Billy Jean battles Bobby in a biopic, Margot Robbie takes a whack at Tonya Harding, and two masters of the macabre unveil movies you won’t want to look away from.
A Fantastic Woman
The time is ripe for movies with transgender protagonists—particularly if the role in question is played by, y’know, an actual trans person. (We’re still giving you the stink eye, The Danish Girl.) So thank the stars for A Fantastic Woman, Chilean director Sebastián Lelio’s (Gloria) new film starring Daniela Vega, a trans actor making her big-screen debut. Tracking the travails of a trans woman who must deal with the fallout after her older lover dies, A Fantastic Woman took two awards at the Berlin Film Festival.
Darren Aronofsky and body horror: they go together like peanut butter and jelly. Not much has been released about the director’s Black Swan follow-up so far (we’re gonna pretend Noah never happened), other than a sinister teaser in which Jennifer Lawrence wanders through a house in a sacrificial-looking white dress while Javier Bardem says sinister shit in the voiceover. Oh, and an illustrated poster of a beatific Lawrence with a gaping chest wound, holding her own heart in her bloodied hands. Something about uninvited guests? Whatever. Obviously, we’re on board. Also, Kristen Wiig is in it. So.
Battle of the Sexes
One of the most infamous matches in tennis history is the subject of this bouncy sports story from directing team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine). Emma Stone and Steve Carell star as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, who crossed rackets in a young woman vs. middle-aged dude tennis showdown in 1973. We’re not sure we buy Stone or Carell in these parts, but they’re both effortlessly likable enough to make us overlook the weirdness.
It’s always a little iffy when movies get made in the wake of a real-life tragedy, particularly of the terrorist-attack variety. But at least Stronger is based on an actual account—the memoir of Jeff Bauman, who lost his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Directed by David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls), the movie’s got strong leads: Jake Gyllenhaal, laying on the Boston accent as Bauman, and Orphan Black virtuoso Tatiana Maslany as his girlfriend. Let’s hope that Stronger takes the high road.
Blade Runner 2049
With its dreamy techno-noir visuals and haunting what-if-robots-feel-stuff storyline, the original Blade Runner (1982) is one of the most visionary movies of the twentieth century. So we were skeptical when we heard it was getting thrown into the ol’ reboot machine. But the trailer features a hot, new blade runner (Ryan Gosling), a grizzled old blade runner (Harrison Ford), and enough arresting imagery to have us believe that director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) is well-equipped to pick up where Ridley Scott left off.
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Noah Baumbach is back and doing what he does best: telling tales of families having it out in New York City. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) follows the various adrift members of the Meyerowitz family as they gather to celebrate the writings of their patriarch (Dustin Hoffman). Rounding out the cast are heavy hitters like Emma Thompson, Elizabeth Marvel, Ben Stiller, and, uh, Adam Sandler. (Who knows—maybe he’ll pull a Punch-Drunk Love again.)
Riding high off the wave of red lipstick and critical acclaim of 2015’s Carol, Todd Haynes can go pretty much anywhere. He went with an adaptation of Brian Selznick’s 2011 YA novel Wonderstruck, which toggles between the stories of two kids (Millicent Simmonds and Oakes Fegley) who run away to New York City in the ’20s and ’70s, respectively. Holding up the adult end of the movie is Julianne Moore, who, if her luminous performance in Haynes’s Far From Heaven is any indication, we can’t wait to see collaborate with him again.
God’s Own Country
British cinema’s answer to Brokeback Mountain might have just arrived—God’s Own Country is the story of a halting romance between a Yorkshire farmer and a Romanian migrant worker who comes to help out with the sheep, if you know what we mean. Wink, wink. (But, actually, we do literally mean sheep-farming.) It won accolades at Sundance and Berlin, and features sweeping shots of the Yorkshire countryside and also angsty young men gazing off into the middle distance.
Call Me By Your Name
It’s been a minute since we’ve seen a screenplay from James Ivory, the surviving half of the legendary Merchant Ivory filmmaking duo. We’re glad he’s coming out of retirement for the film adaptation of André Aciman’s 2007 queer romance novel about a teenage boy in Italy (Timothée Chalamet) who falls for a chiseled American academic (Armie Hammer). Between the accolades from Sundance, the original Sufjan Stevens songs penned for the film, and the languid, sexy trailer, we’re all in.
What with the recent resurgence of stories about the O. J. Simpson trial, it was only a matter of time before the industry got its hands on the other giant scandal of 1994: the attack against Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan by goons associated with her closest rival, Tonya Harding. There’s no trailer yet for Craig Gillespie’s biopic, which stars Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, and Allison Janney; but we’ll find out whether or not it takes one in the kneecaps when it screens next month at the Toronto International Film Festival.