Collider’s Most Anticipated Movies: October to December

     October 2, 2014

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The summer movie season is behind us, and there is a lot to look forward to in the closing months of 2014.  As always there’s plenty of adult dramas to dig through, but the year’s final releases are an eclectic bunch ranging from massive-scale sci-fi films to psychedelic period romps, and there are more than a couple of new releases from some of the best filmmakers working today.  It’s an embarrassment of riches, but Matt, Adam, Perri, and Evan have each pored over the release calendar and picked out their five most anticipated films of this final quarter.  It certainly wasn’t easy.

Hit the jump to find out what they can’t wait to see and why.

Matt’s Picks

[Note: I’ve seen Men, Women & Children, Whiplash, Gone Girl, Nightcrawler, Rosewater, and Foxcatcher. In case you’re wondering, they’re all worth seeing.]

BIRDMAN

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DirectorAlejandro González Iñárritu

Cast: Michael KeatonEdward NortonNaomi WattsEmma StoneZach GalifianakisAndrea Riseborough, and Amy Ryan.

Release Date: October 17th (Limited)

Why I’m Excited: Aside from all the glowing buzz the film has received from film festival audiences, I’m really excited to see Michael Keaton get a meaty lead role, and one that probably only he could play given that the plot is semi-biographical with regards to his previous work as the Caped Crusader.  Throw in a terrific cast, the intriguing premise, and the fact that it’s made to look like one long shot, and I’ll overlook the fact that the only Iñárritu film I like is Amores Perros.

INTERSTELLAR

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Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne HathawayJessica ChastainCasey AffleckMichael Caine, David OyelowoWes BentleyJohn LithgowEllen BurstynTopher GraceDavid GyasiMackenzie FoyBill IrwinTimothée Chalamet, and Matt Damon.

Release Date: November 7th

Why I’m Excited: Because only Christopher Nolan gets to make a film this size on this scale.  Let that be a lesson to other filmmakers: as long as you direct one of the most successful superhero franchises of all-time, you’re free to make blockbusters that aren’t based on per-existing material.  With Interstellar, I’m particularly invested in the film championing space exploration even if the film’s plot shows that the exploration has been forced not by a desire to learn, but by the need to find a new home before the Earth crumples up and dies.

INHERENT VICE

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Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Martin Short, Jena Malone, Katherine Waterson, and Joanna Newsom.

Release Date: December 12th (Limited)

Why I’m Excited: There Will Be Blood is fantastic and The Master is interesting, but leading up to Inherent Vice, I started to wonder if Paul Thomas Anderson might return to something a little more peppy instead of directly cerebral.  His movies have always been smart and emotionally resonant, but Inherent Vice looks like it could easily be the funniest film he’s made while still retaining the strange, unique vibe of his previous efforts.

THE INTERVIEW

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Director: Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen

Cast: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park, and Lizzy Caplan.

Release Date: December 25th

Why I’m Excited: Aside from the fact that both the red-band and the green-band trailers made me laugh a lot, I want to see how Rogen and Goldberg develop as directors.  This Is the End was an incredibly strong debut, and I’m very curious to see how The Interview compares.  Also, if the film is a success, Rogen and Goldberg will have had a damn fine 2014 since they also wrote the script for one of the year’s funniest movies, Neighbors.

BIG EYES

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Directors: Tim Burton

Cast: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, Terrence Stamp, Jason Schwartzman, and Danny Huston.

Release Date: December 25th

Why I’m Excited: Tim Burton might make a real movie again!  With real people and everything!  It’s a little sad that we’ve reached this point, but one of the most frustrating things about Tim Burton’s filmography for the last decade is that we know he can be so much better without leaving behind his artistic sensibilities.  The director found a kinship with his title character in Ed Wood, and it led to one of Burton’s best movies.  Hopefully, he’s found another honest connection with jilted painter Margaret Keane (Adams), and that will give us a Tim Burton movie that doesn’t have us rolling our eyes (no matter their size).

Adam’s Picks

[Note: I have seen and highly recommend Nightcrawler, Foxcatcher, Men, Women & Children, The Imitation Game, and Wild. They’re all really good!]

FURY 

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Director: David Ayer

Cast: Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Jason Isaacs, Michael Pena, and Jon Bernthal

Release Date: October 17th

Why I’m Excited: World War II films are nothing new, but I’m really intrigued by this war drama from director and veteran David Ayer.  For one, it’s an original story.  It won’t be bogged down by claims of accuracy or people saying, “well that’s not how it really happened.”  Additionally, this takes a look at World War II from a unique point of view, as the story revolves around a tank crew towards the end of the war when they’re battling a desperate German army that refuses to surrender.  The TV spots have layed on the action and schmaltz aspects pretty heavily, but I have a feeling that Ayer has actually crafted something darker, heavier, and more brutal than those previews let on.  But really all you had to tell me about this movie was that Brad Pitt was playing a tank commander named “Wardaddy” and I’d be all in.

BIRDMAN

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DirectorAlejandro González Iñárritu

CastMichael KeatonEdward NortonNaomi WattsEmma StoneZach GalifianakisAndrea Riseborough, and Amy Ryan.

Release Date: October 17th (Limited)

Why I’m Excited: I admire Iñárritu more than I’ve actually loved his films, but boy does Birdman look like an absolute blast.  Michael Keaton feels perfectly cast as a former superhero actor trying to get some artistic integrity with a play on Broadway, and the actors surrounding him are positively stellar.  Throw in one of the most adventurous and dynamic cinematographers in the business (Emmanuel Lubezki) working in tandem with Iñárritu to make the film look like one continuous shot, and you have what just could be one of the most delightful moviegoing experiences of the year.

INTERSTELLAR

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DirectorChristopher Nolan

CastMatthew McConaughey, Anne HathawayJessica ChastainCasey AffleckMichael Caine, David OyelowoWes BentleyJohn LithgowEllen BurstynTopher GraceDavid GyasiMackenzie FoyBill IrwinTimothée Chalamet, and Matt Damon.

Release Date: November 5th on film, November 7th everywhere

Why I’m Excited: While I found The Dark Knight Rises to be a disappointment on many levels, I’ve got a feeling that Christopher Nolan will bounce back big with this sci-fi epic.  I’ve been following this project for years ever since Nolan’s brother Jonathan Nolan was hired to draft the script for then-director Steven Spielberg, and I think Nolan’s penchant for working on a massive canvas and strong admiration for Stanley Kubrick makes him a swell fit for the project.  I’m also a proud advocate of the McConaissance, and if Nolan is able to deliver a strong emotional center along with the eye-popping visuals and science-heavy story, this could be something really special.

INHERENT VICE

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DirectorPaul Thomas Anderson

CastJoaquin Phoenix, Reese WitherspoonBenicio Del ToroOwen WilsonMartin ShortJena MaloneKatherine Waterson, and Joanna Newsom.

Release Date: December 12th (Limited)

Why I’m Excited: I’ll admit I was fully prepared to put something else in this slot until the trailer for Inherent Vice dropped.  I adore Paul Thomas Anderson, loved There Will Be Blood, and thought The Master was…something, but I was afraid that PTA was moving in a progressively esoteric direction after The Master and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.  This does not appear to be the case at all, though, as the trailer for Inherent Vice promises a goofy, hilarious, screwball comedy complete with pitch perfect casting in the lead role with Joaquin Phoenix.  Fun Paul Thomas Anderson is back and I could not be happier.

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR 

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Director: J.C. Chandor

Cast: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, Albert Brooks, Alfred Molina, and David Oyelowo

Release Date: December 31st (Limited)

Why I’m Excited: Filmmaker J.C. Chandor is proving himself to be incredibly versatile.  His first feature was the talky financial crisis drama Margin Call, his second feature was the near-silent “lost at sea” philosophical drama All Is Lost, and his third upcoming feature is a period crime drama.  The story takes place in New York during the city’s most violent year on record, 1981, and boasts a tremendous cast that is led by Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain.  Isaac gave my favorite performance of last year and Chastain gave my favorite performance of 2012, so I was already quite looking forward to this before the explosive first trailer debuted.  The project has been shrouded in a bit of secrecy, but I can’t wait to see what Chandor has cooked up.

Perri’s Picks 

[Note: I’ve already seen The Babadook, which is exceptionally clever and unnerving.  One heck of a feature directorial debut from Jennifer Kent that’s a must-see for anyone interested in a highly unnerving and unique bogeyman story.]

ANNABELLE

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Director: John R. Leonetti

Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Alfre Woodard, Kerry O’Malley and Brian Howe.

Release Date: October 3rd

Why I’m Excited: The moment I heard that The Warren Files was in the works, I went off and read The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren.  Not only is that book absolutely brimming with hauntingly cinematic scenarios, but then the film came out under the title The Conjuring and it wound up being my favorite of the year.  I desperately wanted more from the Warren’s files and Annabelle absolutely killed it in the opening sequence of The Conjuring, but when her solo film was announced, I still couldn’t help but to wonder, could the doll actually carry her very own feature film?  At this point, we’ll find out soon enough, but based on the trailers, and particularly this one right here, it looks as though Leonetti might have pulled it off.

V/H/S: VIRAL 

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Directors: Justin Benson, Gregg Bishop, Aaron Moorhead, Marcel Sarmiento and Nacho Vigalondo

Cast: Patrick Lawrie, Emmy Argo, Heather Hayes, Jessica Luza, John Curran, Justin Welborn, Mary Ralston, Michael Aaron Milligan, Gustavo Salmerón, Marian Álvarez, Xavi Daura, Esteban Navarro, Nick Blanco, Chase Newton, Shane Bradey and Jayden Robison

Release Date: October 23rd 

Why I’m Excited: The original VHS is a solid horror anthology, but VHS 2 is so good it suggests that the format could have a shot at rivaling traditional narratives and attract a wider audience.  It’s hard to imagine the new crop of directors matching the shock Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Huw Evans achieved in “Safe Haven,” but they’ve all got solid credits to their names, so they’re bound to find their own unique ways to go big and bloody.  Plus, it also seem as though VHS Viral could fix one of the franchise’s most problematic elements – the wraparound component.  There’s always been a wraparound, but it’s never really managed to unite all the segments via an engaging and creative storyline.  Based on the official synopsis, the whole ice cream truck scenario sounds far more comprehensive than anything we’ve seen before, so perhaps VHS Viral will be the first installment to get that part right.

BIG HERO 6 

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Directors: Don Hall and Chris Williams

Voice Cast: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Genesis Rodriguez, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Alan Tudyk, T.J. Miller, James Cromwell and Maya Rudolph

Release Date: November 7th

Why I’m Excited: Perhaps this stems from the fact that I’ve had pets all my life, but I’ve got a serious soft spot for cute, pet-like animated creatures and right now, Baymax is absolutely melting my heart.  He’s essentially an inflatable marshmallow with an innocent look on his face who’s programed to care for people; what’s not to love?  Plus, the guy’s been dominating every single piece of promotional material that’s hit the web so far.  The marketing team still has some work to do when it comes to selling Hiro and Baymax’s plan to suit up and take down Yokai, but there isn’t a single joke or touching moment involving Baymax that doesn’t put a smile on my face. 

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 

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Director: Francis Lawrence

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Mahershala Ali, Elden Henson and Natalie Dormer

Release Date: November 21st 

Why I’m Excited: If you haven’t noticed by now, I’ve got three favorite things – horror movies, pet-like animated characters and young adult book-to-film adaptations.  I’ve been following The Hunger Games film franchise ever since Lionsgate first snatched up the rights to Suzanne Collins’ book and not only have the folks behind the series yet to disappoint, but they’ve exceeded my expectations twice now.  Mockingjay is absolutely the weakest of Collins’ trilogy, so Francis Lawrence and co. do have their work cut out for them with this one, but based on what we’ve seen of the film so far, Mockingjay – Part 1 should keep the bar high and continue to justify the franchise’s monumental hype and income.

INTO THE WOODS

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Director: Rob Marshall

Cast: Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Meryl Streep, Lucy Punch, Mackenzie Mauzy, Christine Baranski, James Corden, Tracey Ullman, Billy Magnussen and Daniel Huttlestone.

Release Date: December 25th

Why I’m Excited: It’s a Christmas Day musical directed by Rob Marshall starring Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and Meryl Streep as fairy tale characters; how can you not be excited about this one?  Sure, Nine was a bit of a holiday blunder, but this one should be more of a rousing four-quadrant romp that the whole family can enjoy.  Apparently the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine source material is a bit dark, but the official synopsis of the film version calls it a “humorous and heartfelt musical” and I know that’s exactly what I’ll be looking for during the holiday.

Evan’s Picks

[Note: I’ve already seen Gone Girl and it lived up to and exceeded my very high expectations. In a way it’s still anticipated because I can’t wait to see it again.]

WHIPLASH

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Director: Damien Chazzelle

Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser

Release Date: October 10th

Why I’m Excited: I’m a musician and a fan of films about music, but mainly I want to see a stridently unhinged J.K. Simmons have some room to spread his wings.  He’s a phenomenal actor who doesn’t get the chance to operate outside of the comedy zone all that often.  One of my most anticipated performances of the year.

NIGHTCRAWLER

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Director: Dan Gilroy

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Bill Paxton, Rene Russo

Release Date: October 31st

Why I’m Excited: Because this kind of pitch black satire is totally my jam.  Gyllenhaal, a man who has always had a slight lilt to him, has never seemed more deliciously off.  As an LA resident, I’m looking forward to a King of Comedy style portrait of the vultures that haunt my town. Plus Bill Paxton and Rene Russo!

INTERSTELLAR

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DirectorChristopher Nolan

CastMatthew McConaughey, Anne HathawayJessica ChastainCasey AffleckMichael Caine, David OyelowoWes BentleyJohn LithgowEllen BurstynTopher GraceDavid GyasiMackenzie FoyBill IrwinTimothée Chalamet, and Matt Damon.

Release Date: November 5th on film, November 7th everywhere

Why I’m Excited: Because Nolan’s original films always excite me.  While I largely disliked The Dark Knight Rises (and even thought Batman was the worst part of The Dark Knight), I love Inception dearly and early word on Interstellar is phenomenal.  I sort of feel like Batman bored Nolan, and that (like anyone) he’s at his best when he’s fully engaged in the material.

INHERENT VICE

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DirectorPaul Thomas Anderson

CastJoaquin Phoenix, Reese WitherspoonBenicio Del ToroOwen WilsonMartin ShortJena MaloneKatherine Waterson, and Joanna Newsom.

Release Date: December 12th (Limited)

Why I’m Excited: Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the filmmakers who made me fall in love with cinema and movie-making so any film from him is an event for me.  It’s also a bonus that this movie looks like it abandons the dour feel of The Master (an accomplished film but perhaps my least favorite of his works), for something he’s never done before – a sprawling psychedelic comedy.

THE INTERVIEW

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DirectorEvan Goldberg & Seth Rogen

CastJames Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park, and Lizzy Caplan.

Release Date: December 25th

Why I’m Excited: Because This is the End was insanely good.  Rogen and Goldberg have been great comedy writers for years but that film proved that they could pull off the directing thing too.  While I didn’t love their script for Neighbors like a lot of other people seemed to (the movie peters out during Act 3 for me in a big way) everything I’ve seen from The Interview has me prepped for them to take on a raunchy spin on Spies Like Us territory.

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