After another summer of big movies and loud explosions, the fall season turns out award hopefuls and festival favorites. As in any fall lineup, it’s not just the award chasing movies that are released. Scary movies pepper October in preparation for Halloween (Annabelle, Before I Go To Sleep, Horns). We have returns of sequels, with Horrible Bosses 2, Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, and The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. And there are also animated offerings with Big Hero 6 and Penguins of Madagascar. While some of these look more entertaining than others, this fall preview focuses on the stories and characters we’re most excited about seeing on the screen.
GONE GIRL - October 4
Based on the gripping novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl follows Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck as he reports that his wife, Rosamund Pike, has gone missing. As pressure from both the police and media grow, Nick’s account of a happy marriage begins to fall apart and everyone is left asking if Nick actually did kill his wife. I've heard the book is heavy as it twists and turns, so it's fitting that it's handled by Seven and Fight Club director, David Fincher.
Fun fact for us in the Mile High City, Fincher was born in Denver.
WHIPLASH - October 10
For all of you jazz fans out there, this is one not to miss. Miles Teller stars as Andrew Neyman, a jazz drummer, relentlessly seeking to be the top of his class at his music conservatory. An instructor at the school, Terence Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons, recruits Andrew for his band. Known for his talents as a teacher and intimidating techniques, Fletcher pushes Andrew to the limits of his ability.
Writer/director Damien Chazelle's original screenplay was first featured on the Black List before he turned the script into an 18 minute short that garnered much interest at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Whiplash took home the top audience and grand jury awards at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
BIRDMAN - October 17
Birdman stars Michael Keaton as a washed-up actor trying to reclaim his glory days as he struggles through family trouble and the opening of a Broadway play. The film is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Oscar nominee for Babel, and is lensed by Oscar winning cinematographer of Gravity, Emmanuel Lubezki. Birdman also stars Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts.
It seems that this is the film with all the buzz out of Venice, Telluride and going into the upcoming New York Film Festival. Early predictions are that this will land best director, best cinematography, and best actor nods.
RUDDERLESS - October 17
In William H. Macy's directorial debut, a father spirals out of control after his son’s death. In his descent, he finds his son’s demo tapes and lyrics and discovers an unknown musical talent which he uses to form a band and hopefully find peace.
Rudderless features some great music and stars Billy Cruddup, Anton Yelchin, Jamie Chung, and Selena Gomez.
FURY - October 17
As World War II comes to a close in Europe, the small crew of a Sherman tank heads behind enemy lines. With the odds stacked against them, the five-man crew faces a larger and better armed force in their attempt to strike the center of Nazi Germany.
INTERSTELLAR - November 7
In his first film after wrapping up the trilogy of Batman movies, Christopher Nolan brings a stellar cast together headlined by Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine, of course. The film is again scored by Hans Zimmer. Nolan writes the film with his brother Jonathan Nolan, co-writer of Memento and The Dark Knight.
I wish I could share more, but 1) I haven’t watched the trailer and refuse to do so on principle and 2) have avoided any news or plot synopsis like the plague. And if there is any doubt in Nolan’s ability to wrap fascinatingly complicated characters into even more complicated plots, you should go back and watch Memento and Following again.
FOXCATCHER - November 14
Foxcatcher is based on the true story of Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestler. The film, directed by Moneyball director Bennett Miller, follows Schultz, played by Channing Tatum and his relationship with his sponsor John du Pont, played by Steve Carrell, in a strikingly different turn for the comedic actor. Schultz’s brother, Dave Schultz is played by Mark Ruffalo.
These are new roles for both Tatum and Carrell, but expect them to excel. The film is produced by Annapurna Pictures, the company headed by Megan Ellison, producer of Oscar nominated films Her, American Hustle and Zero Dark Thirty.
THE IMITATION GAME - November 21
In the second movie on this list about World War II, Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, legendary cryptanalyst. Based on the true story, Turing and his team race the clock as a part of Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School in their attempt to break Nazi Germany’s secret Enigma code.
This is another film at the top of the list coming out of the Telluride Film Festival and was the winner of the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by Morten Tyldum, Norwegian director of Headhunters, the film also stars Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode.
Other films to keep an eye on...
The Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything (11/7), Reese Witherspoon in Wild (12/5), Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice (12/12), and Christian Bale as Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings (12/12).