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Prepare to have your mind blown. All seven writers on the PAM staff wrote down our top 10 most anticipated movies of the fall season (through the weekend of Nov. 12) and then we combined them into one list. This might sound very easy to you, but you didn't compile it. Truth was, not only were no two lists the same, but no one film made every single one of our lists. So, to compliment our combined top 10, we've each included a Critic's Pick of a film high on our lists (or that just missed the group cut) and previewed it for you.
Check out all the buzz, movie details, movie credits and trailers below and then we want to read your Top 10. Leave us a comment!
10. Easy A (Sept. 17)
We all had to read Nathaniel Hawthorne's book The Scarlet Letter in high school. Well, director Will Gluck brings a contemporary twist to the story with Easy A. Emma Stone plays Olive, your average high school nobody who’s attractive yet somehow not popular.
After helping a closeted gay friend by pretending that they lost their virginity to each other at a party, she becomes something of a fake call girl. As such, she develops quite the reputation at school for being promiscuous. When a classmate suggest she embroider a scarlet "A" on her clothes, she embraces the challenge.
It might not exactly reach the brilliant heights of Juno, but Easy A promises to be a surprisingly hilarious teen flick. The film is due out on September 17, but will first play at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Typical teen comedy would not be the way to describe Easy A by virtue of this fact: credible actors were cast as Olive's mom and dad: Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci (both Academy Award nominees) play the parentals and each of them has one of the trailer's funniest moments.
Directed by Will Gluck
9. Due Date (Nov. 5)
Todd Phillips' comedy The Hangover not only caused side-splitting across the nation, but it also went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all-time and, in an upset, took home the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Musical/Comedy.
Phillips' follow-up is Due Date, a film that centers on Peter Highman (Robert Downey, Jr.) trying to find his way back to his wife before their child is born with Ethan (Zach Galifianakis of "Hangover" fame), a rather unwanted road trip buddy. The two leads are reason enough to see the film, but Phillips' involvement is all the more promising.
Understandably so, the film has been compared to Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a fitting comparison in terms of premise but also in terms of co-starring two great comedians of their generation. It feels early to compare Steve Martin and John Candy to Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, but their head-butting chemistry ought to provide for some of the most hilarious banter to hit the big screen in a long time.
Directed by Todd Phillips
Julian’s Critic's Pick: Never Let Me Go (Sept. 17 – limited)
According to Time, the novel from which the film is derived is "the best novel of the decade." Three young people (Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley) grew up in the perfect boarding school and seem prepared to live in a seemingly perfect life. However, life in the real world is far from perfect as love and death and other realizations hit them.
It might seem like an odd personal choice, but with the lush set decoration and exquisite cinematography that are featured in the trailer -- I can't help but be interested in this very gorgeous-looking film. In addition, I am intrigued by the cast. Her revelatory work in Pride and Prejudice and fantastic performance in Atonement have turned me into a huge fan of Knightley. I also admire Carey Mulligan, who broke through last year in An Education and am curious about newcomer Andrew Garfield. In the end, this just looks like a wonderful film and early buzz has indicated it might be so. Oscar nominations are definitely not out of the question.
Most interestingly, Mark Romanek, who has worked mostly on music video, directs. His biggest project before this was the creepy One Hour Photo starring Robin Williams. As strange as it sounds, that tone might be just what this coming-of-age/loss of innocence tale told with a science-fiction twist just might need.
Directed by Mark Romanek
8. Jackass 3-D (Oct. 15)
The number three and the letter “D.” Innocent on their own, but when combined can strike fear into any moviegoer’s wallet. But if this format should be used in any context, what better than Jackass 3-D? This series has been an internal struggle to one-up its predecessor and if that extra dimension can give us feces and blood flying at our heads then I say bring it on.
The first two films in the franchise were huge hits for what they were, grossing a combined $160 million and garnering shockingly positive reviews from critics. If you’re looking for something provocative or ground-breaking this October, try Freakonomics. Actually, there might be some breaking in “Jackass.” The Jackass crew knows how to give low-brow comedy a kick in the balls and after two hilarious -- if utterly juvenile -- films, Knoxville, Steve-O and Bam will again put their bodies in harm's way for this pain extravaganza.
Directed by Jeff Tremaine
Simon’s Critic’s Pick: Saw 3D
In 2004, James Wan shocked audiences with his bloody torture-porn flick Saw, which has become one of the most enduring and successful horror franchises in movie history. After an even better sequel, and another, and another, a funny thing happened around the fourth film – I became a “Saw” fan.
I don’t know how it happened, but frankly I don’t care. I love looking at the series as a single twisted tale. Though the latest few films have found the series spinning its bloody wheels and the extra-dimensional gimmick aside, I can’t wait for the final film in this anthology.
Directed by Kevin Greutert
7. Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Sept. 24)
Zack Snyder has a visual style that is all his own. His smash hit 300 outdid box office projections in March 2007 with a $70-million opening weekend and is ranked as one of the highest grossing R-rated films. Snyder more than made his mark with a striking use of color, motion and music that sets him apart from his peers.
He is now taking his unique perspective to the family genre with an animated picture based on a young adult fantasy book series. Trailers for “Legend of the Guardians” emphasize three young owls’ fascination with majestic/legendary soldier owls but haven’t given a clue about the actual story. The film actually centers on the journey of a barn owl named Soren being kidnapped and subsequently escaping the clutches of an evil brood of owls. He and his friends seek the Guardians of Ga’Hoole -- a guild of wise owls -- for help.
The film will be featured in 3D, a selling point that seems to work best in animated films. September isn’t exactly a month for stellar movies however, which makes a person wonder at the studio’s choice for a Sept. 24 release date. Even if it doesn’t strike a chord with hordes of moviegoers, the film is guaranteed to be aesthetically pleasing.
Directed by Zack Snyder
Written by John Orloff and Emily Stern
Starring: (voices) Hugo Weaving, Helen Mirren, Jim Sturgess, Geoffrey Rush
Steven’s Critic’s Pick: Unstoppable (Nov. 12)
It seems that prolific and respected director Tony Scott has a thing with trains of later. His 2009 film was The Taking of Pelham 123 and though it was one of the more sour of his “nought” films, Unstoppable has a much more original premise that mixes in elements of Speed.
Basically, a freight train appears out of nowhere, barreling at destructive speeds and carrying explosive materials and these characters must find a way to stop it. The film is based around true events and re-teams Scott and Denzel Washington once again, this time with Star Trek (2009) star Chris Pine.
Even if Unstoppable, isn't one of the more exciting films of the year -- which I do think it might be -- it's bound to be entertaining. Tony Scott might not always make great action films or thrillers, but no one is more consistently entertaining than he, especially if you consider that he churns out a new film every year. Considering this is a simple premise, there's a chance that this could be a tightly packed couple hours of great fun and intensity.
Directed by Tony Scott
6. Buried (Oct. 8, limited on Sept. 24)
There is something about being trapped in a small space where no one can hear you scream that is absolutely terrifying. Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy finds himself not only six feet under but somewhere in a long stretch of desert in Iraq with only ninety minutes of oxygen before the coffin becomes his anonymous resting place. From the previews it seems to be some sort of a conspiracy or hostage negotiation and Conroy is forced to take desperate measures to get out alive.
Ryan Reynolds has come a long way from Van Wilder. Just when I thought he was going to end up wandering for a decade in the romantic comedy abyss with Definitely, Maybe he deviated and got back on track. Now he is reaching a zenith with Green Lantern on the way and Deadpool in the rumor mill. He has an opportunity to showcase acting talent with such a difficult concept to portray on screen -- assuming this is a one man show from Reynolds point of view in the coffin.
The majority of the country will be able to check out this film October 8, 2010 though some will have the pleasure of a limited release viewing September 24.
Directed by Rodrigo Cortés
Dinah’s Critic’s Pick: Skyline (Nov. 12)
The most fascinating bit of trivia I’ve read about Skyline is that it was almost entirely filmed at the condo building of director Greg Strause. That’s impressive, though news that the film took less than a year to create from concept to completion seems a bit rushed for a large-scale alien invasion picture. Universal Pictures is mum about the details, but the trailer offers the tried and true formula of nosy humans getting more than they bargain for after sending communication deep into space.
The image of masses of little CGI bodies being snatched into spacecraft followed by the tagline “Don’t look up” put a devilish grin on my face. The only thing missing is a young Will Smith ready to save the day. Since the Strause brothers personally financed the film, they went with a lesser-known (also known as cheaper) cast including some television stars in Brittany Daniel and Donald Faison. Still, what will make or break the story is what these aliens look like, what their motivation is, and what the heck they do with their captives. Skyline closes out the fall movie season on Nov. 12.
Directed by Colin and Greg Strause
5. Let Me In (Oct. 1)
The last couple of years have brought about a modern resurgence of the vampire movie, but many felt Twilight to be a poor example of what the vampire mythos was capable of, which brings us to the “anti-Twilight”: Let the Right One In.
“In” came from Sweden and was based on a novel of the same name; telling the story of a young bullied boy named Oscar who befriends his new neighbor, Eli, a 12-year-old girl, during the ‘60s. Only thing is, she only comes out at night, talks like an adult and smells odd (like a corpse). Upon her arrival, people in the area begin to die and it is only a matter of time before Oscar realizes Eli's true nature.
“Right One” was released to international acclaim and quickly gained a following in the U.S. for its exploration of horror and friendship while maintaining a balance between reality and the supernatural. Shortly after it's release, an American remake titled Let Me In was announced, much to the fans anger, especially when it was announced that Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) would be directing it. Let Me In will have a few notable shifts from the original film. Instead of taking place in Sweden, it will occur in New Mexico and will occur during the ‘80s.
Expectations could not have been lower in the beginning, which may be to the film's advantage. After casting Chloe Moretz ((500) Days of Summer, Kick-Ass) as the lead vampire and Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under, The Visitor) as her caretaker, people started to take interest. Recent footage and trailers screened at various conventions around the country suggest that while the film may not top the original (how often does a remake beat the original unless Christopher Nolan is involved?), it could do justice for the vampire genre, now looking a little long in the fang.
Directed by Matt Reeves
4. The Town (Sept. 17)
Ben Affleck’s sophomore directorial effort looks to be an excellent addition to the fall cinema line up. Boasting an amazing cast including Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Chris Cooper and Affleck himself, The Town tells the story of Boston bank robbers (led by Affleck) and the FBI agent determined to track them down (Hamm).
This is certainly not ground-breaking material, but there are several factors that suggest it will be among the finer films released in the fall. The cast is one. Another is Affleck’s impressive directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, where he showed he can successfully helm a serious, dramatic film and direct strong performances, even leading Amy Ryan to an Oscar nomination. The few clips we see from the trailer show some strong cinematography as well as some intriguing storylines where family ties are challenged and Affleck’s desire for one of their hostages threatens the whole group’s safety.
Of course, it’s just a trailer, and whether or not The Town becomes the nextThe Departed (awesome) or the next We Own The Night (bad) won’t be known until the tenth of September. If I had to guess one way or the other, however, I would say that Affleck’s new film will be another exciting entry in the heist genre.
Directed by Ben Affleck
Joseph’s Critic’s Pick: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Sept. 24)
There are certain directors out there whose name alone is enough to make me pay to see a movie. Oliver Stone is one of those directors: it’s just gravy that I think the story is appealing as well.
The sequel to Stone’s 1987 hit takes place twenty years after those events (rightly so) as Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas, who won the Best Actor Oscar for the first film) gets out of jail after his insider trading conviction. The film takes place after the financial collapse of 2008, similar to its predecessor, which came out just after the crash of 1987. The film deals with Gekko’s attempts to warn the financial sector of the impending doom and reconcile with his daughter, while at the same time acting as a mentor to her fiance Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf). As seen with Charlie Sheen’s character in the first film, having Gekko as a teacher often means one having to choose between riches and their soul.
Oliver Stone always has a unique view on the events of America, and is superb at dramatizing those events. He’s commented on Vietnam in Platoon, the JFK assassination in JFK, and media sensationalization of violence in Natural Born Killers. The first Wall Street commented on the excess prevalent in the ’80s.
“I bought that building ten years ago for 100,000 dollars, and sold it three years later for 800,000,” 1987 Gekko says. “It was better than sex. At that time I thought that was all the money in the world. Now it’s a day’s pay.”
Stone’s not in the business of doing the same thing over and over again. He feels a need to share something new with us in today’s financial climate, a climate eerily similar to the one when he made his first film. I can’t wait to see what he has to say.
Directed by Oliver Stone
3. Machete (Sept. 3)
For all of those who hoped and dreamed of seeing Steven Segal and Lindsay Lohan in the same movie, well the wait is over thanks to director Robert Rodriguez. The director both returns to his pulpy roots while giving us something groundbreaking; creating a feature length film from a fake trailer.
Danny Trejo stars as the titular machete-wielding vigilante who tries to bring down a corrupt senator, now played by Robert DeNiro, with Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Cheech Marin rounding out this eclectic cast. This year needs an infusion of some campy simply-minded fun and Machete seems to deliver on that craving.
This is also a chance for Rodriguez to recover after two flops (Grindhouse, which inspired this film, and the kid flick Shorts) and with this low-budget B-movie he looks to do just that. Christening the fall movie season, Machete looks to set things off right this Friday.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis
Written by Robert Rodriguez, Alvaro Rodriguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, Steven Segal
Max’s Critic’s Pick: Devil (Sept. 17)
One cannot deny that M. Night Shyamalan's name evokes groans in audiences where once it evoked excitement. One bomb after another has all but decimated his reputation for originality amongst most film audiences.
Which is why the trailer of Devil is rather fascinating to watch in a crowded movie theater. Right when the title card “from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan” comes up, everyone groans and/or laughs, and it is in this sense that Devil may not be given a fair chance, but while the story comes from Shyamalan, the film has been written and directed by two entirely different people.
Devil is slated to be the first in what is being called “The Night Chronicles Trilogy,” a series of films dealing with supernatural themes in urban environments. Taking place in a downtown office building, Devil follows the stories of five strangers who end up trapped in an elevator together. As various, unexplainable events begin to occur within the elevator, the passengers begin to turn on one another, believing that one among them is the Devil itself.
Directing duties of this Shyamalan brain child have fallen to John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine), while the screenplay was written by Brian Nelson (30 Days of Night, Hard Candy), with both men involved in more substantive films than much of Shyamalan's recent work. With a director and writer well-versed in horror, an unusual setting, a fairly simple premise and a few clever thrills, Devil could prove a surprise hit
Directed by John Erick Dowdle
2. RED (Oct. 15)
The adaptation of the Walter Ellis and Cully Hamner’s limited comic series gained a lot of attention and buzz at Comic Con this year. With two trailers on the internet, RED looks like a very entertaining film. With a release date in October, this can easily offer an action fix and could end up being like 300, which was a commercial hit in an unfashionable month for action films. But it can also run the risk of being like Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which underperformed at the box-office. Most likely, the well-known cast should allow for the former.
Summit Entertainment, the emerging production company behind the Twilight Saga is obviously trying to widen its appeal. With RED they have recruited an all-star cast including Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Brian Cox, Karl Urban and the lovely Mary-Louise Parker. It will be fun to see some other action heroes for a change. German director Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveler’s Wife) helms the project with Jon and Erich Hoeber getting the writing credits -- their next big project is Peter Berg’s Battleship.
Willis, Mirren, Freeman and Malkovich play a team of retired CIA officers. Some continue do wet work while others have gone insane. But Frank Moses (Willis) has been declared Retired, Extremely Dangerous, so a high-tech CIA team is sent to kill him. Frank must bring the old team of old-school spies back together again so he can survive against the threat.
RED looks action packed and funny and what can be better then Helen Mirren with a large gun?
Directed by Robert Schwentke
Kieran’s Critic’s Pick: Hereafter (Oct. 22)
The signs for Hereafter are strong, even if we’ve yet to see anything but a first image. It has a respected director, a talented screenwriter and a big name serious actor in the lead role. At the tender age of 80, Clint Eastwood is still going strong and he has direct excellent films over his career such as Unforgiven, Letters from Iwo Jima and Invictus. He is a genre-hopper and this time he tackles supernatural thrillers with a script by one of the few big name screenwriters around, Peter Morgan, the writer of The Last King of Scotland and Frost/Nixon.
The fine cast includes Matt Damon (who worked with Eastwood on Invictus), Cecile de France (Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One) and Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village) in a film set in many different cities about people who have been touched by death in different ways.
I am a fan of Eastwood’s work as an actor and director, so I look forward to any new film from him. I also enjoy the work of Morgan and I believe Damon is a very talented actor in serious roles such as those in the “Bourne” trilogy, Syriana and The Good Shepherd. I enjoy a good supernatural thriller and Variety has described the script as being in the vain of The Sixth Sense. I am one of the few people who actually liked The Lovely Bones (though I still want to see a director’s cut). The synopsis also makes film sound similar to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s films 21 Grams and Babel and other multi-story films like Traffic.
With Eastwood’s attachment, there’s no question Hereafter has an eye on the Academy Awards.
Directed by Clint Eastwood
1. The Social Network (Oct. 1)
If you were watching the headlines a year or so back, you definitely cringed when you heard that a movie was being made on Facebook, a.ka. a website that already takes too much of your time was about to invade your movie theater.
Columbia Pictures probably heard you grumbling, because they went out and got David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Seven) to direct and acquired Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, Charlie Wilson's War) to adapt the book by Ben Mezrich --talk about a one-two punch.
“Network” will tell the story of the founders of Facebook, notably focusing on Mark Zuckerberg and how Facebook came to be while Zuckerberg was attending Harvard. An overnight phenomena, “Network” follows Zuckerberg's rise to prominence while outlining the behind-the-scenes struggles, financial and personal, that plagued the men who would go on to found one of the most profitable and popular websites to ever hit the Internet.
The pedigree of “Network” shows how Columbia (and most of Hollywood) is taking the “nerd-to-riches” story seriously. Fincher and Sorkin are both heavy hitters, and with a young cast of up-and-comers including Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland), Andrew Garfield (2012’s Spider-Man reboot) and Justin Timberlake (Alpha Dog), “Network” has been making early waves for Oscar buzz. Now, with a Google movie on the potential horizon, there is no question that the nerds are in it for the long (profitable) haul.
Directed by David Fincher