From Frozen II to The Irishman and Charlie’s Angels, Nicholas Barber picks the 11 films not to miss this November.
View image of (Credit: Sixteen Films)
Sorry We Missed You
Ken Loach might be 83, but the great British director is as angry as ever about the plight of the working class. With the help of his usual screenwriter, Paul Laverty, he is as adept as ever at making cinema-goers angry, too. His heartbreaking new exposé of the gig economy focuses on Ricky (Kris Hitchen), a man who provides for his family by driving a delivery van around Newcastle on a zero-hours contract. If he works hard enough, he can make a living, but if he is forced to take a day off, he’s as good as dead. Dave Calhoun at Time Out praises “this powerful, bleak film that feels acutely of the moment but also carries within it the same question that Loach has been asking for more than 50 years: does life really have to be like this?”
Released 1 November in the UK and Ireland, 8 November in Finland and Norway and 14 November in Italy and Netherlands
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Queen, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles… they’ve all inspired nostalgic films in the last couple of years. And now it’s George Michael’s turn. A festive romantic comedy with a chronic illness thrown in, Last Christmas stars Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) as a Bridget Jones-y shop assistant whose life in London is a mess, and Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) as the eligible bachelor who tidies it up. What’s any of that got to do with George Michael? That would be telling, but the film’s director, Paul Feig (Bridesmaids), and co-writer, Emma Thompson, promise that the connection is there. You just gotta have faith.
Released on 7 November in Australia and New Zealand, 8 November in the US and Canada and 15 November in the UK and Ireland
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Hollywood action movies starring women are vanishingly rare. But Hollywood action movies starring women that are written and directed by women, too? Charlie’s Angels is one of the first. A reboot of the 1970s TV series, not to mention the two films from 2000 and 2003, the new version is masterminded by Elizabeth Banks, whose first feature film as a director was Pitch Perfect 2. She also plays Bosley, the intermediary between the mysterious Charles Townsend and the female detectives he pays to go on globe-trotting adventures. Charlie’s latest Angels are Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska, and Naomi Scott, although they’ll struggle to outshine the trio who recorded the film’s theme song, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey.
Released on 14 November in Australia and Hong Kong, 15 November in the US, Canada and Mexico and 29 November in the UK and Ireland
View image of (Credit: Andre D. Wagner/ Universal Pictures)
Queen & Slim
Another sign that Hollywood is beginning to change, Queen & Slim is a romantic thriller written and directed by two women of colour. Its director, Melina Matsoukas, is the Grammy-winning creative behind numerous Beyoncé videos, and screenwriter, Lena Waithe, is the Emmy-winning creator of The Chi. Together they’ve made the so-called “black Bonnie and Clyde” – but they don’t want it to be described like that. The coolly named Queen (newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out) are on their first date when a white policeman pulls over their car. Slim panics and shoots the policeman, and soon the couple is driving across the US, just ahead of the authorities.
Released on 27 November in US and Canada
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Wreck-It Ralph aside, Disney never makes proper big-screen sequels to its cartoons, as opposed to cut-price made-for-TV versions. But Frozen was the highest grossing film of 2013 and, until The Lion King remake overtook it, it was the highest grossing animated film ever, so it’s hardly surprising that the studio made an exception in this case. To put it another way: they couldn’t let it go. The premise of Frozen II is that Elsa, Anna, Olaf and Kristoff leave Arendelle to seek the source of Elsa’s icy magic. Although the millions of children who loved the first film are older now, so they might give it a frosty reception.
Released on 20 November in Germany and France and 22 November in the UK and the US
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Harriet Tubman is one of the most heroic figures of the abolitionist movement in the US. Born into slavery into Maryland, the indefatigable Tubman made a daring escape to Philadelphia, and then returned to the South to help free dozens of other slaves. Plans to put her portrait on the $20 bill were delayed earlier this year, but at least she’s been given a long overdue biopic, directed by Kasi Lemmons, and starring Cynthia Erivo alongside Janelle Monae. Some campaigners have objected to the casting of a Brit, rather than an American, in the title role, but Leah Greenblatt at Entertainment Weekly calls the film “an impassioned, edifying portrait of a remarkable life, and a fitting showcase for the considerable talents of its star”.
Released on 1 November in the US and 22 November in the UK and Ireland
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A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
Tom Hanks stars in A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood as the only American celebrity more saintly than he is. As the host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for more than 30 years, Fred Rogers was an icon of pre-school children’s television, and last year’s documentary about his uplifting life and work, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, was a box office smash. Now Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive me?) directs a biopic in which a troubled journalist (Matthew Rhys) is assigned to interview him. BBC Culture’s Caryn James admires the “authentic heartfelt emotion”, and says that “Heller’s wise, sophisticated A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood turns out to be something rare – a warm-hearted film that even cynics can love”.
Released on 22 November in the US and Canada, 27 November in Indonesia and 28 November in Singapore
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Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries are regularly adapted for the screen, but Rian Johnson’s sparkling, star-studded Knives Out is something far less common – a country-house whodunnit in the Christie tradition, but with a brand new plot and a political agenda all of its own. When a best-selling author (Christopher Plummer) is found dead in his study, he seems to have cut his own throat. Yet he could have been killed by his daughter (Jamie Lee Curtis), his son-in-law (Don Johnson), his daughter-in-law (Toni Collette), his grandson (Chris Evans) or his nurse (Ana de Armas). An eccentric southern detective (Daniel Craig) investigates, stealing the show in the process. Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times notes that “Johnson hasn’t just churned out a wink-wink spoof of the classical drawing-room mystery… with its ingenious twists and turns, he has crafted an intricate puzzle-box narrative worthy of the genre’s brainiest practitioners”.
On general release from 27 November
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It’s been a long wait, but Martin Scorsese has finally made another virtuosic gangster saga with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, the stars of Goodfellas and Casino. If that weren’t exciting enough, he’s invited along Al Pacino and Harvey Keitel, too. The Irishman is the true story of a mafia hitman (De Niro) who does the bidding of a quietly terrifying Philadelphia godfather (Joe Pesci) and a loud-mouthed union boss (Al Pacino). Opinions are divided on the digital de-ageing, but Linda Marric at HeyUGuys hails Scorsese’s three-and-half-hour masterpiece as “a beautifully precise, intricate and genuinely engaging story… which is bigger and more convincing than any of us could have hoped”.
Released on 1 November in the US, 8 November in UK and Ireland, and on Netflix from 27 November
View image of (Credit: Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound)
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
Why do we talk about watching films when listening to them is just as important? That’s the question posed by this enthralling behind-the-scenes documentary, directed by Midge Costin, herself a veteran Hollywood sound editor. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, David Lynch and Sofia Coppola are just some of the big names who explain how gunshots, engine rumbles, robotic bleeps and more can set a mood and draw in the viewer – or rather the listener. “At times, it feels as though a conjuror is revealing the methods behind his deception,” says Wendy Ide at Screen International. “But, in this case, not only does the magic remain intact, it also leaves us with a newfound appreciation for the people who design the worlds of sound that make the pictures come alive.”
Released on 25 October in US and 1 November in UK
View image of (Credit: Julien Panie & Orange Studio)
La Belle Époque
Nicolas Bedos’s La Belle Époque is a cross between The Truman Show, Midnight in Paris, and Charlie Kaufman’s high-concept comedies – but it’s faster and funnier than any of them. Guillaume Canet plays the manager of an immersive theatre company; for the right price, he can organise a dinner that seems to be taking place in any historical period you like. Most clients opt to go back a century or two, but a jaded newspaper cartoonist (Daniel Auteuil) chooses to revisit the cafe where he met his wife (Fanny Ardant) in the early 1970s. Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter says that Bedos “pulls off the most thoroughly entertaining big-screen French farce in a very long time, one that’s both classical and modern; he uses all the old tropes but convincingly adorns them with up-to-the-minute attitudinal and technological trappings”.
Released on 6 November in France, 7 November in Italy and 22 November in UK and Ireland
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