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With three critically-acclaimed films holding this week’s top 3 rankings, it’s clear that our members have great taste. And with awards seasons just around the corner, it’s also clear that many of this month’s films are likely to stick around. So, if you haven’t been to the theater, perhaps our MoviePass Member Top 5 can serve as your film guide. So, let’s get started.

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#1: ARRIVAL

Synopsis: Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.

Despite the dominance of Doctor Strange at the domestic box office, it’s Arrival that tops this weekend’s MoviePass Member Top 5 list, claiming 38.95% of member check-ins. Interestingly enough, this intellectual sci-fi film outperformed last week’s #1, Doctor Strange, which claimed 30.54% of last weekend’s check-ins. In context, Arrival’s performance makes sense, as director Denis Villeneuve’s previous film, Sicario, made the MoviePass Member Top 5 in its debut weekend, though it had only opened in 6 theaters at the time. Domestically, Arrival debuted at #3, earning $24 million, which is more than initially projected. Its performance can be attributed to a number of factors, including its director’s strong track record. With critically-acclaimed films such as IncendiesPrisonersand Sicario under his belt, Villeneuve has proven to be a formidable force in cinema. So, it’s no surprise that Arrival currently holds a 92% score on Rotten Tomatoes. In a positive review, Deadline Hollywood writes that the film is “intelligent, cerebral and absorbing.” With the Oscar buzz that has surrounded Villeneuve’s previous works, you can be sure that Arrival will stick around this season. We personally, loved the film and for anyone who’s seen it, feel free to share your thoughts!

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#2: DOCTOR STRANGE

Synopsis: Dr. Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he looks for healing, and hope, in a mysterious enclave. He quickly learns that the enclave is at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Before long, Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.

Entering this weekend’s list at #2 is the current box office favorite, Doctor Strange. Having experienced massive success among members last weekend, the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe earned a solid 9.72% of check-ins, this weekend. Domestically, the film holds the #1 spot with a tight grasp, earning approximately $43 million during its second weekend in theaters. To date, the film has earned $393.7 million worldwide on a $165 million budget. Doctor Strange has also received critical success with a Metacritic score of 72. Of the 49 reviews considered, 40 were positive, 7 were mixed, and only 2 were negative. In a favorable review, Richard Brody of The New Yorker writes, “Scott Derrickson’s adaptation of this exotic entry in the Marvel canon lives up to its title, in mostly good ways.” We’re sure that the film will continue to be a box office success; however, it’s highly likely that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will give Doctor Strange a run for its money.

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#3: HACKSAW RIDGE

Synopsis: The true story of Pfc. Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who won the Congressional Medal of Honor despite refusing to bear arms during WWII on religious grounds. Doss was drafted and ostracized by fellow soldiers for his pacifist stance but went on to earn respect and adoration for his bravery, selflessness and compassion after he risked his life — without firing a shot — to save 75 men in the Battle of Okinawa.

At #3 on our list is Mel Gibson’s biopic, Hacksaw Ridge. During its second weekend in theaters, the gritty action/drama earned 6.8% of MoviePass member check-ins. Domestically, the drama ranks at #5, with a weekend gross of approximately $10.8 million. With a score of 71 on Metacritic, the film has been the subject of high critical praise. Of the 45 reviews considered, 38 were positive and 7 were mixed. In fact, none of the scores were negative which suggests that Hacksaw Ridge is definitely a film worth seeing. Giving the film a glowing review, the San Francisco Chronicle states, “‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is one of the best films of 2016.” It’s a bold statement to make, but a Rotten Tomatoes score of 86% seems to support that claim.

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#4: ALMOST CHRISTMAS

Synopsis: Walter Meyer (Danny Glover) is a retired mechanic who lost the love of his life one year earlier. Now that the holiday season is here, he invites daughters Rachel (Gabrielle Union) and Cheryl (Kimberly Elise) and sons Christian (Romany Malco) and Evan (Jessie T. Usher) to his house for a traditional celebration. Poor Walter soon realizes that if his bickering children and the rest of the family can spend five days together under the same roof, it will truly be a Christmas miracle.

Taking this week’s #4 ranking is the family comedy, Almost Christmas. With a cast that includes Mo’Nique, Danny Glover, and Gabrielle Union, the film kickstarted the holiday season with 6.7% of this weekend’s member check-ins. Domestically, the film debuted at #4 with a weekend gross of $15.6 million on a $17 million budget. Overall, the film has received relatively negative reviews with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 44%. However, among the positive reviews is one from Odie Henderson of RogerEbert.com. Giving the film 3 stars, Henderson writes, “The committed performances by the cast of talented actors are what elevates ‘Almost Christmas’ above complaints about its familiarity and melodrama.” With Christmas steadily approaching, Almost Christmas seems like a proper way to get into the holiday spirit.

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#5: SHUT IN 

Synopsis: Mary (Naomi Watts) is a child psychologist who lives in isolation in rural New England after her husband dies in a horrific car accident. The tragedy also leaves her 18-year-old stepson Stephen (Charlie Heaton) in a bedridden, catatonic state, making him completely dependent on her. When one of Mary’s young patients goes missing and is presumed dead, she becomes convinced that the boy’s (Jacob Tremblay) ghost is now haunting both her and Stephen.

And rounding out this weekend’s MoviePass Member Top 5 is the Naomi Watts-Jacob Tremblay thriller, Shut In. Earning 4.58% of member check-ins, the horror film faired well during the start of a relatively competitive season. At the domestic box office, the film debuted at #8 earning $3.5 million. Despite a solid cast, the film has not faired well among critics with a score of 24 on Metacritic. All of the eight reviews considered were negative. Perhaps, the abundance of solid horror films this year—The Conjuring 2Lights OutDon’t BreatheOuija: Origin of Evil—have raised the standard for horror movie fare. In any case, we’re willing to bet that Shut In has a couple of worthwhile scares. So, we’ll give it a try.

IN THEATERS THIS WEEK

We’ve waited over a year for it and now it’s finally here: J.K Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! Why are we so excited about this film? For many of us, there’s an element of nostalgia mixed with escapism. And we are all too ready to escape into Rowling’s fantasy world. Then, we’ll find our grounding with the gritty boxing biopic, Bleed for This. And for a bit of haute thriller, we’ll check out Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Synopsis: The year is 1926, and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident, were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.

Bleed for This

BLEED FOR THIS

Synopsis: Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza (Miles Teller), a local Providence boxer, shoots to stardom after winning two world title fights. After a near-fatal car accident leaves him with a broken neck, he is told he may never walk again. Against all odds and doctor’s orders, renowned trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) agrees to help Vinny return to the ring just a year after the accident for what could be the last fight of his life. Based on a true story.

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NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

Synopsis: A successful Los Angeles art-gallery owner’s idyllic life is marred by the constant traveling of her handsome second husband. While he is away, she is shaken by the arrival of a manuscript written by her first husband, who she has not seen in years. The manuscript tells the story of a teacher who finds a trip with his family turning into a nightmare. As Susan reads the book, it forces her to examine her past and confront some dark truths.

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