Summer has come to a close and the kids are back in school. It’s also a time when movies move from popcorn fare to more serious themes. Fall movies serve as a bridge between the action of summer to the more thought-provoking subject matter that gets tackled during awards season. This list omits limited releases and films listed as only opening in New York and/or Los Angeles. This means a lot of smaller movies are left out, which is regrettable, but there are just way too many movies, which isn’t a bad thing. And finally, I couldn’t have compiled this list without the stellar database operated by my friends at ComingSoon.net.
No Good Deed
Synopsis: Terri (Taraji P. Henson), a devoted wife and mother of two, lives an ideal life that takes a dramatic turn when her home and children are threatened by Colin (Idris Elba), a charming stranger who smooth-talks his way into her house, claiming car trouble. The unexpected invitation leaves her and her family terrorized and fighting for survival.
Made the list because…it will be interesting to see what Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson can do with this familiar genre.
A Walk Among the Tombstones
Synopsis: Based on Lawrence Block’s bestselling series of mystery novels, A Walk Among the Tombstones stars Liam Neeson as Matt Scudder, an ex-NYPD cop who now works as an unlicensed private investigator operating just outside the law. When Scudder reluctantly agrees to help a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens) hunt down the men who kidnapped and then brutally murdered his wife, the PI learns that this is not the first time these men have committed this sort of twisted crime…nor will it be the last. Blurring the lines between right and wrong, Scudder races to track the deviants through the backstreets of New York City before they kill again.
Made the list because…it’s Liam Neeson as one-man army taking down bad guys
The Maze Runner
Synopsis: When Thomas (O’Brien) wakes up trapped in a massive maze with a group of other boys, he has no memory of the outside world other than strange dreams about a mysterious organization known as W.C.K.D. Only by piecing together fragments of his past with clues he discovers in the maze can Thomas hope to uncover his true purpose and a way to escape. Based on the best-selling novel by James Dashner.
Made the list because…the premise is interesting and the trailer left out just enough information to make me curious.
Synopsis: Inspired by an extraordinary true story, Pride is set in the summer of 1984. Margaret Thatcher is in power and the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers’ families. Initially rebuffed by the Union, the group identifies a tiny mining village in Wales and sets off to make their donation in person. As the strike drags on, the two groups discover that standing together makes for the strongest union of all.
Made the list because…I’m a fan of British comedies based on real-life events, such as The Full Monty and Billy Elliot. It just looks like a fun, feel-good movie.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Synopsis: Once happily married, Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) suddenly find themselves as strangers longing to understand each other in the wake of tragedy. The film explores the couple’s story as they try to reclaim the life and love they once knew and pick up the pieces of a past that may be too far gone.
Made the list because…I am curious about the director’s choice to create one movie from two separate movies that he made earlier, titled Him and Her. This approach to examining a relationship from both sides has never been done before.
The Skeleton Twins
Synopsis: In The Skeleton Twins, when estranged twins Maggie and Milo (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig) feel that they’re at the end of their ropes, an unexpected reunion forces them to confront why their lives went so wrong. As the twins reconnect, they realize the key to fixing their lives may just lie in repairing their relationship.
Made the list because…it will be great to see Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, who are so great at comedy, try on more dramatic roles.
Synopsis: When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide—driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.
Made the list because…the cast is hard to beat and I always enjoy watching Tina Fey on the big screen.
Synopsis: The film follows Wallace (Justin Long), a journalist on a mission. He finds the story of a lifetime in Mr. Howe (Michael Parks), a worldwide adventurer with amazing tales and a curious penchant for walruses. Haley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez co-star.
Made the list because…I’m curious to see if Kevin Smith can pull off a horror comedy.
Synopsis: The Boxtrolls are a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright) in the amazing cavernous home they’ve built beneath the streets of Cheesebridge. When the town’s villain, Archibald Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley), comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls, Eggs decides to venture above ground, “into the light,” where he meets and teams up with fabulously feisty Winnifred (Elle Fanning). Together, they devise a daring plan to save Eggs’ family.
Made the list because…the creative team at LAIKA, which did Coraline and ParaNorman, do amazing work with stop motion animation.
The Equalizer (2D theaters and IMAX)
Synopsis: Denzel Washington plays McCall, a man who believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when McCall meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by – he has to help her. Armed with hidden skills that allow him to serve vengeance against anyone who would brutalize the helpless, McCall comes out of his self-imposed retirement and finds his desire for justice reawakened.
Made the list because…the trailer features an ominous and deadly serious Denzel. Lone hero takes out anyone who stands in his way, even if he’s outnumbered.
Hector and the Search for Happiness
Synopsis: Hector (Simon Pegg) is a quirky psychiatrist who has become increasingly tired of his humdrum life. As he tells his girlfriend, Clara (Rosamund Pike), he feels like a fraud: he hasn’t really tasted life, and yet he’s offering advice to patients who are just not getting any happier. So Hector decides to break out of his deluded and routine driven life. Armed with buckets of courage and child-like curiosity, he embarks on a global quest in hopes of uncovering the elusive secret formula for true happiness. And so begins a larger than life adventure with riotously funny results. Based on the world-wide best-selling novel of the same name, Hector and the Search for Happiness is a rich, exhilarating, and hilarious tale from director Peter Chelsom, starring Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike, Stellan Skarsgard, Jean Reno and Christopher Plummer.
Made the list because…It looks like a sweet, life-affirming movie.
Synopsis: Directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?
Made the list because…the moody trailer with its haunting score had me sold. There’s still enough mystery after watching the trailer that you don’t feel like you know how the story is going to play out just by watching it.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) experiences the most terrible and horrible day of his young life—a day that begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by one calamity after another. But when Alexander tells his upbeat family about the misadventures of his disastrous day, he finds little sympathy and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him. He soon learns that he’s not alone when his mom (Jennifer Garner), dad (Steve Carell), brother (Dylan Minnette) and sister (Kerris Dorsey) all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Made the list because…I’m a fan of Steve Carell.
Synopsis: Robert Downey, Jr. stars as big city lawyer Hank Palmer, who returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, the town’s judge (Robert Duvall), is suspected of murder. He sets out to discover the truth and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.
Made the list because…I was surprised the trailer was light-hearted and sentimental after reading the description. It will be worth it to see Downey, Jr. and Duvall in scenes together.
Synopsis: From the director of The Devil Wears Prada, One Chance is the remarkable and inspirational true story of Paul Potts, a shy, bullied shop assistant by day and an amateur opera singer by night. Paul became an instant YouTube phenomenon after being chosen by Simon Cowell for Britain’s Got Talent. Wowing audiences worldwide with his phenomenal voice, Paul went on to win Britain’s Got Talent and the hearts of millions.
Made the list because…The Devil Wears Prada is one of my favorite movies to come out in the last 10 years and this looks like an uplifting story.
The Best of Me
Synopsis: Based on the bestselling novel by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but soon they discover the forces that drove them apart 20 years ago live on, posing even more serious threats today.
Made the list because…the trailer has all the tropes that made The Notebook such a hit. Boy from the poor side of town falls for a wealthy socialite, which forces them apart. They are reunited years later and their love has never diminished. I’m also just a sucker for a good romance.
The Book of Life
Synopsis: From producer Guillermo del Toro and director Jorge Gutierrez comes an animated comedy with a unique visual style. The Book of Life is the journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart. Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds where he must face his greatest fears.
Made the list because…Guillermo del Toro is the only person whose imagination and ability to create unique worlds can rival that of Tim Burton.
Dracula Untold (2D theaters and IMAX)
Synopsis: Luke Evans stars in the origin story of the man who became Dracula.
Made the list because…it looks like an action-packed retelling of the Dracula legend that takes a Lord of the Rings approach, complete with boat loads of CGI.
Synopsis: As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre in 1945, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.
Made the list because…of Brad Pitt.
Synopsis: An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. With New York City as his bullet-riddled playground, “John Wick” (Keanu Reeves) is a fresh and stylized take on the “assassin genre.”
Made the list because…I’m interested in seeing Keanu Reeves in an action role again.
Kill the Messenger
Synopsis: Two-time Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner leads an all-star cast in a dramatic thriller based on the remarkable true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb. Webb stumbles onto a story which leads to the shady origins of the men who started the crack epidemic on the nation’s streets…and further alleges that the CIA was aware of major dealers who were smuggling cocaine into the U.S., and using the profits to arm rebels fighting in Nicaragua. Despite warnings from drug kingpins and CIA operatives to stop his investigation, Webb keeps digging to uncover a conspiracy with explosive implications. His journey takes him from the prisons of California to the villages of Nicaragua to the highest corridors of power in Washington, D.C. – and draws the kind of attention that threatens not just his career, but his family and his life.
Made the list because…this is an intriguing movie with an absolute meaty role for Renner to chew on.
Synopsis: Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), a single mother, moves into a new home in Brooklyn with her 12-year old son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher). Forced to work long hours, she has no choice but to leave Oliver in the care of their new neighbor, Vincent (Bill Murray), a retired curmudgeon with a penchant for alcohol and gambling. An odd friendship soon blossoms between the improbable pair. Together with a pregnant stripper named Daka (Naomi Watts), Vincent brings Oliver along on all the stops that make up his daily routine – the race track, a strip club, and the local dive bar. Vincent helps Oliver grow to become a man, while Oliver begins to see in Vincent something that no one else is able to: a misunderstood man with a good heart.
Made the list because…it looks like a sweet movie and it will be a nice change to see McCarthy in a role where she’s not cursing and yelling. Naomi Watts is unrecognizable.
Synopsis: A pulse-pounding thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles starring Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling — where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents. Aided by Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou thrives. In the breakneck, ceaseless search for footage, he becomes the star of his own story.
Made the list because…Jake Gyllenhaal has been making some great choices as he reinvents himself as an actor to take on more mature roles. He is pretty creepy in the trailer and the story looks like it has a dark side.
Big Hero 6 (3D/2D theaters)
Synopsis: An action comedy adventure inspired by the Marvel comics of the same name, Big Hero 6 tells the story of brilliant robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, who finds himself in the grips of a criminal plot that threatens to destroy the fast-paced, high-tech city of San Fransokyo. With the help of his closest companion—a robot named Baymax—Hiro joins forces with a reluctant team of first-time crime fighters on a mission to save their city.
Made the list because…I’m a fan of Wreck-it-Ralph and Frozen.
Synopsis: Interstellar chronicles the adventures of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.
Made the list because…who wouldn’t want to see what a collaboration between Christopher Nolan, Matthew McConnaughey and Anne Hathaway produces?
Synopsis: Based on true events, Foxcatcher tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire and two champion wrestlers. When Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is invited by wealthy heir John du Pont (Steve Carell) to move on to the du Pont estate and help form a team to train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics at his new state-of-the-art training facility, Schultz jumps at the opportunity, hoping to focus on his training and finally step out of the shadow of his revered brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo). Driven by hidden needs, du Pont sees backing Schultz’s bid for Gold and the chance to “coach” a world-class wrestling team as an opportunity to gain the elusive respect of his peers and, more importantly, his disapproving mother (Vanessa Redgrave).
Made the list because…word of mouth has been good from film festivals and I want to see how Steve Carell and Channing Tatum deal with dark, unlikeable characters.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) returns to District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a nation moved by her courage.
Made the list because…I’ve got to see how this all ends.
The Imitation Game
Synopsis: Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII. Turing went on to assist with the development of computers at the University of Manchester after the war, but was prosecuted by the UK government in 1952 for homosexual acts which the country deemed illegal.
Made the list because…of the good feedback it received from the Toronto International Film Festival and for Cumberbatch.