Fall Preview 2016: No. 5 – No. 1

Time to go up…cause it’s TUESDAY! More importantly, the conclusion to my “Fall Preview 2016” is finally here. Over the past few days, I have shared with you my five Honorable Mentions and No. 10 – No. 6 on the list of my most anticipated fall film releases. But now it is on to the big reveal. So, without further ado, I give you films No. 5 – No. 1 on my Fall Preview 2016 list. Enjoy!

No. 5 – La La Land

La La Land is a film set in Los Angeles where aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions, while dedicated jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) plays in dingy bars in order to scrape by. The two meet and fall in love, but, as success mounts, the dreams they worked so hard to maintain threaten to rip them apart.

la-la-land-2I have been awaiting the release of La La Land for quite some time because of the man sitting in the director’s chair: Damien Chazelle. In 2014, Chazelle broke out with his critically acclaimed debut Whiplash, one of the best movies I have seen in years (Whiplash ranked No. 1 on my list of Top 15 Films of 2014). Considering Chazelle’s masterful filmmaking in Whiplash, it was impossible for me not to be excited for his sophomore effort. La La Land finds itself in the No. 5 slot on my list on the strength of Chazelle’s previous film, so I truly hope that it does not fall flat due to failing to meet expectations. However, rumors are that La La Land is just as good as Whiplash, garnering an immense amount of Oscar support months in advance of its release. If this thing turns out to be as good as it is being hyped up to be, Damien Chazelle will cement himself as one of the very elite filmmakers in the business today.

Part of Whiplash’s success was due to wonderful performances from its cast: J.K. Simmons delivered an Oscar-winning performance that will forever be one of my all-time favorites, and Miles Teller portrayed a determined, yet wildly intense jazz student with absolute precision. I am optimistic about La La Land’s potential because Chazelle has again assembled a top-notch cast. The aforementioned Simmons is back in a supporting role, but the film’s leads have a history of on-screen chemistry, which gives the film an extra boost. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone previously starred together in a romantic capacity in Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad, and their relationships in these films were incredibly real and believable—I cannot wait to watch them interact again here. La La Land is set for a theatrical release on December 2, 2016.

Director: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Starring: Ryan Gosling (The Nice Guys, The Big Short), Emma Stone (Aloha, Birdman), and J.K. Simmons (Zootopia, Whiplash)

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBUXcNTjviI

No. 4 – Passengers

Passengers follows the spaceship, Starship Avalon, on its 120-year voyage to a distant colony planet known as “Homestead II.” The Starship Avalon, transporting 5,259 people, has a malfunction in two of its sleep chambers. As a result, two hibernation pods open prematurely and the two people (Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence) that awoke are stranded on the spaceship, still 90 years from their destination. The two soon discover that the malfunction that caused them to be awoken prematurely is not the only problem afflicting the huge spaceship.

passengers-2Passengers is one of those movies that has blockbuster hit written all over it. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are arguably two of the most “big time” actors currently in the business, and their collaboration here is sure to drive up ticket sales this Christmas. And rightfully so—Lawrence is a three-time Oscar-nominated actress and Pratt has ascended to mainstream stardom with performances in Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World. Notwithstanding the hype that this duo has and will to continue to garner in the lead up to the film’s release, I truly believe this pairing will make waves via pure acting ability, too. Lawrence is easily one of the top three or four actresses in Hollywood, and here I expect her to combine her proficient dramatic/comedic acting skills (see Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle) with her knack for adventure (see The Hunger Games). And although he has not garnered any award-worthy praise yet, Chris Pratt is definitely one of the brightest stars in Hollywood. I expect the same sharp wit from Pratt that we have grown accustomed to seeing (see Guardians of the Galaxy), and that is never a bad thing.

As far as the filmmaking, Passengers has plenty going for it. Manning the director’s chair is Morten Tyldum, the filmmaker behind the Norwegian hit Headhunters and the Oscar-nominated The Imitation Game. Headhunters is absolutely incredible and, although I was not a massive fan of The Imitation Game, I simply cannot deny the stunning meticulousness with which Tyldum crafted the film; thus, I feel comfortable with him leading Passengers, a big-budget sci-fi thriller. The fact that Jon Spaihts penned the screenplay only adds to my excitement, as he wrote the screenplay for 2012’s Prometheus, one of my favorite science-fiction films in recent memory. Passengers is set for a theatrical release on December 21, 2016.

Director: Morten Tyldum (Midnight Special, Mud)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence (X-Men Apocalypse, Joy), Chris Pratt (The Magnificent Seven, Jurassic World), and Michael Sheen (Nocturnal Animals, Far from the Madding Crowd)

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BWWWQzTpNU

No. 3 – Silence

Set in the 17th century, Silence tells the story of two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor (Liam Neeson) and propagate Christianity.

Without a doubt, Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors of all time. From Taxi Driver to Goodfellas, Gangs of New York to The Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese has been lighting up the silver screen for decades with remarkable, high-quality films. Clearly, it is not hard to see why Silence finds itself in the top three of my list of most anticipated films this fall. In Silence, we have what can only be described as Scorsese’s true “passion project”—he began developing the film in 1990! Very few people—let alone filmmakers—could retain an interest in something for over 20 years, but that is what sets Martin Scorsese apart. The man is a cinematic visionary, and he has never once let me down with a project—I do not expect him to start now.

silence-2Aside from his filmmaking skills in general, Scorsese’s movies work on so many levels because of his ability to always get the most out of his actors. From Robert De Niro to Leonardo DiCaprio, Scorsese has worked with the best actors in the business, and those stars always seem to shine their brightest while working at Scorsese’s direction. With that said, I cannot wait to see what this iconic filmmaker has done with the pieces that he has assembled (i.e., Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson). Garfield and Driver are two of the most polished up-and-comers in Hollywood, and both of their careers have produced a number of outstanding performances—I am hopeful that they both deliver their best ones to date in Silence. What I am most excited for from a casting standpoint, however, is Liam Neeson. The Oscar-nominated actor had a supporting role in Scorsese’s Gangs of New York and knocked his limited time on the screen out of the park—I cannot wait to see the two reunite with Neeson in a starring role. It goes without saying: I expect big things! Silence is set for a theatrical release on December 23, 2016.

Director: Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street, Hugo)

Starring: Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge, 99 Homes), Liam Neeson (A Monster Calls, Non-Stop), and Adam Driver (Paterson, Midnight Special)

Trailer: n/a

No. 2 – The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train follows Rachel Watson (Emma Blunt), an alcoholic who divorced her husband Tom (Justin Theroux) after she caught him cheating on her. Rachel takes the train to work daily. She fantasizes about the relationship of her neighbors, Scott and Megan Hipwell (Luke Evans and Haley Bennett), during her commute. That all changes when she witnesses something from the train window and Megan is found to be missing, presumed dead.

Back in 2014, the number one movie on this very list was Gone Girl, the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel. Two years later (albeit in the number two spot), here I am writing about The Girl on the Train. Now I know, they are two separate movies with two separate premises. But it is hard not to want to compare them in some form: They are both mystery thrillers with similar themes derived from books that took the world by storm. Gone Girl was one of the best movies I saw in 2014, and it definitely lived up to the hype for me—I sure hope The Girl on the Train does this year, too.

girl-train-2Aside from the attention the film is getting due to its source material’s acclaim, I have been awaiting the release of The Girl on the Train because of Emily Blunt. For those that have read my reviews in the past for Looper, Edge of Tomorrow, and Sicario, what I am about to say is old news: Emily Blunt is one of my top two favorite actresses currently in the movie business, and I have gotten to the point where I will watch anything she makes. This is not (just) because of some love affair with her on a purely shallow basis; rather, I believe she has developed into one of the premier female talents in Hollywood. On the strength of my fandom for Blunt, I am more than ready to plop down in a seat at my local theater this Friday to see what I hope turns out to be a thrilling ride (on a train, of course). The Girl on the Train is set for a theatrical release on October 7, 2016.

Director: Tate Taylor (Get On Up, The Help)

Starring: Emily Blunt (The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Sicario), Rebecca Ferguson (Florence Foster Jenkins, Missions: Impossible – Rogue Nation), Haley Bennett (The Magnificent Seven, Hardcore Henry), Justin Theroux (Zoolander 2, Wanderlust), and Luke Evans (High-Rise, Furious 7)

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5yk-HGqKmM

No. 1 – Arrival

Arrival follows an elite team that is put together to investigate when multiple mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe. Mankind teeters on the verge of global war as everyone scrambles for answers—and to find them, team members Louise Banks (Amy Adams), Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), and US Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) will take a chance that could threaten their lives, and, quite possibly, humanity.

arrival-2Science-fiction is nowhere near the top of my list of favorite film genres. Don’t get me wrong, I do like them—but if I had to pick a range of 4-5 types of movies to watch on a Friday night, science-fiction would not be one of them. But Arrival is peak alien sci-fi…so how can it rank so high on this list? The answer is simple: Denis Villeneuve. Although I still have not seen Villeneuve’s Maelstrom (the winner of the International Federation of Film Critics Award at the Berlin Film Festival) or Incendies (the Oscar-nominated foreign language film), I still view the French-Canadian filmmaker to be one of the best in the business—this is because of Prisoners and Sicario. While in Prisoners Villeneuve crafted a film that was emotionally complex and disturbing at times, yet all the while encapsulating, he truly blew me away with last year’s Sicario, a tightly wound drug cartel thriller that put Villeneuve’s brazen filmmaking on full display for the world to see. Needless to say, his involvement with Arrival makes it a no-brainer for me to be so interested!

In Prisoners, Villeneuve truly directed his balls off in getting the most from his actors (Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, and Terrence Howard absolutely killed it), and in Sicario, the very same was true (Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro delivered unbelievably outstanding performances). Here, I am anxious to see what Villeneuve does with another stellar cast. Amy Adams is one of my favorite actresses (and by far one of the best in the business), Jeremy Renner always does a great job, and Forest Whitaker is a veteran in the game who still treats every performance as if it is his last. The talent is there from both an acting and directorial standpoint—I am confident that the two will intersect beautifully and Arrival will meet all of its undeniably high expectations. Arrival is set for a theatrical release on November 11, 2016.

Director: Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners)

Starring: Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals, Big Eyes), Jeremy Renner (Captain America: Civil War, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), and Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Southpaw)

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFMo3UJ4B4g

Best Actress

Best Actress NomineesOf the twenty actors and actress that are nominated for Oscars in acting-specific categories, only four have actually ever won an Academy Award. Two of those four are currently nominated for Best Actress (Reese Witherspoon and Marion Cotillard); therefore, I guess you can say this is the most accomplished acting category of the bunch this year. The following is my Oscars ballot for this category, Best Actress in a Leading Role:

WINNER: Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

PikeAlthough she is not considered by experts to be in the hunt for the Best Actress Oscar, I still believe that Rosamund Pike gave the best performance by an actress in all of 2014. In Gone Girl, Pike plays “Amazing” Amy, a contemptuous wife who is reported missing by her husband on their fifth wedding anniversary. Pike is not particularly well known to American audiences, but I have been particularly familiar with her work over the years in films like Die Another Day, Fracture, An Education, and The World’s End. Her claim to fame has long been key supporting roles, but in her inauguration as a true leading lady, Pike was on fire! The thing about Pike’s character is that she is one of the most complex women you will ever meet on screen. Thus, Pike had to evoke so many emotions at once to maintain her character’s inexplicable duplicity. I mentioned in my post earlier this month regarding Gone Girl that at times I found Amy “incredibly attractive and empathized with her plight,” but at other times I could not help but to desire “bashing (figuratively) her head in.” Pike nailed the “Jekyll-and-Hyde” nature of Amy flawlessly, and she is most deserved of my vote for Best Actress. Pike has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.

  1. Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

MooreIn Still Alice, Julianne Moore plays the titular character, a renowned linguistics professor who is shocked by an out-of-the-blue diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Before I get to Moore’s performance, let me briefly digress about my feelings towards her. For me, Julianne Moore is the equivalent to Tom Brady—she is wicked awesome (apropos to Tom Brady…New England…accent…get it?) at her trade, but for some reason that I cannot specifically point to, I just do not like her. With that said, I absolutely respect her ability to act (much like I respect Brady’s unparalleled ability to drop dimes on the gridiron). Okay, back to Still Alice. Moore’s portrayal of Alice in this film is heartrending. Despite the disease’s gradual diminishment of the physical capacity of Alice’s mind, she never ceases to fight. Moore depicts this relentlessness in soul-wrenching fashion, and at all times, she masterfully evokes the perfect combination of agony, vulnerability, and optimism. She is the odds-on favorite to take home the Best Actress Oscar, and if she in fact does, it will be a warranted honor. Moore has previously been nominated four times for Academy Awards: twice for Best Actress (The End of the Affair and Far From Heaven) and twice for Best Supporting Actress (Boogie Nights and The Hours). 

  1. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)

JonesIn The Theory of Everything, Felicity Jones plays Jane Wilde-Hawking, the ex-wife of Stephen Hawking. Jones’s performance will likely get overlooked in years to come (due to Eddie Redmayne’s likely Oscar victory this Sunday), but her innate portrayal of Jane was one of the more refreshing parts of the film—I loved Redmayne as Stephen Hawking, but Felicity Jones sufficiently held her own. The film centers on the love story of Jane and Stephen, so therefore, Jones is given plenty of screen time—she makes the most of her opportunities. Her performance differed in the first third of the movie compared to the last two thirds, but only in the substance of her character, not in terms of her acting skills. In the first third, she beautifully portrays the sheer innocence of love between Wilde and Hawking—it is charming, and she wonderfully delineates Jane’s adoration for Stephen without resorting to heavy-handedness. In the final two thirds of The Theory of Everything, she masterfully manifests the conflicted love and distress of the couple (considering Stephen’s ALS progression) with raw emotion—it is a perfect execution of Jane’s critical complexities. Jones has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award. 

  1. Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

CotillardIn Two Days, One Night, Marion Cotillard plays Sandra, a laborer at a solar-panel manufacturer. After returning to work from taking time off (due to an emotional breakdown), Sandra is laid off. The rest of the film follows Sandra as she is thrust into a position where she must approach each of her co-workers (one by one), and plead for them to vote for her to retain her job. The catch: if they decide to vote for her to stay, they must forfeit a €1,000 bonus. I wrote about this film on my “Honorable Mentions 2014” post, and aside from a solid screenplay, I credited Cotillard’s performance for the success of the movie. The story is as realistic as it gets (everyone can imagine being in a scenario like this), and Cotillard’s pragmatic approach to her portrayal is spirited and inspired. Her character is both sensible and wrought with emotion, and Cotillard gives a bravely humanistic voice to this troubled woman. Cotillard admitted to Entertainment Weekly that a second read-through of the screenplay was just the motivation she needed for the role: “When I read the script a second time I saw all the little beautiful details of her journey.” The veteran actress evokes subtle nuances in the exposition of her character, and it is definitely an exceptional performance worthy of Oscar praise. Cotillard was nominated and won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in La Vie en Rose (2007). 

  1. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

WILDIn her self-produced film Wild, Reese Witherspoon portrays the real-life Cheryl Strayed, a woman so distraught by her mother’s passing that she ventures to hike 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. During most of the film, Cheryl is the only character on the screen. This makes for the perfect opportunity for Reese Witherspoon to take full control over the direction of the film because its success hinges upon her performance. Although Witherspoon engrossed herself into the role with affecting command, I simply did not buy into her performance. It was unfortunate for me because I really do love Witherspoon as an actress—I greatly enjoyed her in Walk the Line and her portrayal of Tracy Flick in Alexander Payne’s Election is one of my favorite acting performances of all time. However, she did not convince me in Wild that she was channeling an Oscar-worthy performance. If you did enjoy her role in Wild, it is not an outlandish thought—most critics and cinema experts expect Witherspoon to challenge Julianne Moore for the Oscar. Witherspoon was nominated and won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Walk the Line (2005).

Actresses snubbed in this category: Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow and Into the Woods), Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year), Emma Roberts (Palo Alto), Dakota Fanning (Night Moves), and Agata Trzebuchowska (Ida).

Top 15 Films of 2014, No. 14 – Gone Girl

Gone Girl1 Gone Girl is a film directed by David Fincher with a screenplay, based on the novel of the same name, by Gillian Flynn, the author of the book version. The film examines the marriage of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike). On his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick reports to the police that Amy has gone missing. Amy is a renowned public figure due to a series of children’s books written about her by her family, and her disappearance causes a tumultuous media frenzy. With cameras and the police constantly causing stress upon him, Nick finds his story of a harmonious marriage to Amy on the verge of collapse due to his mendacity and peculiar behavior. Everyone suspects Nick of killing his wife; thus, the big question is: did he?

Gone Girl2For those of you that follow my blog annually, you will know already that Gone Girl was ranked No. 1 on my list of movies that I was most anticipating during the fall film season. Notwithstanding its position on my year-end list, the movie still lived up to the hype (thus, its No. 14 rank says less about the success of Gone Girl and more about the strength of the year’s other movies). I was most intrigued by Gone Girl because of its lead-man behind the camera, David Fincher—I am a devout fan of anything he is involved with. Not only are many of his pictures part of my personal film collection (e.g., Seven, Fight Club, Panic Room, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), but also I am a committed fan of the Netflix original series House of Cards, which is executive produced by the visionary. Gone Girl is well constructed by Fincher, and its subtle hints of dark humor, ominous tone, and inimitable inscrutability are all obvious elements of a classic Fincher film. Although I do not believe this is in the top five of Fincher’s filmography, it is still a movie that I greatly enjoyed and will continue to watch over again for years to come. Gone Girl5

Many of you that have seen Gone Girl (and even some of you that have not) have probably additionally read Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name. I happen to be one that has not, which is why I was elated that she also penned the screenplay for the film adaptation; this direct and significant involvement in the film’s construction leads me to believe that anything that was vitally important and of note from the book would be included in her script. At times, the dialogue was awkward, though, but the talent of the film’s actors helped make it flow as best as possible. Having known nothing about the plot going into my viewing of the movie, I was blown away by her ability to craft the preeminent thriller. The movie’s twists and turns were never foreshadowed in any sort of heavy-handed way, and for that, the climax was as surprising as one could imagine. Gone Girl3

Back in August when I wrote about my expectations for Gone Girl in my fall preview post, I mentioned that I was looking forward to the performances by an anomalous assortment of actors and actresses that were cast in the various roles. Casting Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Casey Wilson, Missy Pyle, and Emily Ratajkowski was a bold move, and those casting decisions paid dividends—everyone played their part spectacularly, and I can finally say that I was not brutally annoyed by the creator of the horrendous Madea character. Also, it is definitely worth noting that Missy Pyle, in her role as Ellen Abbott (a TV host depicted in the same vein as the ever-despicable Nancy Grace), was incredibly spot-on in her performance—it was brilliant.

Ever since The Town, I have become more and more impressed with Ben Affleck’s acting abilities (in addition to his superb filmmaking talents), and I felt like he serviced his character well. It was not a performance that blew me out of the water, but it was well acted enough to make me engage with Nick. Gone Girl4The highlight of the film was Rosamund Pike. I have been familiar with her work over the years in films like Die Another Day, Fracture, An Education, and The World’s End, but in her debut role as a true leading lady, Pike absolutely killed it. She was in rare form, evoking so many emotions at once out of a single character; at times I found her incredibly attractive and empathized with her plight, and at other times I wanted to bash (figuratively) her head in. Amy is an incredibly complex character, and Rosamund Pike gave, in my opinion, the year’s most outstanding performance by an actress—her Oscar nomination is quite deserved. Gone Girl is rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language.

Gone Girl trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esGn-xKFZdU

Academy Award nominations for Gone Girl:

Best Actress: (Rosamund Pike)

Previous movies on the countdown of the Top 15 Films of 2014:

  1. The Lego Movie

Fall Preview 2014: No. 5 – No. 1

Fall Preview 2014 1-5 Photo

Happy Friday, film fans! The conclusion to my “Fall Preview 2014” is finally here. Over the past couple of days, I have shared with you my five Honorable Mentions and No. 10 – No. 6 on the list of my most anticipated fall film releases. But now it is on to the big reveal. So, without further ado, I give you films No. 5 – No. 1 on my Fall Preview 2014 list.


No. 5 – A Walk Among the Tombstones

A Walk Among the Tombstones (based on the 1992 novel of the same name) follows Matthew Scudder, an ex-cop turned private investigator that is hired to find the people that abducted and murdered a high-end drug dealer’s wife.

A Walk Among the Tombstones 3Although the plot and the beginning of the trailer initially make it seem like the film is vastly similar to Neeson’s acclaimed Taken, director Scott Frank wants fans to know that it will not be the same movie. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Frank stated, “It’s not Taken. It’s not an action movie—it’s a very different sort of thing.” And when you watch the trailer in its entirety, it is more than evident that Frank is absolutely on point—this movie is way more of a thriller noir than Neeson’s modern action flicks.

A Walk Among the Tombstones 2Speaking of the trailer, it is incredible. My future sister-in-law turned me onto this film a few months ago by pointing me to its trailer, and ever since, I have considered this to be one of the movies that I absolutely cannot miss out on. The trailer is dark, chilling, thrilling, vengeful, and violent—and with Neeson on the screen, this superfluity of cinematic emotions will surely be presented with veteran fluidity and seasoned passion. Although average film fans may only accredit Neeson’s modern relevancy in film to action movies like Taken, Taken 2, and Non-Stop, I truly believe that he is an actor with noteworthy range (given his major award-nominated performances in Schindler’s List, Michael Collins, and Kinsey); this performance appears likely to cement Neeson as an acclaimed dramatic actor in this modern era, as opposed to a mere action star. A Walk Among the Tombstones is set for a theatrical release on September 19, 2014.

Director: Scott Frank (The Lookout).

Starring: Liam Neeson (Taken, Non-Stop), Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, The Fifth Estate), and Boyd Holbrook (The Host, Out of the Furnace).

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6Ttj9tXzCA

No. 4 – Interstellar

Interstellar is set in the not-so-distant future on an Earth that has ceased to produce enough food for the population to survive. On a mission to save humanity, widowed engineer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) leaves his family and joins a group of scientists to travel to planets past our own solar system in hopes of finding a solution or even a new place for humans to call home.

Interstellar 3This film is this high on the list for one reason: Christopher Nolan. The 44-year-old genius director has a limited but illustrious history as a filmmaker, and every movie fan has been waiting on pins and needles for his newest project. Nolan has incredible range as a director, creating a neo-noir psychological thriller (Memento), a superhero trilogy of innovative proportions (The Dark Knight trilogy), and a heist taking place in a sequence of interconnected dreams (Inception); but in Interstellar, he dives into his first full-blown science-fiction space narrative. His films are interesting, captivating, thrilling, and cinematically brilliant, and I am more than looking forward to this renowned director’s bright new adventure.

Matthew McConaughey (aka “I’m in everything lately, and I’m absolutely killing it”) leads this ensemble in what looks like an emotionally dedicated role, and once again, he will probably be the substance of many Oscar conversations this fall. Interstellar 2He is joined by a posse of critically acclaimed performers, namely Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine (he’s now been in each of Nolan’s last six films), and Ellen Burstyn. The director is inimitable. The trailer is entrancing. And the cast is extraordinary—Oscar buzz will most assuredly be following the Interstellar ship no matter how many light-years away it is, and I sure hope it lives up to the expectations that have been set for it. Interstellar is set for a theatrical release on November 7, 2014.

Director: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception).

Starring: Matthew McConaughey (Mud, Dallas Buyers Club), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, Mama), and Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises, Les Misérables).

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePbKGoIGAXY

No. 3 – Fury

Fury is a war film set during the final month of World War II. The film follows a five-man crew of American soldiers that command a M4A3E8 Sherman tank named “Fury.” The leader of the crew is an Army sergeant called “Wardaddy” (Brad Pitt), and in the face of the Nazis, he and his outnumbered crew are forced to overcome improbable odds in order to survive.

Fury 3If Brad Pitt is in a movie, I am already sold. Yes, Brad and Angelina (newly married now—Mazeltov) are an odd pair of humans, wearing an unparalleled pop-culture crown, but at the heart of one of the most popular men in the world is an actor with an unbridled commitment to continually perfecting his art—for this, I am grateful. I was hooked on this film from the very moment I first watched its trailer. It looks dark and dreary. It looks cold and exhausted. But a narrative such as this about a group of men at the point of no return is just the kind of story that reeks of power and persistence. The tank itself appears to play a major role in the film, and with Pitt leading his men into the depths of hell in this monstrous machine of mayhem, filmgoers everywhere will most likely be well-rewarded for the experience.

Fury 2I am also looking forward to seeing Pitt’s supporting cast alongside him in the battlefield. Logan Lerman is a budding young star with immense potential. Shia LaBeouf, although weird as $&*#, is still determined and focused on growing as an actor. Jon Bernthal impressed in The Wolf of Wall Street, and it will be great to see him branch out into this role. And lastly, Michael Peña is continually one of the better supporting actors on the Hollywood circuit, and the film will greatly benefit from his veteran presence. Fury is set for a theatrical release on November 14, 2014.

Director: David Ayer (End of Watch, Sabotage).

Starring: Brad Pitt (World War Z, 12 Years a Slave), Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Noah), Shia LaBeouf (Lawless, Nymphomaniac), Jon Bernthal (Snitch, The Wolf of Wall Street), and Michael Peña (End of Watch, American Hustle).

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OGvZoIrXpg

No. 2 – Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher takes a look into the real-life events surrounding the 1996 shooting of Olympic gold-medal wrestler David Schultz (Mark Ruffalo). The film follows the relationship of eccentric millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) with Olympic brothers David and Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) in anticipation for the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. John’s desire to attain the respect of his disapproving mother leads him into a dark spiral of obsession and compulsion, and his rage casts a wide net of derivative effects on Mark and his career. Furthermore, John’s disturbing pathology seems to steer the film in one direction, and that direction is tragedy.

Foxcatcher 2This movie looks menacing. Absolutely, unequivocally, frightening. And obviously I do not mean it the sense of a horror film; rather, I refer to it in the mold of a film that you already know the ending to but refuse to look away, hypnotized by the mystery and thrill. I am drawn to this film because both Steve Carell and Channing Tatum almost unrecognizable in their respective roles—that is what makes this work. Carell is always the 40-Year-Old-Virgin funny guy, while Tatum is the ripped ladies’ man. Director Bennett Miller (of Capote and Moneyball fame) has shredded those stereotypes and created a haunting level of eccentricity and enigma—one that earned him the Best Director award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Foxcatcher 3I love sports, I love drama, and I love film. Mix these three ingredients, and all of a sudden I have a pleasant cocktail to consume. But this is no ordinary drink. This is top-shelf. This is the kind of film that surpasses all others of its kind to reach a pinnacle of critical success. I have high Oscar hopes for this film, its director, and the cast he assembled, and I cannot wait to see it for myself very soon. Foxcatcher is set for a theatrical release on November 14, 2014.

Director: Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball).

Starring: Steve Carell (Despicable Me 2, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), Channing Tatum (White House Down, 22 Jump Street), and Mark Ruffalo (Now You See Me, Begin Again).

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG4QoyC8L_Y

No. 1 – Gone Girl

Gone Girl 4In Gone Girl (based on the best-selling novel of the same name), Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports his wife missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. An intense police investigation and a modern day media frenzy ensues, and quickly, the marriage of Nick and his missing wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) begins to crumble under the nose of the nation. As more and more of Nick’s lies and deceit become readily apparent, the world begins to wonder if Nick himself is at fault for Amy’s disappearance.

If you have been following the writing in my Fall Preview closely, you probably think that I believe every movie in my Top 10 could be No. 1; if so, you are almost correct. I definitely do think my Top 10 consists of commendable films with untapped potential, but I saved Gone Girl for my No. 1 spot for a reason—it is clearly the film to watch out for this fall season!

Gone Girl 3Like Inherent Vice and Interstellar before it, Gone Girl has received an immense amount of hype due to its director; here, that visionary filmmaker is the legendary David Fincher. Fincher has such a unique style of filmmaking, and his innate capability to create mystery and thrill is evident by renowned films like Se7en, Fight Club, Panic Room, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (all of which I own personally). And in recent years, he has mastered the art of drama, too, with successful ventures in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network (both of which I also own). I list Fincher’s eminent résumé to make the point that he is clearly one of the most talented and thriving filmmakers around today. Everyone who loves film is always anxiously awaiting the next picture from Fincher, and even though that wait is always carried out with a particular degree of impatience, it is always well worth it.

David Fincher’s film can only succeed with a carefully crafted cast, and in Gone Girl, he has assembled a diverse group of heavy hitters, bubbling stars, and relatively unknowns. From the early reports, it appears this interesting dynamic works exceptionally well, and I cannot wait to see those interactions play out on the big screen. Gone Girl 2Ben Affleck leads the film as the mysterious Nick Dunne, and his missing bride is played by Rosamund Pike, an experienced actress that finally gets the chance to make a huge impact on the screen. Affleck and Pike are joined by the traditionally comedic Neil Patrick Harris, the usually-in-a-female-outfit Tyler Perry, the former SNL cast member Casey Wilson, and the oft-topless “Blurred Lines” music-video star Emily Ratajkowski. It is a fascinating choice for an assemblage of characters in such a serious, dramatic film, but I believe it will pay off tenfold in the end. Gone Girl is set for a theatrical release on October 3, 2014.

Director: David Fincher (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Starring: Ben Affleck (The Town, Argo), Rosamund Pike (Jack Reacher, The World’s End), and Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs 2, A Million Ways to Die in the West).

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTaeg-sGw9k