2015 Fall Movie Preview

Expectations are a tricky thing. In years past, I’ve listed duds like Labor Day, Carnage, Love and Other Drugs, and various The Hobbit movies in various iterations of this very column. On the flip side, there’s something like Wild last year, which I expected to be an obnoxiously transparent Oscar play. Or Drug War from 2013, which I had no expectations for as a Johnnie To virgin at the time. Or The Perks of Being a Wallflower from 2012, which looked like young adult drivel going into the fall.

The point is you should take this list with a grain of salt because my enthusiasm for a film’s premise, cast, crew, or marketing materials don’t mean squat when it comes to quality. Hell, odds are at least a film or two on my end-of-year top 20 list aren’t on my radar at all on this date in August.

Still, expectations are a huge factor in determining what I see and when I see it. So for better or worse—and with all due respect to 99 Homes, Beasts of No Nation, Mississippi Grind, Truth, The Walk, and a bunch of others—these are the 15 films that will define my moviegoing and my movie-related excitement for the next four months.


15.) Creed
I’m not entirely sure where the rest of the room sits on this Rocky spinoff, but I’m so onboard. Our last visit to this world—Rocky Balboa—was surprisingly terrific, and this one reunites Fruitvale Station star and director Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler.



14.) Chiraq
The latest Spike Lee joint is Amazon’s first foray into original film distribution. I’m less interested in that fact than the fact that it’s a Spike Lee joint about violence in Chicago’s streets.



13.) Bridge of Spies
Spielberg. Hanks. Cold War spy drama. Only my lukewarm feelings toward Spielberg’s last few films—Lincoln chief among them—is keeping this one from a top three spot on this list.



12.) Crimson Peak
Guillermo del Toro has set down the battle bots and is ready to make the kind of movie that will have my shaking in my boots, both with excitement and because I’ll probably be scared shitless.



11.) The Martian
I read the novel upon which Ridley Scott’s latest is based. It’s a quick, fun read that’s popular enough to hopefully allow the director to break the so-called Mars curse at the movies.



10.) The Good Dinosaur
It’s Pixar, so there’s m-word upside here. I’m not sure what I’ve seen gives off that vibe, but even most of the studio’s lesser efforts approach excellence.



9.) Black Mass
It would be awesome to see a true Johnny Depp comeback begin here, but that’s not why I’m excited for Black Mass. Reason one is director Scott Cooper, who seems right on the cusp of an m-word, and reason two is Whitey, the wonderfully compelling documentary made on this story last year—one of my 20 best films of 2014.



8.) Spotlight
In placing this one here, I’m betting big on The Cobbler being an enormous outlier among Thomas McCarthy’s films, but everything you see and hear about it says that’s a solid bet. A film about the Boston Globe‘s reporting on the Catholic Church sex scandal, it features one of the best casts of the fall—Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, John Slattery, and Stanley Tucci, among others.



7.) Everest
This one could really go either way, but I’m a sucker for a good mountain climbing adventure story. This one is directed by Baltasar Kormákur of 2 Guns fame, but the appeal for me is both the cast (Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson) and the source material (Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air—one of my favorite books).



6.) Carol
One of just two films on this list to have actually screened publicly (see below for #2), Carol is Todd Haynes’ return to feature filmmaking after eight(!) years. Between Safe and Far From Heaven, he has a permanent free pass from me, but it was Carol‘s ecstatic Cannes notices that catapulted into the upper echelon of this list.



5.) The Revenant
Boy, wouldn’t it be something if Alejandro G. Iñárritu could win back-to-back Oscars? Now Birdman was not my cup of tea, but the director usually hits my buttons, and everything I’ve seen and heard about The Revenant looks spectacular (not to mention right up my alley).



4.) The Hateful Eight
Tarantino. End of story.



3.) Sicario
Here’s the second Cannes film on my list, and while Todd Haynes has a deeper, more consistent track record, Denis Villeneuve has some momentum behind him. Prisoners is a brilliant, beautiful thriller, and this one looks similarly brilliant and beautiful. Deakins 2016.



2.) Spectre
After Skyfall, I have complete faith in Sam Mendes as a Bond director. And if Deakins couldn’t be DP, I’m thrilled that Hoyte van Hoytema stepped up to the plate.



1.) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Cliche choice, and I’m sure there are literally millions of people more excited about this film than I am, but nevertheless, I can’t wait to just sit in a theater and let a new Star Wars opening crawl wash over me.

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