This season’s most anticipated releases

This might be my favorite season for movies and, fortunately, it lasts about three months. The time when acclaimed directors submit their next projects to selection committees and world premieres of the next wave of Oscar contenders get their time in the sun. While films that dominate the Sundance Film Festival in January get their summer releases, the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival have become the main stage for films holding a fall release, and those that get serious Oscar buzz come award season. Here’s a look at some smaller titles that may not be on your radar but have the right pieces in place to make a great night at the theater.

Beasts of No Nation
Cary Fukunaga (Jane Eyre, True Detective) writes and directs this war drama set in present-day West Africa. Starring Idris Alba as “Commandant”, a military general, this film actually focuses on Agu, a child who is forced to join a group of mercenaries after civil war tears his family apart.

Idris Elba has taken on a variety of roles that range all over the spectrum. That wouldn’t be special, except for the fact that he always kills it — every time. From the action-thriller No Good Deed, to the thrilling action of Pacific Rim, Elba brings his insane talent to every character he portrays. There’s no doubt he brings it again in Beasts of No Nation. Look for this one on Netflix and independent theaters starting Oct. 16.

Black Mass
The last time director Scott Cooper was in charge, we got Out of the Furnace; a gritty and well-acted film starring Christian Bale and Casey Affleck. Now he’s bringing us Black Mass, starring Johnny Depp as infamous Boston-based mobster James “Whitey” Bulger. Taking place during the late 1970s, while Bulger acted as an informant for the FBI, Black Mass is shaping up to give Johnny Depp an opportunity to remind us why he is one of the best. Black Mass gets its theatrical release on Sept. 18.

There is no hesitation in saying Brie Larson will eventually become “Academy Award Winner” Brie Larson. She has an outstanding, unsung talent to be the most authentic person on screen, and Room has the premise to convey that message loud and clear. “What if, when we were born, we were mature enough to be in awe of the world around us? To be stricken by its beauty? And what if we were able to experience it with the person we love most?” Larson plays Ma, a mother who, along with her 5-year-old son Jack (played by Jacob Tremblay), has been locked inside a shed, known as “Room”, for the last half-decade. Jack has only ever seen the inside of “Room”, and Ma must teach him about the world outside of it. The trailer is chillingly beautiful and I anticipate great performances from both Larson and Tremblay. Room hits limited theaters on Oct. 16, to be expanded nationwide on Nov. 6.

Director Denis Villeneuve isn’t necessarily a household name, but movies such as Enemy and Prisoners immediately make my ears perk up. Now I hear he’s got Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, and Josh Brolin in his next film centered around the Mexican-American border. Blunt plays Kate Macer, an FBI agent tasked with preventing escalation of the war against drugs. Early showings at the Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals have started a hurricane of good-graces for all players involved. Mark your calendars for a limited release on Sept. 18 with a national expansion on Oct. 2.

These four films will certainly get the blood flowing. In case these don’t tickle your fancy, be sure to look into other interesting titles such as Trumbo, 99 Homes (Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon), Mississippi Grind (Ryan Reynolds, Ben Mendolsohn), I Saw The Light (Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen) and Spotlight (Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton).