The summer is officially over (in the UK it barely even can be said to have started). In the film world, this means that blockbuster season has left us for another year; instead, what’s en route is a variety of various indie films, Oscar contenders, and possible winter hits.
The following films are all set to be released from this month all the way into the end of December. They’ve been categorised into how we feel they fit, including those that may be risky propositions. By the looks of it, it’s going to be an expensive couple of months for film fans.
Wish I Was Here (19th September) – Ten years ago, Zach Braff wrote, directed and starred in Garden State, which showed there was life after Scrubs. This time he brings the Kickstarter-funded Wish I Was Here. The early reviews are mixed, so unlikely to be in the same league as State (but only the public is losing money here).
Life After Beth (3rd October) – The film that premiered in competition at this year’s Sundance festival, Life After Beth boasts of a strong cast led by Dane DeHaan and Aubrey Plaza, while putting a twist on the zombie comedy sub-genre. Again early reviews are not promising, but critics aren’t always right.
Say When (10th October) – Another film that premiered at Sundance, Say When (originally Laggies) is another potential indie hit for Kiera Knightley (after Begin Again). She plays a woman unable to leave her adolescence, and decides to escape to see her old friends. It’s nothing unique, but has the makings of being an enjoyable gem.
Nightcrawler (17th October) – Starring Jake Gyllenhaal (who also produces), this crime thriller tells the story of a young man who discovers an underground world of LA freelance crime journalism. The film is set to be screened at Toronto later this month as part of the Special Presentations section. Gyllenhaal lost 20 pounds for the role, and may have outside shot at awards recognition (if the film is good of course).
Palo Alto (17th October) – The directorial debut of legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola’s granddaughter, the film is based on James Franco’s short story. Emma Roberts plays the class virgin in a coming-of-age drama about teens and their sexual desires. Already out in the States, Palo Alto holds a Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and may be a nice antidote to the bloated blockbuster summer.
Horns (31st October) – There seems to be a trend of actors who are famous for franchises trying to dispel their past by doing independent features. This is Daniel Radcliffe’s second indie flick (after What If), and stars him as a young man who is accused of his girlfriend’s mysterious death, and wakes up to find horns growing from his temples. It’s quirky, with plenty of horror elements, and is definitely a strong attempt to get away from his Harry Potter image.
The Skeleton Twins (7th November) – Another Sundance entry, this film won the Screenwriting award at the festival. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader play twins who independently cheat death, and decide to get together to consider what went wrong in their lives. It currently holds 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (only 16 reviews), and has the makings of being a comedy hit. If there’s one indie recommendation I can give, The Skeleton Twins would be my choice.
The Drop (14th November) – Scheduled to screen at TIFF, The Drop marks the final role of the late James Gandolfini. Released by Fox Searchlight Pictures (who had hit with The Grand Budapest Hotel), the film also stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace, with a screenplay by famed author Dennis Lehane. It has potential to be a solid crime drama.
Gone Girl (3rd October) – This could be in the blockbuster category, given the big names involved, and it being based on the worldwide best-seller of the same name, but early buzz claims Gone Girl has Oscar calibre, so we’ll go with that. Directed by David Fincher, and starring Ben Affleck, the story is about a man who has been accused of his wife’s murder. The screenplay is from the author Gillian Flynn, who claims it will deviate from the novel in structure. Trailers promise a visually dark atmosphere and plenty of suspense.
The Judge (17th October) – Scheduled to debut opening night at TIFF, The Judge promises to be Robert Downey Jr’s break away from the Tony Stark/Iron Man persona, playing a hotshot lawyer who returns to his hometown for his mother’s funeral, and discovers his father, the town judge, is suspected of murder. Also starring Robert Duvall and Vera Farmiga, the film is directed by David Dobkin of Wedding Crashers fame.
Fury (24th October) – You can’t have Oscar season without something historical or biographical, and this year our historical offering is Fury. Brad Pitt won the Best Picture Oscar as a producer on 12 Years a Slave and will be hoping to lead another film to glory next year. Set in April 1945, Sergeant Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Written and directed by David Ayer, the trailers promise high-octane action suitable for a war epic.
The Imitation Game (14th November) – Speaking of biopics, here’s another: The Imitation Game is about British mathematical genius, Alan Turing, who helped cracked Nazi Germany’s Enigma code, but was later criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality. Starring the reliably brainy Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, the film’s screenplay topped the Black List in 2011, before being bought by The Weinstein Company. The film has just debuted at Telluride to great acclaim, and will open the London Film Festival in October.
Get On Up (21st November) – Another biopic! This time the person in question is the legendary singer and entertainer, James Brown. Directed by The Help director, Tate Taylor, Get on Up chronicles James Brown’s rise from extreme poverty to become one the greatest musicians in history. Starring Chadwick Boseman as Brown, the film has already opened in the States, receiving positive reviews, mainly for Boseman’s portrayal as the singer, and looks set to have some awards attention come 2015. You can read our review here.
Unbroken (26th December) – To end the year, we have another biopic, which is also set during World War II. The story is of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces, and the tortures he faced. Angelina Jolie’s sophomore film as director offers to tick all the boxes of the Academy, with an adapted screenplay from the Coen Brothers, and cinematography from Roger Deakins. If the film delivers, Unbroken may be the awards sensation of 2015.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (17th October) – It probably isn’t anyone’s most anticipated film (blame the name Michael Bay), but there is no question Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be a big earner. The reboot is directed by Jonathan Liebesman, and has Noel Fisher, Alan Ritchson, Johnny Knoxville (just voice) and Jeremy Howard playing the titular turtles through motion capture. The human cast is led by Megan Fox, Will Arnett and William Fichtner. It has already been in American cinemas for a month, receiving negative reviews, but has managed to gross nearly $200 million (what do critics know?).
Interstellar (6th November) – In contrast to the film mentioned above, this film is arguably on every film-lover’s most anticipated list. Christopher Nolan’s ninth film (his first since ending the Dark Knight trilogy) comes with heaps of expectation, not only because of the director, but also because of its lead, new Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey. Written by Nolan and his brother, Jonathan, the film also stars Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine to name but a few. Trailers have given nothing away, apart from that it relates to wormhole travel, but the Warner Bros/Paramount co-production promises a sci-fi extravaganza.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (20th November) – The first part of the conclusion to the blockbuster Hunger Games franchise is set to arrive exactly one year after its predecessor, Catching Fire. Directed again by Francis Lawrence, the story begins where Catching Fire left off, with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) discovering that District 13 still exists, and becoming the symbol of rebellion. Audiences will no doubt watch this, and based on the high box-office numbers of previous instalments, Mockingjay – Part 1 has makings of being a billion dollar earner worldwide.
Horrible Bosses 2 (28th November) – One of the sleeper hits of 2011 was Horrible Bosses, so a sequel was inevitable. This time the trio (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, & Charlie Day) find themselves having to kidnap a slick investor. The trailer emphasises all the comic elements which were successful in the first film, bringing back Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey, while also introducing Chris Pine and double-Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as a sleazy father-son duo. While no one is expecting earth-shattering figures, Horrible Bosses 2 will likely be a hit regardless of its quality.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (12th December) – The third and final part of the Hobbit trilogy comes mid-December, as with previous instalments. While the films have not come close to the popular of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there is still an audience who come in their droves to see this in the cinemas. While Desolation of Smaug made less money than An Unexpected Journey, The Battle of the Five Armies will likely surpass both films, and end up highest grossing film of 2014 since it is the conclusion.
Dumb and Dumber To (19th December) – It has been 20 years since Dumb and Dumber came to cinemas and stole our hearts. It launched the careers of the Farrelly brothers, and more notably, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels returning in their iconic roles. The story picks up two decades on, with Harry and Lloyd going in search for Harry’s long lost child in hopes of gaining a new kidney. The gross-out comedy genre has lost its appeal in recent years, but surely the crassly loveable duo can change that? We’ll know come December.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (19th December) – While initially Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb wouldn’t be the first film you’d think of when asked about highly anticipated films, the recent passing of Robin Williams has brought the film increased attention as his final big studio film. Yet another finale to a trilogy, the film sees Ben Stiller returning as the museum watchman, this time on a mission to stop the magical tablet’s power from dying out. While Battle of the Smithsonian received an underwhelming box office total, it was still successful enough to commission a third part, and being released in time for Christmas only increases chances of big numbers.
The Equalizer (26th September) – 13 years after Denzel Washington’s Oscar-winning turn in Training Day, the actor is reuniting with director Antoine Fuqua in a film adaptation of hit ’80s TV series, The Equalizer. Also starring Chloe Grace Moretz, the film follows a former black ops commando who comes out of retirement to rescue a young girl and face off with Russian gangsters. Yes, it’s been done, but the avenging angel-type plot is a successful sub-genre in itself, so no reason why it should stop now, especially with Washington in the lead.
The Maze Runner (10th October) – Young Adult adaptations have become a phenomenon, with a good handful of series being built around already established novels (see: Twilight, The Hunger Games). This time we have The Maze Runner, based on the novel by James Dashner. The story is set in a dystopian society, where boys are trapped in a maze and must make a run for it, with the main character Thomas struggling to remember his past. It has similar themes to other YA novels, but provided the marketing is strong, this could be the beginning of another successful franchise.
Paddington (28th November) – The beloved Peruvian bear finally makes his appearance in film. Almost every British child has had the pleasure of reading Paddington Bear stories, so the prospect of seeing a live-action film featuring the famous character is a hot one indeed. Produced by David Heyman (Harry Potter and Gravity), the story follows Paddington Bear who goes in search of a home in his favourite city, London. Originally voiced by Colin Firth, Paddington will now be voiced by Ben Whishaw, while the film boasts of great British talent (and Australian Nicole Kidman). In short, this has all the makings of a kid-friendly classic.
Book of Life (24th October) – Animation is always a big fixture during the winter season, and after Frozen’s success last year, more animated hits are certainly on their way. Here we have 20th Century Fox’s Book of Life, produced by Guillermo Del Toro. The story follows a young man named Manolo, who is torn between fulfilling his family’s expectations and following his heart, which leads him on an adventure spanning three worlds. Helmed by Mexican animator Jorge R. Gutierrez, the film promises beautiful visuals sure to enrapture younger audiences.
Penguins of Madagascar (5th December) – From the makers of the Madagascar franchise comes a sequel/spin-off following those iconic hoodlum penguins in their own spy thriller. Europe’s Most Wanted was a huge success, and while the lead characters from the original series won’t be appearing, it’s bound to still have some family appeal.
A Walk Among the Tombstones (18th September) – Liam Neeson is a fantastic actor with a long and storied career, but since Taken, he has become typecast in the same action roles where he plays a vigilante ex-cop who saves people and fights gangsters. Based on a 1992 novel, here Neeson plays (unsurprisingly) a former NYPD cop who is hired by a drug dealer to find his kidnapped wife. By now we all know what to expect and it’s likely, with Taken 3 in the pipeline, that Neeson will continue doing these roles. It may end up being a unique cinema experience, but we wouldn’t bet on it.
Dracula Untold (3rd October) – The new Hollywood craze seems to be origin stories, and in Dracula Untold we have one of the man, the historical Vlad the Impaler, who becomes the legendary monster. Universal have claimed that the film will be the reboot for their Universal monsters series. There is no question that those films were iconic for their time, but the prospect of digging up such old stories seems desperate. Of course, only once the film is released, we will know whether it is a good or bad idea.
Serena (24th October) – A film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in lead roles wouldn’t normally be a risk, but the troubled production of Serena have long delayed it. Even now, the October release is not set in stone. Set in Depression-era North Carolina, Cooper’s George Pemberton is unable to maintain his timber empire, and is faced with the discovery that his wife, Serena cannot bear children. On paper, Serena could be an Oscar contender, but due to lack of studio interest, it might not even reach screens in the US.
Exodus: Gods and Kings (26th December) – A Ridley Scott epic can go one of two ways: Gladiator or Kingdom of Heaven. While the former was a multi-award-winning smash-hit, the latter was widely dismissed (until the director’s cut arrived at least). In the case of Exodus, there is no certainty how it will end up, given Scott’s recent track record. Christian Bale plays Moses, which sounds fantastic, but seeing Joel Edgerton as the Egyptian Ramses seems a bit unlikely, to say the least. A Boxing Day release is not the worst time to bring out the film, but the early trailers haven’t delivered excitement so far. Let’s hope the film does.
Annie (26th December) – To end the year, we have a third adaptation of the Broadway musical, Annie. While the 1982 version was critically panned, it was one of the highest grossing films of that year. This time round the film is a modern retelling of the classic tale, with Quvenzhane Wallis playing the formerly red-headed lead, and Jamie Foxx the rich adoptive father. Directed by Easy-A director Will Gluck, the film will have all the classic songs from the original film. The risk here is not the fact it is yet another remake, but rather that the main cast are African-American, a change that will no doubt be accused of gimmickry should the film fail.
http://www.bigleaguekickball.com/about/ Soma No Prior Script Overnight So that’s the majority of the releases to look out for. Of course, we’ve missed a few out, but as always the end of the year is heavily packed, and has potential to send out 2014 with a bang.