Spaceships and Wrestling and Singing Orphans: Fall’s Can’t-Miss Movies

This Is Where I Leave You hits theaters on Sept. 19.

This Is Where I Leave You hits theaters on Sept. 19.

I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so … scared. Of Gone Girl, anyway. Here are my six can’t-miss movies for fall:

This is Where I Leave You (Sept. 19).

Love The Big Chill but wish an older person had died? Prefer your August: Osage County without the Oklahoma twang? Then you’ll find dysfunctional character-driven nirvana in This Is Where I Leave You, based on the feisty, darkly comic 2009 novel by Jonathan Tropper. Jason Bateman stars as a man simultaneously mourning the demise of his marriage and the loss of his father while sitting shiva with his family, a cast of characters as nutty and flawed as the ones he anchored on Arrested Development. Tina Fey, Girls’ Adam Driver and Jane Fonda round out an intriguingly eclectic cast.

Gone Girl (Oct. 3).

If you, like me, are one of the millions who have bought and read Gillian Flynn’s 2012 best-selling thriller, then you also already know the twist ending that helped to make it famous. But that shouldn’t stop you—and won’t stop me—from watching it all unfold again on the big screen. Reason No. 1: David Fincher directs. I mean, the head-in-the-box scene from Seven alone makes this obvious. Reason No. 2: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play the suspicious husband and missing wife at the center of Flynn’s cerebral tornado of a plot. Reason No. 3: I can’t even believe you got this far. GO!

INTERSTELLARInterstellar (Nov. 7).

OK, so full disclosure: I did not completely get Inception the first time I saw it (or the second time, but that’s another essay), and watching the trailer for Interstellar—director Christopher Nolan’s latest attempt at melting our brains—I wasn’t 100 percent sure what was going on. But I know Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway are astronauts traveling through some sort of space-time wormhole to save the world, which the editing heavily implies is about to finally bite the dust. It looks like a sort of neo-Armageddon, but is actually good and set in the future. Also, there’s no Aerosmith, but I’ll let you decide if that’s a pro or a con.

FOXCATCHERFoxcatcher (Nov. 14).

Would you like to watch Steve Carell slap Channing Tatum? Let me rephrase that: Who wouldn’t? Especially when Carell is playing a scary, schizophrenic wrestling sponsor and Tatum is playing an Olympic wrestler? In a stone-cold biographical drama about murder and tight singlets? The fact that this movie has real chops, helmed by Moneyball’s Bennett Miller, who won Best Director at Cannes, is almost beside the point.

SS_D13-5271.dngThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Nov. 21).

Forget the turkey. This Thanksgiving, I want a mockingjay. Not only do the film iterations of the smash young adult series keep getting better, but it’s one of our last chances to see the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman onscreen, as game-maker and rebel commander Plutarch Heavensbee.

1111746 – ANNIEAnnie (Dec. 19).

Listen, I was born in 1980 and grew up thinking Aileen Quinn was a celebrity on a par with Tom Cruise, so I am a hardcore purist when it comes to my plucky, musically talented movie orphans. But more than 30 years have passed since that iconic adaptation of the 1977 Broadway show. And even I can admit that today’s children need something more contemporary and diverse, with fewer racist sidekicks (I love me some Punjab, but yikes). The new Annie stars Quvenzhané Wallis and Jamie Foxx, and is produced by Will and Jada Pinkett Smith along with Jay-Z, all of which seems to indicate that it won’t be such a hard-knock life for us.

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