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2015 Fall Movie Preview

Clockwise, from top left: Matt Damon in The Martian (Image  ©  20th Century Fox ); Peter Mayhew and Harrison Ford in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Image  ©  Lucasfilm/Disney); Daniel Craig in Spectre (Image  ©  Sony); Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight (Image  ©  The Weinstein Company); Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs (Image  ©  Universal Pictures).  

Clockwise, from top left: Matt Damon in The Martian (Image © 20th Century Fox ); Peter Mayhew and Harrison Ford in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Image © Lucasfilm/Disney); Daniel Craig in Spectre (Image © Sony); Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight (Image © The Weinstein Company); Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs (Image © Universal Pictures).  

Gabriel Ricard, Film Editor: I’m still feeling a little underwhelmed from the summer releases, but there are a few movies coming out over the last months of 2015 that I’m looking forward to. If anything, I’m more excited about the fall movie schedule, than I was with the hit list for the summer. 

And yeah, I know exactly what kind of movie I’m getting, but the part of me that likes slick, safe, and predictable is looking forward to The Intern, which should at least give me some fun Anne Hathaway/Robert De Niro banter. Same deal with The Peanuts Movie, and my desire to see Rock the Kasbah is along similar lines. Although I think it’s going to be yet another one for the “Why hasn’t Bill Murray won a fucking Oscar?” file.

I’m hopeful about Ridley Scott’s The Martian, as well as Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. I’m not expecting a revolutionary experience with either of those films, I don’t think they’re going to disappoint. Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak is another one that’s at least worth getting jazzed about. I’m not thrilled that Trumbo is being directed by Jay Roach, but I can’t say no to the subject matter, or to the fact that Bryan Cranston’s film career deserves to be as significant as his television work.

And technically, The Force Awakens comes out in the fall, at least in my part of the world, so we have to include that one, as well. Victor Frankenstein has a shot at being worth a damn, but I’m not terribly optimistic. I’m a lot more optimistic about Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, after catching that clip of I Saw The Light. I’m weirdly optimistic for Krampus, as well.

Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in Creed (Image  ©  Warner Bros.) 

Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in Creed (Image © Warner Bros.) 

Then there’s Creed. I’m not going to pretend I’m not going to see yet another chapter in the life of Rocky Balboa, with the emphasis of the story going towards Apollo Creed’s bitter offspring. I’m just not sure I can be satisfied with anything that picks up after the quite frankly perfect way in Rocky Balboa ended.

How about you, Matthew? Anything on the fall horizon that you’re ready to see?

Matthew Guerruckey, Editor-in-Chief: Well, listen, we’ve turned over the entire year to Star Wars coverage, so it’s fair to say I’m pretty excited about The Force Awakens. That said, I don’t entirely trust J.J. Abrams. I really liked his first Star Trek movie—it was everything that I love about big, dumb action movies. But Star Trek Into Darkness was everything that I hate about big, dumb action movies.

I’m trying to manage my expectations for The Force Awakens, but if my reaction to that teaser is any indication, I’m liable to be misty-eyed when we first see Han, Chewie, Leia, and Luke. As for the new characters, they look cool, and they’re well-cast, but given the typical Abrams cone of silence around the plot, I have no idea who they really are or what they’re really doing. I really hope that secrecy isn’t in service of some ridiculous plot-twist. More than anything, I just hope it’s a fun movie.

Jennifer Lawrence in Joy (Image  ©  20th Century Fox). 

Jennifer Lawrence in Joy (Image © 20th Century Fox). 

Aside from Star Wars, I’m intrigued by the latest collaboration between David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence. I loved Silver Linings Playbook, and while I thought American Hustle was baffling and self-indulgent, I loved every minute of Lawrence’s performance. I think it’s easy to underestimate her as an actor, because we think of her as Jennifer Lawrence, stoner goofball, who you either love or hate for her red carpet pratfalls. But she’s a great actress, and she always brings something interesting out of the material whatever she’s doing. For the same reason, I’m curious about the end of the Hunger Games series. I don’t envy them trying to make something meaningful out of the dog’s breakfast that was that final book.

Then there’s always The Hateful Eight. I always grumble about Tarantino movies before I see them, and then I always walk away really loving them. I’m still in my grumbling stage with this one.

But one thing that I like to keep in mind when looking forward to movies is that you just never know what’s going to grab you. If you’d asked me about Nightcrawler at this time last year, I would have said it seems like Jake Gyllenhaal’s desperate attempt to win an Oscar, and that the trailer looked silly. Boy, was I wrong about that one—it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in years. So when I’m watching trailers I try to remember that even if something looks silly, it could be great, and even if something looks great, it could be horrible (I’ve made a solemn vow to remember just how amazing the trailer for The Phantom Menace was).

So, I hope that Sleeping with Other People, Trumbo, Joy, and Suffragette turn out to be as good as their pedigree indicates, and I look forward to the next Nightcrawler that will turn out to be completely different than what I had imagined. Taras—is there anything out there that you hope will surprise you?

Taras D. Butrej, film critic: Unlike you filthy casuals, I’ve been chomping at the bit for some fall movies. At least, the ones that don’t exist purely as Oscars bait. Around mid-November, every third movie is some indie darling or film where a famous actor or actress tries something ‘daring’ and most of those films put me to sleep. An Oscar-worthy film should be a damn good movie, not something that attempts to fellate the voters.

With that whininess done and over with, I’ve got a good-sized handful of movies from October on that I’m eager to see. Crimson Peak has everything I want in a movie: suspense, creepiness, and Tom Hiddleston. Beasts of No Nation has been getting enough love, hate and weird distribution news to have me intrigued. There’s no way I’ll dislike Bond’s latest adventure in Spectre. A new Tarantino film? I had to wipe the drool off my keyboard when I saw the first trailer for The Hateful Eight. Then, of course, there’s the new Star Wars film.

The above films are the ones I’m pretty sure are going to be good and do well. Then there are the movies that I really hope are going to be good, like Krampus, The Last Witch Hunter and the final Hunger Games (although I’m with you, Matthew. That book was rough when compared to the first two, but I have faith.)

Beyond that there’s a lot of blah going on. A whole lot of blah. I honestly don’t think the fall lineup is any better than the summer one. There are going to be some awesome films, some fun ones, and a few floppity-flop-flops. My vote for the last category is Pan. Did we really need an origin story for Peter Pan? Especially one that looks about as much fun as a trip to the dentist?

To get around to answering your question, Matthew, I think the movie that has the best chance at being this year’s Nightcrawler, and by the way I agree with you on all points regarding that film, I’m pretty uninterested in The Martian and Victor Frankenstein, but I want them to be good. I hope one or both of those films surprise me.

What about you, Ryan? Do you have any films you’re confident will be good? Or is there a lot of trepidation going into the Fall season?

Ryan Roach, film critic: No trepidation here. Just a lot of excitement. This Fall/Winter season looks like it’s shaping up to be just as great as last year’s. Matthew, when are you going to just stop acting surprised by the QT and admit that you love the QT and worship at his altar like I do? The QT is brilliant and every film he’s ever made is brilliant. (Death Proof? What is this “Death Proof” you speak of?) There’s no reason to believe Hateful Eight won’t be equally brilliant.

But before that, we’ve got a couple movies featuring some of my favorite hunky Brits. Kill Your Friends, starring Nicholas Hoult, which looks like a modern-day version of American Psycho, about a young businessman who goes on a killing spree to get rid of his rivals in the office. And what’s better than sexy Tom Hardy in a suit? Two sexy Tom Hardys in suits! Legend, a British movie about real-life twin gangsters (both Hardy, of course) in the thirties. It looks like great fun.

We’ve also got Aaron Sorkin writing about another modern-day genius, Steve Jobs. The Social Network is one of my favorite films of the decade. Let’s do it again, but this time with Danny Boyle and Michael Fassbender. This is my favorite kind of Oscar bait. If you can see only one of the roughly four thousand Jobs-related films of late, this is the one to see.

I’m one of the few who really enjoyed the book Mockingjay (in fact it was my favorite of the three), so I’m looking forward to the film conclusion, despite thinking Mockingjay Part 1 was mostly a wheel-spinning cash grab. I’m also have a little trepidation that because the third book was disliked by so many that they’ll pull their punches in the final movie. Book fans know the scenes I’m talking about. They better not have been excised, dammit.

Leonard DiCaprio in The Revenant (Image  ©  20th Century Fox). 

Leonard DiCaprio in The Revenant (Image © 20th Century Fox). 

Inarritu’s follow up to Birdman, The Revenant, also has me intrigued by the plot, despite the rumors of a troubled set. Todd Haynes still has enough residual love from he to make me look forward to Carol. And yes, of course. Despite being far more of a Trekkie than a….Wars-y(?)…I’m also not made of stone, and am definitely looking forward to Episode VII. I get a little chill just thinking about that opening crawl, and what it might say.

As for this year’s Nightcrawler, as in a surprise great movie? Let’s go with Pan. I know, it’s a bold stance. But go big or go home, as they say. Besides, I love the Peter Pan mythos and am happy to see any new spin on it.

Juese Cutler, film critic: Star Wars. Getting this out of the way right now. I didn't get to contribute to the hullabaloo here but I have plenty to say on the series. Even aside from everything involving Star Wars itself, I'm thrilled to see Moses from Attack the Block headlining. And after a sad performance in the sad Ender's Game adaptation, Harrison Ford finally looks like he's enjoying himself. My feelings on Abrams aren't generally good - on paper. The only film of his that I really like is Mission: Impossible 3. However, he always has his heart in the right place. Most of his problems stem from writing, and Lawrence Kasdan is back! The gentleman wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and The Big Chill… but that was a long time ago. He hasn't had anything on that level since, but all I've heard are raves about the script. Bottom line, I'm going to be heartbroken if this one's a dud.

Backing up now, The Martian is pretty high on my most anticipated list, and this is purely from word of mouth - word of mouth that the source material is great and that Ridley Scott is finally back in full force. I have not read the book, and I'm going in blind.

Mia Wasikowska in Crimson Peak (Image  ©  Universal Pictures). 

Mia Wasikowska in Crimson Peak (Image © Universal Pictures). 

Ahh Crimson Peak. Guillermo Del Toro never lets me down, but I didn't get super excited for Crimson Peak until I read this from a set visit by Aint It Cool News' Quint:

"He was quick to point out that… tone and story wise this film is his first English language Spanish film, meaning it shares more DNA with films like Pan's Labyrinth and Devil's Backbone than it does with Hellboy." If he truly feels that way, this will be dark and mean and delightful. I haven't gotten to see Tom Hiddleston in much besides Loki, and everything looks set for it to be a strong Halloween movie.

Sam Mendes returns to direct Daniel Craig in Spectre after Skyfall made a buttload of what the industry calls "money." I have my worries, given how strong Skyfall's thematic core was and not knowing how Spectre will play, but there's plenty to look forward to. Daniel Craig is one of the best actors to don the role, perhaps second only to Connery for me. And the supporting cast is fantastic.

Krampus is the hot monster this year, I discovered recently, with not one but three movies coming. However I only care about Michael Dougherty's Krampus. His previous, Trick 'R Treat, was a great surprise, and I can't believe that was released eight years ago. I loved the Gremlins vibe of the trailer, miss Adam Scott since Parks and Rec has been off the air, and David Koechner was so much fun in the dark (dark) comedy Cheap Thrills.

There's of course a handful of interesting movies worth mentioning quickly. I forgot what a knockout the Macbeth teaser was. I am not a Shakespeare lover or scholar. Going in knowing Macbeth only from Slings and Arrows, I just think Fassbender looks intense, the color palette looks interesting and the action looks impressive. Zemeckis' The Walk is the fictionalized version of the French high-wire artist Philippe Petit, who was the subject of the great documentary Man on Wire, and that'll probably be neat/terrifying in 3D. Spielberg has Bridge of Spies, a Cold War thriller written by the Coen Brothers starring Tom Hanks, and although I haven't heard much talk, those are extremely high caliber filmmakers. Although I don't need to see more Steve Jobs movies, Danny Boyle is behind this one so I'm at least interested. Legend has two Tom Hardys. For the kids you have The Peanuts Movie from Paul Feig, and I loved his Yahoo! series Other Space and am pumped for his Ghostbusters so I want him to be on a roll. Plus I like the art style, which I can't say the same for the other family offering of Pixar's The Good Dinosaur. I'm curious about Trumbo, the biggest positives being the cast, including Bryan Cranston playing off Louis C.K.

And lastly, I'm ready to buy tickets any day they're announced for a 70mm viewing of The Hateful Eight. Right now. I'm not 100% with Tarantino, but even his films that don't work for me entirely have brilliance all over. Django Unchained is one of Tarantino's best films, and now he's getting a score by spaghetti western genius Ennio Morricone. But most of all, I'm waiting for the hair Cthulhu to fully emerge from Kurt Russell's face.