This month: Freddie Mercury gets the long-overdue biopic treatment; Adonis Creed and Lisbeth Salander (now in her 3.0 version) jump into the sequel game; several would-be Oscar contenders finally hit theaters near you; and folks get significant new releases from award-festooned auteurs such as Luca Guadagnino, Steve McQueen, Barry Jenkins and Yorgos Lanthimos. Oh, and did we mention the WWII men-on-a-mission blockbuster that turns into a Nazi monster movie? Here’s what you need to see in November.
Bohemian Rhapsody (Nov. 2nd)
Just how thoroughly has Freddie Mercury claimed his place in rock and roll history? The man owns the rhythmic “stomp-stomp-CLAP” pattern, for fuck’s sake. Rami Malek channels the spirit of the late musician — as outsider kid, frontman for opera-rock godheads Queen, songwriter, husband, lover, hedonist and casualty of the AIDS plague — in this biopic “directed” by Bryan Singer. (The quotes are there for a reason.) From Mercury’s beginnings as an oddball with sky-high aspirations to the studio sessions where he forged the boundary-busting music that’d conquer the globe, the actor grapples with the burdens of genius. Gal-i-le-o gal-i-le-oooo!
Boy Erased (Nov. 2nd)
Nineteen-year-old Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges) can’t be the pastor’s son in a Deep South small town and stay in the closet any longer. When he comes out to his parents (Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman) after an incident at college, they send him to a gay conversion therapy program under the supervision of the off-putting Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton, who also directs). He bonds with some of the fellow “patients” and searches inside himself for a way out. Garrard Conley’s popular memoir feels like it was made to be adapted for Oscar season; as for Hedges, he continues to dominate the back half of 2018. See it for him.
Creed II (Nov. 21st)
New director (Steven Caple Jr. takes over for Ryan Coogler), new foe (Florian Munteanu plays Viktor Drago, son of Dolph Lundgren’s dreaded Ivan) — same old Adonis. Michael B. Jordan laces up the gloves for another 10 rounds as Philly’s newest heavyweight hope, who’s balancing boxing and his personal responsibilities to girlfriend Tessa Thompson and their new child. His mentor Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), naturally, is Creed’s corner when it comes to training for a bout with the big Russkie. As they say in blockbuster-sequel-ese, “This time, it’s personal.”
The Favourite (Nov. 23rd)
Greek oddball Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) has a go at a period piece — specifically, the court of Queen Anne during the early 18th century — for a wicked comedy of (bad) manners. As you’ve no doubt hear, he’s enlisted a uniformly excellent cast: Olivia Colman as the emotionally needy, slightly unstable mad regent; Rachel Weisz as a duchess who’s has the Queen’s ear, among other body parts; and Emma Stone as a young upper-crust woman fallen on hard times and working as a royal servant. A power-play farce with a blackhearted streak follows, complete with animal races, recreational gunplay, mud baths, love triangles and production design so decadent that the ghost of Stanley Kubrick would most likely approve.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web (Nov. 9th)
Seven years after David Fincher brought the best-selling series of Swedish paperbacks to life with Rooney Mara, Hollywood’s giving it another whirl, swapping in Claire Foy to portray antisocial hacker extraordinaire Lisbeth Salander. She goes full Bond-in-Goth-mode for an espionage mission that involves a cyber-conspiracy with roots in the highest levels of government — and, for good measure, a ghost from her past. Nice to see the Emmy-winning, probably soon-to-be-Oscar-nominated British actress adding “action heroine” to her resumé.
Green Book (Nov. 21st)
Tinker with the gender and racial dynamics of Driving Miss Daisy, and you’ll end up in the general neighborhood of Peter Farrelly’s new parable of tolerance. Mahershala Ali is Don Shirley, a jazz pianist with a refined manner; Viggo Mortensen is Tony Lip, a Bronx muscleman hired to escort him on a 1962 concert tour through a handful of southern states still under the Jim Crow laws. Amidst tensions of race and class, the two men earn one another’s respect and strike up a true friendship that changes their world outlooks. We smell a feel-good hit.
If Beale Street Could Talk (Nov. 30th)
After taking America and the Academy by storm with Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins is back with another delicate vision of love too pure for a compromised society. From James Baldwin’s moving 1974 novel, he relays the ballad of Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), young lovers and parents-to-be separated by prison walls due to a wrongful, racially motivated rape accusation. Both Layne and James are major finds; Regina King dominates every scene she’s in — because of course she does — as Tish’s dogged, justice-seeking mother. In case you needed confirmation that Jenkins in hands down one of the best filmmakers working today, well … now you’ve got it.
Overlord (Nov. 9th)
It was supposed to be a routine mission for Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo) and his brothers-in-arms: take down a Nazi-controlled radio tower and return to base. What they didn’t bank on was the dank subterranean laboratory containing howling, deformed test subjects and syringes full of glowing liquid. J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production house lends its trademark veil of secrecy to this B-movie throwback, a WWII-era sci-fi nightmare in which a squadron of Allied forces (including John Magaro and Wyatt Russell) stumble into a Third Reich plot to beef up the German army with some … uniquely enhanced new troops. Game of Thrones star Pilou Asbæk supports as the suitably sinister S.S. villain — the kind of bad guy who seems right at home in this creepy alternate history.
Suspiria (Nov. 2nd, wide release)
Having earned carte-blanche privileges from the success of last year’s Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino decided to swing for the fences and remake Dario Argento’s 1977 horror classic, revitalizing the story of an American ballerina (Dakota Johnson) come to study at a prestigious academy in Berlin. Little does she know, Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) and the rest of the instructors have a darker purpose in mind for their charges and their primal, interpretive dance routines. The political, the feminine, the grotesque and the divine all fuse as one for a singularly harrowing experience. Plus the ending is a doozy.
Widows (Nov. 16th)
12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen returns in grand fashion with this sleek hybrid of heist thrills, political intrigue and finely shaded character portraiture. A bravura opening tracks a heist gone awry that ends with four thieves dead and their wives left with mounting bills. With no other way of placating the impatient-for-their-loot gangsters (Brian Tyree Henry and Daniel Kaluuya), the lead thief’s wife Veronica (Viola Davis) recruits fellow mourners Alice and Linda (Elizabeth Debicki and Michelle Rodriguez) to get square with the criminals. You get twists, you get turns, you get Broadway singer Cynthia Erivo in a breakout-star turn as a getaway driver and you get a potboiler boasting a cast of A-list heavyweights all on their A-game.