2008 Fall Movie Preview
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Just the other day, I stepped outside in jeans and a T-shirt and was shocked by the heat. It seems that I’d forgotten that it was still summer.

I do, however, have a perfectly logical reason for losing track of the seasons. You see, once I flipped the calendar to August, summer was pretty much over for me. All of the summer blockbusters that I’d been eagerly anticipating for months were finally out in theaters, and, well, nobody really cares about August movies. So as soon as July ended, I started thinking about fall.

Now, this week, the Toronto Film Festival opens, unofficially kicking off this year’s awards season. And as I’m wandering the streets of Toronto, trying to figure out which theater is playing which movie (and, let’s face it…trying to catch a glimpse of George Clooney), I’ll be keeping an eye out for the best of the best—so I can report back to N&W.com’s readers.

In the meantime, here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the ridiculous movies that will be making their way to a theater near you this fall. (Note: Release dates are subject to change at any time, for any reason, on the studio’s slightest whim.)

September kicks off with just one wide release: Nick Cage’s potentially craptastic Bangkok Dangerous. If you’re heading to the theater this weekend, though, I recommend rewatching Tropic Thunder. Again. Don’t worry…the good movies are coming.

Okay…now things get serious. On the second weekend of September, two huge Hollywood duos battle it out at the box office: Clooney and Pitt in Burn After Reading and Pacino and DeNiro in Righteous Kill. My pick? The Coen Brothers’ wacky Burn. If you’re not feeling like a shoot-‘em-up thriller, though, you’ll want to check out every last woman in Hollywood, starring in The Women.

Also on the 12th: Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys and the limited release of Towelhead.

The Great Action Duo Showdown on the 12th is followed by The (Not-So-) Great Comedy Showdown on the 19th. Ricky Gervais (that funny British guy from the original UK version of The Office) stars in Ghost Town, while That Guy Who’s Not Funny and That Guy Who Was Funny 10 Years Ago star (along with Kate Hudson) in My Best Friend’s Girl. My pick for the week? John Cusack voices the animated film, Igor—about a former evil sidekick who has to fend for himself at the Evil Science Fair.

Also This Week: Sam Jackson plays bad-cop in Lakeview Terrace. Ed Harris’s Western, Appaloosa, starring Viggo Mortensen, opens in limited release—along with Kiera Knightley’s The Duchess and Julianne Moore’s Blindness.

Everyone’s favorite Hollywood troublemaker, Shia LaBeouf, returns to the big screen with Michelle Monaghan in the thriller, Eagle Eye. Meanwhile, Diane Lane and Richard Gere star in Nights in Rodanthe, a romance based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks.

Also on the 26th: Two soldier movies: The Lucky Ones and Miracle at St. Anna. Also, in limited release, Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke.

Let’s not talk about Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua, okay? Instead, I’ll point out that, on October 3, Simon Pegg stars in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, which seems an awful lot like a male version of The Devil Wears Prada. Count me in!

Also This Week: Bill Maher’s Religulous, Michael Cera in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Greg Kinnear takes on Detroit (never a good idea) in Flash of Genius. Also, in limited release, Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married (and, previously, another movie—which, according to the email I just got, has been bumped).

Phew! The 3rd was a busy week—but the movies just keep coming! The 10th sees the release of another Ridley Scott / Russell Crowe movie, Body of Lies, which also stars Leo DiCaprio. Could this one finally be Ridley’s Oscar-winner? As much as I’d like to say yes…eh…probably not. Also, in limited release, Guy Ritchie’s reported return to the old Guy Ritchie we all know and love, RocknRolla.

Also on the 10th: Bill Murray in City of Ember and the fall’s inevitable inspirational football movie, The Express.

Just a couple of weeks before the presidential election, Oliver Stone takes an apparently laughable jab at the Man in the Oval Office with his bar-fight-starting cast in W..

Also the 17th: Mark Wahlberg’s video game movie, Max Payne, sailing documentary Morning Light, and a bunch of teenage guys try to get laid (Zzzzzzz!) in Sex Drive.

Expect your teenage daughters to ask for an advance in their allowance and a ride to the theater on the 24th—so they can see High School Musical 3 with their friends. And expect your teenage sons to try to sneak out with their friends to see Saw V. While they’re gone, you might want to catch director Rian Johnson’s return in The Brothers Bloom.

Also This week: Clint Eastwood’s latest Oscar bait, Changeling, Anne Hathaway in Passengers, Edward Norton in NYPD family drama Pride & Glory, and, in limited release, Charlie Kaufman’s latest head trip, Synecdoche, NY.

On Halloween, Kevin Smith’s controversial film, Zack and Miri Make a Porno finally hits theaters, complete with its R-rating. Whether it’s a trick or a treat is yet to be determined.

Also This Week: Teen horror The Haunting of Molly Hartley and, in limited release, The Other End of the Line.

For some reason, one Madagascar wasn’t enough—so here comes the second one. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more penguins.

Also the 7th: Paris Hilton (yes, I’m afraid so) returns to the big screen in Repo! The Genetic Opera, and Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott are Role Models.

Bond…James Bond looks a whole lot like Bourne…Jason Bourne in the trailers for Daniel Craig’s latest, Quantum of Solace. But it’s a Bond movie, so who cares? Bond takes on Sam Jackson (now that’s a movie I’d like to see), along with the late Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes in Soul Men.

Also This Week: Holiday dramady Nothing Like the Holidays and, in limited release, Viggo Mortensen in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

Hey! Have you heard about that movie, Twilight? That teen vampire romance? The one that had actual girls showing up (and screaming) at Comic-Con? Yeah, me neither. But the new Harry Potter movie has been delayed until summer, so you get Twilight instead. If you’re into that kind of thing. (And you know you are.)

Also This Week: Disney’s CGI adventure, Bolt and Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx team up for The Soloist.

Ah…so much to be thankful for… Like Transporter 3. Hmmm…maybe not. How about Sean Penn’s Milk…? Vince Vaughn’s latest Christmas movie, Four Christmases…? Hmmm… I think I’ll just stick with Baz Luhrmann’s latest with Nicole Kidman, Australia.

As the year comes to a close, we film critics are just too busy watching all of the year’s big award contenders (which won’t actually hit a theater near you until February or March…if ever) to worry about actual wide releases. So, besides a couple of big holiday releases, December doesn’t have a whole lot to offer. Take, for instance, the 5th, which sees the release of Punisher: War Zone, which was apparently so bad that Thomas Jane was perfectly happy to hand the role over to Ray Stevenson. Also—in limited release—director Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon.

There always has to be at least one big, over-the-top holiday action movie—and, this year, it’s Keanu Reeves in a remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Reeves plays an alien, which seems like pretty good casting to me. He’s up against Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber, who are already getting Oscar buzz for their role in Defiance Edward Zwick’s follow-up to Blood Diamond.

Also This Week: Award-season regular Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a priest under question in Doubt.

With Christmas right around the corner, the studios pull out all the stops in their big box office battle. From comedies to dramas to kids’ movies, you’ll find ‘em all. For instance, on the 19th comes Jim Carrey’s self-help comedy, Yes Man. On the drama side, there’s Brad Pitt as a man who ages backwards in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And, on the kids’ side, there’s Matthew Broderick voicing a CGI mouse in The Tale of Despereaux.

Also on the 19th: Will Smith reunites with The Pursuit of Happyness director Gabriele Muccino for Seven Pounds.

Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a Nazi movie. Thanks, Tom Cruise. Cruise’s strangely fascinating Valkyrie hits theaters on Christmas Day, as does Adam Sandler’s family-friendly Bedtime Stories and Frank Miller’s heavily-hyped (and already critically bashed) The Spirit.

Also Rounding out the Year: Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet reunite for Revolutionary Road, Forrest Whitaker stars in true-life post-Katrina sports drama Hurricane Season, and Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson take care of a neurotic dog in Marley & Me.

And there you have it…another awards season filled with laughter, tears, and blatant Oscar bait. But enjoy it while you can, lovers of good, tasteful movies—because after this, it’ll be a long, bleak winter.

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