Fall film preview: Heavy on true stories, something for everyone
Tom Long Detroit News Film Critic
DETRIOT (AP) —There will be aliens. There will be lovable cartoons and big stars and spunky independent films. And because we’re heading toward the end of the year, there will be plenty of movies hoping to be in the Oscar race.
But if there’s one obvious slant to the upcoming fall film schedule, it’s movies based on real situations and people. Again, this may have to do with Oscar. Two of the past three best picture winners — “Argo” in 2012 and “The King’s Speech” in 2010 — were based on real stories.
Don’t worry about overdosing on reality. There’s still plenty of silliness.
Obviously, Hollywood hopes there’s something for everyone. And with this many choices, Hollywood’s probably right.
“The Family” (R): A Mafia family led by Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer is relocated to Normandy, France, in this dark comic thriller from director Luc Besson.
“Insidious: Chapter 2” (PG-13): Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne reunite for a sequel to the low-budget spook fest about a family with ties to the spirit world.
“Salinger” (Not Rated): All sorts of famous folks — Martin Sheen, Gore Vidal, Edward Norton, Tom Wolfe — discuss the impact and work of the reclusive novelist.
“Short Term 12” (R): Brie Larson plays a staff member at a foster care facility dealing with its troubled inmates.
“Austenland” (PG-13): Keri Russell plays a woman who travels to a Jane Austen theme park in search of true love.
“Prisoners” (R): Hugh Jackman plays a parent whose young daughter goes missing, but a detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) can’t take a suspect (Paul Dano) in because of a lack of evidence. With Melissa Leo, Viola Davis, Maria Bello and Terence Howard.
“Enough Said” (PG-13): Julia Louis-Dreyfuss plays a masseuse who meets a nice guy (James Gandolfini) but discovers he’s the ex-husband of one of her best clients (Catherine Keener).
“Battle of the Year” (PG-13): A former basketball coach (Josh Holloway) trains a dozen kids for the Olympics of break dancing. That’s right, the Olympics of break dancing. Stop laughing.
“Thanks for Sharing” (R): Three recovering addicts — Mark Ruffalo, Josh Gad and Tim Robbins — navigate love and life in New York City
“Walk of Shame” (R): Elizabeth Banks is an aspiring reporter who finds herself stranded in downtown Los Angeles without a phone, car, ID or money after a one-night stand.
“Haute Cuisine” (PG-13): The story of how a female chef became the private chef for Francois Mitterand.
“Don Jon” (R): Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed and stars in this story of a young Romeo who’s obsession with girls and pornography hits a wall when he falls for an old-fashioned girl (Scarlett Johansson).
“Baggage Claim” (PG-13): A flight attendant (Paula Patton) has 30 days to find Mr. Right before her younger sister’s wedding.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” (nyr): Apparently food-animal hybrids are now falling from the sky.
“Inequality for All” (PG): Economist Robert Reich demonstrates how the widening income gap spells very bad things for folks in the U.S.
“Metallica Through the Never” (R): A band crew member is sent out on a mission as Metallica performs in this mash-up narrative/rock doc.
“Rush” (R): Director Ron Howard looks at the 1970s race car rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. With Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl.
“Gravity (PG-13): Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play astronauts who are left floating untethered in space after a spacewalk accident. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron.
“Concussion” (R): After a blow to the head, a woman decides she can’t take her life anymore. With Robin Weigert and Maggie Siff.
There’s are in the story folder “Runner Runner” (R): A Princeton student (Justin Timberlake) partners up with an online mastermind (Ben Affleck) he thinks has swindled him. With Gemma Arterton and Anthony Mackie.
“The Fifth Estate” (R): Benedict Cumberbatch plays WikiLeaks mastermind Julian Assange in this film that explores the morals and dangers involved with whistleblowing.
“Romeo & Juliet” (PG-13): The Shakespeare classic rolls around again, this time starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth, with Paul Giamatti and Stellan Skarsgard.
“Captain Phillips” (nyr): Tom Hanks goes for an Oscar playing the captain of a boat hijacked by pirates in this film from Paul Greengrass, who’s probably also going for an Oscar.
“Machete Kills” (nyr): And he does so in good company as Mel Gibson, Lady Gaga, Carlos Estevez (Charlie Sheen) and more join Danny Trejo for over-the-top violence and mayhem.
“All is Lost” (PG-13): Robert Redford plays a man whose sailboat is destroyed at sea, fighting for his life in open water. Directed by J.C. Chandor (“Margin Call”).
“Carrie” (nyr): Chloe Grace Moretz takes over the iconic role of the shy high schooler with secret powers, with Julianne Moore as her cuckoo mom.
“Escape Plan” (R): Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have to break out of the most heavily fortified prison ever.
“12 Years a Slave” (R): Chiwetel Ejiofor plays a free black man from the north abducted and sold into slavery before the Civil War. With Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender.
There’s are in the story folder “The Counselor” (nyr): Fassbender and Pitt again, with Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz and Cameron Diaz, directed by Ridley Scott, so this is definitely in the Oscar race. An attorney (Fassbender) finds himself sucked into the drug trade.
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” (nyr): Johnny Knoxville dresses up like an old guy and transports young Jackson Nicholl across the country, encountering outrageous people and stunts along the way.
“Ender’s Game” (nyr): Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Hailee Steinfeld star in this sci-fi adaptation about a young boy training to become a military leader who can save the universe.
“Last Vegas” (PG-13): Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline play four old friends throwing a bachelor party in Vegas.
“Free Birds” (nyr): Two turkeys travel back in time hoping to change the traditional Thanksgiving menu in this animated film.
“Homefront” (R): James Franco and Jason Statham star in this film about a former DEA agent who moves his family to a quiet town only to end up fighting with a local meth lord.
“Thor: The Dark World” (nyr): An ancient race threatens the cosmos. Thor swings his hammer. Marvel makes a lot of money. With Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hiddleston.
There’s are in the story folder “The Wolf of Wall Street” (nyr): Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill and Spike Jonze star in Martin Scorsese’s look at the corrupt world of high finance.
“The Book Thief” (nyr): Based on the bestseller, a young girl is sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany and becomes fascinated by the power of books.
“The Best Man Holiday” (nyr): When college friends reunite over the holidays, romances and rivalries are re-ignited. With Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Terence Howard and Regina Hall.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (nyr): Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are sent back to fight again against former Hunger Games winners. Wonder if anyone will go see this?
“Delivery Man” (PG-13): Vince Vaughn stars as a former sperm donor who discovers he has fathered 533 children — and they want to get in touch.
There’s are in the story folder “Nebraska” (R): Bruce Dern is a drunk father; Will Forte is his estranged son. They set out on a journey to claim a sweepstakes prize in this film from Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”).
“Black Nativity” (nyr): A streetwise teen from Baltimore travels to New York City to spend the holidays with his estranged relatives, Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett) in this musical drama.
“Frozen” (nyr): A girl named Anna (Kristen Bell) journeys with a mountain man and his reindeer to find her sister (Idina Menzel), who has trapped a kingdom in eternal winter, in this latest animated epic from Disney.
“Oldboy” (R): Josh Brolin plays a man suddenly kidnapped and held for 20 years then inexplicably released and out for revenge in the Spike Lee adaptation.
“Out of the Furnace” (nyr): Christian Bale plays a blue-collar worker who sets out to save his brother (Casey Affleck) after he returns from Iraq and gets mixed up in a crime ring. With Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana and Willem Dafoe.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (nyr): Bilbo and the dwarves wake up a big dragon in the second installment of this drawn-out adaptation of the treasured novel.
“Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas” (nyr): The title kind of says it all. With Tyler Perry, Chad Michael Murray, Tika Sumpter and Alicia Witt.
“The Monuments Men” (nyr): Major Oscar alert! George Clooney writes, directs and stars in this story of art historians and museum curators trying to save priceless works of art before Hitler destroys them. With Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman and Bill Murray.
There’s are in the story folder “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” (nyr): Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) returns with all his cohorts and wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) to report the news once again.
“Saving Mr. Banks” (PG-13): Tom Hanks stars as Walt Disney trying to get its author (Emma Thompson) to release the rights to “Mary Poppins.”
There’s are in the story folder “Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3-D Movie” (nyr): They’re dinosaurs. And they’ll be walking. In 3-D.
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (R): Oscar Isaac plays an aspiring folksinger in early ’60s New York in this latest film from the Coen brothers. With Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake.
“American Hustle” (nyr): Another Oscar alert. Director David O. Russell trots out Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence in a real-life tale of New Jersey corruption.
“August: Osage County” (R): Strong-willed women return to their family roots in this Oscar contender starring — take a breath — Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney, Ewan McGregor and Chris Cooper.
“47 Ronin” (PG-13): Somehow Keanu Reeves is involved with a band of samurai out to avenge their leader’s death.
“Grudge Match” (PG-13): Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone star as old boxing rivals who come out of retirement for one last fight. No, seriously.
“Jack Ryan” (nyr): He’s been played by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford, now the role goes to Chris Pine as a CIA analyst who uncovers a Russian plot to tank the U.S. economy.
There’s are in the story folder “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (nyr): Ben Stiller plays an office worker who spends his time daydreaming about adventure and romance. With Kristen Wiig.
“Labor Day” (PG-13): A teen boy and his mother get entangled with an escaped convict in this film from Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air,” “Juno”). With Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and Tobey Maguire.
* All dates are subject to change. (nyr) = not yet rated
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