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Fall Movie Preview 2015: Biopics, Bond and ‘The Force Awakens’

From Oscar contenders to new Tarantino and ‘Star Wars’ films, all you need to know on the season’s big movies

Fall Movie Preview 2015

Fall is the time of the year when studios release the movies they're not ashamed of and that won't suck the soul right out of you. That's right, they save the best for last in the hope of winning audience applause and maybe Academy gold. Box-office gold wouldn't hurt either (hello, Star Wars: The Force Awakens). So, after checking out the contenders and sifting out the crap (that includes you, Adam Sandler), this guide will point you in the right direction.

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‘Carol’ (November 20th)

Picture Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara enjoying a love that dare not speak its name. That's Carol, a film set in the 1950s, when lesbianism was a social taboo. Todd Haynes directs from a book Patricia Highsmith had to write under a pseudonym. At Cannes, the magnificent Blanchett and Mara won ovations. You'd be crazy to miss it.

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‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2’ (November 20th)

This is the end, at last. Studio execs have squeezed four movies from three bestselling books by Suzanne Collins. You could feel the padding. But it didn't hurt that much, because The Hunger Games remained the class act in a long line of imitation dystopian epics (that's you, Divergent). And because Jennifer Lawrence gave her all to playing Katniss, the "futuristic Joan of Arc" (Lawrence's words) who finally gets to go medieval on President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Rock on.

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‘The Danish Girl’ (November 27th)

Eddie Redmayne, who just won an Oscar for playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, could go for two in a row here. As a Danish artist who in the 1920s became the first male to make the surgical transition to female, the gifted British actor taps into the zeitgeist. Hello, Caitlyn.

I Saw The Light


‘I Saw the Light’ (November 27th)

Yup, that's Loki, i.e. Brit actor Tom Hiddleston, stepping into the boots of Hank Williams to tell the story of the Alabama-born country legend in a movie that, the star says, "pulls no punches about Hank's self-abusive relationship with alcohol and  prescription drugs." I'll say. But the brilliant Hiddleston, doing his own vocals, traces ole Hank's career till his untimely death at 29 with tremendous power  and tender mercies.

Son of Saul

‘Son of Saul’ (December 18th)

Hungary's submission for Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar (I’m calling the win now) is a Holocaust drama that reps a stunning feature debut for director Lazlo Nemes. Geza Rohrig gives one of the year's best and most powerful performances as Saul, an Auschwitz Sonderkommando (a Jew enlisted in the disposal of other Jews to delay his own execution) who finds the body of a boy he thinks is his son and struggles to provide the boy with a Jewish burial. "I told them to ban this feeling of self-pity, to do less," says Nemes. The effect is shattering. Hard to take, yes, but impossible to forget.

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‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (December 18th)

Quite simply, the movie event of the year. No one knows yet how J.J. Abrams will pick up the saga that ended with Return of the Jedi, but it's gotta be better than the three George Lucas prequels. We do know Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is back, as well as Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford). We know there's a new hero in Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and a fresh villain in Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Chewbacca sums it up best in his immortal Wookie sound: "Arwwwwwaaaaaaaarrrrrrahahahahahhaahhhhaa. . . ."

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‘The Hateful Eight’ (December 25th)

An octet of badass outlaws: That's how Quentin Tarantino sees The Hateful Eight, whose cast includes Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern. "Trap them in a room with a blizzard outside, give them guns and see what happens," says Tarantino. I'm in. Call it Reservoir Dogs in spurs. Tarantino is the cinematic poet of the profane, and every film junkie will saddle up for this one.

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‘Joy’ (December 25th)

Jennifer Lawrence lands in the award race whenever she teams up with director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle). So expect good things when she plays a character loosely based on Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop. "It's the interior life of one woman's soul, from ages 10 to 40," says Russell.

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‘The Revenant’ (December 25th)

Talk is that Alejandro 
G. Iñárritu turned the filming of this revenge Western into a Canadian-wilderness version of Survivor. The cast, led by Leonardo DiCaprio as a 19th-century hunter left to die by his pals (Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson), froze their actor pee-pees off. "What good is a happy cast," says Iñárritu, "if the film is a piece of shit?" Point taken. Talk now is that The Revenant is a piece of gold, likely to get Iñárritu back on the Oscar stage, where his Birdman won Best Picture and Director. That, folks, is what makes fall the film season that counts.

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