Films from the Coens, Cuaron, Scorsese, Greengrass, and more
We've picked out 25 of the most noteworthy films due to arrive in theaters between now and early December; they're listed below in alphabetical order. Near Thanksgiving, we'll return with a Holiday Movie Preview detailing the films due out at the end of the year.
12 Years a Slave Watch trailer
October 18 | Drama | Directed by Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen’s feature directing career began with Hunger, the true story of Bobby Sands’ 1981 hunger strike. Now, after tackling sex addiction in contemporary New York City with Shame, McQueen takes on another harrowing true story, that of Solomon Northup. In 1841, Northup, a free man living in upstate New York, was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The impressive cast assembled for 12 Years a Slave includes Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup, Michael Fassbender (the star of McQueen’s previous two features, here playing a brutal slave owner), Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Alfre Woodard, Sarah Paulson, the omnipresent Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael K. Williams, Garret Dillahunt, Scoot McNairy, and Quvenzhané Wallis. If early reviews out of TIFF (and possibly Telluride, where it is rumored to have a surprise screening this weekend) are good, expect the film to make noise come awards season.
A.C.O.D. Watch trailer
October 4 | Comedy | Directed by Stu Zicherman
In this debut from co-writer and director Stu Zicherman, Adam Scott plays one of the many A.C.O.D. (Adult Children of Divorce) in the world. He struggles to deal with his constantly bickering parents (Catherine O'Hara and Richard Jenkins) who might be rekindling their romance, his younger brother (Clark Duke) who’s recently engaged, and the revelation that he was once part of a study on children of divorce that his therapist (Jane Lynch) turned into to a best-selling book. He does have a few good things going for him, including running a successful restaurant. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays his loving girlfriend, and Jessica Alba—another member of his therapist’s study—has her eye on him as well. But maybe Scott just wants to be with his Parks and Recreation co-star Amy Poehler, though that would be particularly awkward, since she plays his father’s latest wife.
All Is Lost Watch trailer
October 18 | Drama/Action | Directed by J.C. Chandor
Also by this director:
76 Margin Call (2011)
Early reviews (out of Cannes, where it debuted in May) for writer-director J.C. Chandor’s follow-up to his 2011 debut Margin Call have been very good, especially for star Robert Redford, who makes up a cast of one. He plays a man struggling to survive a solo yacht voyage in the Indian Ocean. The nearly dialogue-free film focuses on his efforts to save his boat and himself after an accident cripples the ship, relying on Redford as an actor and film icon to connect with the audience. If he succeeds, a best actor nomination could be in his future.
Blue Caprice Watch trailer
September 13 | Drama | Directed by Alexandre Moors
When it premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Blue Caprice earned strong reviews for first-time feature director Alexandre Moors, writer R.F.I. Porto, and star Isaiah Washington. The latter portrays John A. Muhammad, the man who, along with the 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo (Tequan Richmond), perpetrated the Beltway sniper attacks of 2002. The film gets its name from the vehicle the pair altered in order to commit their crimes. The difficult subject matter could turn off viewers and voters, but with strong performances and a solid supporting cast of Tim Blake Nelson, Joey Lauren Adams, and Leo Fitzpatrick, the film could land on some top ten lists at the end of the year.
Blue Is the Warmest Color Watch trailer (NSFW)
October 25 | Foreign/Drama | Directed by Abdel Kechiche
Even before Steve Spielberg’s Cannes jury awarded the Palme d’Or to not only writer-director Abdellatif Kechiche but to stars Adéle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, Blue Is the Warmest Color was challenging convention. At nearly three hours, this lesbian coming-of-age drama about the experience of first love between Adele (Exarchopoulos) and Emma (Seydoux), an adaptation of Julie Maroh’s graphic novel, has been a flashpoint for the debate over gay rights in France, while also stirring a critical debate about the portrayal of sex in film. (An explicit sex scene takes up about ten minutes of screen time, leading to an NC-17 rating in America). When the film premieres in the U.S. this fall, the debates will surely continue, but as the Cannes jury and many critics have insisted, the strength of the love story is its universality.
Captain Phillips Watch trailer #1 Watch trailer #2
October 11 | Action/Thriller | Directed by Paul Greengrass
Also by this director:
Director Paul Greengrass returns to the true-story suspense of Bloody Sunday and United 93 with this story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates. Tom Hanks stars as Phillips in this adaptation of his memoir, A Captain’s Story: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea, by Billy Ray, the writer (and director) of Breach and Shattered Glass. The triumvirate of Hanks, Greengrass, and Ray—along with a compelling, ripped-from-the-headlines story—makes this film a favorite to contend come awards season.
The Counselor Watch trailer #1 Watch trailer #2
October 25 | Thriller | Directed by Ridley Scott
Also by this director (last 10 films):
65 Prometheus (2012)
53 Robin Hood (2010)
57 Body of Lies (2008)
76 American Gangster (2007)
47 A Good Year (2006)
63 Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
61 Matchstick Men (2003)
74 Black Hawk Down (2001)
57 Hannibal (2001)
64 Gladiator (2000)
Take a Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s first original screenplay, attach a respected director whose last film was considered a disappointment by many, and add a cast that includes Michael Fassbender (one of the highlights of that disappointing film), Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz, and you have a solid formula for one of the most-anticipated films of the year. Sadly, director Ridley Scott had to deal with the passing of his brother while filming The Counselor, a Cormac McCarthy story in which Fassbender plays a lawyer who learns that no one dabbles in the drug trade. In a role less menacing than his previous turn in the McCarthy adaptation No Country for Old Men 91, Bardem, exchanging the Anton Chigurh cut for the "Brian Grazer", plays the man with the connections, while Pitt plays Fassbender’s guide to selling drugs across the border. Instead of playing her husband’s girlfriend, Cruz pairs up with Fassbender, while Diaz, in full feline mode, stands by Bardem. The marketing tagline asks, “Have you been bad?” These characters most assuredly have.
Dallas Buyers Club Watch trailer
November 1 | Drama | Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Matthew McConaughey has been on an impressive run of late with strong supporting roles in Bernie, Magic Mike, Killer Joe and Mud, but in this story of Ron Woodroof, who was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986, he takes the lead. Unhappy with the medications available in the United States at the time, Woodroof smuggled in drugs from from all over the world and set up a network for other HIV-positive people (like Jared Leto’s transsexual Rayon) to buy them. McConaughey lost a well-publicized 50 pounds to play the hard-living Woodroof, so maybe a well-deserved Oscar nomination will finally come his way.
Don Jon Watch trailer #1 Watch trailer #2
September 27 | Comedy | Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
In his debut as a feature writer-director, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Jon Martello, a young man obsessed with his body, his apartment, his car and, well, porn (when the film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, it was titled Don Jon’s Addiction). Scarlett Johansson plays Barbara Sugarman, a loud and proud Jersey girl who craves the romance on display in Hollywood romantic comedies. When Johansson’s Barbara meets Gordon-Levitt’s Jon, her obsession with romantic comedies rubs up against his predilection for porn, but Jon is able to learn a few life lessons from Julianne Moore’s Esther. The strong supporting cast also includes Tony Danza as Jon’s father, Glenne Headly as his mother, and Brie Larson as his sister, as well as cameos by Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum.
Ender's Game Watch trailer #1 Watch trailer #2
November 1 | Sci-Fi/Action | Directed by Gavin Hood
This adaptation of the award-winning science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card tells the story of Ender Wiggin (Hugo’s Asa Butterfield), a young man recruited to Battle School, where he trains to fight an invading alien race known as Formics. After he impresses Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford), Ender is promoted to Command School, where he trains under Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) and prepares to lead Earth’s fleet into battle. Hailee Steinfeld stars as another recruit, Abigail Breslin plays Ender’s sister, and Viola Davis co-stars as a military psychologist. The film comes to theaters under a cloud of controversy and the threat of boycott due to the anti-gay marriage views of Orson Scott Card, but writer-director Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and the film’s stars have been adamant that, despite Card’s personal views, the story he created has value and tackles subjects like bullying and tolerance. But will the film’s performance be impacted by the negative press?
Enough Said Watch trailer
September 20 | Comedy | Directed by Nicole Holofcener
Also by this director:
Much like her first four features, writer-director Nicole Holofcener’s fifth film examines the intimate relationships between friends and lovers. Enough Said stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a divorced single mother and masseuse who begins to fall for her new client’s ex-husband, played by James Gandolfini in one of his final screen performances. The film might be getting more notice than it normally would due to Gandolfini’s passing (he'll have one last film, Animal Rescue, out next year), but if the consistency of Holofcener’s past output is any indication, this one will be worth seeing as well, especially with her lucky charm, Catherine Keener, playing Gandolfini’s ex-wife.
Escape from Tomorrow
October 11 | Drama/Fantasy | Directed by Randy Moore
When it was announced a few weeks ago that Randy Moore’s debut feature, Escape from Tomorrow, would be released on October 11th, many who had seen the film at Sundance were surprised—not because of the quality of the film, but because it was surreptitiously shot at both Disneyland and Disney World without the entertainment giant's permission or knowledge. The black-and-white film documents a family of four’s last day on vacation at the Florida resort, a trip that quickly turns surreal for the father, Jim, after he learns he no longer has a job. While some reviewers believed the making-of story was more intriguing than the film, others embraced the film’s surreal dark comedy and attempts at satire as it plays with Disney iconography. Want to see something a little outside the box? Seek it out in limited release or on VOD this fall.
The Fifth Estate Watch trailer
October 11 | Drama | Directed by Bill Condon
Also by this director:
Alex Gibney already examined the controversial Julian Assange in the documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, now Bill Condon goes the narrative route with The Fifth Estate. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Assange, and Daniel Brühl (Rush) stars as his friend, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, whose book, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website, serves as one of the sources for the script. The strong supporting cast includes Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, and Alicia Vikander. Assange has already come out against the film, calling it “a massive propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the character of my staff,” while also making news by voicing his support for Edward Snowden and the recently sentenced Bradley Manning, whose conviction stems from documents given to WikiLeaks.
Frozen Watch trailer
November 27 | Animation/Family | Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, this story of two sisters focuses on Anna (Kristen Bell) and her search for her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), whose powers have created an eternal winter in the kingdom of Arendelle. Along the way, Anna teams up with the gruff Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his trusty reindeer Sven, and a snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad). Chris Buck, one of the directors of Tarzan, and Jennifer Lee, one of the writers of Wreck-It Ralph, co-direct this Disney animated film featuring original songs by Bobby Lopez (The Book of Mormon) and his wife Kristen.
Gravity Watch trailer Watch clip #1 Watch clip #2 Watch clip #3
October 4 | Sci-Fi | Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Also by this director:
After a lengthy development process which once saw Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, Marion Cotillard and Robert Downey Jr. attached to the project, a rigorous 3D shoot culminating in a 13-minute opening shot, and a post-production cycle that has pushed the boundaries of movie effects, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity has finally begun its final approach to theaters, starting with an auspicious premiere last week at the Venice Film Festival (were reviews were stellar). Sandra Bullock stars as a doctor on her first space voyage, while George Clooney is a veteran astronaut on the same mission, but the real stars look to be Emmanuel Lubezki's stunning cinematography (returning from Children of Men) and Cuaron's daring in a depiction of the astronaut duo's routine spacewalk that turns into disaster when their shuttle is destroyed, leaving them alone in space, tethered only to each other. Despite impossibly high expectations from fans who have been waiting for this project for years, this one's on track to be the sci-fi film of the year.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Watch trailer
November 22 | Action-Adventure/Sci-Fi | Directed by Francis Lawrence
After the incredible success of The Hunger Games 67 (solid critical response and more than $400 million at the domestic box office), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will also have the burden of high expectations when it arrives in theaters just before Thanksgiving. The story picks up with Katniss and Peeta on their Victor’s Tour, but soon they find themselves back in the Capitol preparing for the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell). While the main players return (Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson), new faces include Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heveansbee, Sam Clafin as Finnick Odair, and Jena Malone as Johanna Mason. There are new faces behind the camera as well, with director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) stepping in for the first film's Gary Ross, while two new screenwriters—Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3 and the guy currently working on Star Wars: Episode VII) and Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire)—handle the adaptation of Suzanne Collins' novel. Lionsgate, start preparing your bed of money now.
Inside Llewyn Davis Watch trailer
December 6 | Drama | Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Also by these directors (last 10 films):
80 True Grit (2010)
79 A Serious Man (2009)
63 Burn After Reading (2008)
91 No Country for Old Men (2007)
56 The Ladykillers (2004)
71 Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
73 The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)
69 O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
69 The Big Lebowski (1998)
85 Fargo (1996)
The latest curio from Joel and Ethan Coen earned rave reviews and won the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The drama is set in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960s and stars Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis, a struggling folk singer stumbling through life with a cat, a guitar, and a trail of trouble behind him. Carey Mulligan, Isaac’s wife in Drive, plays a member of a folk trio who is married to another singer, played by Justin Timberlake. All three perform in the film, while Timberlake and Mulligan’s real-life husband Marcus Mumford worked with T-Bone Burnett, the man behind the music for the Coen’s O Brother, Where Art Thou?, on re-interpretations of traditional songs as well as original recordings for the soundtrack.
Nebraska Watch clip
November 22 | Drama | Directed by Alexander Payne
Also by this director:
Alexander Payne’s latest road trip follows an alcoholic sliding toward senility (Bruce Dern) and his estranged son (Will Forte) as they travel from Billings, Montana, to Lincoln, Nebraska, in order to collect a $1 million sweepstakes prize. Dern won the best actor prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for a performance Variety’s Scott Foundas calls “simply marvelous.” While Payne has taken to the road before in About Schmidt and Sideways, this is the first time he has not penned the script, which comes instead from first-time screenwriter Bob Nelson. Payne also makes his first foray into black and white, an artistic choice that concerned some potential distributors despite the success of his previous film The Descendants, his highest-grossing film to date.
Oldboy Watch trailer
November 27 | Action/Thriller | Directed by Spike Lee
Also by this director (last 10 non-docs):
48 Red Hook Summer (2012)
37 Miracle at St. Anna (2008)
76 Inside Man (2006)
28 She Hate Me (2004)
67 25th Hour (2002)
50 Bamboozled (2000)
67 Summer of Sam (1999)
63 He Got Game (1998)
44 Girl 6 (1996)
71 Clockers (1995)
When the Quentin Tarantino-led jury of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival handed the Grand Prix to Park Chan-wook’s Old Boy 74, no one could have predicted that Spike Lee would be making an English-language remake nine years later. For this adaptation, writer Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend) has returned to the manga series by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi (on which the first film was based) for inspiration. And, from the looks of it, Lee has sprinkled his vision (check out Samuel L. Jackson’s look in the trailer) with a few references to the original film (yes, the hammer is back). The basic plot is intact: after being held captive for 20 years, Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) is set free, and thus begins his quest to discover who imprisoned him and why. Even if you are familiar with the original, there are new twists and turns to keep you guessing.
Out of the Furnace Watch trailer
December 6 | Thriller | Directed by Scott Cooper
Also by this director:
83 Crazy Heart (2009)
It has been almost four years since Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart earned Jeff Bridges an Academy Award for his lead performance, but Cooper is finally back behind the camera. This time, Christian Bale is the beneficiary of Copper’s direction, starring as Russel Baze, a steel worker with a terminally ill father and a brother, Rodney (Casey Affleck), who has just been released from prison. When Rodney goes missing and the police, led by Forest Whitaker, fail to follow through, Bale takes matters into his own hands, leading to a confrontation with a very bad man played by Woody Harrelson. The strong supporting cast also includes Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, and Willem Dafoe.
Prisoners Watch trailer #1 Watch trailer #2
September 20 | Thriller | Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Incendies was one of the great surprises of 2011. That French-language film went on to win eight Genie Awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars) including Best Picture. Now, director Denis Villeneuve returns to the big screen with his English-language debut, a vigilante drama from a Blacklisted script by Aaron Guzikowski (Contraband). The impressive cast includes Hugh Jackman as a desperate father who kidnaps the main suspect (Paul Dano) in the disappearance of his daughter and her best friend. Maria Bello plays Jackman’s wife, while Terrence Howard and Viola Davis play the parents of the other abducted girl. Jake Gyllenhaal is the detective working the case while Oscar-winner Melissa Leo plays Dano’s mother. Look for early reviews out of TIFF (and possibly Telluride) in the next few weeks.
Riddick Watch trailer #1 Watch trailer #2 Watch red-band trailer
September 6 | Action/Sci-Fi | Directed by David Twohy
Also by this director:
With Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick combining to make just $169 million worldwide, it’s a bit surprising that writer-director David Twohy and star Vin Diesel were able to get the financing together for a third film about the violent antihero who can see in the dark. But what they’ve done is go back to the original film’s low-budget roots ($23 million) instead of the second film’s more epic look and budget ($105 million). The story has been stripped down as well, with Riddick facing off against vicious alien predators and a ship of mercenaries hoping to collect the bounty on his head. If early teasers are any indication, some of the bounty hunters, including Jordi Mollà, Karl Urban, Katee Sackhoff, and Dave Bautista, might not last too long, but Riddick’s survival instincts will surely remain intact.
Rush Watch trailer #1 Watch trailer #2 Watch trailer #3
September 20 | Action/Drama | Directed by Ron Howard
Also by this director (last 10 films):
46 The Dilemma (2011)
48 Angels & Demons (2009)
80 Frost/Nixon (2008)
46 The Da Vinci Code (2006)
69 Cinderella Man (2005)
55 The Missing (2003)
72 A Beautiful Mind (2001)
46 How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
48 Edtv (1999)
60 Ransom (1996)
Based on a true story, Rush looks at the at the rivalry and friendship between two of the great Formula 1 drivers of the 1970s, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). Director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan (The Damned United, The Queen) focus on the 1976 season, during which Lauda suffered severe burns as a result of a crash but returned to race Hunt for the championship. Howard’s directing career began with the Roger Corman-backed Grand Theft Auto (not to be confused, at all, with the popular video games) and delved into the car-culture wars of Japan and America with Gung Ho, but this look at racing history falls more in line with his Oscar-nominated true story dramas Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and Frost/Nixon.
Thor: The Dark World Watch trailer #1 Watch trailer #2
November 8 | Action/Fantasy | Directed by Alan Taylor
Veteran TV director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones, The Sopranos) takes over directing duties from Kenneth Branagh to tell the continuing story of Thor as he battles Malekith the Accursed (Christopher Eccleston) and his army of Dark Elves. Returning to help Thor are his mother and father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Frigga (Renne Russo), and pals Heimdall (Idris Elba), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Sif (Jaimie Alexander), and Fandral (now played by Zachary Levi). Natalie Portman is back as well and in danger as Jane Foster, but at least she gets to visit Asgard and punch Loki. With the recent announcement that Loki would not appear in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, this could be Tom Hiddleston’s last appearance as Thor’s treacherous brother, but Taylor promises to make the most of it, thanks to the addition of new scenes with Hiddleston shot just months before the film’s release.
The Wolf of Wall Street Watch trailer
November 15 | Drama | Directed by Martin Scorsese
Also by this director (last 10 non-docs):
83 Hugo (2011)
63 Shutter Island (2010)
86 The Departed (2006)
77 The Aviator (2004)
72 Gangs of New York (2002)
70 Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
74 Kundun (1997)
73 Casino (1995)
83 The Age of Innocence (1993)
73 Cape Fear (1991)
The fifth collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio (following Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and Shutter Island) gets its title from Jordan Belfort’s memoir, the basis for Terence Winter’s (Boardwalk Empire) script about the rise and fall of a hard-partying, drug-addicted stockbroker who led one of the most successful brokerage firms of the '90s before being indicted in 1998 for securities fraud and money laundering. DiCaprio stars as Belfort, and Scorsese has surrounded him with an impressive supporting cast that includes Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau, Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, Margot Robbie, Jon Bernthal, and Rob Reiner. One doesn’t have to look hard to see parallels between the excess and greed of Belfort’s tale and the recent law-skirting actions that have led to a few Wall Street indictments.
What do you think?
Which fall films are you looking forward to seeing this fall? Let us know in the comments section below. And, for a complete listing of every upcoming movie release by date, including films arriving at the end of 2013 and beyond, visit our Movie Calendar.