Is it Fall yet?
I get very impatient this time of year. I get eager for crisp, cold weather. Eager to wear every sweater in my closet. Eager to drink pumpkin spiced coffee, bundled up in layers. Eager to pick apples and eat them. Eager to listen to Harry Connick Jr. Eager to bake pumpkin bread. Eager to put make pumpkin-anything and everything.
But who am I kidding? I live in Florida.
I haven’t seen a real Fall in I can't remember when. (Truth be told, I may have some vague memory of a few glorious brisk days in London, but the joys of having an actual need for a scarf pains me too much to recall.)
With all the things of autumn leaves and such I anticipate most, films may slightly outweigh others. Fall is when cinematic premieres flourish. The inflicted complex characters arrive. The greatest true tales are told, and those hidden gems everyone at Sundance got to see months before you are finally revealed.
Essentially, you could call the lineup of Fall film premieres the real Oscar contenders.
So here is a glimpse into the ring for, what may be, potential Academy Awards nominees for 2015.
(In no particular order - except for what I'm most eager to see.)
Whiplash (October 16)
For anyone who has pursued a degree in Music Performance, watching a journey that begins with a such spirited love and vivacious pursuit only to be contrived into a manic compulsion that requires blood, sweat and tears for the sake of perfecting one’s skill, this story may ring somewhat true. Damien Chavez’s Whiplash is about a student drummer (Miles Teller) attending a jazz conservatory and his jazz professor (J.K. Simmons) who's determined to draw out the best from him. This is Chavez's, director and writer, also Harvard Grad, first full length feature film. Whiplash has been reviewed as so intense, it's apparently a jazz ensemble replica of Full Metal Jacket.
The first I saw of Miles Teller (The Rabbit Hole) you could tell this guy was just beginning to bring something fresh to the screen. After receiving the much deserved Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival for The Spectacular Now, it appears he doesn’t miss a beat in this next film.
Many have questioned and to their surprise, Miles does indeed play the drums throughout the film. (Though I’m not sure why one would question that, and why one would hire an actor to play a drummer only to hire a stunt drummer.) I guess this just goes to show how many films focused on the craft of music are actually out there.
Unbroken (December 25)
Based on the Lauren Hillenbrand book, Unbroken is the biography of Olympic runner (whom Hitler once called “the boy with the fast finish”) and P.O.W. survivor, Louis Zamperini. Books to film are always a gamble. And so are former actors turned director. Angelina Jolie directed this film and considering her first gutsy feature, In the Land of Blood and Honey, is based on the recent Bosnian War, she was well prepared for the monstrosity of this true tale. Seriously, read the book. Monstrosity.
In an interview with Jolie and Zamperini, Jolie described the difficult months before taking on the film, struggling with "What am I suppose to be doing with my life? I need some guidance. I need some help. And it was right outside my window." Turns out Jolie and Zamperini have been neighbors for years.
If you can read the book before December, this story has so many climactic moments you’ll be wondering how the accounts of this man’s life isn’t fiction and how one could bear all this in one lifetime. Jolie notes in the interview, “The resilience and the strength of the human spirit is an extraordinary thing.” And if this film follows the life of Zamperini as does his biography, it’s unlikely to be anything short of that. Zamperini just passed away July 2nd at the age of 97.
Gone Girl (October 3)
Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel is a rip-roaring dark place to venture. Centered around the events of a couple fifth year anniversary, and love-hate relationship, Flynn’s fierce internal dialogue rings so true to the minds of men and women, it will be yet another gamble to bring this book to the screen.
On the day of his anniversary, a husband comes home to find his wife missing, blood covering the floors and setting him up as his wife’s murderer - at least that’s what the book would have you believe.
The plot is simple, but ingenious. The characters are familiar, but erratic. Gone Girl is a force of nature as a novel, chock full of uncanny daggers and wit that just oozes from page to page. Bringing this psycho thriller concoction to life will either sink or soar. It is hard to say. David Fincher, a director known to envelop viewers in a deeply dark climate, will no doubt bring that out of Flynn's novel. Thankfully Flynn wrote the screenplay as well, so hopefully her gutsy banter on the pages will be effortlessly rendered. It's just hard to say whether it can maintain Flynn's sharp pointed edges in between Ben Affleck, Tyler Perry (yep, you read that right) and Neal Patrick Harris (and yes, again.)
Once more, read the book.
Interstellar (November 7)
By now likely every guy is fully aware of Interstellar's existence, while many girls are hear this title and likely wonder if this picture is about some futuristic rock band. Given the little the previews expose, some may be a little as this trailer could look like Signs meets Gravity. But given the stellar (literally) cast and director we have no idea what we will be in for. But we do know Nolan is more clever than that. (At least, I certainly hope so...)
This Is Where I Leave You (September 19)
Because after all this heavy stuff this fall we're all going to need a breather in between. And because... well, just look at that cast.