As the kids head back to the classrooms and summer ends it’s time for the big summer blockbusters to leave the theaters to make way for films that are hoping to enter the Oscar race, and the potential Oscar contenders will be followed into theaters by this year’s batch of holiday movies. The end of the summer also means it’s time once again for the Fall Movie Preview. What can moviegoers expect to see up on the big screen in the last few months of 2015? A stranded astronaut trying to get home, the origin story of the Boy Who Could Fly, Johnny Depp portraying one of the most notorious mobsters of all time, the final installment of The Hunger Games, and a return to a galaxy far, far away – along with adult dramas and a handful of comedies.
SICARIO – Starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio Del Toro (Sept 18 in limited release, Oct 2 wide release)
Plot: In Mexico, SICARIO means hitman. In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent (Blunt) is enlisted by an elite government task force official (Brolin) to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past Del Toro), the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive.
Outlook: With a strong cast and earning rave reviews after it premiered at Cannes Film Festival (Variety called it a “blisteringly suspenseful, ever surprising cartel thriller”), Sicario could be an early contender for some Oscar consideration.
BLACK MASS – Starring Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton (Sept 18)
Plot: In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly (Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Depp) to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power, and become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in Boston history.
Outlook: Sure to be as gritty and shocking as the gangster epic Goodfellas and with what looks like another unforgettable performance by Depp as Bulger, Black Mass is almost a lock for Depp to get awards attention after a series of career missteps.
MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS – Starring Dylan O’ Brien, Kaya Scodelario, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Sept 18)
Plot: In this next chapter of the epic Maze Runner saga, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers face their greatest challenge yet: searching for clues about the mysterious and powerful organization known as WCKD. Their journey takes them to the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles. Teaming up with resistance fighters, the Gladers take on WCKD’s vastly superior forces and uncover its shocking plans for them all.
Outlook: Instead of fighting a giant green killer maze, Thomas and his cohorts will now face a deadly desert. Will this addition to the Maze Runner series feel like a never-ending big screen video game or is there actually a compelling story ready to play out on screen? The trailer’s have stressed the action, but we can hope there’s more to this Maze Runner than that.
EVEREST – Starring Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, and Jake Gyllenhaal (Sept 25)
Plot: Inspired by the incredible events surrounding an attempt to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, Everest documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Their mettle tested by the harshest elements found on the planet, the climbers will face nearly impossible obstacles as a lifelong obsession becomes a breathtaking struggle for survival.
Outlook: With great cinematography, a strong cast, and a very impressive trailer, Everest just might be the thrilling disaster film of the year.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 – Voiced by Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez (Sept 25)
Plot: Everything seems to be changing for the better at Hotel Transylvania… Dracula’s rigid monster-only hotel policy has finally relaxed, opening up its doors to human guests. But behind closed coffins, Drac is worried that his adorable half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dennis, isn’t showing signs of being a vampire. So while Mavis is busy visiting her human in-laws with Johnny – and in for a major cultural shock of her own – “Vampa” Drac enlists his friends Frank, Murray, Wayne and Griffin to put Dennis through a “monster-in-training” boot camp. But little do they know that Drac’s grumpy and very old, old, old school dad Vlad is about to pay a family visit to the hotel. And when Vlad finds out that his great-grandson is not a pure blood – and humans are now welcome at Hotel Transylvania – things are going to get batty!
Outlook: Even though the first film ran out of laughs after the first 50 minutes, here’s hoping the sequel stays funny right through the credits.
THE WALK – Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sir Ben Kingsley, and James Badge Dale (Sept 30 in limited release, Oct 9 wide release)
Plot: 12 people have walked on the moon, but only one man – Philippe Petit (Gordon-Levitt) – has ever, or will ever, walk in the immense void between the World Trade Center towers. Guided by his real-life mentor, Papa Rudy (Kingsley), and aided by an unlikely band of international recruits, Petit and his gang overcome long odds, betrayals, dissension and countless close calls to conceive and execute their mad plan.
Outlook: Directed by Robert Zemeckis, The Walk focuses on the Twin Towers and looks to be a slow build to a very tension-filled last 10 to 20 minutes. Look for this to be an intense, heart-pounding drama.
THE MARTIAN – Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, and Kate Mara (Oct 2)
Plot: During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.
Outlook: Based on the best-selling novel, The Martian has a fantastic cast and impressive special effects. But, coming out only two years after the space thriller Gravity which earned Sandra Bullock her first Oscar and wowed audiences worldwide, moviegoers may not be in the mood for another dramatic thriller set in space. Working in its favor are Ridley Scott behind the camera and Damon at the heart of the film.
LEGEND – Starring Tom Hardy and Emily Browning (Oct 2)
Plot: The film tells the story of the identical twin gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray, two of the most notorious criminals in British history, and their organized crime empire in the East End of London during the 1960s.
Outlook: Variety has this to say about Legend: “Hardy’s astonishing, award-caliber twin turn as the notorious Kray brothers deepens and darkens Brian Helgeland’s biopic.” Hardy may be an awards contender for Legend, although the trailers haven’t done much to sell anyone other than Hardy fans on this crime saga. Hopefully this is one of those films in which the promotional clips don’t fully represent the story.
STEVE JOBS – Starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen (Oct 9)
Plot: Set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac, Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter.
Outlook: This will be the third attempt at making a film about the man who helped change and shape technology for all time, and the only thing that gives us hope it will be better than the first two movies is Fassbender as Steve Jobs.
PAN – Starring Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, and Levi Miller (Oct 9)
Plot: Peter (Miller) is a mischievous 12-year-old boy with an irrepressible rebellious streak, but in the bleak London orphanage where he has lived his whole life those qualities do not exactly fly. Then one incredible night, Peter is whisked away from the orphanage and spirited off to a fantastical world of pirates, warriors and fairies called Neverland. There, he finds amazing adventures and fights life-or-death battles while trying to uncover the secret of his mother, who left him at the orphanage so long ago, and his rightful place in this magical land. Teamed with the warrior Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and a new friend named James Hook (Hedlund), Peter must defeat the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Jackman) to save Neverland and discover his true destiny—to become the hero who will forever be known as Peter Pan.
Outlook: With stunning cinematography, dazzling sets, colorful costumes, and impressive-looking CGI, Pan may turn out to be the must-see live-action film for families this fall.
BEAST OF NO NATION – Idris Elba and Abraham Attah (Oct 16)
Plot: Beasts of No Nation is based on the highly acclaimed novel by Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala, bringing to life the gripping tale of Agu, a child soldier torn from his family to fight in the civil war of an African country. Newcomer Abraham Attah gives a stunning portrayal of Agu, while Elba dominates the screen in the role of Commandant, a warlord who takes in Agu and instructs him in the ways of war.
Outlook: Netflix dips their toes into the awards race with Beast of No Nation, a film the Hollywood Reporter calls “grim, grueling and gripping.” Other trade publications have applauded Elba’s performance, with Times UK saying Elba “finally gets a film role to match his breakthrough television performance in The Wire, a role that showcases his depth and complexity as an actor.”
BRIDGE OF SPIES – Starring Tom Hanks and Amy Ryan (Oct 16)
Plot: Bridge of Spies tells the story of James Donovan, a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible task to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.
Outlook: Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on a true story, Bridge of Spies looks like a compelling spy drama for audiences in the mood for something with some meat on its bones.
CRIMSON PEAK – Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, and Charlie Hunnam (Oct 16)
Plot: In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author (Wasikowska) is torn between love for her childhood friend (Hunnam) and the temptation of a mysterious outsider (Hiddleston). Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers.
Outlook: Guillermo del Toro is a master at gothic tales and Crimson Peak‘s trailers are absolutely stunning. As long as the story matches the production value, del Toro will have a huge hit on his hands.
GOOSEBUMPS – Starring Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, and Odeya Rush (Oct 16)
Plot: A young kid teams up with the niece of young adult horror author R.L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Greendale, Maryland.
Outlook: Using almost all the famous creatures and monsters from the popular children books, Goosebumps should be a frightful fun time for kids at the multiplex this fall.
TRUTH – Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford (Oct 16)
Plot: The film chronicles the story of journalist/producer Mary Mapes (Blanchett) and Dan Rather (Redford) uncovered that a sitting US president may have been AWOL from the United States National Guard for over a year during the Vietnam War. When the story blew up in their face, the ensuing scandal ruined Dan Rather’s career, nearly changed a US Presidential election, and almost took down all of CBS News in the process.
Outlook: Based on a true story, Truth has a lot going for it but do audiences still care about this particular story? It’s going to take the over 50 crowd to make this one a box office contender.
ROCK THE KASBAH – Starring Bill Murray, Kate Hudson, and Zooey Deschanel (Oct 23)
Plot: A down-on-his-luck music manager discovers a teenage girl with a beautiful voice and the courageous dream of becoming the first woman to compete on national television in Afghanistan’s version of American Idol.
Outlook: Directed by Barry Levinson and with Murray looking to be the funniest he has been in years, Rock the Kasbah should be fun escapist fare for those looking for a laugh-out-loud comedy this fall.
SUFFRAGETTE – Starring Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep (Oct 23 in limited release)
Plot: Suffragette tells the story of women who were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality in early 20th century Britain.
Outlook: One glance at the cast list for Suffragette and it’s not hard to imagine this film as an awards contender. Plus, a movie directed, produced, written by, and starring a predominately female talent is a rare thing in Hollywood and should draw women to theaters in support of this particular story.
SPECTRE – Starring Daniel Craig, Monica Bellucci, and Christoph Waltz (Nov 6)
Plot: 007 is on the trail of a secret deadly organization while M fights political enemies to keep the Secret Service and the Double O operatives alive.
Outlook: Could this be the best of the Bonds since Daniel Craig took over as 007? With both Craig and director Sam Mendes supposedly leaving the Bond franchise after Spectre, and with Christoph Waltz portraying the main villain, it’s possible Craig and Mendes will be leaving the 007 film series on a high note.
THE PEANUTS MOVIE – With Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Pig Pen, Snoopy Characters (Nov 6)
Plot: Charlie Brown, the world’s most beloved underdog, embarks upon an epic and heroic quest, while his best pal, the lovable beagle Snoopy, takes to the skies to pursue his arch-nemesis, the Red Baron.
Outlook: The classic Charles M. Schultz characters make their way to the big screen in an all new adventure. Considering the fact the Peanuts holiday classics still draw huge ratings every year on TV, this film is sure to be a big holiday hit at the box office.
SPOTLIGHT – Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo (Nov 6)
Plot: A group of Boston Globe reporters uncovers a shocking cover-up that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. Spotlight tells the true story of the Globe’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters who spent a year investigating allegations of abuse within the Catholic Church, ultimately revealing decades of deception at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal and government establishment and touching off a wave of revelations around the world.
Outlook: Time Out calls Spotlight both “important and engrossing” while other critics applaud the performances of the ensemble cast in bringing this true story to life on the screen.
BY THE SEA – Starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt (Nov 13)
Plot: An American writer named Roland (Pitt) and his wife, Vanessa (Jolie Pitt), arrive in a tranquil and picturesque seaside resort in 1970s France, their marriage in apparent crisis. As they spend time with fellow travelers, including young newlyweds Lea (Mélanie Laurent) and François (Melvil Poupaud), and village locals Michel (Niels Arestrup) and Patrice (Richard Bohringer), the couple begins to come to terms with unresolved issues in their own lives.
Outlook: Jolie Pitt wrote, directed, produced, and stars in this heavy drama opposite her husband. This is the sort of film Oscar voters love to support, but will audiences show up to check out the handsome couple at odds with each other on screen?
SECRET IN THEIR EYES – Starring Julia Roberts, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Nicole Kidman (Nov 20)
Plot: After FBI investigator Ray (Ejiofor) finds the teenage daughter of his partner Jess (Roberts) murdered in a brutal crime, they team with the District Attorney, Claire (Kidman), and make it their crusade to bring the murderer to justice. Their passion meets cold reality, however, when they realize the murderer is a protected witness in an ongoing terror investigation – they can only watch as he walks free.
Outlook: With a stellar cast and Roberts’ co-stars raving about her performance in the film, there’s no question that Secret in Their Eyes is headed for Oscar consideration. The studio even bumped its release back a month so that it would be in theaters during the heart of awards season.
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 – Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth (Nov 20)
Plot: With the nation of Panem in a full scale war, Katniss confronts President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in the final showdown. Teamed with a group of her closest friends – including Gale (Hemsworth), Finnick (Sam Claflin), and Peeta (Hutcherson) – Katniss goes off on a mission with the unit from District 13 as they risk their lives to stage an assassination attempt on President Snow who has become increasingly obsessed with destroying her. The mortal traps, enemies, and moral choices that await Katniss will challenge her more than any arena she faced in The Hunger Games.
Outlook: It will break all kinds of box office records for the franchise, but this series peaked with the second installment and hasn’t lived up to expectations since.
CAROL – Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (Nov 20)
Plot: Set in 1950s New York, two women from very different backgrounds find themselves in the throes of love. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change.
Outlook: A forbidden lesbian love affair in the 1950s most likely won’t hold much interest for young moviegoers of today, but it could draw in adult audiences looking for something to dig their teeth into. Hopefully this one won’t get lost at the box office.
THE NIGHT BEFORE – Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie (Nov 25)
Plot: Ethan (Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Mackie) have been friends since childhood, and for a decade, their yearly Christmas Eve reunion has been an annual night of debauchery and hilarity. Now that they’re entering adulthood, the tradition is coming to an end, and to make it as memorable as possible, they set out to find the Nutcracka Ball – the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.
Outlook: This fall’s not all about dramatic awards contenders, and The Night Before is aimed at moviegoers looking to have a little fun in theaters watching BFFs in their 30s attempt to recapture their youth.
VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN – Starring James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe (Nov 25)
Plot: Radical scientist Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) and his equally brilliant protégé Igor Strausman (Radcliffe) share a noble vision of aiding humanity through their groundbreaking research into immortality. But Victor’s experiments go too far, and his obsession has horrifying consequences. Only Igor can bring his friend back from the brink of madness and save him from his monstrous creation.
Outlook: If the trailer is an accurate indication of the tone and humor to be expected in the film, Victor Frankenstein may be one of the best horror/comedies to come along since Young Frankenstein. But, releasing it during the Thanksgiving holiday might hurt box office sales. The studio should reconsider and move up the release date to October 30th, just in time for Halloween.
THE DANISH GIRL – Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander (Nov 27)
Plot: The Danish Girl is the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Einar and Gerda Wegener (Redmayne and Vikander) whose marriage and work are cast into the unknown when Einar begins a groundbreaking journey to become one of the world’s first transgender women, Lili Elbe.
Outlook: The Danish Girl received a 10 minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, something that rarely happens. Eddie Redmayne could find himself once again at the center of an Oscar campaign.
I SAW THE LIGHT – Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen (Nov 27)
Plot: I Saw the Light is the story of the legendary Country Western singer Hank Williams who, in his brief life, created one of the greatest bodies of work in American music. The film chronicles his meteoric rise to fame and its ultimately tragic effect on his health and personal life.
Outlook: Is I Saw the Light another Walk the Line? With Tom Hiddleston in the lead and focusing on a beloved music superstar, I Saw the Light should draw in more than just Country music fans.
IN THE HEART OF THE SEA – Chris Hemsworth and Cillian Murphy (Dec 11)
Plot: In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. But that told only half the story. In the Heart of the Sea reveals the encounter’s harrowing aftermath, as the ship’s surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down.
Outlook: It may not be an awards contender, but In the Heart of the Sea has box office champ written all over it. A big budget action adventure set on the high seas, In the Heart of the Sea has Ron Howard directing and Thor‘s Hemsworth in the lead.
STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS – Starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher (Dec 18)
Plot: Set 30 years after the events in the film Return of the Jedi, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 return for more space battles against a new enemy known as the First Order with help from some new allies.
Outlook: With all the main lead actors returning to reprise their characters and J.J. Abrams at the helm, The Force Awakens will hopefully bring back to the franchise the fun, magic, fantasy, humor and amazing action that made the very first trilogy the greatest space fantasy saga of all time.
THE HATEFUL EIGHT – Starring Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson (Dec 25)
Plot: In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?
Outlook: Quentin Tarantino is back with a new Western that might help reignite the genre.
JOY – Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper (Dec 25)
Plot: Betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, pave the road in this intense emotional and human comedy about becoming a true boss of family and enterprise facing a world of unforgiving commerce. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy’s inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces.
Outlook: Joy has Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper back with their Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle director David O. Russell, and the threesome can be counted on to deliver something entertaining whenever they collaborate.
THE REVENANT – Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy (Dec 25)
Plot: Deep in the uncharted American wilderness, trapper Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is severely injured and left for dead by a traitorous member of his team, John Fitzgerald (Hardy). With sheer will as his only weapon, Glass must navigate a hostile environment, a brutal winter, and warring Native American tribes in relentless quest to survive and exact vengeance on Fitzgerald.
Outlook: Directed by Birdman‘s Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant is likely to be 20th Century Fox’s big Oscar push. Will this be the performance that finally gets DiCaprio a win in Oscar’s Best Actor category? González Iñárritu is one of the hottest directors in Hollywood right now and DiCaprio is overdue for a win.
POINT BREAK – Starring Edgar Ramirez and Luke Bracey (Dec 25)
Plot: Young FBI agent, Johnny Utah (Bracey), infiltrates a cunning team of thrill-seeking elite athletes – led by the charismatic Bodhi (Ramirez). The athletes are suspected of carrying out a spate of crimes in extremely unusual ways. Deep undercover, and with his life in imminent danger, Utah strives to prove they are the architects of this string of inconceivable crimes.
Outlook: Sure to be a forgettable remake of the 1991 cult classic that starred Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves.
Follow Us On: