'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,' plus more iconic movies celebrating milestone anniversaries in November 2021
Movie theaters in November are traditionally jam-packed with big-budget blockbusters and major award season contenders, all hoping to attract movie fans as they gear up for the holiday season, find more time off from work or school or crave an escape from the chilly outdoors. Wonderwall.com is taking a look at some of the movies celebrating big milestones in November 2021, starting with this classic… The first movie in the “Harry Potter” film franchise, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” arrived in 2001 as the year’s most anticipated movie. A media firestorm had already kicked off when casting decisions were announced, plus fans of the bestselling book of the same name were curious to find out if the big screen adaptation could live up to the hype of the novel — and boy, did it deliver. It became the highest grossing film of the year and the second highest grossing film ever at the time, bringing in more than $1 billion in ticket sales. It also nabbed three Academy Award nominations and made stars out of acting newcomers Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.
Keep reading to see more movies celebrating significant anniversaries in November 2021…
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The massive “Twilight Saga” films came to a close with an epic two-part finale that kicked off with “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” in 2011. With the final “Harry Potter” movie having come out earlier that year, “Twilight” was now the most buzzed-about book adaptation at the box office. The fourth movie in the series follows teenager Bella Swan and vampire Edward Cullen as they celebrate their wedding, honeymoon and a very complicated pregnancy that sees Bella nearly dying because of her half-human, half-vampire child’s growth. Although negatively reviewed by critics, the film was commercially successful, grossing more than $712 million worldwide and becoming both the fourth highest grossing film of 2011 worldwide and the second highest grossing film of the franchise.
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“Rocky” became one of the most iconic sports films in movie history after it hit theaters in 1976. It’s a rags-to-riches story about Rocky Balboa, a kind-hearted working-class Italian American boxer toiling as a debt collector for a loan shark in the slums of Philadelphia — until he gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship. The low-budget drama was a sleeper hit, earning $225 million in global box office receipts and becoming the highest grossing film of the year. The critically acclaimed sports drama kick-started actor and writer Sylvester Stallone’s rise to prominence as a major movie star of that era. “Rocky” received 10 Academy Award nominations and won three Oscars including best picture. It was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2006. The American Film Institute ranked the film, which has spawned eight sequels (so far), the second best in the sports drama genre.
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“Beauty and the Beast” helped revitalize Disney’s hit run of animated films upon its release in 1991, reaching new levels of acclaim unseen by any of the studio’s previous efforts. The story of the budding romance between a prince who is magically transformed into a monster and a young woman he imprisons in his castle received widespread critical acclaim for its romantic narrative, animation, characters and musical numbers. It won a Golden Globe Award for best musical or comedy movie — the first animated film to ever win that category — and became the first animated film to be nominated for a best picture Academy Award. It grossed $331 million at the box office worldwide on a $25 million budget and won two Oscars. In the decades since its release, “Beauty and the Beat” has spawned direct-to-video sequels, a Broadway musical, a live-action film adaptation and IMAX and 3D re-releases. In 2002, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.
2006’s “Casino Royale” started Daniel Craig’s tenure as the sixth James Bond. There was a lot of pressure on the 21st 007 film to breath new life into the historic film franchise by depicting a less experienced and more vulnerable version of the British spy. The action-packed flick takes place at the beginning of James’s career as he’s earning his license to kill. Daniel faced immense controversy for his casting, with some critics and fans expressing concern that he didn’t fit the tall, dark, handsome and charismatic image of the character to which viewers had grown accustomed. However, the new creative decisions paid off as “Casino Royale” received an overwhelmingly positive critical response, with reviewers highlighting the star’s reinvention of the character and the film’s departure from the tropes of previous Bond films. It earned $606 million worldwide, becoming the highest grossing Bond film until the release of “Skyfall” in 2012.
“My Girl” broke the hearts of millions when it hit theaters in 1991. The coming-of-age drama set in the summer of 1972 tells the story of an 11-year-old girl dealing with a crush on a teacher, her father’s new relationship and the tragic death of her best friend. Anna Chlumsky and Macaulay Culkin prove to be a winning pair, pulling on the heartstrings of moviegoers with their undeniable chemistry as the young pals, while Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis provide equal amounts of humor and heart. The “Home Alone” star’s death-by-bee-stings scene remains one of cinema’s most tragic moments and you can’t help but root for Anna’s protagonist as she finds a way to go on without her right-hand man. The film received warm reviews, with critic Roger Ebert saying it “has its heart in the right place,” and proved to be a surprise box office hit, bringing in $121 million on a budget of $17 million. A sequel arrived in theaters three years later.
Kermit, Piggy, Gonzo and Fozzie all made their first big screen appearance in more than a decade in 2011’s “The Muppets” alongside star and co-writer Jason Segel. The “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” actor and Amy Adams play two humans who help the beloved frog reunite the disbanded Muppets in an effort to save their theater from an oil tycoon. The comedy helped re-launch the popular puppet ensemble for a new generation of fans and proved to be a critical and commercial success. It raked in $165 million worldwide on a budget of $45 million and garnered praise for its humor, screenplay and music. The film won the Academy Award for best original song, garnered BAFTA and Critics’ Choice Awards nominations and spawned a 2014 sequel.
One of Disney’s first live-action adaptations came in 1996 with “101 Dalmatians.” Based on the popular 1961 animated film of the same name, it stars Glenn Close as villain Cruella de Vil and Jeff Daniels and Joely Richardson as two dog owners who must save their massive litter of spotted puppies from the clutches of a cruel designer who would like to skin them in the name of fashion. It ended up becoming more successful than the original, bringing in $320 million in ticket sales and becoming one of the year’s highest grossing films. Glenn also received rave reviews for her performance, receiving a Golden Globe Award nomination for her work. The glowing reception led to her reprising the role in the 2000 sequel “102 Dalmatians.”
Sacha Baron Cohen reached new heights of success with his hit 2006 comedy “Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” The mockumentary follows a fictional Kazakhstani journalist who films his actual interactions with Americans. Much of the film features unscripted moments of the outrageous character interviewing and interacting with real people who believe he is a foreigner with little or no understanding of U.S. customs. The movie became a big box office success, earning $262 million worldwide on an $18 million budget. As a result, it also faced controversy with some of the film’s participants speaking out against — and even suing — its creators, the government of Kazakhstan denouncing it and almost all Arab countries banning it. Regardless, Sacha won a Golden Globe for best actor in a musical or comedy film while the movie was nominated for best musical or comedy film. It also received an Academy Award nomination for best adapted screenplay and spawned a hit sequel in 2020.
1991’s “The Addams Family” brought the eccentric 1960s TV clan to a whole new generation of fans. With an ensemble that includes Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci and the late Raul Julia, the contemporary adaptation finds the macabre, aristocratic family reconnecting with who they believe to be a long-lost relative who’s actually the adopted son of a loan shark intending to swindle the Addams family out of their vast wealth and fortune. After being plagued by production issues including an inflated budget and a last-minute studio swap, the black comedy became a box office surprise, making back its budget several times over. Angelica’s glowing reviews earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination while the film scored an Oscar nomination for its achievement in costume design. It spawned the acclaimed 1993 sequel “Addams Family Values” as well as the bestselling pinball machine of all time.
William Shakespeare received a ’90s update in Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film “Romeo + Juliet.” Packed with stunning visuals and incredible music, the drama made the two star-crossed lovers relevant for a modern audience. The entire premise is based around star-making performances from a young Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, whose incredible chemistry make tissues a necessity while watching this adaptation of literature’s most tragic love story. Audiences were ready to ready to revisit fair Verona, with the film grossing more than $150 million and receiving positive reviews. It earned an Academy Award nomination for best art direction/set decoration and was included on BFI’s list of the 50 films you should watch by the age of 14.
In 2001, a scheming French woman stole the hearts of moviegoers worldwide. “Amélie” is a romantic comedy that follows a shy Parisian waitress who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better while struggling with her own isolation. The French-language film received critical acclaim, with praise for Audrey Tautou’s lead performance as well as its cinematography, production design and writing. As a result, it was nominated for five Academy Awards including best foreign language film and best original screenplay. Audiences also fell for the sweet tale, which earned more than $174 million worldwide and remains both the highest grossing French-language film released in the United States as well as one of the biggest international successes for a French film.
“Space Jam” is the live-action/animated hybrid that follows the beloved cartoon characters from “Looney Tunes” in their effort to win a basketball match against a group of aliens who intend to enslave them as attractions for their theme park. In this film, they receive assistance from a recently retired Michael Jordan, who was fresh off of a then-record 72 regular season wins for the Chicago Bulls when the movie was released in 1996. While “Space Jam” received mixed reviews from critics, it quickly became a ’90s classic for young basketball fans at the time. The incredible box office results say it all: The movie grossed more than $250 million worldwide and became the highest grossing basketball film of all time as well as the 10th highest grossing movie of 1996.
George Clooney headed to Hawaii in the 2011 drama “The Descendants.” He plays a native islander struggling to figure out what to do about his comatose wife, their family’s enormous land trust and his two teen daughters who are each processing their own grief in challenging ways. Critics raved over the performances of George and Shailene Woodley as his eldest daughter; the film served as a major breakthrough for the young actress. It won two Golden Globe Awards: best drama and best actor in a drama for George, received five Oscar nominations including best picture, best director and best actor, and won an oscar for best adapted screenplay. The touching family story also struck a chord with loads of moviegoers, grossing $177 million against a $20 million budget.
Disney and Pixar struck gold once again with 2001’s “Monsters, Inc.” Featuring the voices of John Goodman, Billy Crystal and Steve Buscemi, the original animated film centers on two monsters employed at the titular energy-producing factory that generates power by scaring human children. But when a kid sneaks into the workplace, the colorfully mismatched pair go on a mission to get the young girl home before anyone else in the monster world discovers her. The delightful, touching comedy received critical acclaim and was a commercial success, raking in more than $577 million worldwide to become the year’s third highest grossing film. It was nominated for four Academy Awards — including one for the first best animated feature Oscar — and won the trophy for best original song. It spawned a 2012 prequel, “Monsters University,” and the TV sequel series “Monsters at Work,” which premiered on streaming platform Disney+ in 2021.
Stephen King’s classic horror tale “Carrie” received the big screen treatment in 1976 thanks to acclaimed director Brian De Palma. The film was a major breakthrough for actress Sissy Spacek, who played the titular Carrie White, a shy 16-year-old student who’s consistently bullied at school — and develops supernatural powers. When the popular kids take things too far at prom, Carrie’s powers take over with deadly results. It marks the first of more than 100 productions adapted from Stephen’s published works and has been regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made. It was a box office hit and scored two Academy Award nominations, including one for best actress for Sissy. The movie’s success led to a theatrical sequel as well as both TV and big screen remakes, but the general consensus is that the 1976 version is the best adaptation of the novel as well as one of the best films based on the legendary author’s works.
When it comes to November award season contenders, none compare to the 1996 romantic drama “The English Patient.” The movie starring Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas tells the story of four people who find themselves in an abandoned monastery in northern Italy in the last months of World War II. The critically beloved film received 12 nominations at the 69th Academy Awards and won nine Oscars including best picture, best director and best supporting actress. It also won five BAFTA Awards and two Golden Globes, with the British Film Institute ranking it as the 55th greatest British film of the 20th century. It grossed a not-too-shabby $232 million and even became the focus of a “Seinfeld” episode about Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Elaine being alienated from everyone she knows for expressing her distaste for the film.
Many consider 1986’s “Hoosiers” to be the greatest movie ever made about basketball. It tells the story of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that enters the state championship in the 1950s with the help of a new coach who struggles to win everyone over with his unconventional methods. Star Gene Hackman charmed audiences with his character’s classic motivational speeches, and co-star Dennis Hopper received an Oscar nomination for his work. The drama earned two Academy Award nominations and went on to be selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
“Set It Off” broke barriers upon its release in 1996, not only for being a crime-heist film focused on an entirely female ensemble, but also because it focused on a group of Black women. Jada Pinkett, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise star as four close friends who decide to plan and execute a bank robbery to create better lives for themselves and their respective families. The low-budget flick earned more than $41 million in ticket sales and critics praised the quartet’s star-making performances as well as the movie’s socially conscious story. Roger Ebert wrote that the film “creates a portrait of the lives of these women that’s so observant and informed… The movie surprised and moved me: I expected a routine action picture and was amazed how much I started to care about the characters.”
Silent films made a return with 2011’s “The Artist.” The French dramedy harks back to the black-and-white films from the 1920s and 1930s and focuses on the relationship between a rising young actress and an older film star as silent cinema falls out of fashion and is replaced by talkies. It grossed more than $133 million in ticket sales, proving audiences don’t necessarily need color or dialogue in order to appreciate a good story. Critics fell head over heels for the throwback film, which won countless accolades including three Golden Globe Awards and seven BAFTA Awards. It was also the big story at that year’s Academy Awards, receiving 10 nominations and winning five Oscars including best picture, best director and best actor for star Jean Dujardin. It set records for being the first French-produced film to win best picture and the first mainly silent film to win since 1927’s “Wings” was victorious at the first Oscars in 1929.
Hollywood legends Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro have collaborated on nine feature films over the last five decades, many of which are often ranked among the greatest movies of all time. One of their big commercial successes came in 1991 with the psychological thriller “Cape Fear.” Co-starring Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange, it depicts a convicted rapist who seeks vengeance against a former public defender whom he blames for his 14-year imprisonment. Joining this all-star roster of talent is Steven Spielberg as a producer and beloved actor Gregory Peck in his final theatrical film role. The terrifying feature scared critics and audiences alike, grossing more than $182 million and nabbing Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for best actor and best supporting actress.
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