What Movies Are Out: Let the Oscar Race Begin with The Birth of a Nation

The Birth of a Nation
The Birth of a Nation

What Movies Are Out This Weekend – The Birth of a Nation, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Milton’s Secret

The first bonafide Best Picture contender for an Academy Award hits movie theaters this weekend with “The Birth of a Nation,” the powerful account of the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner that brings to the screen an often-overlooked chapter in U.S. history and a new way to look at the present.

“Looking back at this time really gives us insight into solutions that we can have moving forward or how we can really deal with some of the issues we’re dealing with now,” director-star Nate Parker tells reporter Patrick Stinson in this weekend’s episode of Made in Hollywood, the nationally syndicated show that goes behind the screen of the top films. (Click here to find Made in Hollywood in your area).

“The Birth of a Nation” wowed festival audiences at Sundance and Toronto, propelling it to the front of the Oscar race. But for Parker, who grew up as the poor son of a single teenage mother, the story of fellow Virginian Nat Turner has a deeply personal meaning.

“To learn that someone that had skin and pigment that looked like mine was part of the narrative of America, that really leant this voice to the narrative that is America, that did what so many of our forefathers did in the American Revolution, gave me such a sense of pride and self-esteem,” Parker says. “If we were to call ourselves American, we need to know the whole America. We need to have more of an identity of who we are.”

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Embraces Weirdness, Says Asa Butterfield

Also in theaters this week is Tim Burton’s adaptation of the bestselling novel “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” starring Asa Butterfield as a Florida boy named Jake who stumbles into a time loop inhabited by kids with strange and unusual attributes.

“It’s quite complex,” the actor tells reporter Kylie Erica Mar. “These children who’ve all grown up with these weird, kind of quirky abilities, they all consider it normal. In their lives and their families’ this is the normality. That’s what’s great about it, because Jake comes into this home thinking he’s totally ordinary and doesn’t have anything to offer, and he realizes he’s just like everyone else, and everyone’s got this weirdness to them. That’s what they need to embrace.”

“Milton’s Secret” also explores the world of a young boy, in this case an anxious 12-year-old named Milton who learns the secret to happiness from his optimistic grandfather (Donald Sutherland) — with a little help from a teacher, played by Michelle Rodriguez, with the kind of patience the actress wished she had in the classroom.

“I tried to embody what I didn’t get in public school growing up in Jersey City,” she tells reporter Julie Harkness Arnold. “I never had that patient of a teacher.”