“Black Sea” (Kevin Macdonald)
Cast: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Jodie Whittaker, Konstantin Khabensky
Synopsis: A submarine captain is hired to find a sunken Russian boat said to be loaded with gold.
Last We Heard: It feels like a while since we had a good submarine movie, but with “Utopia” writer Dennis Kelly and Kevin Macdonald involved in this one, this could be a good prospect. Jude Law and Scoot McNairy topline the project, which Focus are backing, and with a UK release set for December, we’ll likely see this at the London Film Festival, with Toronto very likely before that.
“Kill The Messenger” (Michael Cuesta)
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Michael Sheen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt
Synopsis: The true story of journalist Gary Webb, who exposed the CIA’s involvement in drug smuggling, only to be made a pariah in the cover-up.
Last We Heard: One of Focus’s big awards hopes for the coming season, this Jeremy Renner-starring drama has already landed a promising October release date, and given the subject matter and the very strong trailer, this is a good bet for Toronto, and if the studio are really bullish about it, maybe Telluride as well. That won’t entirely give us confidence (“The Fifth Estate” isn’t so long ago), but we’ve got our fingers crossed that this could be something worth paying attention to.
“Retour a l’Ithaque” (Laurent Cantet)
Cast: Jorge Perugorria, Pedro Julio Diaz Ferran, Isabel Santos, Fernando Hechavarria
Synopsis: Five friends gather on a terrace overlooking Havana to celebrate the return of Amadeo who had been exiled for 16 years, talking of the idealism of their youth and the disillusionment of their maturity.
Last We Heard: Palme D’Or-winner Cantet's last film saw him work in a foreign language--English--for an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ “Foxfire,” which, while better than the Angelina Jolie version, failed to catch, um, fire, and to date never secured a proper US release. His follow-up seems even lower key, a Spanish-language Cuba-set talky drama, but Cantet’s name still has enough cachet, after “The Class” and 2001’s great “Time Out” to get him a festival slot, most probably at TIFF where “Foxfire” showed in 2012.
Not Quite As Likely, But Still Possible:
“On the Milky Road” (Emir Kusturica)
Cast: Emir Kusturica, Monical Bellucci, Natasa Ninkovic
Synopsis: Three interlocking stories, ostensibly about "kindness," based on Kusturica’s own short film “Our Life” about a soldier who comes to a village to get milk for his army unit, the woman who gives him the milk and a monk who lives nearby who used to be a soldier.
Last We Heard: It’s a slim possibility that we might see Kusturica’s next in the fall as timing suggests it should be well ready by now, but two-time Palme D’or winner Kusturica would be a shoo-in for Cannes if he wants that instead. It really just depends on if, having missed Cannes 2014, he wants to hang on till next year--and if not, perhaps Venice is an outside bet.
“Knight Of Cups” (Terrence Malick)
Cast: Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Teresa Palmer
Synopsis: Under wraps, but said to involve ‘celebrity and excess’
Last We Heard: As ever, Terrence Malick is working to his own schedule, and while most are assuming that this Christian Bale-starring effort will be done before the untitled Ryan Gosling-style picture formerly known as “Lawless” (or indeed IMAX doc “Voyage Of Time”), there are no guarantees as to exactly when. Cannes boss Thierry Fremaux confirmed at a press conference that Malick wasn’t ready for the French festival, but footage was screened at the market there, which suggests that it is getting closer. If Malick is done (and that’s a big if), Venice, where “To The Wonder” premiered, is the most likely venue for the film’s bow.
“Jane Got a Gun” (Gavin O’Connor)
Cast: Natalie Portman, Noah Emmerich, Ewan McGregor and Joel Edgerton
Synopsis: In the old West, a woman must protect her crooked husband from the gang he betrayed with the help of an old flame.
Last We Heard: A film it’s impossible to write about without using the phrase “troubled production,” the troubled production of Natalie Portman’s passion-project Western experienced another setback recently when its August release date was shunted back to February 20, 2015. The reasons for the shift have not been made clear, but if it was for any reason other than not being ready in time, there’s a slim chance we’ll see the film at a festival, but unlike the incarnation that would’ve been helmed by Lynne Ramsay and starred Michael Fassbender, we’d wager that O’Connor’s version might get an out of competition-type deal if it does show up at all.
“Selma” (Ava DuVernay)
Cast: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr.
Synopsis: The true story of the civil rights marches in the titular Alabama town, and Martin Luther King’s leadership during them.
Last We Heard: To be honest, with this long-gestating film now in the very capable hands of “Middle Of Nowhere” director Ava DuVernay, and getting underway a month or so ago, we’d sort of assumed that this was heading for a 2015 release. But Paramount dated it for Christmas Day a week or two back, suggesting that they have major awards season hopes for it. With the tight timeframe, it’s almost certainly too early for it to appear at Telluride, TIFF or Venice, but it could theoretically be ready to bow in time for AFI Fest in early November if they wanted to give it a big launch.
“Macbeth” (Justin Kurzel)
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, Sean Harris, Jack Reynor
Synopsis: In medieval Scotland, an ambitious warrior plots the murder of his king with the help of his wife after a group of witches predict that power is coming to him.
Last We Heard: “Snowtown Murders” director Justin Kurzel got underway on this epic and blood-soaked take on Shakespeare’s classic tale at the start of this year, so it shouldn’t be too tricky to make the fall festival dates, especially with The Weinstein Company already unveiling footage at Cannes this year. That said, whether they believe it’ll be an Oscar player might make the difference as to when we see it: if they do, Venice or TIFF are fairly likely (and London might be possible too), if not, this might end up being held till next Cannes, or even Sundance.
“Suffragette” (Sarah Gavron)
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff, Meryl Streep, Brendan Gleeson and Ben Whishaw
Synopsis: The inspirational tale of a group of largely working-class women, led by feminist icon Emmeline Pankhurst, on the front line of the increasingly bitter and brutal campaign to extend the vote to British women in the early years of the 20th Century.
Last We Heard: We can’t be sure if this film is being prepped for a fall bow or if it will be held for next year, but with that cast of ringers, and a period story that smacks of thematic weightiness and importance, there’s no doubt the Abi Morgan-scripted movie will be an awards hopeful. And it’s slated for a January release in the U.K., so it’s possible we could see it get festival play before the year is out, most likely at TIFF, we’d think.
“Cyber” or "Black Hat" (Michael Mann)
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wei Tang, Holt McCallany
Synopsis: A computer hacker is released from prison to help a joint American and Chinese task force prevent computer crime.
Last We Heard: After five years away, Michael Mann is back with this new thriller, and any time you can put ‘Michael Mann’ and ‘thriller’ in the same sentence is a cause for celebration. With any other filmmaker, this wouldn’t be in festival consideration, but even though Mann doesn’t actually have much festival form, this might be an outside bet to appear at AFI or NYFF, though anything earlier than that is unlikely. Still probably a long shot (it seems to be a principally commercial consideration), but don’t count it out.
Also Possible; There's a few other big pictures that are landing in the fall, that don't necessarily seem like festival fare, but could end up as big starry galas or similar if they're done in time. "This Is Where I Leave You" or "Boxtrolls" could end up at TIFF, as could Robert Downey Jr. vehicle "The Judge" or Bill Murray starrer "St. Vincent." In terms of the classier side of the studio spectrum, "Fury" or "Into The Woods" might crop up somewhere, while "Interstellar" is a longer shot still, but could, we suppose, end up premiering at AFI Fest.
Elsewhere, keep an eye out for Peter Bogdanovich's long-gestating "Squirrel To The Nuts," Ed Zwick's "Pawn Sacrifice," Lone Scherfig's "The Riot Club," Brian Wilson biopic "Love & Mercy" with Paul Dano and John Cusack, the Alan Rickman-directed "A Little Chaos" starring Kate Winslet, Kevin Kline and Maggie Smith in "My Old Lady," Nanni Moretti's "Mia Madre," and Takashi Miike's "Over Your Dead Body" (though that seems to have an August 23rd Japanese release date slated). As for stuff that likely won't be done yet, our guess is that Yorgos Lanthimos' hotly-anticipated "The Lobster" will be held for Cannes, as will Christi Puiu's "Sierra-Nevada." And while Jeff Nichols' "Midnight Special" could technically be ready in time, it isn't due for release until November 2015, so look for it on next year's festival circuit instead.
Have we whetted your appetite for the fall season? There's certainly enough here to get us excited. Tell us which titles you're most anxious for in the comments below.