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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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‘Crimson Peak’ (October 16th)

When Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) does a haunted-house movie, you better believe it will keep you up nights. "It's violent and kinky," Del Toro warns. Things get Gothic fast when a dashing 19th-century aristocrat (Tom Hiddleston) takes his London bride (Mia Wasikowska) to live in his spooked mansion. For company, she has his sibling (Jessica Chastain), who redefines "twisted sister." Del Toro is a master of things that go bump in the night and fester inside.



‘Truth’ (October 16th)

Robert Redford plays CBS News anchor Dan Rather, and Cate Blanchett is his producer Mary Mapes. Rather resigned and Mapes lost her job when they used suspect documents to back up a 2004 piece on 60 Minutes that challenged then-president George W. Bush's National Guard service. This potent cinematic provocation reopens old wounds in ways you won't see coming.

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‘Suffragette’ (October 23rd)

Carey Mulligan leads the charge for women's voting rights in 1912 England. With Meryl Streep cast as suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, the film is hardcore in its depiction of the struggle. Mulligan says she had no idea these women were "beaten, imprisoned, blew up bridges, went on hunger strikes. We have a very muted picture of happy women with banners." No more.

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‘Brooklyn’ (November 6th)

Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, 21, is superb in this ravishing story of love and leaving home. Ronan plays a girl who comes to 1950s America for work and must choose between an attractive stranger (Emory Cohen) and a man she left behind (Domhnall Gleeson). John Crowley's film brims with small pleasures. "I get very emotional about it," says Ronan. You will too.

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‘Spectre’ (November 6th)

Is Spectre an origin story for James Bond? Director Sam Mendes, who hit pay dirt bonding with Bond in Skyfall, says so. And Daniel Craig is up at bat for the fourth time as 007, with Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as his nemesis. Waltz practically oozes out the words "I'm the author of all your pain." How do you resist?

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‘Spotlight’ (November 6th)

Director-cowriter Thomas McCarthy borrows a crusading page from All the President's Men to tell the true story of how the Boston Globe won a 2003 Pulitzer for exposing the Archdiocese's cover-up of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Michael Keaton plays the head of the paper's "Spotlight" team with Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian d’Arcy James as reporters on the case.

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‘Trumbo’ (November 6th)

Can Bryan Cranston add an Oscar to his four Emmys for Breaking Bad and his Tony for playing LBJ in All the Way? He’s got a juicy role as Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter who was blacklisted in the 1950s for his alleged "Commie" politics. The exile wrote Exodus and other films using a fake name (no, not Heisenberg) and fought back hard before Kirk Douglas put Trumbo's name in the credits on Spartacus.

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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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