Our Most Anticipated Movies of Fall 2014
As you can see from our top 5 movies of summer, 2014 has already been a somewhat successful year on the critical front. However, the year is only halfway over and the real critical contenders are set to launch this fall. As with any fall season, we have a handful of the greatest directors in the industry chasing Oscar gold (Fincher, Nolan, and Anderson replacing 2013’s lineup of Scorsese, Russell, and Payne). Interestingly, there are a few fall films with huge box office potential, which will hopefully help to offset this year’s terrible fiscal performance. From Harry Potter/Satan crossovers, to thought-provoking Sci-Fi epics, this fall is unlikely to disappoint.
5. Gone Girl
Synopsis: A synopsis of Gone Girl appears deceptively conventional on its face: “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.” The film is based on the global bestseller written by Gillian Flynn, who also penned the screenplay for this adaptation. David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club) is directing.
Why you should be excited: I realize the synopsis of this film makes it seem like a high production value adaptation of a Lifetime movie (my
secret guilty pleasure), but this is not the case. Flynn’s novel is nothing short of an literary phenomenon, selling over 2 million copies in it’s first year alone. I am about half way through the novel at the moment, and I can honestly say that it lives up to the hype. Flynn’s characters and writing style make for one of the most original thrillers in recent memory; a breath of fresh air in a genre often riddled with convention. The combination of Flynn’s screenplay, Fincher’s directing talents, and Affleck’s acting chops should make for one of the most entertaining movies of the year. Plus, Neil Patrick Harris has a supporting role, so you can pretty much take my money now.
Release Date: October 3rd
4. The Interview
Synopsis: In The Interview, Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show “Skylark Tonight.” When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim Jong-un. The film is written and directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan (This is the End).
Why you should be excited: In their follow-up to the simply amazing This is the End, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have chosen once again to push the boundaries of the action-comedy genre. Pineapple Express, another film penned by Rogan and Goldberg, is one of the most seamlessly blended genre films in recent history. The Interview feels both like a spiritual sequel to Pineapple Express, and an extension of its ambitions. Rogan and Goldberg now have the budget and clout to send their hilarious thrill-seeking protagonists on an international espionage adventure. Not to mention that this movie nearly sparked a war between the U.S. and North Korea from its trailer alone. There is no denying that Rogan and Goldberg have shaped the comic landscape of this generation, and I have faith that they will continue their nearly spotless track record. On a side note, for fan’s of the cult comic Preacher (this critic’s favorite comic series), The Interview will actually serve as a benchmark to see the creative evolution of Goldberg and Rogan before they adapt the massive series for AMC .
Release Date: Christmas Day
Synopsis: In the aftermath of his girlfriend’s mysterious death, a young man (Daniel Radcliff) awakens to strange horns sprouting from his temples. Directed by Alexandre Aja (Piranha, Maniac, High Tension).
Why you should be excited: Throughout the history of horror cinema, there has been a long standing tradition of directors who dedicate the majority of their career to the genre (George A. Romero, Dario Argento, John Carpenter). Aja is part of a new wave of directors that share a similar dedication to all things spooky, lovingly named the “Splat Pack.” Aside from James Wan (The Conjuring, Saw), Aja is the most promising director in the bunch. After the success of the stellar (until the ending) High Tension, Aja has spent the majority of his career remaking cult classics from the 70’s and 80’s. A practice that this testy critic would normally condemn, I have to give Aja a pass on. The reason? His remakes have all either matched or surpassed the quality of the originals. If you like horror, check out both Piranha (2010), and Maniac (2012) for proof of Aja’s durability in the genre. Unfortunately, Horns received mixed reviews from its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. However, the high concept script, coupled with Aja’s proven talent and the sheer idea of a Harry Potter/Satan crossover, will likely win over the heart of this horror fan.
Release Date: October 31st
Synopsis: In the future, governments and economies across the globe have collapsed, food is scarce, NASA is no more, and the 20th Century is to blame. A mysterious rip in spacetime opens and it’s up to whatever is left of NASA to explore and offer up hope for mankind. 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. The film stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain. The film is directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception).
Why you should be excited: This one is the biggest no-brainers on the list. Nolan is arguably the best blockbuster filmmaker since Spielberg, and he is collaborating on a science fiction epic with the hottest actor in the business (McConaughey). Details about the film have been sparse, but Nolan has stated it will be in the same vein as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, and Blade Runner. From the trailers, Interstellar seems to be a space epic along the line of the aforementioned films, but filtered through a distinctly American lens. To be honest, the marketing materials thus far have been somewhat underwhelming. However, the sheer amount of talent involved, and Nolan’s spotless track record, is enough to get anyone excited.
Release Date: November 7th
1. Inherent Vice
Synopsis: In Los Angeles in 1970, drug-fueled detective Larry “Doc” Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend. Doc is a private eye who sees the world through a sticky dope haze, animated by the music of an era whose hallmarks were peace, love, and revolution. The film is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood), and stars Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Benicio Del Toro, and Owen Wilson.
Why you should be excited: On multiple occasions Quentin Tarantino has analogized his (friendly) rivalry with Paul Thomas Anderson to the rivalry between Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma in the 70’s and 80’s. This analogy could not be more accurate. Anderson is the greatest, or second greatest for you Tarantino fans, filmmaker to come out of the indie boom of the 90’s. While Tarantino’s CV boasts the violent cult favorites that made Scorsese a legend, Anderson is cultivating a diverse and intricate filmography akin to De Palma. Personally, I was underwhelmed by his last feature, The Master. However, this disappointment has only heightened my expectations for Inherent Vice. Based on early screenings, critics have been favorably comparing it to The Big Lebowski. After the dreariness of There Will be Blood and The Master, I can’t wait for Anderson to get back to the more playful tone of Boogie Nights. Furthermore, the idea of Anderson working with Joaquin Phoenix again is worth the price of admission alone (Phoenix’s mesmerizing performance in The Master was the best part of that entire film). As with all of Anderson’s movies, this one will sure to be on the Oscar radar come February.
Release Date: January 9th
Honorable Mentions: Birdman, Nightcrawler, Fury