This summer was divisive, to say the least, when it came to the box office. But now that the blockbuster season has come to an end, that means it's time for the fall films to slowly start rolling out. We'll start to see some potential Oscar contenders around here, too. Here's a look at what's in store for the coming months.

 

Oct. 4

Gravity

What's it about? A medical officer (Sandra Bullock) and an engineer (George Clooney) are set adrift in space after debris knocks their shuttle out of commission.

Will it be good? If the short but nail-bitingly intense trailers are any indication, this is a film that's going to leave the entire audience white-knuckled in their seats. Director Alfonso Cuaron is one of the most talented directors working today, so I'm exceptionally curious to see how he handles a film like this.

"Runner Runner"

What's it about? A college student (Justin Timberlake) finds himself tangled in the life of a wealthy criminal (Ben Affleck) after he cracks an online poker game.

Will it be good? There's something about this movie that makes it feel like it should have come out around the late ‘90s and I can't exactly put my finger on what. That said, all eyes will be on Affleck here after his recent casting as Bruce Wayne/Batman as takes on the role of a rich playboy.

 

Oct. 11

"Captain Phillips"

What's it about? Tom Hanks stars as Capt. Richard Phillips, the commanding officer of the Maersk Alabama, a freighter captured by Somali pirates in 2009.

Will it be good? Director Paul Greengrass doesn't work often, but when he does, the results are typically exceptional. See also: "United 93," the second and third "Bourne" films. Greengrass seems perfectly suited for this material and I'm excited to see what Hanks does under his direction.

"The Fifth Estate"

What's it about? A dramatic thriller that zeroes in on the rise of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Will it be good? This is the kind of film that could be quite compelling or one that goes too far in deifying its subject matter. The trailers make it seem like the filmmakers have avoided the latter, so we'll have to wait and see. That said, Cumberbatch looks to do ever more to deserve his rapidly rising star.

 

Oct. 18

"Escape Plan"

What's it about? A man who professionally escapes from prisons (Sylvester Stallone) is kidnapped and placed in a seemingly escape-proof facility. He enlists the help of an inmate (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to get out.

Will it be good? Stallone and Schwarzenegger are anything but a sure bet these days, but this looks like the kind of cheesy fun you'd expect from these two during the heyday of their popularity.

"12 Years A Slave"

What's it about? Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man from the North, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Antebellum South.

Will it be good? Ejiofor is an excellent actor and given he's in the hands of director Steve McQueen (no, not the deceased actor), this should yield remarkable results. Early word out of film festivals is that this is one of the year's best.

"All Is Lost"

What's it about? A man (Robert Redford) finds himself lost at sea with little hope of being rescued.

Will it be good? Redford is the only credited cast member, so all eyes will literally be on him to carry this. Solo performances such as this are never easy, but if anyone can do this it's Redford. Advance word has said this captures the actor at his finest.

 

Oct. 25

"The Counselor"

What's it about? A lawyer (Michael Fassbender) finds he's in over his head after getting involved in the drug trade.

Will it be good? It's got a heck of a cast (Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt) and the thought of Ridley Scott directing a Cormac McCarthy adaptation is exciting, even if his last couple films have been a bust. I'm keeping myself cautiously optimistic.

 

Nov. 1

"Ender's Game"

What's it about? A young boy, Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), is recruited to attend an elite battle school which will train commanders for an impending alien invasion.

Will it be good? An adaptation of Orson Scott Card's novel has been in the works for years, but none have ever come close to being made. Much of that is due to the difficulty of adapting the material as it exists. It's difficult to tell whether or not director Gavin Hood has cracked this particular nut.

 

Nov. 8

"Thor: The Dark World"

What's it about? An ancient evil threatens to destroy the very fabric of reality and only Thor (Chris Hemsworth) can stop it.

Will it be good? Kenneth Branagh's "Thor" was a decent introduction to the character but it just felt too small-scale to really do the God of Thunder justice. However, judging by what we've seen so far, Alan Taylor (best known for his work on HBO's "Game of Thrones") looks to more than up to the task of bringing this vibrant fantasy world to life.

 

Nov. 22

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

What's it about? Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) inspires a rebellion within the districts following her Hunger Games win with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), making them targets of The Capitol.

Will it be good? There was a lot of potential in the first "Hunger Games," but I never felt the film managed to really tap into it. Lawrence was fantastic, though, so at least she's returning. Director Francis Lawrence takes over the reins as director here, but his track record is spotty at best (although I'll happily defend his sorely underrated "Constantine"), so that perhaps only makes this more of a toss up.

"Nebraska"

What's it about? An alcoholic, elderly man (Bruce Dern) travels with his estranged son (Will Forte) to Nebraska. The man claims he's won $1 million despite it clearly being a scam.

Will it be good? No one seems capable of talking about this without bringing up its Oscar chances, so take that as you will. That said, this looks like a wonderful portrait of a father and son during a difficult stretch of both their lives. Never thought I'd be so intrigued to see Will Forte in a dramatic role.

 

Nov. 29

"Oldboy"

What's it about? A man (Josh Brolin) is suddenly and mysteriously imprisoned for 20 years in a hotel room. After being released just as suddenly, he sets out for answers and vengeance against those who held him captive.

Will it be good? Spike Lee is about the last person I would have guessed would tackle a remake of the Korean cult classic original, but I he's an intriguing choice. Brolin's perfect casting for the lead, though I'm curious as to just how far this will go to adapting some of the more shocking and unsavory elements from the original. If it does go all the way, this will most certainly not be for the feint of heart.

 

Dec. 6

"Dallas Buyers Club"

What's it about? Matthew McConaughey stars as Ron Woodruff in this film based on real life events. After being diagnosed as HIV-positive, Woodruff battled the Texas medical establishment as he sought alternative means of getting his hands on pharmaceuticals.

Will it be good? The last couple years have been something of a renaissance for McConaughey as he's sought to reinvent his on-screen image and prove he's got serious chops beyond his trademark "aw shucks" personality and propensity for taking off his shirt. He underwent a massive weight loss to properly look the part here, offering a level of immersion he's never shown before.

"Out of the Furnace"

What's it about? Russell Baze (Christian Bale) takes matters into his own hand when the authorities fail to follow through on the disappearance of his younger brother (Casey Affleck).

Will it be good? Bale can play intense and dour in his sleep by this point in his career, but thankfully he looks to do anything but sleepwalk here. It's directed by the man behind "Crazy Heart" so given his skills and a supporting cast that includes Willem Dafoe, Sam Shepard, Affleck, Forest Whitaker and Woody Harrelson, this ought to be pretty good.

"Inside Llewyn Davis"

What's it about? A singer (Oscar Isaac) navigates the folk music scene in Greenwich Village in the ‘60s.

Will it be good? There is no other film I'm looking forward to at this point than this latest one from Joel and Ethan Coen. I think Isaac is one of the best up-and-coming actors out there and I think the material is the perfect matching of director(s) and talent. Basically what I'm saying is I want this in front of my eyes as soon as possible.

 

Dec. 13

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

What's it about? The story of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) and 12 dwarves continue as they attempt to take back the dwarves' mountain homeland.

Will it be good? I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the first part of "The Hobbit" last year. I want to love these as much as I did the first three "Lord of the Rings" movies, but the first just felt too bloated and uninspired. Here's hoping part two can change my mind.

 

Dec. 20

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"

What's it about? News anchor Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his news team must re-assemble as they begin to work for New York City's first 24-hour news channel.

Will it be good? The first "Anchorman" is a modern classic, and I simply can't wait to see if director Adam McKay, Ferrell and everyone else can recapture the magic. They have Harrison Ford in this, so I'm duly intrigued and excited.

"The Monuments Men"

What's it about? Putting a twist on the classic "men on a mission" set up for a World War II movie, this has a crew of art historians and curators out to rescue priceless pieces of art and culture before the Nazis can destroy them.

Will it be good? George Clooney has a terrific track record as a director and this looks like his most ambitious work yet. It's such a fantastic (if unusual) premise that I can't help but be excited, especially with a cast that includes Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and Bill Murray.

"Her"

What's it about? A man (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with the female artificial intelligence operating system (voice of Scarlett Johansson) that runs his phone.

Will it be good? Director Spike Jonze is about the only person (outside of maybe Michel Gondry) I'd trust to pull off a movie like this. It looks bizarre and off-beat and I can't wait to see how it turns out.

 

Dec. 27

"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

What's it about? Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) may work a dreary office job, but his world comes to life with vivid adventures when he loses himself in his wild imagination.

Will it be good? It's easy to forget that Ben Stiller can actually be a pretty great director, but he's got some really terrific stuff under his belt (i.e. "Reality Bites," "Zoolander," "The Cable Guy"). This looks pretty different from anything he's done but the trailer alone was one of the best I've seen in a long time so count me on board.

"Lone Survivor"

What's it about? Based on the true story of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (played here by Mark Wahlberg) and the failed 2005 mission "Operation Red Wings."

Will it be good? Luttrell's story is certainly compelling enough to make for an intense film and it's the kind of material that I'm surprised doesn't get made more often. That said, if director Peter Berg hadn't had a string of bad films directly before this I might be a little more optimistic than I am.

 

 

 

 
 

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