Movies, it seems, are having a moment. So much so, that age of Peak TV feels like one large, fuzzy Breaking Bad recap post. We find ourselves in a present where “indie” studios, major studios, and streaming platforms such as Amazon and Netflix are churning out more ambitious projects by an increasingly diverse, diffuse, and untested cohort of filmmakers, writers, and stars. As such, to be a discerning cinephile in an age of pure digital cinema has become something like skipping through a minefield. Fortunately for us, and for you, we’ve asked Screens Late and The Ion Pack, two anonymous (and collectively-run) Instagram accounts to preview the fall film slate with their most askew takes on 19 of this year’s festival-circuit darlings, big-box remakes, and award-season hopefuls (for added fun, the pair are rumored to be nurturing a low-key beef with each other). From 2018’s debuts (Jonah Hill’s mid90s and Sandi Tan’s Shirkers) to its best movie contenders (Barry Jenkin’s If Beale Street Could Talk and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma), you’ll have no excuse to not have an opinion, or corresponding meme to reference, about this year’s most talked about films.
mid90s (10/26) – Dir. Jonah Hill, starring Sunny Suljic
ION PACK: Interesting to see Jonah Hill cosplaying as a SoCal skater bro. We wish he was still looking for these instead of Dunks:
SCREENS LATE: Pity that the Gen Z audience this movie is marketed to was neither alive in the mid-’90s nor watches movies. The most glaring omission from Jonah’s debut is that the song “Santa Monica” by Everclear isn’t on the soundtrack.
Shirkers (10/26) – Dir. Sandi Tan, starring Sandi Tan
ION PACK: A genuinely touching portrait of female grace pitted against the perverse power of male entitlement, Sandi Tan gifts us with this heartbreaking tale about the naïveté of young filmmaking. Ion shed a tear at Sundance for this one.
SCREENS LATE: The film that should have actually been titled mid90s.
Boy Erased (11/2) – Dir. Joel Edgerton, starring Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman
ION PACK: The Miseducation of Gordo the Weirdo.
SCREENS LATE: It used to be when studios would release competing “twin films” they’d be about multiplex-friendly subjects like teen baseball phenoms (Rookie of the Year/Little Big League) or steampunk magicians (The Prestige/The Illusionist). This year, it’s all about gay conversion therapy with Boy Erased following on the heels of The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Weird.
Suspiria (11/2) – Dir. Luca Guadagnino, starring Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton
ION PACK: At the encore of the final Radiohead show on their most recent tour, Thom led a crowd singalong of “Karma Police” with just himself and an acoustic guitar—finally, fully embracing the stadium-level bravado he previously loathed. Visibly uncomfortable, Jonny Greenwood left the stage before the song ended.
SCREENS LATE: The original is a bad movie with a great soundtrack. The remake is a great movie with a bad soundtrack. Maybe there’ll be a savvy fan edit that combines the two.
Bohemian Rhapsody (11/2) – Dir. Bryan Singer, starring Rami Malek
ION PACK: We need to continue to hold alleged sexual predators accountable—here’s looking at you, Singer. We will rock you.
SCREENS LATE: Forgot Sacha Baron Cohen ended up not being in this Queen biopic that plays more like 2001’s Rock Star than the dramatic film Freddie Mercury deserved.
Nobody’s Fool (11/2) – Dir. Tyler Perry, starring Tiffany Haddish
ION PACK: Tiffany Haddish should have won an Oscar for Girls Trip. Protect her at all costs.
SCREENS LATE: Finally, the Tyler Perry and Tiffany Haddish collaboration America has been waiting for—and it’s a film about an ex-con falling for a catfishing scheme? Probably the only movie worth seeing for the rest of the year, and it won’t even be nominated for a single Independent Spirit Award.
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (11/9) – Dirs. Yarrow Cheney, Scott Mosier, starring Benedict Cumberbatch
SCREENS LATE: It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 18 years since the last Grinch movie that nobody wanted to watch.
Widows (11/16) – Dir. Steve McQueen, starring Viola Davis
ION PACK: Can’t wait.
SCREENS LATE: If Ocean’s 8 had action and was woke.
At Eternity’s Gate (11/16) – Dir. Julian Schnabel, starring Willem Dafoe
ION PACK: “I’m the closest thing to Picasso that you’ll see in this fucking life.” —Julian Schnabel.
SCREENS LATE: Dafoe has played Pasolini, Dafoe has played Roland Sweet, Dafoe has played Christ, Dafoe has played John Carpenter (potential murderer, not director/composer), and Dafoe has played Max Schreck—so Dafoe playing Van Gogh shouldn’t be a stretch.
Instant Family (11/16) – Dir. Sean Anders, starring Mark Wahlberg
ION PACK: Don’t pardon Mark Wahlberg.
SCREENS LATE: Game Night, Tag, Daddy’s Home, and now, Instant Family. It is clear The Hangover generation is done doing beer bongs with the boys and is now focused on their actual boys.
The Favourite (11/23) – Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos, starring Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone
ION PACK: Dogtooth forever.
SCREENS LATE: Our favorite. Once again, Yorgos shows us why we need to be giving real budgets and star power to more inimitable filmmakers from outside of the studio system (and American borders). The best is yet to come from Yorgos. In the meantime, let’s call up João Pedro Rodrigues, Alain Guiraudie, and Valeska Grisebach from the minor leagues.
Shoplifters (11/23) – Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda, starring Lily Franky and Sakura Ando
ION PACK: Looks pretty good.
SCREENS LATE: No one was happier than Kore-eda that Netflix and Cannes couldn’t get along, as this charming reconstruction of the family drama took home the festival’s top prize even if it probably didn’t deserve it.
If Beale Street Could Talk (11/30) – Dir. Barry Jenkins, starring Regina King and Ed Skrein
SCREENS LATE: Once again, Jenkins and Chazelle go toe to toe. This time to determine who’s made the must humdrum followup to their awards season titans of 2017. This round, our money is on Chazelle.
Happy as Lazzaro (11/30) – Dir. Alice Rohrwacher, starring Nicoletta Braschi
ION PACK: We’re gonna call this one by its name.
SCREENS LATE: Fellini and Pasolini are alive and well, and making films under the alias Alice Rohrwacher.
Under the Silver Lake (12/7) – Dir. David Robert Mitchell, starring Andrew Garfield
ION PACK: We’ll see how “It Follows.”
SCREENS LATE: The day after its screening at Cannes, it looked like an American Apparel ad threw up all over the Croisette. A nice German man seated next to me walked out during the scene where Andrew Garfield is fucking a woman doggy-style while CNN is on the TV, while mansplaining Nirvana.
Ben is Back (12/7) – Dir. Peter Hedges, starring Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges
ION PACK: Nepotism never left.
SCREENS LATE: Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet are reading all the same scripts, right?
Roma (12/14) – Dir. Alfonso Cuarón, starring Yalitza Aparicio
ION PACK: Should’ve been in color.
SCREENS LATE: A film with sound design so impressive that the two ushers at Alice Tully Hall couldn’t tell if some people were carrying on a conversation in the last few rows or if it was just the sound of passersby on a bustling Mexico City street. Sadly, the film’s greatest mystery is why the black-and-white photography looks so low-grade digital. Sentimental by way of Spielberg, not Sirk. Start counting the Oscars.
Welcome to Marwen (12/21) – Dir. Robert Zemeckis, starring Steve Carell
ION PACK: The 56-Year-Old Virgin Toy Story.
SCREENS LATE: At least Small Soldiers had a Burger King promotion and David Cross attached to it.
Vice (12/25) – Dir. Adam McKay, starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams
SCREENS LATE: Sam Rockwell should hit the road as GWB for a one-man show. The Oscar is Bale’s to lose.
Destroyer (12/25) – Dir. Karyn Kusama, starring Nicole Kidman
ION PACK: Nicole’s “Monster” moment. Karyn Kusama in beast mode.
SCREENS LATE: The predominantly geriatric crowd at Telluride likes basically anything you put in front of them. They’re pretty much happy just to see pictures that move. But even they universally panned this movie, no small feat at a festival where every audience is convinced they’re watching the next Best Picture winner.