Fast-Forwarding: A Glimpse at Fall 2014

Traditionally, with summer over, that means the year’s biggest films should already be out. Not this year. In 2013, the year’s top grosser was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – a November release. With a new entry in the series hitting theaters a year later, there’s a strong chance that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 will repeat that success for studio Lionsgate. Of course, there’s always a chance another film could top it, as you’ll see below.

Beyond that, it’s also the time of year for major Oscar contenders to come out. While a number will see releases in December, several highly buzzed-about films will be coming out between September and November.

So what films are we looking forward to here at OUTtakes this fall? Here are our top 10 most anticipated films of the fall.

Big Hero 6

In Theaters: November 7

The Studio’s Pitch: With all the heart and humor audiences expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Big Hero 6 is an action-packed comedy-adventure about robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, who learns to harness his genius-thanks to his brilliant brother Tadashi and their like-minded friends: adrenaline junkie Go Go Tamago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred. When a devastating turn of events catapults them into the midst of a dangerous plot unfolding in the streets of San Fransokyo, Hiro turns to his closest companion – a robot named Baymax – and transforms the group into a band of high-tech heroes determined to solve the mystery.

Why I’m Looking Forward to It: Disney’s recent animated output is the best it’s been in years. Now they’re tackling a Marvel property. And based on the initial previews, this film just looks fun. In particular, Baymax looks like he’ll be the film’s breakout character, and if he’s used as effectively in the film as he is in the trailers, then I’ll be sold.


Birdman

In Theaters: October 17 (National; Atlanta release date unspecified)

The Studio’s Pitch: Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.

Why I’m Looking Forward to It: Michael Keaton’s made some memorable spots in films over the past few years, and it’s good to see him get a leading role again. The fact that he’s playing an actor famous for playing a superhero gives his casting a wink-wink, nudge-nudge sort of joke.


Dear White People

In Theaters: October 17 (National; Atlanta release date unspecified)

The Studio’s Pitch: Winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent, Dear White People is a sly, provocative satire of race relations in the age of Obama. Writer/director Justin Simien follows a group of African American students as they navigate campus life and racial politics at a predominantly white college in a sharp and funny feature film debut that earned him a spot on Variety‘s annual “10 Directors to Watch.”

Why I’m Looking Forward to It: We’ll see how well the final product captures race relations in modern-day America, but the initial trailers appear to highlight some of the real issues in a humorously provocative way.


The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

In Theaters: September 19 (Atlanta; national release September 12)

The Studio’s Pitch: With his unique vision, writer/director Ned Benson ambitiously captures a complete picture of a relationship in the beautifully relatable portrait of love, empathy and truth that is The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. Once happily married, Conor (McAvoy) and Eleanor (Chastain) suddenly find themselves as strangers longing to understand each other in the wake of tragedy. The film explores the couple’s story as they try to reclaim the life and love they once knew and pick up the pieces of a past that may be too far gone. Screened for the first time at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Benson’s latest version of their story combines his previous two films – titled Him and Her – uniting their perspectives and taking a further look into the subjectivity of relationships.

Why I’m Looking Forward to It: The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is ultimately getting three releases: the combined version, subtitled Them, gets its release in a few weeks, while the individual Him and Her releases will come out later this fall. I like the idea of the release order; audiences will get to see the individual perspectives of the two leads after seeing them together, giving new interpretations to the story. I’m intrigued by the possibilities.


Foxcatcher

In Theaters: November 14

The Studio’s Pitch: Foxcatcher is a psychological drama directed by Academy Award nominee Bennett Miller (Moneyball) and starring Golden Globe winner Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo, Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave and Sienna Miller. The film was written by E. Max Frye and Academy Award nominee Dan Futterman. Foxcatcher tells the story of Olympic Gold Medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Tatum), who sees a way out from the shadow of his more celebrated wrestling brother Dave (Ruffalo) and a life of poverty when he is summoned by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont (Carell) to move onto his estate and train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Desperate to gain the respect of his disapproving mother, du Pont begins “coaching” a world-class athletic team and, in the process, lures Mark into dangerous habits, breaks his confidence and drives him into a self-destructive spiral. Based on actual events, Foxcatcher is a gripping and profoundly American story of fragile men who pinned their hopes for love and redemption on a desperate obsession for greatness that was to end in tragedy.

Why I’m Looking Forward to It: There’s something unsettling about Steve Carell’s performance, just based on the trailer. It’s the sort of unsettling, though, that piques my curiosity. Beyond that, Miller’s previous films – Moneyball and Capote – were both strong entries.


Gone Girl

In Theaters: October 3

The Studio’s Pitch: Gone Girl – directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. 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. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

Why I’m Looking Forward to It: David Fincher’s last two films – The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – were my #1 films for 2010 and 2011, respectively. With the promise of an ending that differs from the book, I’m curious to see where Fincher’s take will end up.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

In Theaters: November 21

The Studio’s Pitch: The worldwide phenomenon of The Hunger Games continues to set the world on fire with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, which finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a nation moved by her courage.

Why I’m Looking Forward to It: The Hunger Games was fine, but Catching Fire was a marked step forward. I credit director Francis Lawrence, who brought the right visual style and some inspired new cast members to the franchise. Thankfully, Lawrence is returning for the rest of the franchise’s run. I’m also interested in where the filmmakers decide to split Mockingjay. There are a few different places in the book that could work for the split, and there’s one in particular I’d love to see them use.


Interstellar

In Theaters: November 7

The Studio’s Pitch: Christopher Nolan directs his brother Jonathan’s script for this sci-fi film surrounding inter-dimensional travel based on the theories of physicist Kip Thorne. Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway star.

Why I’m Looking Forward to It: I’m a fan of Christopher Nolan’s work, and his first post-Dark Knight trilogy film looks appropriately massive. Nolan’s lined up a strong cast, too: in addition to McConaughey and Hathaway, stars include Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn and Michael Caine.


Men, Women & Children

In Theaters: October 3

The Studio’s Pitch: Men, Women & Children follows the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents as they attempt to navigate the many ways the internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives. The film attempts to stare down social issues such as video game culture, anorexia, infidelity, fame hunting, and the proliferation of illicit material on the internet. As each character and each relationship is tested, we are shown the variety of roads people choose – some tragic, some hopeful – as it becomes clear that no one is immune to this enormous social change that has come through our phones, our tablets, and our computers.

Why I’m Looking Forward to It: Director Jason Reitman’s Labor Day was an unusual step backward for someone whose previous films all ranged from good to great (Thank You for SmokingJunoUp in the AirYoung Adult). This looks like it will be darker than his previous output, but it’s also a far more intriguing concept. My one concern is the casting of Adam Sandler, though my guess is this will end up more like Punch-Drunk Love and less like Blended (dear God, I hope).


This Is Where I Leave You

In Theaters: September 19

The Studio’s Pitch: The dramatic comedy This is Where I Leave You is directed by Shawn Levy, and based on the hilarious and poignant best-selling novel by Jonathan Tropper. It features a starring ensemble cast including Golden Globe winner Jason Bateman (Arrested Development); Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner Tina Fey (30 Rock); and two-time Oscar (R) winner, multiple Golden Globe honoree and 2013 Emmy Award nominee Jane Fonda (KluteComing Home, HBO’s The Newsroom).

Why I’m Looking Forward to It: This one really just comes down to the cast for me. A family made up of Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver and Jane Fonda, with Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Timothy Olyphant and Connie Britton as various partners? Director Shawn Levy doesn’t have the best track record, but the talent of the cast alone should prove at least entertaining.

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