Now that another Labor Day has come and gone, it’s time to pack away your white pants and say So long! to the thrills and spills of Summer Blockbuster Season. As the shallow action and over-the-top comedies of the warmer months begin to leave theaters, they’re making room for the moving drama (and, let’s face it, Oscar bait) of another Award Season.
So now, as members of critics’ groups and other voting bodies begin bracing themselves for another long season of separating the award-worthy from the also-rans, let’s take a look at what’s in store this year’s Award Season.
Okay, so the next four months may be filled with award hopefuls, but the season doesn’t start that way. Instead, it starts with Riddick, with Vin Diesel returning as the sci-fi warrior who’s bent on revenge.
Kristin’s Pick: There are a number of limited releases hitting theaters this time of year—so I recommend skipping Riddick and checking out an indie adventure instead.
The September action continues this week with a pair of thrillers. First, James Wan (who also directed this summer’s The Conjuring) returns with Insidious: Chapter 2, the follow-up to his horror hit, Insidious. Meanwhile, Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer star as a mafia family in witness protection in France in Luc Besson’s The Family.
Or, for some family-friendly entertainment, there’s the 3D re-release of one of my all-time Disney movies, The Little Mermaid.
Kristin’s Pick: All three of this week’s movies have their own appeal—but the headstrong teenager inside me has to give The Little Mermaid 3D my pick.
Did I already mention that September isn’t the greatest time for new movies? Well, this week, we get the latest dance movie, Battle of the Year. On the other hand, we also get Prisoners, which stars Hugh Jackman as a desperate father who takes matters into his own hands when his daughter and her friend go missing. Not only does it star Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal (and a few other award season regulars), but it was also directed by Incendies director Denis Villeneuve—which could be an award-worthy combination.
Also this week, Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins, and, um, Pink star in Thanks for Sharing, a rom-com about a trio of sex addicts.
Kristin’s Pick: Though the mother in me is dreading Prisoners, I’ve got to give this award season hopeful my pick.
This week is definitely a mixed bag. We’ve got festival darling Don Jon, starring and directed by one of my favorites, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. There’s also the biopic Rush, directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth as a Formula 1 racer. For the kids, there’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. And then there’s Baggage Claim, starring Paula Patton as a single woman who sets out to snag her man.
Kristin’s Pick: Though I loved the first Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, I’m eager to see Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, so I’ll take a chance on Don Jon.
Award Season starts to heat up a bit in October. That’s when we’ll see the latest from Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star in this sci-fi thriller about a pair of astronauts who are left fighting for survival after they find themselves lost in space.
Also this week, Justin Timberlake and Batman-to-be Ben Affleck star in Runner Runner, a crime thriller about a grad student who teams up with an online gambling mogul.
Kristin’s Pick: Both of this week’s picks sound intriguing—and they have casts to match. But since Runner Runner was directed by the guy who also did The Lincoln Lawyer, I’ll stick with Gravity.
Be sure to add Dramamine to your shopping list! This week, notorious shaky-cam director Paul Greengrass teams up with Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips, the real-life story of the captain of the first American ship to be hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. Or, for some wackier action, there’s Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills, the follow-up to 2010’s Machete, which stars Danny Trejo as a gritty tough guy on a mission for the U. S. government.
Also this week, Hailee Steinfeld stars in the latest version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. And, for something significantly less romantic, there’s director Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Kristin’s Pick: Who doesn’t love Benedict Cumberbatch? Though I doubt that The Fifth Estate will be the new Social Network, I’ll still give it my pick.
October finally gets scary this week with Boys Don’t Cry director Kimberly Peirce’s reworking of Carrie, starring Chloë Grace Moretz. Elsewhere this week, in a surprising award season release, Sly Stallone plays a security specialist who finds himself trying to break out of his own escape-proof prison in Escape Plan.
For more traditional award season fare, there’s Steve McQueen’s heavily-buzzed 12 Years a Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as a free black man who’s kidnapped and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South. And Robert Redford stars as a solitary sailor who’s lost at sea in All Is Lost.
Kristin’s Pick: I can’t avoid the buzz of 12 Years a Slave—or Chiwetel Ejiofor’s star potential—so I’ve got to give the historical drama my pick.
So here we are, at the end of October, without a Halloween horror to be found. Instead, we have Ridley Scott’s latest, The Counselor, starring Brad Pitt as a drug-trafficking lawyer.
If you’re looking for something scary, though, you might want to try Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, starring Johnny Knoxville as an octogenarian on a cross-country road trip with his eight-year-old grandson.
Kristin’s Pick: Need you ask? Ridley Scott it is.
And so concludes our journey through the first half of this year’s Award Season. I know it’s a lot to take in—all of these award-contending dramas with big-name directors and A-list casts. So this seems like the perfect time to take a little break. Take some time to relax and unwind—and maybe watch a brainless comedy or two—but be sure to check back for part two of my Award Season preview.