As the year winds down and we get close to awards season, studios are releasing more military-themed movies than usual. Here are eight debuting before the end of 2016. 1. Hacksaw Ridge (11/4) %embed1%
Mel Gibson returns to the director's chair a full decade after Apocalypto and twelve years after The Passion of the Christ became the biggest independent film of all time. In Hacksaw Ridge, Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man) plays Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss, an Army medic who served as a conscientious objector during the Battle of Okinawa in WWII. Doss refused to touch a weapon but managed to single-handedly remove over 70 casualties from the field of battle after his unit had been forced to retreat. We'll have interviews with Mel Gibson and Desmond Doss, Jr. next week before the movie opens. 2. Arrival (11/11) %embed2%
Alien spaceships land around the world and a linguistics professor (Amy Adams) is brought in to try to communicate with the invaders and avert an intergalactic war. Let's assume the military characters are looking to blast the visitors back to outer space. This one's directed by Denis Villeneuve, who made the outstanding drug war thriller Sicario and is directing the upcoming Blade Runner sequel that stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. 3. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (11/11) %embed3%
Director Ang Lee (Life of Pi) is once again pushing the technological envelope by shooting this movie at 120 frames per second in 3D at 4K HD resolution. That's over twice the frame rate of Peter Jackson's failed experiment on the first Hobbit movie (48 fps) and five times the standard 24fps frame rate. Lee hopes his new movie gives an immersive experience that audiences have never seen before. Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) is a 19-year-old Army specialist fighting in Iraq. After his unit survives a tough battle that gets a lot of news coverage, the Pentagon brings the soldiers home for a feel-good publicity tour. The movie unfolds over the course of a football halftime show to honor the troops and what really happened in Iraq is revealed in a series of flashbacks over the course of the ceremony. 4. Allied (11/23) %embed4%
Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) gets to make his big-budget World War II spy movie with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. Pitt avoids an attempt at a British accent by playing a Canadian intelligence officer who falls in love with a French resistance fighter (Cotillard) while serving in North Africa. The couple marries in London and has a child but UK intelligence tells Pitt that they have evidence that his wife is a German spy. He must kill her or face execution himself. Pitt races to prove her innocence. 5. Man Down (12/2) %embed5%
Shia LaBeouf got his career back on track with an excellent performance as a tank soldier in Fury and this time he plays a Marine who returns from Afghanistan and is desperately trying to track down his missing wife (Kate Mara) and son. He's aided by his battle buddy (Jai Courtney) who is maybe a bit too aggressive in his approach. And, of course, Shia is haunted by flashbacks to the war. 6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12/16) %embed6%
The Rebel Alliance recruits Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) to lead a team that aims to steal the Empire's plans for the Death Star. Originally described as a "heist movie," this is the first Star Wars movie to tell a tale not directly related to George Lucas' original storyline. Directed by Gareth Edwards (the 2014 Godzilla movie), it's set sometime before the events portrayed in the original Star Wars movie. Fun fact: George Lucas has never refuted the legend that the Rebel Alliance was inspired by the Viet Cong and that the Empire is a stand-in for the USA. 7. Patriots' Day (12/21) %embed9%
Director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg are back just three months after the release of the excellent Deepwater Horizon with their movie about the 2014 Boston Marathon bombing and the manhunt for the terrorists. Berg and Wahlberg also had huge success with Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell's story in Lone Survivor. Wahlberg is one of those true Boston guys, the ones who love their city in a way that people from New York or California (or even Mississippi) can never truly match. Berg is fascinated with the mechanics of how soldiers and first responders and working men and women do their jobs, so the pair seems like a perfect match for this story. 8. Hidden Figures (12/25) %embed10%
Don't pretend like you already know the story of Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the flight trajectories for Project Mercury and the Apollo 11 moon landing. Johnson is 98-years-old and hopefully will be around Christmas day when her life story hits the screen. She's played by Taraji P. Henson, who may be in line for a second Oscar nomination. It's a feel-good movie about one of America's greatest military programs and it's about the struggles of women and African-Americans to get taken seriously in mid-20th century America. It has a limited award-qualifying release on Christmas day but will be everywhere on January 6th.
Which movies are you looking forward to this fall? Let us know in the comments.