Letís face it: 2014 hasnít been the best year for movies. Even the four months of Summer Blockbuster Seasonótypically a thrilling time filled with big-budget action, adventure, and laughsóleft audiences feeling less than impressed. Fortunately, though, a new season is dawning. The kids are heading back to school, the leaves are starting to fall, and Hollywood is bracing itself for another Award Season. Thatís got to be good news, right? Well, letís take a look at whatís in store for the next couple of months at your friendly neighborhood theater and decide for ourselves, shall we?
Please note: films are listed by week. Iíve used Friday as the standard release date, though some will open earlier in the week. Others will be opening in limited release, so release dates in your area will vary. And others will change release dates about as often as I change my daughterís diaper. So be sure to check your local listings for exact dates and times.
Okay, so award season never really gets off to a bangóand this year is no different. After Labor Day, everyoneís too busy to race out to the theateróso, as a result, studios donít release much of anything.
This yearís post-Labor Day releases include The Identical, the story of a musical family from the Ď50s through the Ď70s, and God Help the Girl starring Emily Browning as an aspiring songwriter in Scotland.
Non-musical releases include Kelly & Cal, with Juliette Lewis starring as a former rocker turned suburban mommy, and the Western drama Frontera, starring Ed Harris.
Kristinís Pick: Iím going to give my first pick of the fall to Kelly & Calómostly because, as a suburban mommy, I might just relate.
This week, in the thriller No Good Deed, Taraji P. Henson learns that itís probably not a good idea to open the door and allow strangers to come in and use your phoneóeven if they do look like Idris Elba. And Tom Hardy stars in The Drop, based on the short story by Dennis Lehane.
For the family, thereís Dolphin Tale 2, which picks up the true story of Winter the dolphin following her rescue in 2011ís Dolphin Tale.
And, for a few laughs, thereís Search Party, starring Alison Brie, Krysten Ritter, and T. J. Miller.
Kristinís Pick: Search Party is definitely a long shotósince, while I was researching these films, it didnít have a single piece of marketing materials available. Not even a poster. But it still sounds like the most promising option of this week.
This week, in Foxís adaptation of The Maze Runner, a group of boys find themselves trapped in the middle of a massive maze, forced to work together to try to get out. And in the crime thriller A Walk Among the Tombstones, Liam Neeson stars as...does it matter? Itís a crime thriller starring Liam Neeson. You know what to expect.
For some dark family comedy, thereís director Shawn Levyís This Is Where I Leave You, in which four grown siblings are forced to live under the same roof for a week after their fatherís death. With a cast that includes Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, and many more, itís sure to be one crazy family reunion.
Also this week, Simon Pegg stars in Hector and the Search for Happiness, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader play estranged siblings in the drama The Skeleton Twins, and Mia Wasikowska travels across Australia in Tracks.
Kristinís Pick: Though several of this weekís releases seem somewhat promising, Iím going to go with This Is Where I Leave Youóbecause it looks like a painfully funny family comedy.
This week, director Antoine Fuqua reunites with his Training Day star, Denzel Washington, for The Equalizer. Washington stars as a former black ops agent who comes out of hiding to help a teenager in trouble.
For the kids, thereís the animated film The Boxtrolls, which follows along on the adventures of an orphaned boy who was raised by trash-collecting trolls who wander the streets at night.
Other releases this week include Lynn Sheltonís Laggies, Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen in The Two Faces of January (directed by Drive screenwriter Hossein Amini), and James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them.
Kristinís Pick: This weekís releases offer another couple of promising picksóbut Iíll give my pick to The Boxtrolls, in hopes that itíll have the same clever, quirky style as Coraline and ParaNorman.
Let the real award season race begin! This week, David Fincher returns with his adaptation of author Gillian Flynnís Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck as a man whose innocence is called into question after his wife goes missing.
Also this week, Reese Witherspoon stars in the inspirational drama The Good Lie, about a strong-willed American woman who welcomes Sudanese refugees into her home.
And, for the October scares, thereís Annabelle, about a creepy, satanic doll (which makes me glad that my mom has gotten over her antique doll phase).
Kristinís Pick: This oneís a no-brainer. Iím so eager to see Fincherís Gone Girl that Iím still hoping to read the book before the movie hits theaters.
This week offers a very different kind of literary adaptation, with Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner starring in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Meanwhile, Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin turns to drama for The Judge, starring Robert Downey, Jr. as a successful lawyer who returns home to reconnect with his father (Robert Duvall), a powerful judge whoís been accused of murder.
Also this week, another cheating wife wreaks havoc on her family in the thriller Addicted, Miles Teller stars as an aspiring young jazz drummer in Whiplash, and Jeremy Renner plays a real-life journalist who comes under attack by the CIA in Kill the Messenger.
Kristinís Pick: Once again, this week offers some intriguing options, but Iíve got to give my pick to the adaptation of an old favorite, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
This week offers a little bit of something for everyone. For adrenaline junkies, End of Watch director David Ayer teams up with Brad Pitt for Fury, a World War II drama about a sergeant who leads his team on a dangerous mission in a tank in the middle of enemy territory.
For the hopeless romantics, thereís The Best of Me, about a couple of high school sweethearts who reunite years later.
For the family, thereís The Book of Life, an animated adventure produced by Guillermo del Toroówhich means that it should be completely out of the ordinary.
Birdman claims to be a kind-of comedy (and the cast does include Zach Galifianakis), but considering that it was directed by the guy who made Babel and Biutiful, so I wouldnít expect any side-splitting laughs.
And, finally, for the horror buffs, thereís Luke Evans in the gothic origins story Dracula Untold.
Kristinís Pick: Though Iím definitely interested in The Book of Life, Iíve got to give my pick to Furyóbecause...well...itís Brad Pitt.
The weekend before Halloween offers a couple of horrific optionsóincluding the supernatural horrors of Paranormal Activity 5 and Ouija.
But, if youíre not in the mood for a scary movie, thereís also Matthew Vaughnís comic spy thriller, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Shailene Woodley in the literary thriller White Bird in a Blizzard, and St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray as a loud-mouthed veteran who befriends his troubled young neighbor.
Kristinís Pick: Sure, itís October, and Iím supposed to be into the latest horror releases, but Iíd rather give my pick to Kingsmanóbecause it teams Vaughn with a pretty amazing cast (including Sam Jackson, Colin Firth, and Michael Caine). And you just canít go wrong with a lineup like that.
In case you havenít already gotten your fill of Halloween releases, this weekend features the release of the horror anthology sequel ABCs of Death 2.
Or, for something just a little different, thereís Nightcrawler, a pitch-black drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal as an aspiring freelance journalist who will stop at absolutely nothing to get a scoop.
Kristinís Pick: Though memories of Enemy make it difficult to get behind another edgy Jake Gyllenhaal drama, I think Iíll take a chance on Nightcrawler anyway.
There you have it: the first two months of this yearís Award Season. Thereís a lot to digest hereóso letís all take some time to contemplate this yearís picks. Then be sure to move on to Part Two of my fall preview, when the Award Season battles really start to heat up.