After the dust has settled from the explosive Summer 2011 season in Hollywood, moviegoers everywhere delve into films that are either mediocre at best or critically acclaimed. Either way, it is the time of year that encompasses the holiday season and when Oscar buzz is generated. It’s also a time when independent, foreign and art films seem to have the biggest, perhaps most rushed impact on the industry as studios and producers make last minute efforts to get their films released prior to the December 31 cut off. With blockbuster franchises spruced throughout autumn the true craft and art of filmmaking seems to come alive with the changing leaves. With that, I give you, the Autumn 2011 preview:
– In 1965 Mossad agent Rachel Singer (Helen Mirren) was part of a secret mission to capture and bring to trial the surgeon of Birkeneau, a Nazi war criminal. In present day, Singer travels to Ukraine in search of the truth when a man claims to be the killer. Also starring Sam Worthington in The Debt. In theatres September 9.
-In the wake of films like Paranormal Activity, decades old footage from the abandoned NASA mission to the moon reveals the existence of alien life in Apollo 18. In theatres September 9.
–In Warrior, an alcoholic former boxer (Nick Nolte) trains his youngest son (Tom Hardy) for a mixed martial-arts tournament that places him on a collision course with his oldest brother (Joel Edgerton). In theatres September 9.
-Steven Soderbergh directs an all-star cast of Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Gwenyth Paltrow and Laurence Fishburne in Contagion, a film about a team of doctors, dispatched by the CDC (Center for Disease Control), to stop an airbourne virus from spreading around the world. In theatres September 9.
–James Marsden, Kate Bosworth and Alexander Skarsgard star in Straw Dogs, a film about an L.A. screenwriter, David Sumner (Marsden), who relocates with his wife Amy (Bosworth) to her hometown in the deep south. There, tensions build between them while a brewing conflict with the locals becomes a threat to them both. In theatres Septbember 16.
–After a heist gone wrong, a Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as wheelman discovers a contract has been placed on him in Drive. Starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston – this film looks to be one of the serious contenders of the autumn season. In theatres September 16.
-Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker) is the breadwinner for her husband and children in the comedy I Don’t Know How She Does It. In theatres September 16.
-Tricked into thinking he murdered his father, a guild ridden lion cub flees into exile and abandons his destiny of future king in … wait, didn’t this happen in 1994? Yes, but now it’s happening as a 3D adventure in 2011! Disney’s The Lion King makes a limited engagement in theatres on September 16.
–MILK director Gus Van Sant returns with Restless, the story of a terminally ill girl who falls for a boy, who likes attending funerals and their encounter of the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot from World War II. In theatres September 16.
– Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) works to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing a computer-generated analysis to draft his players. Additionally starring Robin Wright and Phillip Seymour-Hoffman, Moneyball is already Oscar buzzing and being called Brad Pitt’s Blindside. In theatres September 23.
–Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd come together in Dolphin Tale, a story of a boy who befriends a dolphin that lost its tale in a crab trap. In theatres September 23.
–After his mentor (Robert DeNiro) is taken captive by a menacing group under the command of Spike (Clive Owen), a retired member of Britain’s Elite Special Air Service (Jason Statham) embarks on a mission, to kill three assassins, in Killer Elite. In theatres September 23.
– Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in 50/50, a comedic account of a 27-year old’s diagnosis with and struggle to overcome cancer. In theatres September 30.
– Acclaimed director Jim Sheridan unleashes his next feature Dream House, the story of Will Atenton (Daniel Craig), who relocates his family to a quaint New England town. Soon they learn of a mother and two children who were murdered in their new home. While most everyone thinks the murderer is the survived father, Will works with a local woman (Naomi Watts) to piece together an even more disturbing puzzle. Also starring Rachel Weisz, Dream House is in theatres September 30.
–What’s Your Number stars Anna Farris and Ryan Phillipe in a comedy about a woman who reflects on her previous romances and flings while wondering if one of those men may have been “the one.” In theatres September 30.
-Vanessa Redgrave and Rhys Ifans bring to life the political thriller Anonymous, a film sure to bring forth an amount of controversial discussion. Set on the cusp of the Essex Rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I (Redgrave), the story focuses on the Earl of Oxford, Edward De Vere (Ifans), who claims to be the true author of Shakespeare’s (Rafe Spall) works. In theatres September 30.
– Jennifer Aniston nude in Wanderlust. It’s had the entertainment, tabloid and gossip columns chatting for months. Inspired by a love of a different kind, a Manhattan couple move to a commune and embrace hippie culture. In theatres October 7.
–The Ides of March tell the tale of an idealistic campaign staffer who receives a crash course in dirty politics on the campaign trail. Starring George Clooney, Marisa Tomei, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ryan Gosling and Evan Rachel Wood. In theatres October 7.
-Hugh Jackman and Evangeline Lilly star in a boxing drama set in the near future where 2,000 pound humanoid robots do battle in Real Steel. In theatres October 7.
-Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult in Martha Marcy May Marlene. In theatres October 7 [limited release].
–Comedy front-men Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin tell the story of three avid bird watchers who compete at an annual event to spot the rarest bird in North America in The Big Year. In theatres October 14.
-Hollywood unleashes yet another “reboot” with Footloose, a remake starring Julianne Hough and Dennis Quiad of the 1984 film with the same title. In theatres October 14.
–They’re back, remade, updated, whatever – it’s all for one and one for all in the new version of The Three Musketeers. D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) and his musketeer comrades Athos (Matt McFayden), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans) thwart the plans of Royal Prime Minister Richelieu to usurp the King’s power. Also starring Orlando Bloom and Milla Jovovich, The Three Musketeeers seems to be vying for a new franchise spot in theatres on October 14.
-Don’t you just love a good prequel? Especially one for a film nearly 30 years old? The Thing (2011) is just that, the prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi horror/thriller film of the same title. In theatres October 14.
-With the SAW franchise essentially closed (for the time being, it may be safe to assume) a new thriller/horror franchise has assumed SAW‘s audience, Paranormal Activity. The third installment Paranormal Activity 3 is in theatres October 21.
–Looks like Justin Timberlake will be taken to task with Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy in sci-fi, thriller In Time. Set in the future, people stop aging at the age of 25, at which point they must work to buy themselves more time, but when a young man finds himself with more time than he can imagine, he must escape the corrupt police to save his life. In theatres October 28.
-American journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) accepts a freelance job in Puerto Rico for a local newspaper during the 1950s and struggles to find balance between island culture and the ex-patriots who live there in The Rum Diaries. In theatres October 28.
-A Shrek spinoff, Puss in Boots, arrives voiced by Anotonio Banderas to explore how the fabled cat came to be. In theatres November 4.
–Michelle Williams transforms in My Week With Marilyn, a documentation of the tense interactions of Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during the production of The Prince and The Showgirl, as told by Colin Clark, an employee of Olivier’s. It’s sure to generate a buzz, especially considering Williams’ acting performances. In theatres November 4.
–A group of men (including Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy) realize they’ve fallen victim to a businessman’s scheme an thus conspire to rob his high rise residence in Tower Heist. In theatres November 4.
-In the wake of recent Greek God film Clash of the Titans (2010), Immortals stars Henry Cavill as Theseus, a mortal man chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against ruthless King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), who rampages across Greece to obtain a weapon that could destroy humanity. In theatres November 11.
-Adam Sandler pulls a Lindsay Lohan/Selena Gomez move by starring in Jack & Jill. A family man (Sandler) is forced to deal with twin sister (Sandler), who comes from the Bronx to Los Angeles for a visit, the extended – as in, won’t leave – kind. In theatres November 11.
-If Puss in Boots wasn’t, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is the official kick-off film for the holiday season and one of many hopeful blockbusters along the way. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson reprise their roles as Bella and Edward, respectively. The Quileute and the Volturi close in on expecting parents Edward and Bella, who’s child threatens the wolf pack and vampire covent. The buzz is that the violent and explicit birth (described in the book) is likely to push the PG-13 rating to its limit (should it occur in Part 1). In theatres November 18.
– During The Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is forced out of semi-retirement to uncover a soviet agent in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. In theatres November 18.
-The dancing penguins return with a new adventure in Happy Feet 2. In theatres November 18.
-Jim Henson’s characters are back in The Muppets. With the help of three fans, Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy and the rest of the muppets reunite to save their old studio from an oil tycoon. In theatres November 23.
–Piranha 3DD is the follow-up to 2010’s Piranha. After the events of last year at Lake Victoria, the bloodthirsty fish make their way into pools, plumbing and a new waterpark. In theatres November 23.
-Legendary film director Martin Scorsese brings Jude Law and Johnny Depp together in Hugo Cabret. Set in 1930s Paris, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives in the walls of a Paris train station. When he meets a curious girl and the owner of a toy booth, his life and most precious secrets are in jeopardy. In theatres November 23/25.
-Set in 1927 Hollywood The Artist tells the story of silent-era star George Valentin, who fears he will fade into oblivion with the arrival of sound on film. COULD IT BE? A modern day black and white, silent film? IT IS. I’m going to go on a limb and call this a potentially modern masterpiece take audiences on a very unique journey. It has already been nominated for 3 awards (and has won 1 award) in Cannes. Valenti is played by Jean Dujardin and Peppy Miller, the dancer he “sparks” with is played by Berenice Bejo. From France. In theatres November 23 [limited].
-Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel, Halle Berry, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Duhamel, Robert DeNiro, Zac Efron, Katherine Heigl, Alyssa Milano and Hillary Swank all star in this star-studed film about the intertwining lives of people in New York on New Year’s Eve. In theatres December 9.
–Madonna’s second feature W.E tells the tale of a two-tiered romance between King Edward VIII and American divorcee Wallis Simpson while also telling a modern romance between a married woman and a Russian security guard. In theatres December 9.
-Directed by Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas and Judi Dench star in the biopic J. Edgar, about FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s scandalous career and private life as a rumored homosexual and cross-dresser. In theatres December 14.
-DECMEBER 16: The Showdown! In what should be a very successful box-office weekend, heavy-hitting franchises will battle it out. The chimpmunks return in Alvin and The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, which takes on Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol, where Ethan Hunt (Cruise) must go rogue with his new team to clear the IMF’s name after its been closed as a result of it being implicated in a bombing. And if that weren’t enough, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams and Robert Downey Jr. reprise their rolse in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, where Holmes (Downey Jr.) and Dr. Watson (Law) join forces to bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty. But the real, true winner of this weekend will be Meryl Streep as The Iron Lady, who will portray another iconic woman (Julia Child was her last) in British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – which I’m certain will garner her an Academy Award (or nomination at least).
-Last year came a film with the same title, this year The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo returns directed by David Fincher (The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander (Mara), a young computer hacker. In theatres December 21. On a side note: Natalie Portman was originally cast as Lisbeth, but later declined the role, citing exhaustion.
-The Darkest Hour is a story about a group of kids in Russia who struggle to survive after an alien invasion in this sci-fi/thriller. In theatres December 23.
–Matt Damon, Elle Fanning and Scarlett Johnasson portray a family who moves to southern California to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo in We Bought a Zoo. In theatres December 23.
–Disney rounds out the year with War Horse, the story of a young man named Ablert, who’s too young to enlist in the army during World War I, but who travels to France to save his horse Joey, who was sold to the calvary and sent into the trenches. In theatres December 28.
And there you have the fall (early winter) preview. There’s something for everyone in this list and a few surprises could still be lingering in “undecided release date land.” Hopefully you will see something you like and come back to check AsSeenBy for reviews and previews! Happy summer and here’s to the autumn!