By James Hancock September 13th, 2015
With the Toronto International Festival in full swing and the Telluride Film Festival already in our rear-view mirror, we’re starting to get a pretty good idea of the must-see movies this Fall from the more character-driven dramas like Carol to the latest entries in the more action-driven franchises of James Bond and Star Wars. I think this Fall has a wide range of movies from tentpoles to tadpoles with incredible potential and I decided I was long overdue in assembling a list of my top 10 films I am most excited to see. As is the case with any list of this nature, some very worthy movies fell by the wayside but that is part of the fun of assembling these lists in the first place. I would love to hear from anyone about what omissions are the most glaring and what everyone is looking forward to seeing.
Release dates are for the United States.
(Dir. Kent Jones, 12/11/2015) I’m cheating a bit including this film in that I already saw it at Telluride (see my review here) but Hitchcock/Truffaut is already one of my favorite movies about filmmaking I have ever seen. I was deeply depressed after seeing it when I was unable to get right back in line to watch it again. For fans of film history, this movie is 80 straight minutes of pure nirvana and I’ll be first in line to see it again when it finally comes to theaters.
9. The Lobster
(Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos, 9/27/2015 – New York Film Festival) I have never seen a movie by Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) but there are a lot of people whose opinions I respect that really seem to love his work. The premise alone for The Lobster makes me want to see it. Colin Farrell lives in a strange future where single people are required to go to a Hotel where they have 45 days to fall in love or be turned into the animal of their choice. Farrell has to make something happen before he spends the rest of his life as a lobster. I’m in.
(Dir. Brian Helgeland, 10/2/2015) I’ll pretty much see anything starring Tom Hardy but seeing him pull double duty as twin gangsters in 1960s London is way too enticing to pass up. Director Brian Helgeland co-wrote one of my all-time favorite crime films L.A. Confidential (1997) so it is a real treat for me seeing him return to the genre. I’m crossing my fingers that Hardy manages to replicate what Jeremy Irons pulled off for David Cronenberg back in Dead Ringers (1988).
7. Steve Jobs
(Dir. Danny Boyle, 10/9/2015) Steve Jobs was the runaway success of this year’s Telluride Film Festival and I’m still kicking myself for not finding a way to get into one of the screenings. As excited as I am to see Michael Fassbender’s interpretation of Steve Jobs, most of my excitement stems from getting to hear some of Aaron Sorkin’s crackling dialogue. At his best, I think Sorkin is one of the best writers in the business as we saw with David Fincher’s The Social Network (2010). Let’s hope lightning can strike twice in the same place.
6. Crimson Peak
(Dir. Guillermo Del Toro, 10/16/2015) I’m the first to admit that Del Toro’s films can be wildly unpredictable in their overall effectiveness but I count myself a huge fan of his in that I know his heart is always in the right place for what he wants to achieve. His obsessive but ultimately failed efforts to adapt H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ have made me a fan for life but even better is the charming video he made with Criterion Collection where he gives a tour through Bleak House, his personal man cave of horrific stories and art designed to stimulate creativity. It is the kind of environment where I would like to retire in perpetuity. At any rate, I absolutely love his film Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) and I’m looking forward to seeing Del Toro tackle a proper gothic ghost story. It is the type of movie that he was born to make. Also, the film stars Jessica Chastain, a goddess for whom I would gladly die one thousand deaths.
5. Beasts of No Nation
(Dir. Cary Fukunaga, 10/16/2015) I promise this is the last time I’ll cheat but I already saw Fukunaga’s absolutely harrowing new film Beasts of No Nation (see my review here) while at Telluride. I was already a fan of Fukunaga but Beasts of No Nation confirms that Fukunaga is one of the most talented young directors of his generation. This movie will absolutely terrify many viewers but they will never forget the experience. Idris Elba and his young costar Abraham Attah both deliver show-stealing performances that should generate plenty of attention during award season.
(Dir. Sam Mendes, 11/6/2015) I’m been obsessed with the James Bond franchise my entire life and, for my money, thought that Skyfall (2012) was one of the strongest movies in the history of the franchise. I loved how the movie felt very modern but at the same time managed to push the reset button taking the franchise back to its roots. When I heard that director Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig were returning for another film, I just about peed my pants. I’m the first to admit that the James Bond franchise is hit and miss at best but as every Bond fan knows, we watch these movies for the individual scenes, villains, girls, stunts and songs that make up the highlight reel for what we feel represents the best the franchise has to offer. Al I ask from any Bond movie is that I get a few great moments to add to the reel. Check out my compilation of all my favorite Bond moments here.
3. The Revenant
(Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, 12/25/2015) One of my favorite movies of last year was Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), a movie unlike anything that had come before that managed to tackle so many fascinating topics from producing a play in New York to living in the shadow of being a once-famous star of a major superhero franchise. Iñárritu has a lot of credit in the bank with me after that amazing film. Rather than play is safe after collecting a shelf of Oscars, Iñárritu is carving a path in an entirely new direction with what looks like one of the most ferocious tales of violence and revenge in recent memory. At this point for me, any film by Iñárritu is an event not to be missed.
2. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
(Dir. J.J. Abrams, 12/18/2015) The Force is strong with this one. I’m not ashamed to admit that get I misty-eyed each time I see Han and Chewie appear in the latest trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. I think I can safely speak for everyone from Generation X that this looks like the Star Wars movie we’ve been waiting for since 1983. While a handful of games and comics have scratched my itch for quality Star Wars over the last few decades, this is a movie that I have been desperately waiting to see for 32 years. While George Lucas deserves all the credit in the world for his original creation, I am doing cartwheels over the fact that he has had nothing to do with this latest production. From the new cast, the old, the practical effects, the John Williams score, and the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote my favorite film in the franchise Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back) everything about this movie seems to scream that J.J. Abrams has cracked the code for resurrecting a franchise that was humiliated by Episodes I, II & III in 1999, 2002, and 2005. If this movie is even halfway decent, there is a very real chance that it could become the most commercially successful film of all time.
1. The Hateful Eight
(Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 12/25/2015) Quentin Tarantino is not only my favorite living filmmaker but also one of my favorite living film historians. I’ve long lost track of all the amazing movies that I’ve seen because of his suggestions he’s made in interviews and presentations or through his elaborate homages in his work. While most film fans all seem to agree that Pulp Fiction (1994) is one of the essential movies of the 1990s, I actually prefer Tarantino’s 21st century work such as Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & II (2003-2004), Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012) all of which I saw many times. In anticipation of The Hateful Eight I indulged in a Sergio Corbucci marathon, knowing that Corbucci is one of Tarantino’s favorite directors of westerns. I particularly enjoyed ‘Il Grande Silenzio’ aka ‘The Great Silence’ (1968), a clear influence on Tarantino’s approach to The Hateful Eight and when I saw the official teaser for The Hateful Eight, I doubled down on my anticipation for the movie. Seeing this thing in 70mm is the best Christmas present I could ask for.
So that’s all I have for now. I obviously left out many amazing films that I look forward to discovering but just from this list alone, I feel we have an incredible Fall lineup in store for us. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is a very good time to be a movie fan.
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