It’s that time of the year again. The leaves are changing, the kids are going back to school, Halloween and Thanksgiving are right around the corner. Before we know it the year will be over. More important than any of that though…it’s OSCAR SEASON. That’s right folks. We are entering the golden months leading up to the Academy Awards where just about every week a promising movie releases. This year already looks to be one of the best in a long time. Allow me to take you on a tour of some of the biggest don’t-miss films of the coming months, sure to deliver some powerful performances, innovative directing, clever writing, and hard-hitting emotional drama.
Prisoners (September 20th) – The first major drama of the season, and one of my most anticipated is probably one of the darkest movies you’ll see this year. Hugh Jackman gives what hitflix.com calls his “best performance” alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, Mario Bello, Terrance Howard, Viola Davis, and Paul Dano. Wow. Jackman plays a father who goes to unsettling lengths in an attempt to find his presumed kidnapped daughter. This near 2 hour and 30 minute picture was directed by Oscar nominee Denis Villeneuve and has critics praising everything about it. Did I mention legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins shot it? Yeah, the Skyfall guy. Leave the kids at home and prepare to be disturbed on this intense ride.
Gravity (October 4th) – Alfonso Cuaron’s latest was a long time in the making. The Sandra Bullock and George Clooney starring film took reportedly years to complete thanks to the effects. Apparently it paid off though, as Oscar winner James Cameron recently was quoted calling the movie “the best space film ever done.” Set in the environment of open space far above planet earth, this film is far more than just a spectacle. Critics are praising the human elements to the film’s characters that make for one of the most intense dramas of the year. Clooney plays an astronaut and Bullock plays a medical engineer. They are stuck floating out in space. That’s all the trailer really tells us. Every person who has seen it so far loves it. Start saving your money now. Those IMAX 3D tickets ain’t cheap.
12 Years a Slave (October 18th) – Django Unchained this is NOT. Steve McQueen follows up the controversial Shame with this intense depiction of slavery. The true story follows Chiwetel Ejiofor playing a man kidnapped and forced to work on a plantation in New Orleans in the 1800’s. The film just played the Toronto International Film Festival and was met with overwhelming acclaim. The stellar supporting cast includes Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberatch, and Paul Giamatii. Despite just premiering, it has already been notably compared to Shindler’s List. Yeah, THAT good. Audiences tired of race dramas after Lee Daniels’ The Butler need to give this one a chance.
The Counselor (October 25th) – This is the first film on my list that hasn’t been screened for critics yet. If the talent behind it is any indication though, this will be another movie to not miss. Cormac McCarthy, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Road, wrote this original screenplay. No, not a book, the actual screenplay. Why? Clearly McCarthy had a story to tell that he felt lent itself to a cinematic telling. Directed by legend Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz, the drama follows a lawyer’s one-time illegal business deal spiral out of control. Not much else is known, but I wouldn’t want to spoiler it even if I did have more information. Even Hank from Breaking Bad (Dean Norris) is in it! Do they have your money yet?
The Wolf of Wall Street (November 15th) – No list of Oscar favorites is complete without the latest from Martin Scorsese. At least recently that is. Here’s another star-studded cast. Leonardo DiCaprio leads Jonah Hill, Mathew McConaughey, Jean Dujardin, and Kyle Chandler in a true story about crooked banker. Set in the 1990’s, the movie promises to have just as much comedy as it does drama, if the trailer is any indication. As soon as the trailer started and I heard that Kanye West song, they had me in a seat. Expect this one to wash the taste of Gatsby out of your mouth.
Inside Llewyn Davis (December 6th) – The Coen Brothers’ latest is gaining a lot of early buzz as one of their best. From watching the trailer, I believe it. Oscar Isaac looks to be perfectly cast as a sympathetic folk singer in the 1960’s trying his best to make a living through his music. The supporting players include Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, and John Goodman. Critics who have seen it say its melancholy in a perfect way. That seals the deal that we are not in for another Burn After Reading, thankfully. Although, I wouldn’t have minded some more angry John Malkovich.
Dallas Buyer’s Club (December 6th) – This movie snatched up a ton of buzz very recently when lead actor Mathew McConaughey received a standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film follows the true story of a Texas man who began a club in the 1980’s supplying HIV patients with unapproved medicines after being diagnosed with the disease himself. His battle with pharmaceutical companies leads to a change of heart for this conservative and closed-minded Texan. The film is being labeled as inspirational and powerful, mostly in thanks to McConaughey’s acting. Perhaps this will be the one that finally gets him that Oscar.
Ameircan Hustle (December 13th) – It has only been a year since director David O. Russell and stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence charmed everyone in the country with Silver Linings Playbook, and already they’re back at it. This time around Russell adds previous co-workers Christian Bale and Amy Addams into the mix, along with Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner. In a step away from the romantic dramedy, this film follows a con-man teaming up with an FBI agent to enter the world of the mafia in a dangerous adventure. Nobody has seen it yet, but the trailer is cool and tons of talented people worked on this one. It would be surprising if this WASN’T Oscar worthy material.
There are only so many movies I can recommend. This season is going to be packed to the gills with hits. Here are a few more big releases coming out that you’re going to want to keep your eyes on. On September 18th the late James Gandolfini can be seen in his last leading role in the romantic comedy Enough Said. September 27th marks the release of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, Don Jon, as well as Ron Howard’s latest, Rush, the latter of which is gaining a ton of awards buzz thanks to leads Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl. Paul Greengrass’ latest, Captain Phillip, hits on October 11th, sure to bring some thrilling excitement with lead Tom Hanks playing a Captain who fights back when pirates invade his ship. 3 hour long, NC-17 rated French film, Blue is the Warmest Color is surprisingly one you should not miss on October 25th according to its win of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes. Ender’s Game on the 1st, Thor: The Dark World on the 8th, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on the 22nd are sure to make November a huge month at the box office. Finally in December we have The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on the 13th and 2 more Oscar hopefuls during the last official week of fall: Her starring Joaquin Phoenix and The Monuments Men starring, written, and directed by George Clooney both come in on the 18th. That’s all for now. See you at the movies!