to jump start Halloween will likely lap this up, and boy was that an unfortunate choice of words with regards to a film about cannibalism. But again, with that budget, this will be profitable come Monday, with everything else just gravy and oh I’ve done it again.
The first Hotel Transylvania was a cute if ultimately insignificant film that stands as about the only bearable Adam Sandler film I’ve seen in the last ten years or so. It did some fun things with the classic movie monster tropes, it had an interesting visual style, and it pretty much evaporated from my consciousness a couple of days after I saw it. But as Sandler’s second-biggest hit in that same ten-year span, it was bound to get the sequel treatment, so here comes Hotel Transylvania 2, with Sandler’s Dracula moving from harried father to harried grandfather. The rest of the voice cast is back from the original, with the inspired addition of Mel Brooks as Dracula’s father, Vlad. That might just get me to go see this. Who will go see this are the kids and parents who enjoyed the first film and are looking for something in the Halloween spirit that won’t cause nightmares. How this opens will depend on just how much people liked the first film, so its opening weekend is going to be pretty important, especially with Pan and Goosebumps on the very near horizon looking for the same audience.
The worst thing going for The Intern is that it calls to mind The Internship, the dismal Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy from two years ago. Not that anyone is going to confuse Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway for Vaugh and Wilson. But it’s such a generically bland title, it’s a good thing the ads I’ve seen for it have some life to them. It’s particularly refreshing to see an aging star like DeNiro take on a role that’s specifically about his age and not trying to play someone ten or twenty years younger. I do wince a little at the prospect of romance between him and Hathaway (although it seems co-star Renee Russo may be filling that role), but this strikes me as the kind of solid, character driven film that people complain no one makes, and then no one goes and sees when they do make one. So I guess that wins it my top spot by default.
Everest is also expanding wide beyond its IMAX only release today, and having sat on it for a week, I think it’s definitely worthy checking out in whatever format you choose. And Sicario, a big-time award contender starring Emily Blount, gets a limited release ahead of it going wide next week. It just so happens my little burg is part of that limited release, so hopefully I’ll be able to check it out and have something intelligent to say next week. For a change.