Fall Preview 2015: No. 10 – No. 6

6-10 Header 2015

In this post, I reveal films No. 10 through No. 6 on the list of my Top 10 most anticipated movies coming out during the fall season.  This batch includes some potential heavy hitters, and if you are looking for a great movie to go see in theaters in the next few months, this post will give you some top-notch options among the films that look most poised for success.

No. 10 – Steve Jobs

According to Entertainment Weekly, Steve Jobs follows its titular character, one of the most revolutionary tech giants of all time, behind the scenes of three iconic product launches: “The Macintosh, Jobs’ failed NeXT computer, and the first iMac.” In 2013, Ashton Kutcher played the Apple founder in the blatantly average Jobs. That boring biographical piece is by far the cause for my unconditional anticipation of Steve Jobs. This is due to the fact that the 2013 film proved that there is an amazing story waiting to be unearthed about the visionary behind the iPod, but it simply needs the film industry’s best and brightest to do the tale justice. In 2015, that is exactly what we get!

Steve Jobs 2Sitting in the director’s chair is Danny Boyle, the genius behind Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire, and 127 Hours. Leading the cast in the role of Jobs is the rapidly up-and-coming cinematic great Michael Fassbender. And penning the screenplay is one of my favorite writers in the game, Aaron Sorkin (the writer behind A Few Good Men, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, and Moneyball). With this incredible team pulling the strings in the newest incarnation of Steve Jobs’s life story, it is destined for Oscar nominations. Steve Jobs is set for a theatrical release on October 9, 2015.

Director: Danny Boyle (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire)

Starring: Michael Fassbender (Slow West, Frank), Kate Winslet (The Divergent Series: Insurgent, Divergent), Seth Rogen (The Interview, Neighbors), and Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber To, Looper)

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEr6K1bwIVs

No. 9 – Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation tells the vexing story of Agu (Abraham Attah), a young boy in West Africa who watches as his family is ripped apart from him by terrorizing militants. After, Agu himself is recruited by the leader (Idris Elba) of an army of rebels, comprised of mostly child soldiers. This movie appears to tell a gripping story of a tense and controversial subject matter, and it seemingly has all of the parts to make it a masterpiece: Cary Joji Fukunaga wrote and directed, and Golden Globe-winning actor Idris Elba plays the devilish commander. For all of you True Detective fans out there (I have only seen a few episodes of season 1, but from what I gathered, it was amazing), Fukunaga directed season 1. Take his direction and mix it with Elba, one of my favorite actors in the business, and I think Beasts has what it takes to succeed.

Beasts of No Nation 2One of the most interesting facts about this movie is that it is Netflix’s very first original feature film. With Netflix already becoming known for its critically claimed original programming (House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), I am incredibly pumped for its journey into original film production—Beasts debuts on Netflix’s streaming service on the same day as its theatrical release. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Fukunaga stated: “It’s really hard to deny the power of 66 million subscribers. If the audience can have an emotional experience with my movie, then that’s everything I want.” Beasts of No Nation is set for a theatrical and Netflix Instant Stream release on October 16, 2015.

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga (Jane Eyre, Sin Nombre)

Starring: Idris Elba (Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Gunman) and Ama K. Abebrese (Double-Cross, Ties That Bind)

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRsaclO0VbU

No. 8 – Joy

To keep it simple, Joy is about the inventor of the Miracle Mop, Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence). Treating cinematic visionary David O. Russell’s story to a more in-depth and honest description, it is an epic story about a 30-year span in a woman’s life, charting her ups and downs, successes and struggles. Russell again collaborates in Joy with the trio of superstars (Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper) he has featured in each of his last two films (American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook). Take these established relationships and throw in the fact that Russell’s last three films have all been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and movie fans worldwide surely have a cocktail for genius.

Joy 2Speaking of David O. Russell’s professional relationships with his recurring stars, my interest in this film is most evidenced by Jennifer Lawrence in the leading role. Silver Linings Playbook did feature her as one of the two main co-stars, but the film was mostly about Cooper’s character. Subsequently, American Hustle featured a hilarious supporting performance by J-Law, but it was Amy Adams, Christian Bale, and Cooper taking up the film’s bulk. Therefore, I am beyond stoked to see one of my favorite actresses own the screen time. Lawrence knows her relationship with Russell is special, telling Entertainment Weekly, “Working on his sets is like the Olympics of acting. Everything moves so fast. It’s like watching someone do a giant abstract painting or sculpture and you go, ‘Where is this going?’ And then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s a Pegasus. It’s beautiful!” Joy is set for a theatrical release on December 25, 2015.

Director: David O. Russell (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Parts 1&2, Serena), Robert De Niro (The Intern, Grudge Match), and Bradley Cooper (Aloha, American Sniper)

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN4MLMHET7w

No. 7 – The Martian

The Martian follows astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), as his crew mistakenly takes him for dead during a storm on Mars. Stranded on the red planet alone without enough resources to last him more than a few weeks, Watney must defy the odds to ever make it back to Earth alive. Ridley Scott directs this sci-fi thriller, and that is all I need to know to get on board. Scott is the creative innovator behind Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, and Prometheus, and with an interstellar (pun intended) cast at his disposal, his every cinematic desire will surely play out masterfully on the screen. Although I really did like Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar last year, it was a bit too Inception-esque with its utterly complex structure. From the looks of Scott’s The Martian in its trailer, this film looks to still provide the stunning visual prowess akin to that in Interstellar, while connecting more with the audience.

The Martian 2Scott’s ensemble cast in The Martian is most definitely one of its most impressive features. Matt Damon is obviously an award-winning star, but I am most looking forward to seeing Jessica Chastain. Those familiar with my blog and opinions on film in general know that I have long contended that Chastain is the most skilled actress in the industry. Just like her role in the aforementioned Interstellar, I expect big things from such a Hollywood heavyweight. I am also intrigued by the star power of this film’s supporting cast: the forever fearful of trains Kate Mara (House of Cards anyone?), the always hilarious, but I imagine soon-to-be dramatic Kristen Wiig, and the Oscar-nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor. A cast this strong is likely to command every last second of the film. The Martian is set for a wide theatrical release on October 2, 2015.

Director: Ridley Scott (Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Counselor)

Starring: Matt Damon (Interstellar, The Monuments Men), Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year, Interstellar), Kristen Wiig (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Welcome to Me), Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber To, Looper), Michael Peña (Ant-Man, Fury), Kate Mara (Fantastic Four, Transcedence), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Z for Zachariah, 12 Years a Slave)

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ue4PCI0NamI

No. 6 – Legend

In the true-life biopic Legend, set in London during the 1960s, Tom Hardy plays both twin brothers Reggie and Ron Kray, two of the most renowned gangsters in the world. Tom Hardy + Tom Hardy = double the Tom Hardy. Boom! I am in! Just like my devoted contention that Jessica Chastain is the most talented actress in the game, I likewise believe Hardy is the single greatest actor in all of world cinema. He has proven his worth as the titular character in the brutally violent Bronson, the demented supervillain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, the emotionally torn Ivan in last year’s Locke, and the legendary master of madness in this year’s Mad Max: Fury Road. He is the ultimate craftsman, and Legend director Brian Helgeland immediately took notice of Hardy’s seriousness behind the scenes, telling Entertainment Weekly, “he takes it to a point I’ve never seen—just the commitment and the focus. There’s no gag reel.”

Legend 2Aside from the actual casting of Hardy in Legend, I am fascinated by the fact that he plays both of the Kray twins. Yes, Armie Hammer did a wonderful job as both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss in 2010’s The Social Network, but Legend is pitched as a badass action adventure, which implicates a completely unprecedented challenge for an actor to take on two roles. While Helgeland initially wanted Hardy to portray only Reggie, the character with the emotional love story at his core, Hardy was smitten with the challenge of playing Ron, the gay and much more outgoing of the twins. Helgeland told EW that “from the time Tom sat down, all he was talking about was Ron. At the end, Tom said, ‘I’ll give you Reggie if you give me Ron.’” The rest was history, and I cannot wait to see the result. Legend is set for a theatrical release on October 2, 2015.

Director: Brian Helgeland (42, The Order)

Starring: Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road), Emily Browning (Pompeii, God Help the Girl), David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything, The Fifth Estate), and Chazz Palminteri (Henry & Me, Yonkers Joe)

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI3v6KfR9Mw

Top 15 Films of the Year, No. 1 – Silver Linings Playbook

SLP 3

Silver Linings Playbook is a film written and directed by David O. Russell.  The movie follows Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), a man suffering from bipolar disease, who returns home to live with his parents, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and Dolores (Jacki Weaver), after spending eight months in a mental health institution.  The violent episode that landed Pat in the institution is uncovered early on, and it was the reason he lost his job, house, and wife.  Pat is destined to get his life back on track and hopes to reunite with his wife after she sees his positive improvements; however, things get complicated when Pat meets Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), a woman with some serious issues of her own.  Tiffany agrees to help Pat get back together with his wife but only if he agrees to help her in a dance competition.  Pat and Tiffany form an intriguing bond, and each of their lives are forever changed.

From the moment I watched this movie in theaters, I knew immediately that it was the best movie I had seen all year.  After continuing to watch other Oscar-nominated films, it sustained its position as my personal favorite of 2012.  David O. Russell’s film features everything I could possibly want in a movie: mesmerizing drama, clever humor, intriguing love, and of course, sports.  The combination of all of these factors creates one of the year’s most enjoyable motion pictures.  Russell adapted this screenplay from Matthew Quick’s novel of the same name.

The film has received a considerable amount of acclaim, both critically and commercially.  It has already been nominated and won for a handful of major movie awards, and it will be up for eight Academy Awards at the Oscars on Sunday.  One of the most noteworthy accomplishments the film has already attained is being nominated for the “Big Five” Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay).  This feat is momentous because it is the first movie since The Remains of the Day (1993) to be nominated in all of the five major categories at the Oscars.  The film is also up for each of the four acting categories, the first movie to conquer this achievement since Reds (1981).

Speaking of those four acting performances, each of the nominated actors and actresses deliver portrayals that are quite worthy of the critical praise they have received.  Bradley Cooper gives the performance of his career, and the ways in which he fully engrosses himself into his character are nothing short of spectacular.  There is never a moment you doubt Cooper’s character’s condition because of the heart and soul he puts into making the character authentic to the story.  Jennifer Lawrence, a young actress that has already been nominated for Best Actress before (Winter’s Bone, 2010), shows us that she is destined to become one of the film industry’s most powerful actresses.  This role is much more demanding in regards to emotional complexity than her role in Winter’s Bone, and Lawrence gives everything she has to a depiction that may earn her the Oscar for Best Actress.

Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver each provide astounding supporting performances as Pat’s parents, Pat Sr. and Dolores.  Pat’s father has fallen on hard times after losing his job, and he resorts to bookmaking in order to raise enough funds to ultimately open a restaurant.  The two-time Oscar winning De Niro gives a veteran performance and provides some of the movie’s brightest scenes.  Weaver gives a remarkable performance of her own as Pat’s mother.  As the matriarch of the Solitano family, Dolores must continue being the glue that holds the family together as their personal issues threaten to tear the family unit apart, and Weaver plays the role to a tee.  Silver Linings Playbook is rated R for language, some sexual content, and nudity.

Silver Linings Playbook trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj5_FhLaaQQ

Academy Award nominations for Silver Linings Playbook:

Best Picture (Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon, Producers)

Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper)

Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert De Niro)

Actress in a Leading Role (Jennifer Lawrence)

Actress in a Supporting Role (Jacki Weaver)

Directing (David O. Russell)

Film Editing (Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers)

Best Adapted Screenplay (David O. Russell)

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

2. Moonrise Kingdom

3. Zero Dark Thirty

4. Skyfall

5. Django Unchained

6. Life of Pi

7. Amour

8. Les Misérables

9. Beasts of the Southern Wild

10. Looper

11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

12. The Dark Knight Rises

13. Flight

14. The Master

15. Argo

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Waltz

Like the Best Supporting Actress nominees, each of the Best Supporting Actor nominees has previously been nominated for at least one Academy Award.  One of the characteristics that sticks out among these nominees, though—these men have already accumulated a combined six Oscar wins and sixteen nominations prior to this year’s ceremony; moreover, each of these nominees has at least one Academy Award victory!  This is definitely an assemblage of actors with well-established careers in the film industry, and even though the lead actors usually get all of the hype, it is the supporting roles that steal the show this year.  The following is my Oscars ballot for this category, Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

WINNER: Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

In Django Unchained, Christoph Waltz portrays Dr. King Schultz, a German-born bounty hunter that purchases a slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), to assist him as he hunts down white slave-owners all across the South.  Ultimately, Dr. Schultz and Django go off seeking Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a slave-owner that took Django’s wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).  Just as he did in 2009, Christoph Waltz turns in an absolutely spectacular performance in his second Tarantino-directed production.  I have seen Waltz in a couple other American movies, and he truly does a great job; however, it seems Quentin Tarantino always gets the absolute best out of him for his movies.  I believe it has to do with the dialogue Tarantino creates for Waltz’s characters.  Just as in Inglourious Basterds, the character Waltz plays is exemplified by his specific diction and unwavering wit, along with a calm determination to always get what he seeks.  The opening scene of Django Unchained, just as in the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds, is enough to rationalize awarding Christoph Waltz with this great honor of Best Supporting Actor.  Waltz was previously nominated and won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Inglourious Basterds (2009).

2. Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)

In The Master, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd, the leader of a religious cult known as “The Cause.”  Even though director Paul Thomas Anderson has not come right out and said it, it is highly inferred that Hoffman’s character is based off of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology; moreover, as the film plays out, “The Cause” begins to greatly resemble Scientology.  In the movie, Dodd and his wife Peggy (Amy Adams) take in Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), and Lancaster attempts to make Freddie a believer and promoter of the philosophical movement.  Hoffman’s character seems to be calm and inquisitive in an almost calculated manner, and this behavior lends to the dark mystique surrounding Lancaster Dodd.  This film includes critically acclaimed showings from each of the three main characters, but Hoffman still finds a way to stand out in his own way.  Philip Seymour Hoffman was previously nominated for three Academy Awards, winning Best Actor for his role in Capote (2005).

3. Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)

In Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones acts as Thaddeus Stevens, the real-life Republican Congressional leader and fanatical abolitionist.  Historically, Representative Stevens was one of the most influential figures in the Reconstruction Era.  He fought for the rights of all people in the United States, but his significant efforts towards abolishing slavery engulfed much of his political focus.  From the moment Jones appears on the screen, you are mesmerized by the passion and vivacity in his voice as he pushes President Lincoln to free the slaves, end the war, and unite the nation as one.  In a film that features Daniel Day-Lewis giving a superb performance as Abraham Lincoln, Jones holds his own and rightfully deserves this nomination.  Tommy Lee Jones was previously nominated for three Academy Awards, winning Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Fugitive (1993).

4. Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)

In Silver Linings Playbook, Robert De Niro plays Pat Solitano, Sr., the father of the lead character, Pat, Jr. (Bradley Cooper).  When Pat Jr. returns home, he learns that his father has lost his job and is bookmaking in a desperate attempt to make some money with aspirations of starting a restaurant.  Pat Sr. suffers from OCD, and De Niro plays this disorder flawlessly, illustrating his character’s wild and crazy superstitions based around the Philadelphia Eagles football team.  In one of the year’s biggest films featuring bright performances from young stars like Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, the veteran De Niro shows it does not take a serious, dramatic role for him to bring out the best in himself on the screen.  De Niro was previously nominated for six Academy Awards, winning Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Godfather Part II (1974) and Best Actor for his role in Raging Bull (1980).

5. Alan Arkin (Argo)

In Argo, Alan Arkin portrays Lester Siegel, a film producer during the late 1970s.  Siegel, along with John Chambers (John Goodman) and CIA Operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), sets up a fake movie studio, creates full storyboards for the film and publicizes those plans, and makes the fictional film “Argo” seem like a full-fledged feature to help establish a credible story so that the covert operation to rescue six Americans stranded in Iran can be achieved successfully.  Even though Arkin gives a grand, witty performance in the film, I was surprised he received an Oscar nod because the character in my opinion lacked substance.  Alan Arkin was previously nominated for three Academy Awards, winning Best Supporting Actor for his role in Little Miss Sunshine (2006).

Actors snubbed in this category: Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained) and Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained)