Changing Seasons: 10 Highly Anticipated Movies for Fall 2011

With the summer movie season coming to an end, I thought now would be a good time to preview what the remainder of the year has in store for us and highlight a few of my personal most anticipated films. We’re headed into a more interesting movie season, when studios break out their big guns for awards contention. That’s not to say that this list is made up of Oscar bait; these are just the films that have caught my eye and it is not meant as a definitive guide. After browsing through release schedules, it looks like we have plenty to anticipate.

10. Moneyball

Normally a movie about baseball wouldn’t get me this excited, but based on the talent in front of and behind the camera, this one comes highly anticipated. Like many others, I’m interested to see how writer Aaron Sorkin follows his script for The Social Network. His snappy dialog within the business side of baseball seems like a perfect fit. Brad Pitt has really been on a roll lately in picking his projects and watching him act alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill should make for some unique dynamics. Director Bennett Miller has taken his time following up his debut feature, Capote, but it looks to be worth the wait. Moneyball hits on Sept. 23rd.


9. The Ides of March

You can never count out Clooney when it comes to prestige. And when he serves up a political drama with this caliber of cast (Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman), you can bet I’m on board. He’s faired well with politically-charged material before with Good Night and Good Luck – plus, doesn’t Clooney playing a politician make for a good fit? How has this not happened before now? Look for it on Oct. 7th.

8. The Muppets

This pick is a fairly easy one. Like most people in my age range, I grew up with the Muppets and I’m glad to see the franchise receive some level of rejuvenation the past couple of years. Jason Segel and company seem to have captured the spirit behind the series and I look forward to getting reacquainted with these classic characters. The Muppets return on Nov. 23rd.

7. 50/50

The idea of a comedy based around cancer is, as expected, a tough line to balance. Advance screenings have been very positive, though, so it looks as if director Jonathan Levine has managed to find the right tone. It also has one of the more intriguing casts this year, led by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anna Kendrick. Based on screenwriter Will Reiser’s own dealings with cancer diagnosis, this might not be box office gold, but I’ll definitely give it watch. 50/50 has a September 30th release.

The Spielberg Double Shot:

6. War Horse

and

5. The Adventures of Tin Tin

After a few years without any Spielberg films to be found, this year we get two, back-to-back. If there’s one movie I’m hoping delivers the goods this year, it’s Tin Tin. I’m optimistic about it, but motion capture in general hasn’t wowed me yet. Can Spielberg turn people’s perceptions around on the technology? With all the talent involved, it would be a shame if it failed. As for War Horse, there have been plenty of people buzzing about it, but some of that has to do with it being adapted from a critically acclaimed play. If the trailer is any indication, the film could be extremely cheesy and the type of material that could crumble if an ounce of cynicism gets thrown at it. Even though that may be the case, I’m definitely willing to be won over. We’ll see if Spielberg can work his magic again on December 23rd with Tintin and then the 30th for War Horse.

4. Contagion

An Outbreak-style thriller from Steven Soderbergh? Sign me up! I’ve been looking forward to this one for quite a while based solely on the talent involved, but after viewing the trailer, I’m even more stoked for it! I’ve always appreciated the fact that Soderbergh constantly changes material so we can see his take on so many genres. Of course, having a cast that includes Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, and Laurence Fishburne doesn’t hurt either. Contagion spreads on Sept. 9th.

3. Drive

Ever since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews (also earning a Best Director award for Nicholas Winding Refn), Drive has been on my radar as one to watch. And as the release date draws nearer, the buzz just seems to continue to build. From the trailer, it feels like more of an old-school 70’s film with some good performances and style to spare. Between this Crazy, Stupid, Love and The Ides of March, audiences should take much more notice of Ryan Gosling. Drive hits theaters September 16th.

2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

In a way, this one fits in with Contagion in that I was already anticipating it, but after watching the trailer, it took a significant jump on my “must watch” list. I mean, any movie that gives Gary Oldman the opportunity at a leading role demands some attention. This Cold War thriller not only boasts a strong cast, but a sharp sense of the period setting as well. In some ways it comes across as a much smarter, more realistic Bond film. Plus, plenty of movie enthusiasts (myself included) are wondering how director Tomas Alfredson will follow up his previous film, Let the Right One In. We’ll find out December 9th.

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher’s films always receive a healthy dose of attention from the movie blogosphere and his latest is no different. In fact, if this movie can garner half of the buzz generated by its trailer, then it should be sitting pretty. For this film Fincher is heading back to his bread and butter – the gritty, crime mystery. Everything I’ve seen thus far suggests that the material has been paired with the exact right director. Once again, there’s a great cast in place and I’m especially curious to see what Rooney Mara brings to such a popular character. For some holiday season counter-programming, check this one out December 21st.

There are plenty of other films worth mentioning and I’m sure some surprises are in store as well. Some honorable mentions would include Scorsese’s Hugo, The Descendants, A Dangerous Method, J. Edgar, and The Artist. Feel free to chime in with your own picks in the comments. What are you most looking forward to this fall?

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  • Anthony

    Pretty much the ones you mentioned, specifically Ides of March, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 50/50, Moneyball, Drive, and the Muppets.

    Also looking forward to the next Harold and Kumar flick, Red State, and Piranha 3DD

  • mitch

    solid list

  • robyn

    What about The Debt? With Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson, among others.

  • Andrew

    Take Shelter and Carnage?

  • dan

    Aaron, not to nitpick but Tintin is one word. Tintin.

    Great list. But you forgot WARRIOR, which is gettibg raves.

  • Hey Aaron, nice list.

    I don’t usually attach links in comment/chat rooms but here’s my list of 25 films you shouldn’t miss for the rest of the year, including Tyrannosaur, The Artist, and Steve McQueen’s latest, Shame.

    http://filmbalaya.com/2011/07/28/tim-20-films-that-could-blow-you-away-in-the-second-half-of-2011/

  • @Andrew – Can’t wait for Carnage, though it would have been cool if Gandolfini was in it like the play
    @Robyn – Agreed. The Debt looks like it could be excellent.
    @Anthony – Harold & Kumar, really? The Piranha 3DD can do no wrong and just might be taking us, the viewers, one step closer to 3D porn. Joy.

  • My most anticipated was A Dangerous Method until I saw the trailer for The Artist a few weeks ago. I’m also pretty excited for Angelina Jolie’s upcoming film In The Land Of Blood and Honey as it’s been getting some early buzz.

    A lot of people say that Carnage looks bad from the trailer, but I say it looks fantastic.

  • Rick

    what about that edgar allan poe movie with john cusac?

  • Kasper

    Nice picks. This fall is going to be brutal!

  • djangoscud

    Where the hell is Brad Bird’s MI4? You guys are killing me.