List: Top 30 Most Anticipated Fall Films (Sept-Dec 2013)


It’s that time of year again! Prestige season when awards-bait fodder gets tossed out to the masses and where festival films are chewed up by critics with non-festival goers frothing at the mouth for hyperbolic tweets and reviews. The time of year when the hype-bar soars and awards-talk becomes the primary context for discussion. With each passing year I learn more and more the difference between letting anticipation get to me and letting hype get to me. They are two very different things. One of them healthy, the other dangerous, unfair and problematic.

Many sites gear towards a more collective gathering of films to look forward to, but an advantage of having an individual blog is that my to-see lists are always filtered through what I am most looking forward to. So while you’ll see a ton of stuff on here that is on everyone’s list, there’s a lot of stuff that you will note is missing. Oldboy, Carrie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, Thor: The Dark World, August: Osage County, Ender’s Game, The Book Thief, About Time, Captain Phillips, The Fifth Estate, Rush, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Philomena, The Invisible Woman, Out of the Furnace and many more are not on this list . Many of those I’d like to see, but my interest ranges from indifferent to it-just-didn’t-make-the-cut. The complete list of films that did not make the cut but are on my eventual to-see list are at the bottom.

Obviously there will be changes in the release schedule these upcoming months with new dates added and new curiosities emerging. I’ll be sure to make additions when necessary. Also, this time of year doesn’t have a ton of international releases to choose from so forgive how US-centric this is.

What Fall films are you anticipating?

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30. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lawrence)
Release Date: November 2

I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Hunger Games adaptation, but there was certainly a lot to admire there and I’m hoping for the best with its sequel. At the very least, Jennifer Lawrence makes for a compelling Katniss, giving a performance that far eclipsed her Oscar-winning work last year. I enjoy the books but the additions of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amanda Plummer are a real clincher.

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29. Dallas Buyers Club (Vallée)
Release Date: November 1

This seems to follow a familiar trajectory but look at that the attention-demanding McConaughey transformation, an acting gimmick that is almost always backed up by worthy emotive work. I’ve been a huge follower of The Second Coming of McConaughey, and from a look-at-me-I’m-acting perspective this project feels like an apex of sorts for him. The AIDS epidemic and the search for alternative treatments is something is a historical topic I’m always extremely interested in, not to mention Jared Leto in drag, so I can’t wait to see how said issue is addressed within the biopic formula.

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28. All is Lost (Chandor)

Release Date: October 18th

J.C Chandor’s ambitious second film after the mostly engaging Margin Call comes to us overflowing with festival raves. A one-man show for Robert Redford, and only the first person-in-isolated-peril film on this list, I’m very much looking forward to an existential man-against-the-elements story.

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27. A Teacher (Fidell)
Release Date: September 6th

Reactions to Hannah Fidell’s debut feature have been all over the map, but I’m always up for seeing the psychological process of a conflicting crisis and the havoc it wreaks on a woman’s mind and life. This is definitely a film I’ll be checking out.

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26. Informant (Meltzer)
Release Date: September 13

A documentary about Brandon Darby that I’ve been hearing a lot of positive talk about. Most often, the reasons I want to see a film are very simple!

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25. Plush (Hardwicke)
Release Date: September 13

Female-directed erotic thriller about a rock star possibly losing her mind complete with kink? I feel like this was made for me. This could very well end up being awful but this is right up my alley, as Catherine Hardwicke continues attempting to shed her Twilight-skin and Emily Browning continues down her trek through provocation.

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24. The Armstrong Lie (Gibney)
Release Date: November 8th

I didn’t follow the Lance Armstrong controversy closely but I’m incredibly drawn to the idea of a documentary about him directed by none other than Alex Gibney. The fact that this was initially shelved and then re-opened following the shitstorm makes this even more compelling.

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23. Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (Huber)
Release Date: September 13th

An anecdotal documentary about Harry Dean Stanton featuring every cool person to ever exist, not least of which; Harry Dean Stanton! Need I say more?

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22. Anchorman: The Legend Continues (McKay)
Release Date: December 20th

Anchorman is one of the few recent mainstream comedies I love, without a doubt one of my favorites of all-time. I’m hesitant about a sequel but so damn hopeful at the same time. Between the talent involved, and the characters they are working with, there’s a lot of potential.

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21. The Monuments Men (Clooney)
Release Date: December 18th

OK, so the trailer makes it look like WWII Ocean’s Eleven. But it’s about preserving art, culture and history. It’s about archives for God’s sake! It doesn’t get better than that. I wasn’t a fan of Clooney’s last film, but he’s working with inherently excellent material, a true story and a highly acclaimed non-fiction book. I for one am really interested to see how he and his collaborators transform this story into a resonant and accessible narrative.

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20. A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke)
Release Date: September 28th

Confession: I’ve still never seen a Jia Zhangke film. I realize this needs to change soon. He’s long been on my list of Directors I Should Be Familiar with. But I’m at least smart enough to know that any time he makes a film, it’s a cue for my eyes and ears to perk up. And so here you are.

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19. The Counselor (Scott)
Release Date: October 25

This is Cormac McCarthy’s first jab at screenwriting so I’m dying to know how this turns out. The trailer also left me particularly lured in by the Cameron Diaz character. It looks like she’s got a juicy part here, claws out and all.

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18. Labor Day (Reitman)
Release Date: December 25th (limited)

Based on a Joyce Maynard novel, Labor Day sounds like a chamber piece full of bottled-up emotion and conflict. Reitman’s last film happens to be my favorite of 2011. So though Diablo Cody was a huge part of that, it’s still a contributing factor and Reitman is nothing if not reliable.

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17. American Hustle (Russell)
Release Date: December 25

Lots of scandal, crime, bad hair and sleaze await, brought to us by an all-star cast (most excited about Louis C.K popping up obviously) and a director coming off of a massive hit. It’s also notably a script from the Black List. What I’m the most intrigued about here is tone. David O. Russell is a master of tone when he’s on his game/servicing material in need of a perfect balance. The crime movies I’m anticipating this fall are hopefully going to spice things up and not play it straight.

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16. The Past (Farhadi)
Release Date: December 20th

Asghar Farhadi’s follow-up to A Separation. That’s all that needs to be said. I’ve been waiting for this one a long while. Can we also just appreciate the sickening beauty of Tahar Rahim?

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15. We Are What We Are (Mickle)
Release Date: September 27

A remake of a much-talked about Mexican film from 2010, which I still haven’t gotten around to seeing. The trailer for this looks evocative and haunting. Artsy horror is a of automatic interest to me, it’s had positive word-of-mouth, and it looks beautiful besides.

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14. A Single Shot (Rosenthal)
Release Date: September 20th

Anything starring Sam Rockwell is clearly going to be both on my to-see list and worth watching regardless. But this is also the kind of Southern Gothic crime story that I naturally drift towards. Haggard and atmospheric.

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13. Wadjda (Haifaa Al-Mansour)
Release Date: September 13 (limited)

The first film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first feature length film made by a Saudi female, this is a monumentally important milestone. All I’ve been hearing are wonderful things about Wadjda. That it’s got distribution here where many will be able to see it is a big big deal.

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12. The Wolf of Wall Street (Scorsese)
Release Date: November 15th

Much like American Hustle, what interests me with Scorsese’s latest, a 180 away from Hugo, is the question of tone. The balls-out trailer drowning in reckless extravaganza is hopefully a hint of what is to come. I’m not interested in this story if it’s played even remotely straight. I want absurdity and abandon. I don’t want something that dares to ask me to give a fuck about any of these people. Based on the trailer, It looks very promising. Let’s hope the completed product can deliver more of the same.

Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond In 'Blue Caprice' 2013

11. Blue Caprice (Moors)
Release Date: September 13th (limited)

Inspired by the Beltway sniper attacks, the trailer for this intrigued me immediately with its chilling atmosphere, so much so that it shot up to the top portion of my to-see list. I seriously cannot wait for this.

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10. Kill Your Darlings (Krokias)
Release Date: October 16

Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg. Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr. Jack Huston as Jack Kerouac. Ben Foster as William Burroughs. Michael C. Hall as David Kammerer. Stop me when you’ve heard enough. I’ve been waiting for this film a very long time and it’s been in the conceptual works since 2009. I’m hearing solid, if not revelatory rumblings, and that’s more than enough for me. I cannot wait to see how they interpret this true story of a murder early in the lives of these unconscionably influential individuals. I’m also a huge supporter of Daniel Radcliffe and his post-Potter career and I don’t think there’s anything I’m anticipating more than seeing him have sexual chemistry with DeHaan and Huston. Dane DeHaan has become one of my favorite young actors, so any chance I get to see him is exciting. There’s just so many pretty people in this movie. But seriously; this is my favorite ensemble cast of the fall.

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9. Prisoners (Villeneuve)
Release Date: September 20th

This was on my radar once Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) became attached. Then the trailer and advance buzz really got me revved. It looks brutal and searing; a horrific and impossible situation that just gets worse and worse. This looks like exactly the kind of film we need more of in mainstream US film. Murky, immersive, and genuinely emotionally challenging whilst maintaining a director’s touch. I’m also always rooting for Hugh Jackman to do projects that show how talented he is, and this looks like it will be the perfect chance for that. Lastly; Roger Fucking Deakins.

www.indiewire.com8. Bastards (Denis)
Release Date: October 25th It’s new Claire Denis, which is not only reason for celebration but gets this an automatic place in the top 10.

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7. Enough Said (Holofcener)
Release Date: September 18th

A collaboration between Nicole Holofcener and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is a collaboration I didn’t even realize I wanted, but the second I heard about it my heart leapt. Louis-Dreyfuss rarely gets to dip her toes in film, let alone to star in one, and she’s one of the greatest people working in comedy. By the way, if you aren’t watching Veep, you’re time is not being utilized well.  But new Holofcener is a great thing in and of itself; Please Give is one of the most underrated films I’ve seen in recent years. And it goes without saying that we are all looking forward to the bittersweet experience of seeing James Gandolfini in one of his final roles.

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6. Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Brothers)
Release Date:  December 20th

It’s been three years since True Grit and yet somehow it feels like it’s been even longer. What has interested me perhaps the most about this film is something either Joel or Ethan said about Inside Llewyn Davis being about failure and the idea of exploring a character who is present during a monumental time in music but not quite able to make his mark. I love the idea of a film being about coming to terms with this or at the very least addressing it, and the trailer indicates a somber poignancy amidst the bleak humor that looks wondrous. And this also notably has Oscar Isaac gets his completely deserving breakout role in film. Finally.

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5. 12 Years a Slave (McQueen)
Release Date: October 18th (limited)

The festival raves for this highly anticipated project have been through the roof. Steve McQueen, one of the most praised and respected  young directors working today has tackled the challenge of bringing an actual slave narrative to the screen. And by all accounts this looks like a vital film, appropriately brutal and full of nightmarish survival. It looks it has the potential to stand as an example of what film can do and luckily this is prepped to be seen by many.

 

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4. Blue is the Warmest Color (Kechiche)
Release Date: October 25

It’s been a long time since I’ve been so conflicted about my interest in a film. On the one hand, I’m dying to see it; its acclaim has been unstoppable and overwhelming and it even won the Palme D’Or, usually a guarantee for me. Plus, it’s up my alley, full-stop.

I try to put aside any personal scandal/controversy aside when taking another person’s art into consideration. And yet, the production  experiences of Lea Seydoux and Adele Exacrchopoulos sound so uniformly disturbing that it’s going to be difficult to distract myself from that while watching. At least they seem mostly proud with the final product, were the first actors to ever share a Palme D’Or with a director, and have a friendship-through-mutual-trauma to show for it.

At the very least it’ll be interesting to see how all of this, and Julie Maroh’s comments, impacts its US reception. Having said all that, if we let it alter how we see the film irrevocably, everything they experienced would have been for nothing. And if I can mostly put it aside when it comes to the experiences of Bjork and Maria Schnieder, to name a couple of more famous cases, I’ll do my best here as well. Because seriously; this looks amazing.

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3. Gravity (Cuaron)
Release Date: October 4th

Many years, cast changes and production restarts later, Gravity is finally here. An impossibly ambitious project that looks like an overwhelming sensory experience and a technical achievement people for the ages. The trailer brings me to tears; not because of typical movie-going emotions, but because we can actually feel how terrifying Bullock’s situation is; the helplessness, the terror, the panic,. The idea of going through 90 minutes of this is hard to imagine. But I can’t wait to do it.  Can we also appreciate that it has been 7 years since Children of Men?

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher
2. Foxcatcher (Miller)
Release Date: December 20th

My #2 is a film nobody has seen and which has no trailer. A grand total of 3 stills have been released. Bennett Miller has had this passion project in the conceptual works as far back as his work on Capote. Every single thing about this project has me hooked. I am a huge Steve Carell fan and this is a massive departure for him with the actor tapping into some very dark places for a bizarre and ambiguous true story. Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures is very quickly becoming a surefire stamp of quality and Miller has elevated both the biopic and sports film which his contributions to each.  I desperately hope that Foxcatcher can join the ranks of Capote and Moneyball for a third stellar picture.

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1. Her (Jonze)
Release Date: December 18th

Another film that hasn’t yet been seen, it should go without saying that Her is the film I am most looking forward to this fall. Spike Jonze films all have a melancholic air about them, an air that has prevented me from revisiting two of his films since seeing them in theaters. There’s a difference between a depressing film and a melancholic film. I have an easier time with depressing films by far. But Jonze’s work is always a unique vision, high concept in some fashion, made memorable by its visuals and ideas. The stunningly promising trailer is a hint of what is to come, surely a film like no other.

The Rest:
Nebraska
Camille Claudel, 1915
Adore
August: Osage County
Haunter
Out of the Furnace
In the Name Of
Le Week-end
The Invisible Woman
The Fifth Estate
Bettie Page Reveals All
Escape from Tomorrow
Frozen
Touchy Feely
Populaire
Paradise
Captain Phillips
Insidious: Chapter 2
Price of Gold
Concussion
Thanks for Sharing
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete
Rush
Parkland
Haute Cuisine
The Institute
The Last Time I Saw Macao
Four
Jack Ryan
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
About Time
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Mr. Nobody
How I Live Now
The Book Thief
Ender’s Game
Thor: The Dark World
Faust
Saving Mr. Banks
Salinger
Therese
Romeo & Juliet
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
CBGB
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Carrie
Out in the Dark
A.C.O.D
Oldboy
Escape Plan
The Great Beauty
Grace of Monaco

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