As Summer Movie season comes to a close, it’s time to look ahead to see what’s next.

Summer Movie season is officially over, not to begin again until… whatever month in mid-Spring the American film industry’s Chinese business-partners have decided Summer begins in now. That means it’s time for the Fall Movies to roll in — that ever-eclectic collection of Oscar Bait, “festival hits” that all the fancy critics saw 11 months ago but I have to watch all at once a week before Christmas Vacation, and big “Summer-Style” blockbusters that feel classy-yet-family-friendly enough to run as Holiday Weekend features for those who can only stand so much time with their families.

With that in mind, here’s what I’m most looking forward to — your mileage may vary…


BIRDMAN (10/17)


Michael Keaton stars as an actor who became a big star in a series of superhero movies in the early 90s (ha-ha) now struggling to relaunch his artistic relevance on Broadway while plagued by personal crises and intruding, possibly insane visions that include his once-iconic title character talking to him. Cute self-referential premise, but the reason to look out is the big-time return of director Alejandro González Iñárritu and some tricky cinematography that apparently makes much of the film appear to unfold in a single continuous camera shot.


FORCE MAJEURE (10/24)


A big hit on the festival circuit earlier this year, best-described as a “post-disaster Disaster Movie.” A seemingly happy middle-class family on vacation in the French Alps finds themselves facing certain death as a freak avalanche comes bearing down on their mountain resort… only to fizzle out. They should be happy to be alive, but instead a single snap decision made in the face of “doom” by one member of the family sticks in everyone’s mind — gradually undermining everything they thought they knew about one another. Color me intrigued.


HORNS (10/31)


Daniel Radcliffe in an adaptation of the cult-horror novel about a small-town loner suspected in the suspicious death of his girlfriend who wakes up one day with a pair of devil horns growing out of his head… which also seem to grant him supernatural powers over the actions of others. Say this for Radcliffe: His outright refusal, thus far, to chase blockbuster dollars in the wake of the Harry Potter cycle is admirable.


INTERSTELLAR (11/5)


“The Big One.” Christopher Nolan’s hush-hush space movie features Matthew McConaughey as a pilot/engineer who joins a desperate space mission to explore a wormhole in order to save humanity from a near-future Earth that has been depleted of resources. The first of two big Space Program Nostalgia projects hitting in the near future, the other being Disney’s Tomorrowland — supposedly a kind of Disneyfied “Atlas Shrugged” for science-fair kids — from director Brad Bird this Spring.


BIG HERO 6 (11/7)


The first collaboration between Disney Animation and Marvel Comics (though, curiously, not Marvel Studios) is a teen-superhero story loosely based on a semi-obscure Marvel book. The story concerns a teenage science prodigy who converts his balloon-like babysitter-robot into an Iron Man-like combat machine and outfits his friends with high-tech gear to create a superhero team to resist a supervillain.


THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (11/7)


I remain profoundly perplexed by the continued presence of Eddie Redmayne in movies — who decided cinema was missing something and this kid was “it?” But, a biopic of Stephen Hawking should be close to a can’t-miss drama so long as Redmayne can rise to the challenge and the filmmakers can avoid feel-good “triumph over adversity” schmaltz.


HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART I (11/21)


Three films in (with a fourth to go) and the burning question still remains: Will I eventually understand why I’m supposed to love this franchise beyond acknowledging (once again) that yes, Katniss Everdeen is a better Young Adult role-model for tween girls than Bella Swan? Stay tuned…


WILD (12/5)


So… yeah. The basic premise (troubled woman decides to take lengthy/semi-perilous cross-country hike in order to coax her system out of a drug addiction) sounds just a bit too much like the pre-packaged/stage-managed “epiphany”-mongering of Eat Pray Love. BUT! I’ve got a compulsion to root for Reese Witherspoon to succeed based almost wholly on my having been in high school when Cruel Intentions came out. So maybe this will be decent. Maybe.


INHERENT VICE (12/12)


Paul Thomas Anderson adapting Thomas Pynchon’s deconstructionist 70s detective novel may sound like the wannabeatnik can’t-miss of the year, but it also sounds like something special could be in the offing. Between There Will Be Blood and The Master Anderson is working on an entirely different plane from any other filmmaker of his generation, and even if this doesn’t work it should be fascinating to see.


THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (12/17)


If nothing else, it’s going to be interesting to see what The Hobbit Trilogy actually looks like when viewed as a whole. Is it really as bloated and unnecessary as many feel? Does it all come together satisfactorily when all is said and done? In many ways, the events of Battle feel like the reason why this “needed” to be a trilogy in the first place, but if you’re not already sold on this series by now I don’t know that another huge-scale action sequence is going to change your mind.


UNBROKEN (12/25)


If ever a movie came pre-stamped as an Oscar Contender, this would be it: A biopic of Lou Zamperini, who rose from a troubled childhood as the son of Italian immigrants to become an Olympic athlete and WWII Air Force serviceman who survived not only being lost at sea but internment in a brutal Japanese POW camp… only to forgive his captors (in person!) a few years later (he had become a born again Christian) and begin a peacetime career as an inspirational speaker who died recently at 97 — and it looks really good! All that alone would make it one-to-watch, but behind the camera? It’s the second directorial feature from Angelina Jolie, with a screenplay by The Coen Bros. Might as well call it “Statue Magnet: The Movie.”

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Bob Chipman
Bob Chipman is a critic and author.

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