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The Criticwire Survey: Fall's Must-See Movies

Criticwire By Matt Singer | Criticwire August 27, 2012 at 10:05AM

This week, the critics tell us what movies they're most looking forward to this fall. They have a clear favorite, too.
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"Looper."
"Looper."
Every week, Criticwire asks film critics a question and brings you their responses in The Criticwire Survey. We also ask each member of the poll to pick the best film currently playing in theaters. The most popular choices can be found at the bottom of this post. But first, this week's question:

Q: What movie are you most looking forward to seeing this fall? And just to make things interesting, I'm throwing in one wrinkle: you can't pick Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained."

The critics' answers:

Cole Abaius, Film School Rejects:

"'Looper' is obviously the correct answer here, In fact, even with 'Django Unchained' and 'The Master' in the mix, Rian Johnson's time travel flick starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Bruce Willis and Bruce Willis as Also Bruce Willis would still be on the top of the list. Beyond that, 'Stolen' offers an awesome opportunity to watch Nic Cage doing his best Liam Neeson impression (with Simon West and Josh Lucas in ridiculous white dreadlocks!) and David Ayer's 'End of Watch' promises to instantly insert itself into the Oscar conversation. All in all, a good mix of low-brow, high-brow and sci-fi-brow."

Michael J. AndersonTativille:

"Including or excluding 'The Master' and 'Django Unchained,' my answer stays the same: Abbas Kiarostami's 'Like Someone in Love' (Not that I have any clue as to whether I will have the opportunity to see it here in Denver before year's end). For me, Kiarostami is clearly the most important filmmaker of the last quarter century, having combined a (neo-)realist aesthetic familiar to world cinema with a deep exploration of cinematic ontology that in essence builds on post-war French film modernism. What results is a cinema that consistently encourages the sort of active spectatorship that I seek as a viewer, making the director's follow-up to his unequivocally major 'Certified Copy' an easy pick for this writer."

Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage:

"There is one film that I personally cannot wait to see this fall, primarily due to the impressive track record of its director Rian Johnson ('Brick,' 'The Brothers Bloom') and early buzz from people who have seen it. Of course I'm talking about 'Looper,' which mixes a few of my favorite movie tropes, time travel and hitmen, into a devilishly clever premise: could you kill your future self? I cant wait to find out how this thriller unfolds and lays out the rules of its futuristic dystopia that sends people back in time to be disposed of."

Adam BattyHope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second:

"There are a huge number of films that were on my own personal 'most anticipated of 2012' list that have yet to see the flicker of a projector bulb, but rather than go for something like 'Rust and Bone' or 'Argo,' it is Peter Strickland's 'Berberian Sound Studio' that currently excites me the most. A Coppola/DePalma riffing independent British film, 'Berberian Sound Studio' has set tongues wagging since first appearing at the Edinburgh Film Festival earlier this summer. Produced by Warp Films, the home of 2011 hits 'Tyrannosaur,' 'Submarine' and 'Kill List,' the signs point to 'Berberian Sound Studio' being something very special."

Danny BowesTor.com/Movies By Bowes:

"Twas 'Zero Dark Thirty,' and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse..."

Patrick Bromley, F This Movie:

"Well, I won't say 'The Master' because I've already seen it (thank you, 70mm Chicago screening), so for me it's a toss-up between 'Passion' (because Brian De Palma in his wheelhouse) and 'Looper.' I'm a big, big fan of both of Rian Johnson's first two movies, 'Brick' and (especially) 'The Brothers Bloom,' and I'm excited to see what he does with the tools of a major studio at his disposal. Early word has been really positive. Plus, it looks GREAT."

Ian BuckwalterNPR/The Atlantic:

"When I finally got around to seeing Andrew Dominik's 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford' -- like most audiences, it passed me by on its all-too-brief initial release -- I was blown away. I've been eager to see what Dominik would do next ever since, and everything I've seen and heard so far about 'Killing Them Softly' only makes me look forward to it even more. I'm hoping we get to see Dominik once again make a bleak and thoughtful character examination out of what might look on the surface like a straight genre piece, thoughtfully twisting genre expectations to his own ends. Pitt's turn as Jesse James is one of his standout performances, and I'd love to see Dominik get him back in the zone of understated, world-weary menace that the actor did so well there."

Sean M. BurnsPhiladelphia Weekly/The Improper Bostonian:

"'Trouble With the Curve.' Not that it looks like that great of a movie, but I just love to watch Clint Eastwood get all crotchety and growl at people."

Christopher CampbellDocBlog

"There are some others I’m curious about, but I’m going with ‘Resident Evil: Retribution,’ because I can depend on it to be exactly what I want and expect it to be."

Daniel CarlsonPajiba:

"This fall, I'm probably most excited about 'Looper,' the latest from Rian Johnson (I can't imagine I'll be the only one to give this response, either). I've been a fan of his since the fantastic neo-noir 'Brick,' and I'm so looking forward to 'Looper' that I've entered the type of media blackout I reserve for movies I really don't want spoiled for me ahead of time. I haven't watched any trailers or seen any photos, and I know only the barest of loglines. I just trust Johnson that much. I want to see the movie and let that be its own experience, divorced from the hype that tends to bubble up in film-geek circles. I can't wait."

Sean ChavelFlick Minute:

"'Flight' is the one I'm curious about because I'd like to see Denzel Washington return to a strong, tormented role for the first time in years. He's been coasting for a while and it's about time to see him rise to a challenge. Also, 007's latest looks like the most exotic Bond movie since the heyday of Roger Moore."

Tom Clift, Moviedex:

"With or without 'The Master' and 'Django Unchained' on the table, my most anticipated film of the fall is 'Seven Psychopaths,' from 'In Bruges' director Martin McDonagh, followed by 'Cloud Atlas,' from Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis. Though given the staggered release dates here in Australia, I might be waiting a while..."

Matt CohenMeets Obsession/Cinespect:

"Does that new Malick film have a release date yet? No? Dammit. I guess Michael Haneke's new film 'Amour' will have to hold me over until then."

Michael DaltonMovie Parliament:

"The movie I am most looking forward to seeing this fall is Rian Johnson's 'Looper.' While I have yet to see Johnson's previous work, what I have read, heard, and seen about it fills me with confidence and anticipation. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of my favorite actors (and is turning into one of Hollywood's most dependable) and this film has a science-fiction concept that I love and think has a lot of potential. The trailer took my anticipation to another level and I have heard nothing but good things about this film. If they can pull off the balance between the sci-fi and the action this film could be this year's 'Inception' and this generation's 'Terminator.'" 

Erik DavisMovies.com:

"'Cloud Atlas,' hands down. It is the most ambitious studio film of the year, it has an excellent cast and it's based on a pretty amazing novel. Plus it's risky, and you hope it pays off for the Wachowskis, who sort of need to prove they're still a powerful filmmaking duo, and also so that Hollywood will take more chances like this one in the future."

John DeCarliFilmCapsule:

"Although there are some fun-looking genre movies coming out this fall, as well as some new films from heavy-hitter directors, I'm picking one that could be both: Kathryn Bigelow's 'Zero Dark Thirty.' As her follow-up to 'The Hurt Locker,' and with a premise both innately political and exciting, it'll be interesting to see what tone she strikes and how rooted in reality it will be. It could be along the lines of 'United 93.' I'm also very interested in the cast, especially Chris Pratt."

Steve DollarWall Street Journal/GreenCine Daily:

"I've already seen 'Holy Motors' but I can't wait to see it again. Runner-up: Ben Wheatley's 'The Sightseers.'"

Edward DouglasComing Soon:

"I wouldn't have picked either one of those; I'd pick 'Skyfall' and 'The Hobbit' without batting an eye, and since I'm currently reading 'Cloud Atlas' and really fascinated with how they're going to do it as a movie, I'll go with that as a third choice. If I'm allowed a fourth choice, I'll choose Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi.'"

Mark DujsikMark Reviews Movies:

"I try to maintain a subdued sense of anticipation, but I'm looking forward to Ben Affleck's 'Argo.' After 'Gone Baby Gone' and 'The Town,' Affleck has shown himself to be a director to watch, and it will be nice to see him leaving his Boston roots. That the story covers a little-explored event from recent history is also of note. Additionally, while a new Spielberg film is always worth anticipating, the photo of Daniel Day-Lewis posing as Abraham Lincoln has me looking forward to his performance."

Alonso DuraldeTheWrap/What The Flick?!:

"'Alex Cross,' 'The Paperboy,' and 'Atlas Shrugged: Part Two.' Come on. You know you are too."

David EhrlichMovies.com:

"Abbas Kiarostami's 'Like Someone in Love' (which I'll be catching at NYFF). But only because 'The Great Gatsby' was delayed and Tyler Perry's 'The Hobbit' is tragically not a real thing."

Jessica ElgenstiernaThe Velvet Café:

"Two contenders: 'Looper' and 'Cloud Atlas,' and it's hard to make a call. 'Cloud Atlas' is co-directed by Tom Tykwer, who has several great movies in his track record, such as 'Run Lola Run.' The cast looks jaw-droppingly good, the trailer is stunning, and it has a budget that should match its ambitions. On the other hand I'm a sucker for time traveling. Send someone back in time, throw in a couple of intriguing paradoxes, and I'm all yours. What speaks for 'Looper' is that it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which means that my 18-year-old daughter will be delighted to join me watching it. Nothing beats having a nice night at the movies with your kids. So my final verdict is: 'Looper.'"

Scott Foundas, Film Society of Lincoln Center:

"'This is 40' -- because Judd Apatow is the closest thing in today’s American cinema to a Paul Mazursky or Blake Edwards."

Sam Fragoso, Duke & The Movies:

"Considering I'll be attending this year's Toronto International Film Festival, there're a bevy of promising films to select from. Amid Haneke's 'Amour,' Kiarostami's 'Like Someone In Love,' Affleck's 'Argo,' and Malick's 'To the Wonder,' Rian Johnson's seemingly inventive sci-fi futuristic crime caper 'Looper' is indeed the one film I'm most anticipating. Coincidentally, it's also the first film screening at the festival."

Kenji FujishimaThe House Next Door:

"Honestly, notwithstanding a handful of art-house and prestige-pic releases that I'm interested in seeing based on either previous festival buzz or simply the fact that a major Hollywood studio is pushing it for Oscar consideration, I think I may be most looking forward to the upcoming James Bond movie, 'Skyfall.' But then, I'm one of the rare people who actually kinda/sorta liked 'Quantum of Solace;' at the very least, whatever issues that generally frowned-upon last installment had (incoherent action cutting, a weak villain, and so on), I thought there was just enough action fireworks and character drama to keep me intrigued in Daniel Craig's fresh, tough incarnation of the iconic British spy. The fact that Sam Mendes has the directorial reins on 'Skyfall' isn't necessarily a dealbreaker either way (I'm not a fan of his, but I don't deny his talents); if Craig's still in it, I'm still interested."

Steve Greene, Indiewire:

"After 'In Bruges,' the re-teaming of Martin McDonagh and Colin Farrell alone would have me excited for 'Seven Psychopaths.' Looking down the cast list and the synopsis, it plays like a personal movie checklist: 'Harrelson! Walken! Rockwell! Los Angeles! Screenwriter! A bit with a dog! Oh, and Tom Waits, too!' Disclaimer: in recent months, I've grown increasingly trailer-averse, so these are all assumptions made without seeing any previews. Also, I'm assuming/hoping that the poster is more of a tongue-in-cheek homage to 'Snatch' rather than an indication they're going to merely recreate the entire movie. But, for me, the anticipation of seeing that cast tackle McDonagh's language already has my ticket bought."

Melissa Hanson, Cinemit:

"'Looper.'"

Eric HavensDownright Creepy:

"Being the horror person I am, I'd be forgiven for picking 'V/H/S' or 'Sinister' as my most anticipated film this fall, but going through the upcoming release schedule I couldn't help but be most excited for 'Seven Psychopaths.' Considering how good Martin McDonagh's debut, 'In Bruges,' was, and the cast list of his newest film, it seems like 'Seven Psychopaths' has very little chance of being anything but incredible."

Jordan HoffmanScreenCrush:

"I just looked at the full list of releases and I am shocked -- shocked -- to say that the one I'm most curious about is... 'Lincoln?!?' That's so weird. I'm not even such a fan of Spielberg's newer material. But the topic is so fascinating and DD-L is such a cool choice that, I dunno, that's the one that jumps out. If 'To the Wonder' had an official release date, we might be having a different conversation."

Drew HuntChicago Reader/The Talking Pictures:

"If revivals count, 'Wake in Fright' in its restored 35mm print. If only new releases count -- there's so many, but right now I'm most excited for Leos Carax's 'Holy Motors,' which will screen as part of the Chicago International Film Festival and then have a proper theatrical run at the Music Box in November. I'm a big, big fan of Carax and if 'Holy Motors' is even half as good as people are making it out to be, I'm sure I'll love it. Honorable mentions would include 'Leviathan,' 'Lawless,' and 'Somebody Up There Likes Me.'"

John Keefer51Deep.com:

"'Looper,' 'Looper,' and 'Looper.' After the perfect look into the heads of teenagers that was 'Brick' and the love-letter to 'Charade' that was 'The Brothers Bloom,' I couldn't be happier that Mr. Rian Johnson has set his sights on sci-fi, has reunited with JGL and has given me a Bruce Willis film I'm actually looking forward to. Now I'm only wondering why there isn't more critical buzz around the film and Mr. Johnson. Maybe I'm just unaware of it, but come on guys! It's a film that isn't a remake! You should ONLY be talking about 'Looper.' Don't go gentle into the good night of Hollywood!"

Adam KempenaarFilmspotting:

"'Looper.' Full disclosure: Rian Johnson has been a frequent guest on Filmspotting. But the cast (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis) and plot are intriguing, and Johnson's narrative and visual ingenuity can't be denied. Plus, Willis claims the sci-fi thriller is 'better than anything I've ever done.' And he did 'The Story of Us.'"

This article is related to: Criticwire Survey


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