After highlighting the best films we’ve already seen arriving this fall, it’s time to venture into the unknown. Our next fall preview takes a look at the 20 most-anticipated features we have yet to see, either because the studio has yet to officially unveil them or, when it comes to a few, ones we’ve missed during their festival run.
While there’s the perhaps expected choices of celebrated auteurs making their return, the rundown also includes an inventive animation, a certain action star’s most promising dramatic material in some time, the directorial debut of a notable political satirist, and much more.
As one note, it has yet to be confirmed if Michael Mann‘s thriller Blackhat will qualify awards as rumors suggest, so we left it off, but rest assured if it does, it would be near the very top. Check out the feature below and let us know what you are most anticipating this fall in the comments.
20. The Interview (Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg; Dec. 25th)
While a trio of comedy sequels will be arriving this fall (Horrible Bosses 2, Dumb and Dumber To, and Hot Tub Time Machine 2), the one that’s most caught our attention is Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg‘s This is the End follow-up, The Interview. Following Rogen and James Franco as TV journalists who get entangled in a plot to kill Kim Jong Un, the first teaser was light on laughs, but it was already enough to get North Korea perturbed. From the sounds of it, it might just be one of the stranger, more daring studio releases of the year, and that’s enough to pique our interest. – Jordan R.
19. St. Vincent (Theodore Melfi; Oct. 24th)
After an all-too-brief appearance in The Grand Budapest Hotel and supporting the disappointing Monuments Men earlier this year, those in need of a Bill Murray fix will certainly get it with St. Vincent. Premiering at Toronto International Film Festival ahead of an October debut, it looks like prime material for the actor, who plays a cynical retiree who befriends a young neighbors. With an ensemble also including Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard and Naomi Watts, hopefully it’s a sleeper hit come fall. – Jordan R.
18. Men, Women & Children (Jason Reitman; Oct. 3rd)
Barely registering during its theatrical run earlier this year, Jason Reitman‘s Labor Day was one of the bigger disappointments as of late, but the director has returned, reteaming with Paramount for another drama, one that’ll feel much more current. Based on Chad Kultgen‘s novel, Men, Women & Children follows families in a suburban town and the effect of the Internet on their way of life. The first trailer was enticing with its dialogue-free approach and, if nothing else, it’ll provide Adam Sandler with his most promising role in some time. – Jordan R.
17. Unbroken (Angelina Jolie; Dec. 25th)
There has yet to be a trailer that been sold as premium Oscar-bait moreso than Unbroken this year, but based on the talents involved, we’re hoping that’s simply the necessary evils of marketing. Scripted by the Coens, shot by Roger Deakins, and directed by Angelina Jolie (whose debut In the Land of Blood and Honey was an accomplished drama), it follows the true story of WWII hero and Olympian Louis Zamperini who survived both a plane crash at sea and as a POW. While other biopic dramas this fall such as Kill the Messenger, The Theory of Everything (and Paradise Lost, to an extent) have yet to catch our attention, this one certainly does. – Jordan R.
16. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (Ned Benson; Sept. 12th and Oct. 10th)
Spread across two months, you might get to decide which version of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby you’ll get to see, but chances are it’ll be the Them version, which consolidates the story into one, commercial-friendly release. Exploring the ups and downs of a marriage between a recently split couple (James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain), we’ve seen this more concise version, which makes for a respectable drama. However, our true anticipation lies in the more ambitious undertaking of crafting His and Hers, two feature-length films that approach the story from their respective sides, and experience like none other this year. – Jordan R.
15. A Walk Among the Tombstones (Scott Frank; Sept. 19th)
The Liam Neeson-led thriller has virtually become its own sub-genre at this point, and after the gleefully orchestrated Non-Stop, he’s back with another promising project. Coming from director Scott Frank, who last gave us the overlooked thriller The Lookout, A Walk Among the Tombstones is based on the book from Lawrence Block and follows Neeson leads as an ex-NYPD cop who is now an unlicensed private investigator after a gig goes bad. The story focuses on him helping a heroin trafficker who tracks down the men that murdered his wife. We’ve been greatly looking forward to Frank’s return behind the camera, which should be a nice shake-up from the fall’s prestige dramas. – Jordan R.
14. Rosewater (Jon Stewart; Nov. 7th)
While he daily satirizes the various ongoings in the world, Jon Stewart has embarked on a much more serious effort for his directorial debut, Rosewater. Set to premiere at Toronto International Film Festival before opening in November, the drama follows the true story of Iranian Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari (as played by Gael García Bernal) who was incarcerated by his home country. Capture the line between journalism and politics, it seems like perfect material for Stewart and hopefully the start of a new path for the talented host. – Jordan R.
13. The Boxtrolls (Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi; Sept. 26th)
I make no secret of my love for the medium of stop-motion animation, nor do I make any attempt to hide my almost hallucinatory love for ParaNorman, the last film by LAIKA Entertainment. That background is more than enough to get me excited for The Boxtrolls, the story of an orphan boy and his unexpected upbringing, but you can bet that the early trailers with their sense of whimsy, jaunty music, luscious animation, and endearing character design only added fuel to the fire. – Brian R.
12. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle; Oct. 10th)
No feature this fall this fall is arriving with a better festival journey than Whiplash. Directed by Damien Chazelle (helmer of Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, writer of Grand Piano), the film premiered at Sundance, where it attained the top awards amongst the jury and the audience (where we missed it), before going to Cannes (where, yes, we also missed it) and will be stopping by Toronto followed by New York. Following Miles Teller as a jazz drummer who practices under the guidance of J.K. Simmons, we can’t wait to see the drama when it arrives in early October. – Jordan R.
11. Exodus: Gods and Kings (Ridley Scott; Dec. 12th)
Though Ridley Scott has been hit-or-miss with critics and audiences as of late, who better to take on the biblical story of Moses, as played by Christian Bale, than the man who resurrected the sword-and-sandals epic with Gladiator? And while that terror of a sub-title and the casting of Joel Edgerton as Rhamses are working against the film’s buzz, few can do over-the-top adventure like Scott. – Dan M.
10. The Overnighters (Jesse Moss; Oct. 10th)
One of the most acclaimed documentaries at this year’s Sundance will be arriving this fall. To create The Overnighters, Jesse Moss spent 18 months capturing the men who have traveled to Williston, North Dakota to earn money in the oil boom. Our friend Jordan Smith recently named it the best documentary of the year thus far, saying “an astounding bit of non-fiction filmmaking that, among many other things, takes an unflinching look at American desperation and the faltering systems set up to help people get back on their feet in times of need.” – Jordan R.
9. American Sniper (Clint Eastwood; Dec. 25th)
Little-known fact about me: when I was in middle and high school, I was a nationally-ranked competitive rifle shooter. As such, growing up and honing my craft, becoming a sniper in either the SEALs or Force Recon was always kind of a dream. Of course, not a lot of movies get the finer details of the life and skills of a sniper right, but with Clint Eastwood directing a Bradley Cooper-led adaptation of the autobiography about Chris Kyle, I have high hopes for this one, which recently snuck into a late-year slot. – Brian R.
8. Big Eyes (Tim Burton; Dec. 25th)
Tim Burton bounced back nicely with Frankenweenie after the one-two disappoint punch of Dark Shadows and Alice in Wonderland. Perhaps due to the source material, the animation felt more personal than those two big studio efforts, which bared his style, but not his personality. Burton just needs a story he can really sink his teeth in and he may have found the right one to tell with Big Eyes. The film is about artist Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) and her husband (Christoph Waltz) that claimed credit for her work. With the writing team reuniting, it seems to be in the vein of Ed Wood, Burton’s greatest film, reason enough to look forward to it. – Jack G.
7. Selma (Ava DuVernay; Dec. 25th)
After earning deserved acclaim for her drama Middle of Nowhere, up-and-coming director Ava DuVernay is making her studio break-out with this story of Martin Luther King, Jr. (played by the talented David Oyelowo) and his iconic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, which resulted in the signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. With backing from 12 Years a Slave‘s Plan B and Oprah Winfrey (who also has a small role), this is one prestige drama that could deliver on all fronts. – Jordan R.
6. Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy; Oct. 31st)
This is another film that strikes a chord deep in my history of thwarted ambitions, but getting to watch someone scramble to make it as a crime journalist isn’t my only reason to anticipate this gonzo-looking neo-noir. Jake Gyllenhaal has been on a roll recently, especially as unhinged characters barely clinging to sanity, and this movie seems poised to continue to streak and deliver an even darker performance than we are used to. Count me in. – Brian R.
5. The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum; Nov. 21st)
After delivering one of the most well-crafted thrillers of recent years with Headhunters, Morten Tyldum will hopefully be a recognizable talent after his follow-up, The Imitation Game. The drama follows Benedict Cumberbatch as computer genius and WWII hero Alan Turing, whose work in cracking the Axis forces’ “Enigma Code” was a huge boon in the effort to end the war. Along with what we’re confident will be a string of great performances, if Tyldum can explore Turing’s tragic life in a way the trailers haven’t hinted at, it’s sure to be one of the best films of the year. – Jordan R.
4. Interstellar (Christopher Nolan; Nov. 7th)
The director of Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy. The star of True Detective, who also walked away with his scenes in The Wolf of Wall Street. The star of The Tree of Life and Zero Dark Thirty. A murderer’s row of supporting players, nearly each of whom could headline a film of their own. A premise that dabbles in heady ideas related to Man’s very place in the universe. Do I really have to justify this at all? Is this section even necessary? Is anyone really going to disagree? – Brian R.
3. Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu; Oct. 17th)
In the interest of candor, a confession: I stand before you an anti-Iñárritu party who cannot help but be curious about whatever the hell Birdman might be. Is this colored almost entirely by the madcap tone, a notable deviation from his usual misery porn? Is it because some of the early rumors offer the 21st-century answer to Hitchcock’s Rope? Maybe it’s mostly marketing, but that marketing has been of some interest. For now, that (and promises of a Michael Keaton–Edward Norton slap-fight) will do just fine. – Nick N.
2. Gone Girl (David Fincher; Oct. 3rd)
Few (perhaps no) contemporary filmmakers do pulp with the same formal precision as David Fincher, putting such emphasis on every possible impacts of each new cut, camera angle, and music cue. Gone Girl, pretty much “pulpy” right from the title on down, thus brings with it more credentials than any airport-thriller adaptation should wield. His increasing interest in the importance of perspective — either through court depositions, boxes of files, or a fairy tale told to one’s own child — may find new life in Gillian Flynn’s best-seller. Judging by the Fincher-approved marketing campaign, one gets the impression it’s through a collision of our overbearing media-saturated age and a frightened woman’s diaries, all filtered through crisp Cronenweth cinematography and overwhelming paranoia. – Nick N.
1. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson; Dec. 12th)
After an awfully long time of practicing his spin on Kubrickian austerity, it would seem Paul Thomas Anderson is kicking back just a bit with Inherent Vice. For being compared by the helmer himself to Cheech & Chong, it could be at the top of this list purely for matters of intense curiosity: along with being the first genuine big-screen Pynchon adaptation, early reactions that call it “baffling” while comparing the tone to vintage Zucker brothers films. This is a bit of a weak fall for non-festival titles, sure, but even in the best of theatrical seasons would this be one we can’t stop thinking about. – Nick N.
Which of the above are you most looking forward to?