10 Movies I’m Eager to See This Fall (Plus One Given)

We are now officially in the season for the release of prestige pictures, as opposed to the blockbusters of the summer. It’s hard for a summer movie to have the legs to make it to the Oscars or the Golden Globes, unless it’s for a technical award or it’s an animated film. (You could write in Inside Out right now as the Best Animated Film, since it was a stunning accomplishment.) Of last year’s non-technical Oscar winners, only The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood were released before September. So I always get excited about what’s coming in the Fall movie season. I’ll give you the ten films I’m most looking forward to in ascending order, but first there’s a given.

(Given) Star Wars: The Force Awakens

With JJ Abrams in the director’s chair and Lawrence Kasdan co-writing the episode with him, hopes have to be high that the new Star Wars film will be more A New Hope that The Phantom Menace. If the reboot of Star Trek that Abrams did is any indicator, the Force will be strong in this one. It also had me when Harrison Ford said, “Chewy, we’re home” in the second trailer. I still remember attending a midnight showing of Star Wars in Westwood before it became a phenomena and being completely stunned when the Battle Cruiser first comes onto the screen – and keeps on going for what seems like a year. It was a seminal moment for science fiction films and for movies in general, and I’ve been hooked on the series ever since. (Release date: December 18th – an early Christmas present)

#10: By The Sea

Angelina Jolie Pitt was pretty much overlooked for Unbroken in spite of the movie’s power and excellent performances. Here she’s not only directoring but also acting with her real-life husband Brad Pitt for the first time since they met on Mr and Mrs Smith. The couple made this film about a husband and wife dealing with grief while they were on their honeymoon. Not your usual getaway. (Release date: November 13th)

#9: The Revenant

Last year’s Best Director winner, Alejandro Inarritu, is back with a story that seems unusual for him to tackle – a fur trapper (Leonardo DiCaprio) is mauled by a bear and left for dead by his friends, but instead he wills himself to travel hundreds of miles to survive.  That the story’s true only makes it more unusual.  However, before Birdman would you have picked Inarritu to do a mesmerizing movie about putting on a Broadway play? (Release date: Christmas Day)

#8: Black Mass

Johnny Depp has had a run of inferior films, but this may make us forget them. Depp plays real life gangster Whitey Bulger who ran the rackets in Boston while serving as a snitch for the FBI at the same time. Bulger was part of the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed, though it appears Depp’s intensity will blow that performance away. The film also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Joel Edgerton, and Kevin Bacon. (Release Date: September 18th)

#7: Secret In Their Eyes

This is the remake of an Argentinian thriller that won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2010. Julia Roberts plays an investigator for a District Attorney who must relive the rape and murder of her teenaged daughter when a colleague (Chiwetel Ejiofor) uncovers new evidence. The film was written and directed by Billy Ray (Captain Philips, Breach) and also stars Nicole Kidman. (Release date: November 20th)

#6: Sicario

Canadian director Denis Villeneuve made Prisoners, one of the darkest crime dramas in recent memory. Now he’s taking on the Mexican drug cartels, and it will likely be as dark as a smuggler’s tunnel. The film stars Emily Blunt – who proved in Edge of Tomorrow she could kick butt with the best of them – as an FBI agent assigned to a special task force, along with Benicio Del Toro as a Mexican policeman with questionable allegiances.  (Release date: September 18th)

#5: The Martian

Based on the bestselling book, The Martian stars Matt Damon as an astronaut marooned on Mars who must use all his scientific knowhow to survive until a rescue mission can reach him. The film was directed by Ridley Scott, and boasts the best cast of the fall: Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wigg, Kate Mara, Michael Pena, and Sean Bean. (Release date: October 2nd)

#4: Legend

What’s better than Tom Hardy in a movie? Two Tom Hardys in a movie. In Legend, Hardy plays real-life twin gangsters Reggie and Ron Kray who ruled over London’s underworld in the 1960s. Writer-Director Brian Helgeland had originally planned for Hardy to play Reggie, but Hardy was more interested in Ron. They compromised. The supporting cast includes Emily Browning, Paul Bettany, David Thewlis, and Christopher Eccleston. (Release date: October 2nd)

#3: Carol

This movie is based on a novel by the outstanding mystery writer Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley) and is directed by Todd Haynes who did the exceptional Far From Heaven in 2002. The 1950s-set story stars Cate Blanchett as an older woman and Rooney Mara as a clerk who falls in love with her. The movie was one of the hits of the Cannes Film Festival this year. (Release date: November 20th)

#2: Trumbo

I’ve been fascinated with the Hollywood Blacklist, and with Dalton Trumbo, since the 1960s when I picked up a reissue of his anti-war novel “Johnny Got His Gun.” Trumbo wrote Roman Holiday during his blacklisting and used a front man, Ian McLellan Hunter, on the credits. It won the Oscar for best screenplay. Trumbo finally got his name back thanks to Kirk Douglas and Spartacus. The trailer for this film, starring Bryan Cranston as Trumbo and Diane Lane as his wife Cleo, looks wonderful. It was directed by Jay Roach and also stars Elle Fanning, John Goodman, Alan Tudyk, Helen Mirren, and Louie C.K. (Release date: November 6th)

#1 Joy

David O. Russell is one writer/director that I’ll watch simply because he made the movie. With The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle, he created unique visions of unexpected stories. For the third time, he’s working with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert DeNiro, and the rest of the supporting cast includes Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, and Isabella Rossellini. (Release date: Christmas Day)

Honorable Mentions (That I Still Plan to See): Bridge of Spys, Spectre; Truth; Freeheld; Suffragette; The Intern; Sisters; The Danish Girl; The Walk; Creed; Steve Jobs

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