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Fall 2015 Preview: Our 20 Most-Anticipated Films

Written by on August 26, 2015 

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In continuing our fall preview, after highlighting the 30 best films we’ve already seen, today brings a look at the unknown. We’ve narrowed down 20 films with confirmed release dates that are coming over the next four months and have us intrigued. While some won’t show up until late December, a good amount will first premiere over the next few weeks at various film festivals, so check back for our reviews.

To note, we’re still curious about a number of titles that didn’t make the cut. Pan, Creed, The Night Before, In the Heart of the Sea and Krampus deserve honorable mentions. Black Mass, Everest, Joy and The Danish Girl show promise, but as their respective directors failed to impress with previous features, we’re a bit wary. Then there’s a handful of dramas (Truth, Stonewall, Truth, Burnt, The 33, Snowden, The Secret in Their Eyes, I Saw the Light, About Ray, Freeheld) that we’re not sure are capable of rising above the standard Oscar bait. Lastly, there’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which everyone will be buying a ticket for regardless, so we thought it would be best not to waste the space.

Check out our 20 most-anticipated films below and return soon for our final preview: the festival premieres we’re most looking forward to.

20. Our Brand is Crisis (David Gordon Green; October 30th)

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Based on Rachel Boynton‘s documentary chronicling the involvement of James Carville‘s political consulting firm in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election, Our Brand Is Crisis marks a major step for director David Gordon Green, who’s had a string of eclectic choices throughout his career. It’s produced by George Clooney and starring Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton, and while we’re still unsure if this will be standard awards fare or something far more dynamic, consider us intrigued. All will be revealed soon, as it heads to TIFF for a premiere ahead of an October release. – Jordan R.

19. Bone Tomahawk (S. Craig Zahler; October 23rd)

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With Furious 7 and a top pick on this list (spoilers!), it’s shaping up to be the year of Kurt Russell. His next project is looking to fly a bit more under the radar. Bone Tomahawk, which sees the actor return to the western, follows a quartet of men who set out to rescue a group of captives from cannibalistic cave dwellers. Having come from the relatively unproven writer-director Craig Zahler, this has the makings of one of the fall’s sleeper surprises. Set to premiere at Fantastic Fest, it also stars Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, and Lili Simmons. – Jordan R.

18. By The Sea (Angelina Jolie; November 13th)

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Angelina Jolie will assuredly get personal with her latest film, By the Sea, which she co-stars in and co-produces with her husband Brad Pitt, and is based on her original script. Curiously, this project emerged in May 2014 while her WWII drama Unbroken was getting primed to eventually bore audiences the following winter. But, unlike her two previous films, this one has the pull of featuring Jolie directing herself in a story about a couple trying to save their marriage, with the potential for a very intimate portrayal of enduring pain — something she expressed in previous projects, but without immediacy. Not for nothing, the film is also shot with mostly natural light by cinematographer Christian Berger (a regular Haneke collaborator) in the nation of Malta. – Nick A.

17. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy; November 6th)

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Less than a year after the release of his fairy tale nightmare The Cobbler, writer-director Tom McCarthy returns to the silver screen with a much more promising drama, this concerning The Boston Globe’s investigation into sex abuse within the city’s archdiocese. Along with McCarthy’s name (whose failure with The Cobbler was bafflingly uncharacteristic), it boasts the likes of Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery, Liev Schreiber, and Stanley Tucci. Distributor Open Road’s October opening is very curious for awards-favorable attributes, especially with this time of year’s particular love for a gripping true story. – Nick A.

16. The Walk (Robert Zemeckis; September 30th)

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2012’s uniformly excellent Flight — well, “uniformly excellent” if we’re discounting music cues — showed that Robert Zemeckis hasn’t lost an ounce of his talent; if anything, the director seemed awakened from years and years in the motion-capture realm, more alive to the possibilities of the camera than ever before. The Walk may very well prove to be a special-effects showcase first and narrative / character piece second — his long history of toying with new tools is one thing; the IMAX 3D presentation confirms it’s being sold on this angle — and, boy, does Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s French accent raise some questions, but a formally muscular heist movie that climaxes with high-wire work? This is exactly what the Oscar-season rush could use. Nick N.

15. Trumbo (Jay Roach; November 6th)

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Dalton Trumbo is a fascinating Hollywood fixture whose significance was almost lost in Hollywood history during the Red Scare, a victim of McCarthyism at its most ferocious and indignant. Director Jay Roach (HBO’s Recount, Game Change, and even The Campaign) throws his political weight behind this biopic about the writer, with a post-Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston getting a rare time at the center of a story (where he probably won’t scream a quarter as much as he did in Argo and Godzilla). The film will also feature the likes of Elle Fanning, Alan Tudyk, Helen Mirren, John Goodman, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Louis C.K., and Michael Stuhlbarg. – Nick A.

14. The Good Dinosaur (Peter Sohn; November 25th)

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This summer’s Inside Out proved that Pixar haven’t lost their magic touch. The question remains, however, if they can extend that level of quality to their upcoming projects. Before an onslaught of sequels, we’ll get another original work with The Good Dinosaur. Following an Apatosaurus named Arlo and his family in an alternate world, one where they were never destroyed by asteroids, it has a nearly wordless trailer hinting at a potentially intriguing execution that will hopefully carry over to the full film. – Jordan R.

13. Suffragette (Sarah Gavron; October 23rd)

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While the deeply enjoyable Far From the Madding Crowd isn’t likely to put Carey Mulligan in any awards contention, we imagine things will prove different with the forthcoming Suffragette. Directed by Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane) and given a prime October release date from Focus Features, the first preview sold a vital, emotionally rich drama. Mulligan leads, playing a foot soldier of the early feminist movement who quickly turns to violence to solve the issue, and its promising cast also includes Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff, Meryl Streep, Romola Garai, Brendan Gleeson, and Ben Whishaw. – Jordan R.

12. Spectre (Sam Mendes; November 6th)

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Sam Mendes, whose Oscar-friendly work I’ve never much taken to (save the oddball Jarhead), found a perfect outlet in Skyfall, which allowed him to foreground a skill for directing actors against a strongly conceived and, on the part of Roger Deakins, immaculately lensed spy tale. Trailers and the like give the impression that Spectre, its follow-up, follows closely behind in terms of scope and mood. Even if it wasn’t following up one of the franchise’s best entries, another Bond film that allows Daniel Craig to explore this character — which he’s already done as well as anyone who’s stepped into 007’s shoes — while cavorting around the globe, photographed by Hoyte van Hoytema, terrorized by Christoph Waltz, and seduced by Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux (oh, my!) on a secret mission is worth paying attention to. – Nick N.

11. Room (Lenny Abrahamson; October 16th)

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After taking on the creative process with the Michael Fassbender-led Frank, director Lenny Abrahamson will head down a darker turn. Based on the best-selling novel by Emma Donoghue, Room stars Brie Larson as a woman held captive with her child, inspired by the disturbing true story of Elisabeth Fritzl, an Austrian woman who finally escaped 24 years of captivity in 2008. Set for an October release from A24, following a TIFF debut, its first trailer sells quite the emotional-looking drama — hopefully with another fantastic leading performance from Larson, who greatly impressed in Short Term 12 just a few years back. – Jordan R.

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