Movie Maniac

2015 fall movie preview: From serious to scary

Billy Bob Thornton and Sandra Bullock star in “Our Brand is Crisis,” out Oct. 30.
Billy Bob Thornton and Sandra Bullock star in “Our Brand is Crisis,” out Oct. 30. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

As the debris settles from all the explosions and superhero fights of the big-budget movies of summer, it’s time to cool things down as we head into cooler days.

There’s a lot in store before we get to the blockbusters of Christmas, including the last James Bond film with Daniel Craig. In that respect, here are 7 questions about the fall movie season (release dates are subject to change):

▪  What movies are Oscar bait?

Fall is typically the time when Hollywood rolls out its more serious, artsy fare for awards-season consideration. And there are more contenders than you can shake a Golden Globe at.

Oscar winner Danny Boyle’s “Steve Jobs” (out on Oct. 9) biopic is certainly gaining Oscar buzz for best picture and Michael Fassbender as Jobs for best actor.

So is Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” (Oct. 16), starring Tom Hanks as an American lawyer who is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union.

Two musical biopics could attract acting kudos: Don Cheadle as Miles Davis in “Miles Ahead” (late October) (he also directs), and Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams in “I Saw the Light” (November).

On the actress front, look for Carey Mulligan to get attention for “Suffragette” (late October), about the early days of the feminist movement, and a possible Oscar repeat for Julianne Moore in “Freeheld” (late October), about a New Jersey police lieutenant who fights to have her pension benefits transferred to her lover (Ellen Page) after she is diagnosed with cancer.

▪  What movies can I take the kids to?

There’s not a whole lot on the horizon for the younger set, but there is “Hotel Transylvania 2” (Sept. 25) with Adam Sandler returning as the voice of Dracula, the re-telling of the Peter Pan legend in “Pan” (Oct. 9), the children’s book “Goosebumps” (Oct. 26) updated for the big screen with Jack Black, the live-action version of the ’80s cartoon “Jem and the Holograms” (Oct. 23) and the big-screen debut of Charlie Brown and the gang in “The Peanuts Movie” (Nov. 7). Good grief!

▪  What movies will scare me?

There’s plenty of horror fodder: M. Night Shyamalan’s creepy grandparents in “The Visit” (Sept. 11), “Torture porn” king Eli Roth’s Amazon jungle bloodfest “The Green Inferno” (Sept. 25), orphan-with-bad-dreams chiller “Before I Wake” (Sept. 25), and Guillermo del Toro’s period haunted-house tale “Crimson Peak” (Oct. 16). “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” (Oct. 23) is the next cookie-cutter chapter in the almost worn-out franchise. And “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” (Oct. 30) is about three Boy Scouts who save their once-peaceful town from a zombie invasion. Is it wrong to root for the zombies?

▪ What notable directors will there be?

Ridley Scott returns to sci-fi with Matt Dillon as a stranded astronaut in “The Martian” (Oct. 2), Robert Zemeckis helms the Joseph Gordon-Levitt Twin Towers tightrope thriller “The Walk” (Oct. 9), Angelina Jolie directs her husband, Brad Pitt, in a tale about a troubled American couple trying to make things work in 1970s France in “By the Sea” (Nov. 13) and Sam Mendes returns for his last 007 adventure with Daniel Craig in “Spectre” (Nov. 6).

▪ What’s with all the LGBT-themed films this fall?

Well this is the year that same-sex marriage became legal. But it’s probably just a coincidence that there are several high-profile films on the way centering on LGBT characters.

Eddie Redmayne, fresh from his Oscar for “The Theory of Everything,” goes for the gold again in “The Danish Girl” (late November) as transgender pioneer Lili Elbe. Cate Blanchette and Rooney Mara star as lovers in the 1950s-set Cannes film fest sensation “Carol” (late November). “Stonewall” (late September) has “Godzilla” and “White House Down” director Roland Emmerich going a different route with this chronicle of the 1969 New York City riots that helped spark the gay rights movement. And “About Ray” (Sept. 18) has Elle Fanning playing a teen who transitions from female to male, all in addition to the afore-mentioned “Freeheld.”

▪  Can Johnny Depp end his losing streak?

We love ya, Johnny, but you haven’t had a real hit since “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” in 2011. Since then, he’s been in such critical and commercial misfires as “The Rum Diary,” “Dark Shadows,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Transcendence” and “Mortdecai.” Yeeesh.

But his turn in “Black Mass” (Sept. 18) looks promising as an infamous violent criminal in South Boston who becomes an FBI informant.

▪  What’s the one under-the-radar movie not to miss?

“The 33” (Nov. 13), which tells the real-life plight of 33 coal miners trapped underground for 69 days and stars Antonio Banderas.

The rest of the fall slate

(Release dates subject to change)

Comedy

“The Intern” stars Robert De Niro as a 70-year-old widower who gets back in the corporate game. (Sept. 25)

“Rock the Kasbah” (Oct. 23) has Bill Murray as a music manager on tour in Afghanistan.

“Love the Coopers” (Nov. 13) has an all-star cast as a family that reunites for Christmas.

Drama

“The Perfect Guy” follows a successful lobbyist who must choose between the new guy in her life or her returning ex-boyfriend. (Sept. 11)

“Captive” stars Rooney Mara as a young mother who is taken hostage by an escaped murderer (David Oyelowo). (Sept. 18)

“Legend” (Oct. 2) gives us a double-dose of Tom Hardy as twins.

“Our Brand is Crisis” (Oct. 30) has Sandra Bullock in a political tale.

Action/thriller

“The Transporter Refueled” has Ed Skrein stepping into the tough-guy shoes originally worn by Jason Statham. (Sept. 4)

“Everest” stars Jake Gyllenhaal in a tale about a climbing expedition devastated by a killer snowstorm. (Sept. 18)

“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” is the second film in the series based on the young-adult books. (Sept. 18)

“Sicario” has Emily Blunt starring as a hardcore CIA agent. (Sept. 18)

“London Has Fallen” has Gerard Butler stopping a plot to assassinate world leaders. (Oct. 2)

“The Last Witch Hunter” stars Vin Diesel as, well, the last witch hunter. (Oct. 23)

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