It’s that time of year again, when Hollywood studios play their annual aces in the battle for box-office dollars and Academy voter attention. This fall and winter season offers a nice mix of big-budget action adventure fare (The final Hunger Games; Star Wars: The Force-Awakens) alongside high-tension dramas featuring Irish mobsters, warring drug cartels, and Tom Hanks doing peak Tom Hanks. There’s also plenty of lighter fare, like Alison Brie on ecstasy at a child’s birthday party in Sleeping With Other People.
Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Seth Rogen , and Bradley Cooper all make multiple appearances in our fall movie guide, so we hope you’re not sick of them before the new year (if you are, blame David O. Russell). We’re very happy to see Michael Caine back in a starring role, and can’t wait for Amy Poehler and Tina Fey to reunite in Sisters. We’re cautiously optimistic about M. Night Shyamalan’s latest effort, as well as the highly anticipated biopics of Steve Jobs and Edward Snowden that are bound to piss a lot of people off. Let the games begin!
The Visit (September 11)
M. Night Shyamalan returns to the thriller genre after a number of unsuccessful detours. This time, an overnight trip to Grandma's house turns into a nightmare for two young teenagers. Can Shyamalan reclaim his Sixth Sense glory? Perhaps not, but he has already done something right by casting Kathryn Hahn.
Sleeping With Other People (September 11)
Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis are would-be fuck buddies who take a vow of celibacy to preserve their friendship. Don't worry, they both get plenty of sex elsewhere.
Everest (September 18)
This 3-D thriller adventure opened the Venice Film Festival to somewhat mixed reviews, but by all accounts it looks like a visually stunning achievement that will appeal to audiences who aren't looking for a feel-good movie.
Sicario (September 18)
An idealistic FBI agent is caught up in a drug war across the U.S.-Mexico border. It's like Traffic but with more Emily Blunt, less Michael Douglas, and exactly the same amount of Benicio del Toro. Spoiler: Sicario means assassin in Spanish.
Black Mass (September 18)
Don't let the fact that Johnny Depp looks like he's on his way to a mob-themed Halloween party stop you from seeing Scott Cooper's adaptation of Dennis Lehr's Whitey Bulger biography. Not since Mystic River has an Irish-American crime drama offered up so much delicious Oscar bait.
The Intern (September 25)
Robert DeNiro plays a 70-year-old intern at a fashion e-commerce site run by type-A Anne Hathaway in Nancy Meyers’ latest rom-com MINUS the rom. There will no May-December boning in The Intern. Move it along.
The Martian (October 2)
Matt Damon stars as an astronaut left behind on Mars after his fellow space-travelers believe he has been killed in a dust storm. Jessica Chastain and Kristen Wiig also star in Ridley Scott’s adventure drama, which got a stamp of approval from NASA and features the voice of Neil deGrasse Tyson in the trailer.
Steve Jobs (October 9)
Aaron Sorkin and Danny Myers’ adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s bestselling Jobs biography purports to be the definitive movie about the take-no-prisoners Apple CEO, with Michael Fassbender in the lead. Seth Rogen stars as his backpack-wearing right-hand man Steve Wozniak. There will probably be a surprise product launch in the closing credits. (Just kidding.) (Not really.)
Bridge of Spies (October 16)
Ethan and Joel Coen co-wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s last Tom Hanks vehicle, which stars the perennial Oscar nominee as a Brooklyn lawyer caught up in a cold war prisoner drama — based on the U-2 incident of 1960, when a U.S. spy plane was shot down in Soviet airspace. Inexplicably, Bono does not appear to have a written a song for the soundtrack.
Crimson Peak (October 16)
Guillermo del Toro’s supernatural horror romance stars Mia Wasikowska as a budding author recovering from a family tragedy who takes shelter in a house that gives her anything but peace. All you really need to know is this: Stephen King said it was “just fucking terrifying.”
Burnt (October 23)
Bradley Cooper reaches for the Michelin stars as a semi-reformed bad-boy chef with aspirations to be the next big thing, but he’s haunted by his troubled past. Like Limitless with knives instead of NZT 48. Sienna Miller stars as a co-worker and love interest, because Sienna Miller is incapable of not being a love interest.
Rock the Kasbah (October 23)
Bill Murray plays washed-up music manager Richie Lanz who takes a producing job in Afghanistan, where he stumbles across the musical talent he’s been searching for his entire career. Trouble is, she’s forbidden by law from singing. No doubt this movie was pitched as Lost In Translation meets Almost Famous. Kate Hudson and Zooey Deschanel co-star.
Brooklyn (November 6)
Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy) wrote the screenplay adaptation of Colm Tóibín's period drama set in everyone’s favorite NYC outer borough (to mock). Saoirse Ronan plays a young Irish immigrant who travels to Brooklyn in the 1950s, those glorious days of innocence before bearded trustafarians opened artisanal chocolate shops and you could fit into an L train car during rush hour on your first try (probably).
Spectre (November 6)
Daniel Craig dons the 007 suit for the fourth and possibly his last time in the 24th installment of the James Bond franchise. This time, Bond comes face-to-face with M16’s enemy organization as he desperately tries to protect his employer for a web of conspiracy. Sam Mendes directs.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (November 20)
This is not a drill: Mockingjay Part 2 is the FINAL installment of the ever-mutating Hunger Games movie franchise. We know, you thought it would go on forever, but this is it: Katniss goes head-to-head with President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in the war for the soul and survival of Panem. Mockingjay Part 2 also marks Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final film role.
Creed (November 25)
Rocky lives! Sylvester Stallone co-stars with Michael B. Jordan in the sixth Rocky movie. Jordan plays the son of Apollo Creed who requests that his father’s former rival train him.
The Night Before (November 25)
Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star as three lifelong friends in search of the Holy Grail of Christmas Eve parties. This bro-tastic holiday treat promises plenty of sex, drugs, and Lizzy Kaplan.
Youth (December 4)
Youth already won our unofficial but highly-regarded Trailer of the Year competition; and Paolo Sorrentino’s second English-language film looks like a lock for further award season glory. Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel play lifelong friends contemplating their twilight years while on vacation at an Italian resort. Jane Fonda and Rachel Weisz co-star.
In the Heart of the Sea (December 11)
Chris Hemsworth and Cillian Murphy take to the treacherous high seas in Ron Howard’s historical biographical disaster film about the 1820 sinking of the whaleship Essex. Someone dies. We don’t know who.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (December 18)
J.J. Abrams’ epic space opera is nearly upon us: The first installment of the third Star Wars trilogy brings back Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill along with franchise newcomers Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley. Why are you reading this when you should be lining up outside the theater? You only have three months! Go!
Sisters (December 18)
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are back together again as estranged sisters who decide to throw one final house party before their parents sell their childhood home.
Concussion (December 25)
Will Smith takes himself very seriously as a forensic pathologist who discovers that injuries sustained during play have given former pro football players a neurological disorder that has led to their suicides. The all-star cast includes Alec Baldwin, Luke Wilson, Albert Brooks, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. The NFL already hates this movie.
Snowden (December 25)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as NSA leaker Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone’s adaptation of the Snowden Files. Shailene Woodley co-stars as Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsay Mills.
Point Break (December 25)
All we have ever wanted for Christmas is a remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s classic surfing gang crime thriller. Luke Bracey and Edgar Ramirez take on the roles made famous by Keanu Reeves and the late, great Patrick Swayze.
The Revenant (December 25)
Leonardo DiCaprio plays 19th-century fur trapper Hugh Glass, who sets out on a death-defying journey of survival and revenge after his companions rob him and leave him for dead in the Dakota Territory. Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, fresh from his Birdman Oscar win. Tom Hardy co-stars.
The Hateful Eight (December 25)
Quentin Tarantino’s much-anticipated western will be released for a brief period on 70 mm. The post-Civil War disaster drama almost didn’t see the light of day after a leaked script almost convinced Tarantino to publish the story as a novel instead of a film. Fortunately for those of us with short attention spans, he reconsidered. Samuel Jackson, Bruce Dern, and Jennifer Jason-Leigh star.
Joy (December 25)
David O. Russell must have really enJOYed working with Robert DeNiro, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper on Silver Linings Playbook as he reunited the acclaimed acting trio for this generation-spanning family dynasty drama.