Men, Women & Children (Jason Reitman) – October 1 – A look at the sexual frustrations that young teenagers and adults face in today’s world. Starring Ansel Elgort, Adam Sandler, and Judy Greer
Jason Reitman continues to stray away from his dark dramedy past and into a more dramatic future. Labor Day wasn’t his best work by far – it didn’t even resemble anything he’s done before – but MW&C comes across as a return to form at least stylistically. I am cautiously optimistic, especially with that cast.
Gone Girl (David Fincher) Rated R – October 3 – With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent. Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tyler Perry
Any David Fincher film (Fight Club; The Social Network; Se7en) is a must-see event film. His presence has been widely missed on the big screen since 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. There is a different aura that Fincher captures on film that makes him one of the best auteurs of our generation. Although I have not read this widely popular book, the story does intrigue me based on the buzz surrounding the ending.
The Good Lie (Philippe Falardeau) Rated PG-13 – October 3 – A Sudanese refugee is taken in by a straight-talking American woman in their new home in the United States. Starring Corey Stoll, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Baker, and Thad Luckinbill
The subject matter in The Good Lie is something fresh that we don’t really hear about in mainstream news. Based on the trailer, Reese Witherspoon seems to be channeling her inner Erin Brockovich to fight for the rights of others. I don’t think it will break boundaries, but it seems like a feel good movie you can get behind.
Annabelle (John R. Leonetti) Not Yet Rated – October 3 – John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia – a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now… Annabelle. Starring Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard, Eric Ladin, and Tony Amendola
The director of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and The Butterfly Effect 2 has come out hiding to bring us the horror spin-off of the year. Although Leonetti has a keen eye behind the camera as the cinematographer for The Conjuring, Insidious, Piranha 3D, Honey, and The Scorpion King, I don’t know how comfortable I am with him in the director seat for a James Wan inspired project. (Watch the trailer)
The Judge (David Dobkin) Rated R – October 10 – Big city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, and Balthazar Getty
It’s hard to remove Robert Downey Jr. from his role as Tony Stark, and even his off-screen persona, but The Judge looks like Mr. RDJ is looking to win the hearts of millions as a fast talking family man lawyer. This will be his first big dramatic role since The Soloist (2009), which he didn’t do bad on, but it just wasn’t that strong of a film. The plot is a little cliché in terms of forced family bonding, but I believe it will have the heart to succeed.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Miguel Arteta) Rated PG – October 10 – Alexander wakes up with gum in his hair, and things just get worse as his day progresses. Starring Bella Thorne, Jennifer Coolidge, Jennifer Garner, and Steve Carell
Steve Carell has quite the diverse filmography (Despicable Me; Anchorman; Burt Wonderstone; The Way Way Back; Dan in Real Life), which makes him a very likeable guy whenever you see him. Taking on a PG-family film, Carell steps into yet another father figure role based on a children’s book. I don’t have high hopes for Alexander, but it could be a cute throwaway fun family adventure.
Addicted (Bille Woodruff) Not Yet Rated – October 10 – A wife is tested when she cheats on her husband, and it threatens to ruin her and her family. Starring Kat Graham, William Levy, Boris Kodjoe, and Sharon Leal
No. This looks like a incredibly more melodramatic, and even more terrible version of Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.
Whiplash (Damien Chazelle) Rated R – October 10 – A young musician struggles to make it as a top jazz drummer. Starring Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, and Paul Reiser
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance this year, a feat that is quite the honor to achieve, I’m excited to see the visceral chemistry between Teller as student and Simmons as teacher. I like Tellar as an actor, but he has some of the most unlikeable roles, and I only hope that Whiplash can turn the tides for his career.
Kill the Messenger (Michael Cuesta) Rated R – October 10 – A reporter becomes the target of a vicious smear campaign that drives him to the point of suicide after he exposes the CIA’s role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua and importing cocaine into California. Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb. Starring Jeremy Renner, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michael Sheen, and Ray Liotta
Another by the books, period piece about busting a drug ring operation based on true events. Sure the cast has all the right elements, but haven’t we seen enough of these?
Fury (David Ayer) Rated R – October 17 – April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and out-gunned, 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. Starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña, and Scott Eastwood
End of Watch really surprised me and Training Day is pretty good, so I believe Ayer has the right skills to wrangle this ragtag group of actors to put something really cool together. I think what this movie is really going to depend on is the cast, which by the look of the trailer has what it takes; even with LeBeouf. We’ve seen plenty of war films before, but what I’m feeling Fury has is like nothing we’ve experienced before.
The Best of Me (Michael Hoffman) – October 17 – A pair of former high school sweethearts reunite after many years when they return to visit their small hometown. Starring Michelle Monaghan, Liana Liberato, James Marsden, and Luke Bracey
Here’s our Nicholas Sparks movie of the year to fill the quota. I believe we all have a pretty good grasp by now what audiences will be getting into with this melodramatic, formulaic soap opera that calls itself a movie.
The Book of Life (Jorge R. Gutierrez) Rated PG – October 17 – Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears. Starring Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, and Danny Trejo
This isn’t even a DreamWorks Animation film and my eyes have already rolled out of my head with the stupid, cheese ball usage of current music and the use of the word “bro.” The animation looks very colorful, but I don’t really dig the box-puppet character designs. The story seems OK though.
Dracula Untold (Gary Shore) Rated PG-13 – October 17 – The origin story of the man who becomes Dracula. Starring Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Samantha Barks, and Sarah Gadon
Anytime you put Lorde’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” on a trailer for something – I’m looking at you Assassin’s Creed: Unity teaser trailer – it’s guaranteed to get the hairs tingling on your arm and your adrenaline pumping. However, it won’t save you if your concept is the new origin story for Dracula.
Camp X-Ray (Peter Sattler) – October 17 – A soldier assigned to Guantanamo Bay befriends a man who has been imprisoned there for eight years. Starring Kristen Stewart, Peyman Moaadi, and Lane Garrison
As much as Kristen Stewart’s dead eyes fail to impress me, they don’t seem to be present when I watch the trailer for Camp X-Ray. The Green Mile without the magic or a mouse, Kirsten Stewart’s empathy toward her prisoner seems very genuine and this role could be exactly what she needs to ignite her career. She was decent in Adventureland, but this might be her best performance to date.
Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu) Rated R – October 17 – A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory. Starring Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, and Andrea Riseborough
Now this is a great perspective on what the current trend of superhero genre films are doing to our top actors in Hollywood. As I stated before, are you able to separate Robert Downey Jr. from his Tony Stark persona? Michael Keaton has been tearing it up this past decade in a lot of unique roles and I can sense Birdman will be one of his best.
Dear White People (Justin Simien) – October 17 – A satire that follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over a popular African American-themed party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in post-racial America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world. Starring Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon Bell, Kyle Gallner, and Dennis Haysbert
Winning the Special Jury Prize at Sundance this year, I’m looking forward to this in your face satire about racism in today’s culture. There have been so many biopics and period pieces about race and how we’ve treated the subject matter in the past, but how about how we treat each other in the present? That’s where my curiosity in newcomer Justin Simien lies.
Ouija (Stiles White) Rated PG-13 – October 24 – A group of friends must confront their most terrifying fears when they awaken the dark powers of an ancient spirit board. Starring Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff, and Bianca A. Santos
Ouija has been in development hell forever and it’s finally going to show its face to audiences this Halloween season. As silly of a concept it is, it has the right tone to actually give audiences the heebie jeebies. Now if only they disguised the fact that it is a movie about a Ouija board with a different title, than I could take it more seriously.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (Matthew Vaughn) – October 24 – A veteran secret agent takes a young upstart under his wing. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Firth, Jack Davenport, and Mark Hamill
Matthew Vaughn’s style has always appealed to me, but something about the footage I saw at Wondercon hasn’t really excited me as much as Kick-Ass or X-Men: First Class. I like Colin Firth, but I’m not too keen of a concept Kingsman is going with here.
White Bird in a Blizzard (Gregg Araki) Rated R – October 24 – In 1988, a teenage girl’s life is thrown into chaos when her mother disappears. Starring Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, and Shiloh Fernandez
Divergent might have been just a little hiccup, but I’m still drinking the Shailene Woodley Kool-Aid. Her performances in The Descendants and The Spectacular Now have stored up enough street cred to give her a pass for that terrible YA disaster.
St. Vincent (Theodore Melfi) Rated PG-13 – October 24 – A young boy whose parents just divorced finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic, war veteran who lives next door. Starring Naomi Watts, Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, and Chris O’Dowd
If Gran Torino or Bad Santa have taught us anything is that youth’s without a father figure find the best life advice from ornery old men. Filling the void for this young whipper snapper is Bill Murray, how could anything possibly go wrong?
Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy) Rated R – October 31 – A young man stumbles upon the underground world of L.A. freelance crime journalism. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, and Ann Cusack
Jake Gyllenhaal appears to be going full Nic Cage meets Christian Bale’s Patrick Batman in his performance in Nightcrawler. And with that combination matched with Gyllenhaal’s hot streak of dark roles, Nightcrawler may be one of the best hidden gems of the fall.
The ABCs of Death 2 (Many Directors) – October 31 – Be ready to learn your ABC’s again with 26 new directors and 26 new deaths bring your kids to a blood and gore filled horror so good your face will be blood red. Starring Lots of people
After the fantastic fanfare behind the V/H/S anthology series, it’s no surprise we are seeing a follow up to The ABCs of Death. As daring and bizarre The ABCs might be, they aren’t exactly fully fleshed out short films that add up to anything of value. Perhaps only a quarter of them were worth seeing, but I am looking forward to what this next batch of horror directors have to offer. You can check out the first ABC’s of Death on Netflix now.
Horns (Alexandre Aja) Rated R – September 6 – In the aftermath of his girlfriend’s mysterious death, a young man awakens to strange horns sprouting from his temples. Starring Juno Temple, Daniel Radcliffe, Heather Graham
Daniel Radcliffe has had quite the whirlwind of parts in a post-Harry Potter world. From horror to romantic comedy to a dramatic biopic, Mr. Radcliffe has stretched his acting chops and has earned himself in one of the most bizarre features of his career. Based on the premise and the director, Alexander Aja (The Hills Have Eyes; Piranha), Horns will be another little gem to look out for.