Fall Movie Preview

The summer movie seasons is pretty much wrapped up, with the Venice Film Festival kicking off this week, and Telluride and Toronto just around the corner. And as ever, the fall festival season sees us move away from superheroes and the like for a few blessed months, in favor of some fare that's a little more adult, and geared with an eye towards awards.

So with the autumnal months approaching, we thought we'd highlight a few of the gems that we are on the way. Excluding the films we've already seen at festivals and the like (hence no "The Master," "Killing Them Softly," "Amour" etc),  we've picked out ten fall films that we're particularly looking forward, along with an extra five that may not necessarily tickle the brain in the same way, but look like they could be exciting genre fare all the same. Read on for more, and let us know what you're most looking forward to this season in the comments section.

Warner Bros. "Argo"
Synopsis: Based on a true story, in which a CIA operative (Ben Affleck) hatched a plan to extract a group of American diplomats from Tehran in the midst of 1979’s Iranian hostage crisis, using the filming of a fake movie as their cover.
What You Need to Know: Not only is Affleck starring in this, but -- perhaps more importantly -- he’s directing it. Following up the one-two punch of “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town” won’t be an easy feat, but Affleck’s proven himself to be an assured craftsman behind the camera with both outings, so a period-set mission movie with political stakes and filmmaking itself as part of the plot seems like a sound, intriguing next step for his directorial career. And in keeping with tradition, he has assembled a considerable ensemble, including Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Kyle Chandler, Tate Donovan, Titus Welliver (something of a good luck charm after roles in both 'Town' and 'Gone'), Clea DuVall and Adrienne Barbeau. Warner Bros. sure seems confident in the project, pinning many of their awards hopes on the project, and with a confident trailer that seems to walk the tightrope nicely between high drama and lighter moments, we can see why they might be feeling bullish.  
Release Date: October 12th.

Halle Berry Keith David Cloud Atlas
“Cloud Atlas”
Synopsis: Based on a terrific novel by David Mitchell, “Cloud Atlas” tells six interlocking tales tackling everything from a transpacific voyage in 1850 to a 1970s-set conspiracy thriller to a sci-fi parable set deep in the future (there’s also a bit about self-aware Korean clones and a dusty European period melodrama). Heady stuff indeed.
What You Need to Know: The word "unfilmable" is bandied about a lot when discussing difficult, knotty literary source material, so we'll just say that it's very hard to picture anyone being able to wrangle David Mitchell's sprawling novel. But if anyone can pull it off, it just might be the directorial tag team of the Wachowskis (directing for the first time since “Speed Racer”) and director Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”). Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Jim Sturgess in multiple roles that cross race and gender, with some eyebrow-raising new looks for the A-list cast (Hanks as an East End gangster! Grant as a face-painted cannibal!), the film was under the radar for many until a spectacular six-minute trailer bowed a few weeks back, suggesting a film of heady visuals and big ideas. It's still a hugely risky prospect, and lord knows if it'll work as a whole, but we can't wait to find out.
Release Date: Oct 26th.

Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz
"Django Unchained"
Synopsis: A freed slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) teams up with a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to track down his wife (Kerry Washington) and liberate her from her plantation owners led by the sadistic Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
What You Need To Know: Jamie Foxx leads the ridiculously stacked cast -- which includes Waltz, Washington,  DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, Jonah Hill, James Remar, Walton Goggins, RZA and many, many more (with Sacha Baron Cohen, Kurt Russell and Anthony LaPaglia among those exiting the film along the way) in what may be the Tarantino-esque movie of his career. After drifting close to self-parody with his indulgent, referential grindhouse entry "Death Proof," Tarantino came roaring back with "Inglourious Basterds" like he had something to prove, which of course, he did. We have to admit we're a little concerned about Tarantino returning to the revenge narrative yet again ("Kill Bill," "Death Proof," 'Basterds'), but with its racially charged and sure-to-be-controversial subject matter, 'Django' has the potential to be an epic unlike anything we've seen from the filmmaker before.
Release Date: December 25th

The Impossible Naomi Watts Tom Holland Ocean
"The Impossible"
Synopsis: An English couple and their children on holiday in the Indian Ocean are torn apart by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and set out on desperate quests to find each other again.
What You Need To Know: Under the radar of many until fairly recently, "The Impossible" marks the long awaited return of Juan Antonio Bayona, who made a strong debut with 2007 ghost story "The Orphanage," and this charged, emotional drama (which seems to include some impressive effects) looks like a fine comeback. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts topline the film, along with three young British actors, and it looks like they had quite the tough shoot, with astonishing scenes of devestation. The US trailer is a little sentimental, but we hope that the film is a little more restrained, and if so, this could be an Oscar player.
Release Date: December 21st

Les Miserables Hugh Jackman Russell Crowe
“Les Miserables”
Synopsis: The big screen version of the hit stage musical, following a convict unable to escape his past as France simmers on the edge of revolution.
What You Need To Know: After taking home the Oscar for Best Director and Best Picture for “The King’s Speech,” helmer Tom Hooper is raising the stakes for his followup that is aiming to get him back in the Kodak Theater in 2013. The big splashy musical teams up Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham-Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne for an epic, sweeping tale that spans decades, and includes all the hits ("I Dreamed A Dream" etc). The trailer indicates that Hooper's gamble of recording all the vocals live on set may have paid off, and that it'll be visually bold stuff, but we still wonder if the director's trademark fish-eye lens style may prove distracting and constraining. We should see a full promo before too long, but if nothing else, we're looking forward to seeing that cast unleashed on material like this.
Release Date: December 7th