Cold weather cinema: fall/winter film preview

Andrew Garfield stars as 'Desmond Doss' in "Hacksaw Ridge."(Mark Rogers via Lionsgate Publicity)

If the rapidly approaching winter has you feeling down, look no further than your local movie theater. From science fiction blockbusters to bleak dramas and a feel-good Disney flick, there’s something for everyone as fall sets in and winter approaches. Here are the top picks of the season:

“Doctor Strange,” Nov. 4

From “Sinister” (2012) director Scott Derrickson and his writing partner C. Robert Cargill comes the latest Marvel extravaganza. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, who is coming off an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in “The Imitation Game” (2014), this addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe will see him in the title role learning mystical powers and battling the evil Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) in a city-destroying climax.

“Hacksaw Ridge,” Nov. 4

As director Mel Gibson’s comeback movie following his sexist and anti-Semitic comments, “Hacksaw Ridge” tells the story of World War II conscientious objector Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), an Army medic who was awarded the Medal of Honor despite never carrying a weapon into battle. Early reviews are promising; the film holds a 93 percent “fresh” rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes at press time, and Gibson is courting representation offers from top Hollywood agencies, but it remains to be seen what effect Gibson’s reputation will have on the film’s box office prospects.

“Loving,” Nov. 4

Written and directed by “Midnight Special” (2016) helmer Jeff Nichols, “Loving” tells the story of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga), an interracial couple who sued the state of Virginia after they were arrested under the state’s anti-miscegenation legislation. Their case reached the Supreme Court, which ruled in their favor in Loving v. Virginia in 1967.

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” Nov. 11

Based on the book by Ben Fountain, the film takes place during a halftime celebration for veterans and is comprised heavily of flashbacks to one young man’s time serving in combat. Director Ang Lee, whose last film “Life of Pi” (2012) garnered him a Best Director Oscar win, shot at 120 frames per second rather than the standard 24 frames per second, with the aim of creating a hyper-realistic depiction of war.

“Arrival,” Nov. 11

Starring Amy Adams as a linguist tasked with deciphering alien communications, the film is based on “Story of Your Life” (1998), a short novel by Ted Chiang. Director Denis Villeneuve, who is known for tense thrillers like “Prisoners” (2013) and “Sicario” (2015), as well as the mind-bender “Enemy” (2013), should have the audience scratching their heads and on the edge of their seats.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Nov. 18

The first of what will reportedly be five films set in the world of Harry Potter, this new entry is based on J. K. Rowling’s encyclopedia of magical creatures. Set in the so-far unexplored American wizarding world, the film features Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a British wizard whose collection of fantastic beasts is inadvertently set loose in 1926 New York. The film is the first to be screen-written by Rowling herself.

“Manchester by the Sea,” Nov. 18

Written and directed by “Gangs of New York” (2002) scribe Kenneth Lonergan, the film takes place in the titular Massachusetts town and tells the story of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a custodian from Quincy who must return home to take care of his deceased brother’s son. Since its festival debut at Sundance in January, the film has been hailed as potentially one of the best of the year.

“Moana,” Nov. 23

Veteran Disney directors John Musker and Ron Clements head up the company’s latest animated feature, about a Polynesian princess (Auli’i Cravalho) who partners with demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) to find a mythical island. The film also features music from “Hamilton” (2015) darling Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” Dec. 16

“Rogue One” follows the efforts of a ragtag group of Rebel Alliance operatives to steal the plans for the Death Star in the time prior to the events in the original “Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977). Expect the movie, directed by “Godzilla” (2014) filmmaker Gareth Edwards, to rake in a galaxy of cash at the box office despite reports of Disney-ordered reshoots to lighten its tone.

“Assassin’s Creed,” Dec. 21

The next film hoping to break the curse that has hovered over video-game adaptations, “Assassin’s Creed” takes the concept behind Ubisoft’s action-adventure stealth series and puts it in a new setting – the Spanish Inquisition. It stars Michael Fassbender, re-teaming with “Macbeth” (2015) director Justin Kurzel, who looks to have created a highly stylized world for Fassbender and company to jump, climb and stab their way through.

“Passengers,” Dec. 21

From “The Imitation Game” (2014) director Morten Tyldum, “Passengers” stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as space travelers awoken from cryogenic sleep almost a century before their craft reaches its destination. Unable to return to their frozen sleep state, they soon realize that the ship has other surprises in store.