By Sam Adams | Criticwire September 3, 2013 at 1:29PM
Every week, the Criticwire Survey asks film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday morning. (The answer to the second, "What is the best film in theaters right now?" can be found at the end of this post.) Send suggestions for future questions to sam at indiewire dot com.
Q: With Labor Day behind us, the fall releases start coming in waves. What are you most looking forward to?
Farran Nehme, New York Daily News
My must-gets for the fall are books from two idols, whom I'm lucky enough to think of as friends, too. Critical Mass: Four Decades of Essays, Reviews, Hand Grenades, and Hurrahs by James Wolcott is due Oct. 15. I grab his every new essay or blog post with absolute glee; having more than 500 pages in one volume will feel like a vacation every time I dig in. Before that, Sept. 5 brings My Brother My Sister: Story of a Transformation. This is a memoir, a genre Molly Haskell already navigated brilliantly in Love and Other Infectious Diseases. It's the story of how life changed when her brother, then nearing 60 and married, announced that he intended to become a woman. With Chelsea Manning in the news, I'm eager to have Molly's warmth and intelligence brought to bear on this topic.
Matt Singer, The Dissolve
You guys know Arnold Schwarzenegger has a new movie coming out in October, right? And you know Sylvester Stallone is in it, too? And you know it's about them breaking out of an impossible-to-break-out-of prison, right? And you know that Schwarzenegger has a goatee for some reason? And you know that his character's name is "Emil Rottmayer?" And you know that (according to a friend who saw the film at Comic-Con), Schwarzenegger delivers a lengthy monologue in German? So why are we even asking this question? The ONLY correct answer is Escape Plan.
Kate Aurthur, Buzzfeed
Geez, so many movies to look forward to that I haven't seen and therefore -- who knows? I always start out awards season quite hopeful (the TV season, too, which makes even less sense). A brief list: Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, Cannes winner Blue Is the Warmest Color, Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, and August: Osage County (despite being put off by the strangely upbeat trailer). Ugh, there's more: Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club -- and I'm hoping Diana will be some extreme or another, either surprisingly good or batshit crazy.
Edwin Arnaudin, Ashvegas
New films from Scorsese, the Coens, Cuaron, Payne, and Spikes Lee and Jonze are pretty clear choices. What I'd really like to see play before one of these is a trailer for Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. The cast may be Anderson's best yet and his trailers always provide such pleasant visuals, quotes, and soundtrack cues that make the wait for the actual film feel not so long.
Andrew Welch,To Be (Cont'd)
Of all the things I'm looking forward to this fall, Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity takes the top spot. Second and third to that would be Steve McQueen's Twelve Years a Slave and the documentary Blood Brother. The latter made its Texas premier at this year's Thin Line Film Fest, a documentary film festival in Denton (which is about an hour north of Dallas). It's an incredibly powerful film, and I believe it's hitting theaters New York and LA this October. In the world of TV, I've got to mention the Doctor Who 50th anniversary again. I go back and forth on what I think of Steven Moffat as showrunner, but I seriously doubt he'll drop the ball on such a big moment in the show's history.
Peter Labuza, To Be Cont'd, The Cinephiliacs
I have absolutely no idea when I'll be able to see it, but Sebastian Sepulveda's The Quispe Girls sounds like an austere work that I've been telling people sounds like "A Chilean version of The Turin Horse except with goat milking and set in the Pinochet era." It played at Venice Critics Week over the weekend, but didn't get a berth at Toronto nor New York, so I'm not sure when I (or anyone else) will get their chance to see it. Maybe some ambitious distributor will give it a chance. I'll also give a quick shout out to a film I've already seen: Gina Telaroli's Traveling Light astounded me with its striking imagery and poetic narrative, and that will be online for everyone to see in November.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap, Linoleum Knife
The theatrical releases of Concussion and C.O.G. and Kill Your Darlings, but then I'd be lying if I said I wasn't psyched about the return of Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy to the cereal aisle this Halloween after many years' absence.
Zack Handlen, The A.V. Club
There's always a lot to look forward to in the fall -- new TV shows that never fail to disappoint, Halloween, the dropping temperatures reminding you of the stark inevitability of winter -- but this year, I'm most excited about a pair of new books from two of my favorite novelists. Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge is out September 17th; Stephen King's Doctor Sleep is due the following week. Of the two, I'm probably looking forward to Pynchon's a bit more, partly because there was never any guarantee he'd have another novel after 2009's Inherent Vice, and partly because one of the greatest prose stylists currently living. But while I'm skeptical about King doing a sequel to The Shining (one of his best, and a story that had a solid, no-unanswered-questions conclusion), I've enjoyed the hell out of his last two books, and am hoping this one continues the streak.
R. Emmet Sweeney, Movie Morlocks
Stanley Crouch began work on his biography of Charlie Parker in 1981, and on September 24th the first volume, Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker, will finally be released. As with Joseph McBride and his essential Searching for John Ford, this will be the result of a lifetime of work, and I can't wait to see how Bird emerges through Crouch's pen.
Eric D. Snider, Twitch, Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider
Sure, sure, I'm eager to see the new Coen Brothers movie, and Gravity, and whatever else. Of course. But the film I'm personally looking forward to the most -- the one I'm giddy with anticipation over -- is Anchorman 2. I love Anchorman beyond words, and another outing with the same cast of characters sounds like rich mahogany heaven. In true fanboy spirit, I've already written my A+ review, and I'm already yelling at anyone who doesn't like it.
Danny Bowes, RogerEbert.com, Tor.com
The two things I'm looking forward to most this fall, interestingly since I'm also going to turn 35 this fall, are both video games: Grand Theft Auto V and Beyond: Two Souls. I'd worry about this speaking to some puer aeternus tendencies except a) I don't care, b) both of those games look awesome, and c) there are so many movies I'm looking forward to this fall that I couldn't pick just one. I mean, come on, there's a new Coen brothers picture, a new Scorsese, new Alexander Payne, new Cuaron, and Dhoom 3 with Aamir fucking Khan, for the tip of the iceberg. Since this surfeit of cultural bounty is clearly for my milestone birthday, I say, thank you, universe.
Piers Marchant, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
As an unabashed Coen Brothers groupie (hey, I was old enough to jump on their bandwagon after Blood Simple, you guys!), I can't say enough how dearly I'm anticipating Inside Llewyn Davis. I was crushed -- crushed! -- to find out it wasn't playing at this year's TIFF. When the Bros. get their hands on a subject this luscious, they have a way of transcending genre tropes and finding new and novel elements with which to elevate their material. I well understand on the surface this sounds like yet another of their protagonist-with-a-black-cloud-over-their-head pieces, but, I'm sorry, early '60s Village music scene? John Goodman in a Marv Albert hairpiece? The triumphant re-return of F. Murray Abraham? A cat on the subway? I'm all kinds of in.
Scott Renshaw, Salt Lake City Weekly
There are certainly occasions when a specific title has me giddy with anticipation. But over the years, I've realized that the surprises are the thrill of this job. So here's what I'm looking forward to: The thing I never saw coming. The movie that sneaks up on me and leaves me humming with the joy that finding amazing new art always leaves. I'm looking forward to all those things there was no way to know I should be looking forward to. Oh, and also new Coen brothers, because duh.
Glenn Kenny, MSN Movies, Some Came Running
The Coens movie, and Thomas Pynchon's book. I'm a traditionalist in thrall to the received verities.
Alyssa Rosenberg, ThinkProgress, Women and Hollywood
I feel like it's cliche, but I think it's impossible to be a science-fiction fan and not be incredibly excited and anxious to see how the film adaptation of Ender's Game turns out. Debates over Orson Scott Card's homophobia (and general paranoia) aside, there's so much potential there, whether it's the Battle Room sequences, the terrific female characters, especially Valentine Wiggin, and an all-around tremendous cast, that this will be the sci-fi blockbuster that's eluded us for the past couple of summers, or an incredibly crushing disappointment. Either way, the anticipation's getting to me.
Richard Brody, the New Yorker
One of the great privileges of working as a movie critic is being invited to press screenings, and some of the most exalted experiences among this rarefied subset are screenings for the New York Film Festival, which was founded fifty years ago as a festival of festivals -- a New York showcase for the best of the year in world cinema -- and it still fulfills that mission superbly. That's why it has long been such a tough ticket -- and, before I started working as a critic, I managed to see only a few movies there each year, due in part to the expense and in part to the uncertainty of floating around the door in the hope of finding somebody with a seat to sell. The massive protests against Jean-Luc Godard's Hail Mary that clogged the streets around Lincoln Center when it was screening at the festival in 1985 made it impossible, with the police cordoning off the demonstrators to create a long and narrow corridor for ticket-holders to pass through, for sellers and buyers to find a place to meet, and I couldn't see the movie until it went into commercial release (admittedly, just a week later). This year's main slate is brimming with new works that I'm impatient to see -- and the sidebars are no slouches, either.
Anne-Katrin Titze, Eye for Film
The crickets are still chirping and the 51st New York Film Festival with its outstanding selection is only a few weeks away, as to hint -- and re-contextualize F. Scott Fitzgerald -- already of a summer laid away in time.
Robert Greene, Hammer to Nail
Every time a new Frederick Wiseman film is released it should be considered an event and this fall's At Berkeley is no exception. Playing at TIFF and NYFF before an early November release, the sprawling portrait of the iconic UC Berkeley is arriving with a considerable amount of (ahem) buzz, which is a nice change from the relative silence Wiseman films were greeted with before the surprising theatrical success of La Danse in 2009. At 244 minutes, the new film is sure to be an epic, exhaustive and euphoric Wiseman experience for the already indoctrinated and an eye-opener for anyone interested in the future of higher education or the possibilities of documentary form. Get to it.
Adam Batty, Hope Lies 24 Frames Per Second
Theatrically speaking it's a three-way tie between Claire Denis' Bastards, James Gray's The Immigrant and Jean-Luc Godard's Adieu au langage that excite the most, but it's a couple of releases on the home video front and the beginning of a major retrospective that threaten to dominate the rest of the year for me. An ambitious Blu-ray box-set collecting the complete Eric Rohmer from France's Potemkine is a dream come true (and English-friendly), while British boutique DVD label The Masters Of Cinema last week announced a long-term collaboration with Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation, which will see regular, high-definition releases of the titles restored by Scorsese and co. The first box-set is due this November. Finally, A Nos Amours, a London collective concerned with screening over-looked and under-seen movies (they recently put on a screening of Sergei Bondarchuk's 427-minute long War And Peace, and plan to screen Jacques Rivette's Out 1 in the not-too-distant future) begin a complete retrospective of the work of Chantal Akerman in a few weeks time. It's a long overdue celebration of a remarkable filmmaker.
Todd VanDerWerff, The A.V. Club
I'm incredibly excited for Gravity. During my long day in Comic-Con's Hall H, the footage screened from it was the one thing that made me think it might be the sort of film that gets me intensely engaged on both a mental and raw need-to-see-what-happens-next level. That's a rare quality from blockbusters nowadays, and Alfonso Cuaron is just the guy to nail that mixture.
Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat, Film Racket
The thing I'm most looking forward to is the 3D in Gravity. The movie looks phenomenal too, but I'm especially interested in that extra dimension. Unlike most critics (and, seemingly, most people in general), I actually like 3D. Recently, I wrote a piece called "Why 3D Matters and How to Save It.") Among other things, I argued that our most visionary filmmakers have only recently started to utilize the format, and we need to keep it around to see what they do with it. Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron certainly qualifies as visionary. The outer space setting would seem to allow him many opportunities to create something spectacular in 3D. My hope is that, as with Ang Lee's Life of Pi and Martin Scorsese's Hugo, the 3D in Gravity proves to be a useful artistic tool that gives the movie an extra bit of oomph. If it does, that's going to be one amazing moviegoing experience.
Mark Young, Sound on Sight, The New York Movie Klub
There's a lot that I'm looking forward to, including the recently announced New York Film Festival premiere of Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, but the biggest hope is that Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity is a success. The gorgeous trailers for Cuaron's "science fact" epic have me super psyched.
Tony Dayoub, Press Play, Cinema Viewfinder
That Gravity movie looks kind of magnificent.
Carrie Rickey, the Philadelphia Inquirer
Diablo Cody's Paradise.
John Keefer, 51 Deep
I'm very much looking forward to the end of Breaking Bad, being released shaking and crying back into an unfeeling world. Don John looks as cute as Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I'm here to tell you that's pretty darn cute. That's right, telling you that JGL is cute is the sole purpose of my existence. I'm also looking forward to my friend Mike's Halloween party. If you have any ideas for costumes please tell me on Twitter and be sure to include something insulting in your reply. Thank you!
Alan Zilberman, The Atlantic, Tiny Mix Tapes
I am most looking forward to dressing up as Walter White for Halloween. I'm a bald guy with a beard and glasses, so I don't know why I didn't do this sooner. Oh, and The Wolf of Wall Street looks like it'll be fun. I love it when Scorsese does black comedy.
Fico Cangiano, CineXpress
By instinct, I would have to say that I'm really looking forward to the last couple of episodes of Breaking Bad. Yes, it's bittersweet, but this first batch of the last eight remaining episodes have been exciting and simply, awesome. How is it all gonna end? Is there any kind of redemption or positive outcome for these characters? Besides BB, I'm also looking forward to various movies, such as Gravity, 12 Years A Slave, Captain Phillips, Don Jon, All Is Lost, The Counselor, Thor: The Dark World, The Wolf of Wall Street, Her, Prisoners and more. So yeah, it should be a great Fall. Cheers!
Josh Spiegel, Mousterpiece Cinema, Sound on Sight
While I could cheat and say the series finale of Breaking Bad (which does air in the fall), I'll stick with what came to mind immediately: Alfonso Cuaron's new film Gravity. Children of Men was one of my favorite films of the last decade, as well as being an excellent, grim science-fiction entry with a haunted lead performance from Clive Owen. So really, Cuaron could be making a movie about anything, and I'd be excited. But the basics of the premise plus the space setting plus even more (and longer) long takes than what he did in Children of Men just makes me wish I didn't have to wait until the beginning of October to see where he's taking audiences next.
Christopher Campbell, Nonfics, Movies.com
I'm looking forward to Salinger, not because I'm a fan of the author in the least but because the Weinsteins compared the secret reveal to the one in The Crying Game. Outside of documentaries, I'm hoping Gilliam's The Zero Theorem comes out this fall.
Gary M. Kramer, Gay City News, Philadelphia Gay News
One of my favorite actors, Jean-Marc Barr, plays one of my favorite literary figures, Jack Kerouac, in director Michael Polish's big screen adaptation of Big Sur (out November 1). After reading the original scroll of On the Road, earlier this year, I immediately read Big Sur in anticipation of this film's release. The trailer suggests Polish captures the text, and Barr appears to be perfectly cast as Kerouac here. The film also looks absolutely sumptuous. I cannot wait to see this, and am glad it won't be long before I do.
Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit
I'm most looking forward to seeing how the Oscar season shapes up, since that's the main way I make my living, prognosticating and such. Essentially, I just cross my fingers and hope that high quality films are in contention, though of course it's always a mixed bag. On the other side of the coin, I'm also very curious to see how much Don Jon changed from that initial Sundance screening. I loved it back in Park City and hopefully it hasn't been neutered since then.
Ernesto Diezmartinez, Reforma, Vertigo
Last of the Unjust, the new chapter in the masterpiece Shoah, by Claude Lanzmann.
Jeff Berg, Local iQ/Las Cruces Bulletin
Nebraska, since it sounds like it will do for Bruce Dern what Straight Story did for Richard Farnsworth: get him some of the attention he deserves. Also Inside Llewyn Davis. Sounds wonderful -- makes me wish I was at Telluride!
Q: What is the best movie in theaters right now?
Answer: Short Term 12.
Other films receiving multiple votes: The World's End, Blue Jasmine, Passion.