The following is an alphabetical list of some (er, many) of the films coming out (or already released) I am interested in seeing this fall. Many of them look to be promising Oscar contenders. I apologize for the delay in this list, but better late than never.
The Artist (Nov. 23)
Director Michel Hazanavicius's Cannes-winning romance is basically--you won't believe this--a silent film (shot in black and white) made in the twenty-first century! The story involves a romance between a silent film star and a young up-and-coming dancer, set against the transition from silent films to "talkies". Some elements seem to have distant echoes of such classics as Citizen Kane and Sunset Boulevard. But with a cast that includes John Goodman and James Cromwell, and a filmmaking style that's been in oblivian for so long, it should take moviegoers back to an era of sight, nostalgia, and wonder. How many films like this do we see nowadays?
Dolphin Tale (now playing)
Already a generally successful family hit, made by the producers of The Blind Side, Dolphin Tale tells the touching true story of a bottlenose dolphin named Winter (who plays himself in the movie), who lost his tail in a crab trap, and is given a prosthetic tail (as well as love and careness) from doctors and family members at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on the Florida Coast. A promising cast includes Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, and Morgan Freeman. This family drama currently holds an 83 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Not bad. The consensus describes it as "earnest, sweet, and well-told, [as well as] a rare family film that both kids and parents can enjoy."
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (opens Dec. 25)
Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks headline this powerful and touching drama, directed by Stephen Daldry (The Hours, The Reader), about a boy who searches for a lock that matches a key his father left him after he was killed on 9/11. The trailer suggests this will be a very unified-type of story, in how it encircles the city of New York and develops a sense of community and identity among its characters. Can't wait.
50/50 (now playing)
Loosely based on the life of Will Reiser (who wrote the screenplay), 50/50 tells the story of a 27-year-old man who learns he is diagnosed with cancer, and is supported by family, colleagues, and friends in the process. Featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, and Bryce Dallas Howard, this film is already a hit with critics, regarding it as one of the year's best, with a unique blend of comedy, drama, and reality. Warning: rated R for "language throughout, sexual content, and some drug use."
Higher Ground (now playing in select theaters)
Vera Farmiga (who was terrific in such films as Up in the Air and The Departed) stars, and makes makes her directorial debut, in a story of an evangelical woman who begins to question her faith. Should open the doors for discussions on religion, spirituality, faith, and doubt.
Hugo (opens Nov. 28)
Martin Scorcese directs his first family film, about an orphan boy in 1930s Paris, who discovers a key to an automaton made by his late inventor-father. Based on Brian Selznick's novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," and shot in 3-D, this adventure-drama promises to be one of the most anticipated family offerings this holiday season. Stars Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sasha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, and Jude Law.
The Ides of March (opens Oct. 7)
George Clooney co-stars in his first directorial feature since 2005's Good Night, and Good Luck. This time, the story is a political thriller about a candidate's press secretary (Ryan Gosling) who stumbles upon a scandal that could affect said candidate's (Clooney) run for presidency. Gosling has been having quite a year, having already starred in Crazy, Stupid, Love and Drive. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, and Marisa Tomei co-star.
The Iron Lady (opens Dec. 16)
The always incredible Meryl Streep takes on the role of the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in this biopic from director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!). Streep should likely get her umpteenth nomination for Best Actress this coming Oscar season. Enough said.
J. Edgar (opens Nov. 9)
Clint Eastwood's biopic on the powerful and provocative life of FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover, with Leonardo DiCaprio at the centerpiece. Co-starring Naomi Watts, Armie Hammer, Judi Dench, and written by Dustin Lance Black (Oscar-winner for Milk).
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (opens Dec. 21)
Tom Cruise returns as IMF agent Ethan Hunt in his latest big screen mission. From the trailer, it should be an awesome thrill ride this holiday season. Even more anticipating, it's the first live-action feature for animation director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille). Co-starring Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames.
Moneyball (now playing)
Brad Pitt plays Oakland A's general manager Billy Beanes in this latest sports movie about the drafting of baseball players based on statistical analysis for the 2002 season. Jonah Hill plays Beane's assistant analyst Peter Brande. Co-starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, co-written by Aaron Sorkin (Oscar-winner for The Social Network), and directed by Bennett Miller (Capote). Thus far regarded as one of the year's best, Rotten Tomatoes states that the filmmakers and actors "take a niche subject and turn it into a sharp, funny, and touching portrait worthy of baseball lore."
The Muppets (opens Nov. 23)
Probably the most anticipated movie of the holiday season, everyone's favorite puppet characters are return to the big-screen (please excuse the cliche) in an all-new adventure. Written by (you won't believe this, either!) Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller (the team behind the raunchy Forgetting Sarah Marshall), this should, nevertheless, be an entertaining and nostalgic trip down memory lane with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, Gonzo, and the whole gang. Co-starring Amy Adams (as Segel's love interest), Chris Cooper (as the bad guy), and lots and lots of cameo appearances by famous stars.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (opens Dec. 9)
Based on the 1974 British spy novel by John le Carre, this espionage thriller focuses on intelligence veteran George Smiley (Gary Oldman), an expert in forced retirement, who is called to uncover a Soviet mole in the highest echelon of the Secret Intelligence Service. A powerhouse cast includes Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and John Hurt.
Tower Heist (Nov. 4)
The plot is basically a heist comedy involving high-rise staff members (as well as a petty crook) who plan to rob the penthouse of one of their tendants, a Wall Street businessman, after they fall victim to his most recent scheme. It's been a long time since I've seen a good action-comedy, let alone a good comedy. With Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy (in somewhat of a return to the big screen), along with a supporting cast that includes Matthew Broderick, Gabourey Sidibe, and Alan Alda, as well as director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour), it looks promising. We'll see.
War Horse (opens Dec. 28)
Coming out the same month as his motion-capture pic The Adventures of Tintin, Steven Spielberg also serves as director of this period drama set in World War II. It may echo elements of recent horse dramas like Seabiscuit and Secretariat, but it should be just as evocative and moving. Stars Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, and Tom Hiddleston. Spielberg regulars Michael Kahn (editor), Kathleen Kennedy (producer), and the always-great John Williams (composer) take part as well.
We Bought a Zoo (opens Dec. 23)
Matt Damon plays a father who moves his children to the countryside in Southern California and eventually renovates and reopens a zoo. Director Cameron Crowe's (Jerry McGuire) first film in six years. Co-starring Scarlet Johannson and Thomas Haden Church.
Young Adult (opens Dec. 16)
Director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody (the team behind Juno) reunite for Cody's story of a divorced fiction writer (Charlize Theron) who returns to her hometown to rekindle a romance between her old boyfriend (Patrick Wilson), now married with kids. Patton Oswalt plays one of Theron's old friends.
[Trailer at http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3380715033/]
Other movies now playing or (coming out) on DVD and Blu-ray I want to or am interested in seeing:
Another Earth (Nov. 29)
The Beaver (now available)
Beginners (Nov. 15)
A Better Life (Oct. 18)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Nov. 29)
Everything Must Go (now available)
If a Tree Falls (still in select theaters)
The Interruptors (still in select theaters)
Jane Eyre (now available)
Life in a Day (Nov. 8)
Midnight in Paris (still in theaters)
Our Idiot Brother (Nov. 29)
Project Nim (still in theaters)
Terri (Oct. 11)
The Tree of Life (Oct. 11)
Winnie the Pooh (Oct. 25)
Win Win (now avalaible)
What fall films are you interested in? Do you believe these films (many, if not all) have the power to generate discussion among audiences? Why or why not? Regardless, it should be another incredible season for movies.