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Fall Movie Preview 2014: Bring on the Heavy Hitters

Rolling Stone’s film critic weighs in on the season’s highly anticipated biopics, blockbusters and Oscarbait

Fall Movie Preview 2014: Bring on the Big Guns

The Weinstein Company; Warner Brothers

Face it, summer movies are like one-night stands: in, out and off our memory cards. Fall brings the movies you want to take home, learn to love and introduce to friends. They stick to the mind and heart, especially the ones ready for a serious date with Oscar. It's not that art totally trumps commerce at the multiplex between Labor Day and New Year's Eve: Escapism is plentiful, from sequels for Horrible Bosses and Night at the Museum to the musicals Annie and Into the Woods. But so far, 2014 has been a lean year for keepers. Only two films, both released earlier this year and both the work of Texas-born directors, have a shot at the gold: Richard Linklater's masterpiece, Boyhood, and Wes Anderson's career-defining The Grand Budapest Hotel. Can they be topped? Here are the scrappiest contenders with their eyes on the prize, as well as the fall blockbusters and under-the-radar gems to keep an eye out for over the next several months.


Wilson Webb

‘Inherent Vice’ (Dec. 12)

Is Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, The Master) the best director of his generation? I think so. So when PTA takes on the impossible task of filming Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon's impossible phantasmagoria of a novel, attention must be paid. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Doc Sportello, a pothead PI, circa 1970, taking on the LAPD and assorted criminal conspiracies amid a haze of weed and psychedelia. As always with PTA and Pynchon, you take a leap into the wild blue. Afraid? Come on, cowboy the fuck up.


‘Mr. Turner’ (Dec. 19)

Timothy Spall took the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his superb performance as British seascape painter J.M.W. Turner. This magnificent film from Mike Leigh, a master of human behavior, opens up Turner’s private world.

big eyes

MARGARET KEANE (AMY ADAMS) in BIG EYES Copyright: © 2014. The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved. / Leah Gallo

Leah Gallo/The Weinstein Company

‘Big Eyes’ (Dec. 25)

In Tim Burton’s film, Amy Adams enters the Best Actress race as Margaret Keane, the painter whose husband, Walter (Christoph Waltz), took credit for her big-eyed portraits of children.


‘The Interview’ (Dec. 25)

Talk about a hot-button comedy. North Korean officials have already protested this satire about a celebrity TV journalist (James Franco) and his producer (Seth Rogen), who are thrilled to snag an interview with Kim Jong-un until the CIA orders them to kill the dude. Rogen, who co-directed and co-wrote the film with Evan Goldberg, tweeted a reaction to threats of retaliation: "People don't usually wanna kill me for one of my movies until after they've paid 12 bucks for it. Hiyooooo!!!"


‘Into the Woods’ (Dec. 25)

The fairy-tale title will no doubt bring in the family crowd over the holidays. But fans of Stephen Sondheim’s 1987 Broadway musical know that the composer likes the dark side. That’s Meryl Streep as the witch who’s not above rendering a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) barren if they cross her. And Johnny Depp’s Wolf isn’t above sexual misadventures. And, well, you get my point. Director Rob Marshall promises that he hasn’t wussified Sondheim. That might just be enough to pique Oscar’s curiosity.


MIAMI BEACH, FL - MARCH 10: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Actor David Oyelowo poses for a portrait session promoting his new film 'Default' during the Miami International Film Festival 2014 at The Standard on March 10, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Vallery Jean/Getty Images)

Vallery Jean/Getty Images

‘Selma’ (Dec. 25)

It took two strong women – director Ava DuVernay and producer Oprah Winfrey – to get this Martin Luther King story to the screen. Set in 1965, when King, played by British actor David Oyelowo, led a march in Alabama to push the Voting Rights Act, Selma is a long-aborning labor of love.


‘Unbroken’ (Dec. 25)

While Brad Pitt mans a tank in Fury, Angelina Jolie takes on her own WWII story as director of Unbroken. Based on Lauren Hillenbrand's bestseller, it tells the true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic track star who survives a Pacific plane crash and spends 47 days marooned on a raft, only to be tortured for two years in a Japanese prison camp. Zamperini, played by Jack O'Connell, died in July at 97, having been shown the film by Jolie in a hospital on her laptop. That's fall films for you: Academy all the way.

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