By Kenneth Shipp
Hopefully every film on this list will be knockouts, but I know that simply will not be true. And there’s also the massive juggernaut at the end of this list which is casting a huge shadow on the rest of this list. I’m not sure how Star Wars: The Force Awakens will do, but it will definitely capture the attention of everyone come December. Here are the films I’m most looking forward to this fall.
Johnny Depp going dark…and not Tim Burton / Danny Elfman dark, but more like Public Enemies dark. It could be very intriguing and I personally liked most of Public Enemies until it lagged on too long towards the end. This true story shows us the rise of Whitey Bulger as he gains power in the Winter Hill Gang while also being an FBI informant on a rival gang. Mass marks Scott Cooper’s third entry as director (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace) He did great with Crazy Heart, but will need a bit of a bounce back after stumbling with Out of the Furnace. Kevin Bacon and Benedict Cumberbatch are interesting choices as supporting actors, so i’ll be eager to check this one out very soon.
Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro….well, that’s really all you need to know. Just kidding, Sicario’s already debuting at the Cannes Film Festival this May with rave reviews. It tells the story of FBI Kate Macy (Blunt), an agent assigned to a government drug task force on the U.S. / Mexico border. The use of a hitman (Del Toro) will definitely a point of tension throughout. If there’s anything we’ve learned from Denis Villeneuve and his last film Prisoners, he knows how to keep, build, and pace suspense during an entire film. It was used to great effect there, so I’ll be curious to see how he deals with the tension that seems to be plentiful in Sicario.
Reasons to be excited: Matt Damon and Ridley Scott together. Reason to be afraid: Matt Damon and Ridley Scott together. Scott has not had a major hit since 2007’s American Gangster and his last foray into space, Prometheus was so bad that it spawned countless internet memes on how to avoid falling circular objects. (It may have been Lindelof’s piss poor plot, but as much as it pains me to say it, he wasn’t the only one to blame). I expect Damon will do well playing the astronaut stranded on Mars and if you haven’t read the book, I definitely recommend it. As for this film, it will definitely be on my worried list. They are rocking an all-star cast, but I’m not sure how well Scott will able to weave them altogether. (Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, and Chiwetel Ejiofor)
Guillermo del Toro directing Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddelston, and Charlie Hunnam in a “supernatural horror romance”…I have no idea what that means, but when del Toro is involved, we can expect his unique flare and storytelling to shine through. Following Wasikowska as young Edith, an author who falls in love and marries Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston), but discovers there are dangerous mysteries being hidden in his house which he shares with his sister Lucille (Chastain). It’s sure to have the del Toro charm and trademark creepiness, so I’m definitely on board.
Bridge of Spies
I’m excited for another Steven Spielberg / Tom Hanks film, I’m even more excited that the screenplay was written by the Coen brothers. Spies is based on the historical events surrounding Francis Powers U-2 spy plane crash in Russia during the Cold War, where Hanks plays James B. Donovan, the lawyer assigned to negotiate his release. Expect the usual charm that comes together with Hanks and Spielberg, it’s been 11 years since we’ve seen it in action. I wasn’t a huge fan of their last film together, The Terminal, but there’s a lot of greatness coming together for this one and I haven’t been disappointed by a Coen brothers screenplay yet, so it will be cool to see how it plays out.
In what will most likely be Daniel Craig’s last appearance as Bond, it appears we are getting a wrap up to all the threads woven in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace with the introduction of the Spectre organization and Franz Oberhauser. I’ll keep this spoiler free, but if you look up that name and re-watch the trailer, you probably figure out why that name is important to Bond. Not to mention that Oberhauser will be played by the wonderful Christoph Waltz, a man who keeps adding Oscars to his name with ease (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained). This will be Sam Mendes second time at the helm and his return bodes well after his knockout work on Skyfall. It will also be the first Bond since Goldeneye that Dame Judi Dench will not be playing M. Ralph Fiennes should do nicely, but it will be a change for sure with this Bond because of his close connection with the previous M.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
As far as Young Adult book adaptations go, Hunger Games has been showing everyone how it’s done in a post-Harry Potter world. That being said, I still despise the last book being split into two films and don’t be surprised if there are parts of this one that lag or go on too long because the flow doesn’t work. But I was pleasantly surprised at how good part 1 was and would love to be proved wrong with the final installment.
This will be the first Rocky film that was not written by Sylvester Stallone and it may be a good thing. Ryan Coogler did a great job writing the screenplay for Fruitvale Station, where he got to direct the lead actor of this film, Michael B. Jordan. That relationship could develop nicely and produce great results. Sure, there’s a chance it could be a dud, but Stallone is helping produce and also mentors the young Adonis Creed in the film. This could end up being a better passing of the torch than that horrendous Rocky 5 story.
The Good Dinosaur
This film has been in development limbo at the Pixar story funland for a long time. While I’m glad to see this finally make the light of day, the fact it took so long to work out the story and get the ball rolling makes me nervous. Sure, the worst Pixar film can still blow many mediocre films out of the water any time. But they have had a stinker in the Cars franchise and the lackluster Brave, they are not immune to making a subpar one every once in a while. Comparisons between Land Before Time and Dinosaur have been plentiful on the web, but we should know better with a Pixar film. It will not simply be an orphan dinosaur making his way back home; expect some feels to be sprinkled generously throughout this film.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Honestly, nothing else matters until it comes out. There’s plenty to be nervous about with Episode 7, but also just as much positive reasons to go and have a blast with J.J. Abrams new vision and direction. I really feel bad for the Christmas films that come out after this, because they will have a hard time getting traction if Star Wars gets the numbers everyone is predicting. IMAX is already clearing the schedule to let this one go as far as the public will take it. We know there will be great fights, memorable scenes, the big question is whether it can capture the hearts of a new generation, one that hasn’t enjoyed a good Star Wars trilogy in their lifetimes.
Tarantino’s 8th film entry brings back two Tarantino regulars we haven’t seen in awhile: Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and mixes them up with Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell, among other Tarantino alumni. 8 people stuck in a cabin during a blizzard and something is sure to pop off as Russell’s character is tries to keep his fugitive, Daisy(Jennifer Jason Leigh) alive until they can escape the storm. A closed off locale is a perfect place for the strong conversational build up that Tarantino is known for. Without new places to visit in this film, there’s a chance it could be stale or slow in areas. But I trust Tarantino to deliver us another great addition to his already stellar filmography, I’m just curious how many people will see it once Star Wars releases.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Leonardo DiCaprio’s first collaboration together could be an absolute powerhouse. DiCaprio plays a fur trapper who gets mauled by a bear, robbed and left for dead by his companions and decides to hunt them down to enact vengeance. He’s back with his Inception co-star Tom Hardy, one of his betrayers and I have high expectations that this will be getting some look from the Oscar committee. I don’t know if Leo can break his Oscar shutout, but this may be another strong addition to his career regardless. Iñárritu is coming off a superb achievement after making Birdman and is proving to be a small powerhouse with his small, but concise ideas that are very impressive..