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The 25 Most Anticipated Films of Fall 2015

on September 08, 2015, 12:00am
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Ah, autumn. The air grows crisp, the leaves turn, and the only thing more common than pumpkin spice lattes are the endless jokes whining about them. For the staff here at CoS Film, the turn toward the holidays has always heralded another special time of year: the prestige movie season. We can talk for hours about how the awards cycle has forced so many years’ best films into a cramped timeframe, but that’s for later. Right now we rejoice that we’re (mostly) done with 2015’s franchise crop and can look ahead to all kinds of exciting new things.

And what a set we have. New films by Tarantino, Spielberg, Iñárritu, Zemeckis, and so many other name directors. M. Night Shyamalan’s latest bid to return to his onetime glory days. All manner of bummer movies about tragic historical figures made with the endgame of golden statuettes in mind. Okay, we’re less into that last one. But still! There’s a new Star Wars. How bad can it be?

To celebrate the coming of the three-month film geek Christmas that almost always ends with Christmas itself, we’ve put together our 25 most anticipated releases coming by year’s end. As always, we’ll be seeing you at the movies.

–Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
Film Editor

25. The Visit

I admit it. I’m curious about this new M. Night Shyamalan movie. The Visit seems like simple, stripped-down, proper horror — something we haven’t seen from the writer/director since Signs, a film full of terror but unfortunately remembered for a lame resolution. As for this most recent effort, it looks like a weird spin on Hansel and Gretel that could turn Shyamalan from a punchline back to well-regarded in the hills of Hollywood.

Does Hollywood have a lot of hills? I don’t know, but I do know that found footage is so hit or miss these days, usually leaning towards the latter. The Visit is employing this storytelling technique to tell us a tale of two kids visiting their grandparents. Why they feel the need to document everything going on well before strange happenings occur is beyond me. Why use found footage at all? All of our questions will be answered soon enough. I hope they’re positive.

M. Night needs a win. Bad. His career has taken a nosedive not seen since…

Just imagine that ellipsis going on forever. —Justin Gerber

Release Date: September 11th

24. Snowden

For someone who’s stranded in Russia, Edward Snowden is sure making his mark on Hollywood. The real-life Snowden appeared in last year’s Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour, and the fictional version is set to star in Oliver Stone’s latest political biopic. Stone is returning to familiar territory here, though this is his first biographical drama since 2008’s underwhelming, heavy-handed W., and it remains to be seen if he still has the magic touch. Stone will be helped out by charismatic lead Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who tends to star in things that don’t suck. It will be exciting to see what Gordon-Levitt brings to the role, especially now that the world is so well-acquainted with Snowden and his unique character ticks. Stone of course has his own political agenda, but he’s done a good job in the past of tackling characters who elicit polarizing, ambivalent reactions (see Nixon). Edward Snowden certainly fits that description. –Collin Brennan

Release Date: December 25th

23. Room

Emma Donoghue’s haunting novel ended up on pretty much every year-end list in 2010, and it’s easy to see why. Told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy who’s been locked in a shed with his mother for his entire life, Room is the stuff of nightmares, but it’s also a fascinating exploration of what it really means to be human. The film version, also written by Donoghue and directed by Lenny Abrahamson, would seem to focus equally on the character of the mother, played by Brie Larson. There’s something to be said for the intimacy of the written word, but we’re excited to see how Abrahamson uses his camera to create and then break open a claustrophobic world. So much of Room’s story depends on perspective, and we trust the director of last year’s idiosyncratic Frank to offer one that’s truly interesting. –Collin Brennan

Release Date: October 16th

22. Burnt

It’s about time Hollywood hopped on the food porn bandwagon. In an era where half of America regularly gorges itself on Food Network reruns, a movie about a charismatic chef is bound to entice, so long as you fill it with exquisitely framed shots of culinary couture. Jon Favreau had success on the “indie” circuit with his heartwarming Chef, and while John Wells’ Burnt seems to share an arc with the aforementioned film – disgraced chef rediscovers his passion – the early trailers bear an altogether more dramatic vibe.

Bradley Cooper stars as Adam Jones, a hot-headed, drug-addled Bourdain-like chef who burns out before reemerging with the dream of opening a London restaurant that will net three Michelin Stars, the highest accolade a restaurant can achieve. Where Chef posited family as more important than food, Burnt seems to rest Jones’ whole redemption on creating the perfect dish.

It should satiate so long as it doesn’t completely indulge Jones’ eye-rolling proclamations: “I don’t want my restaurant to be a place where you come and eat,” he says. “I want people to sit at that table and be sick with longing.” *fart noise* But let’s be honest, show some knives slicing into a caviar-filled pink truffle or something, and everyone will leave happy. –Randall Colburn

Release Date: October 23rd

21. Spotlight

In 2002, the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team conducted an in-depth investigation into the Massachusetts Catholic sex abuse scandal, resulting in groundbreaking coverage that earned the team a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Filmmaker Thomas McCarthy’s first film after the disastrous The Cobbler ruined his otherwise impeccable streak (The Station Agent, The Visitor, Win Win), Spotlight appears to be a sober, gripping journalistic procedural in the vein of All the President’s Men, with early reports from the Venice International Film Festival lauding its restrained perspective.

You won’t see any sweaty-palmed priests here, twirling their rosaries while leering at altar boys. McCarthy’s approach isn’t a sensational one. Rather, he’s focusing primarily on the news team, portrayed by a crack cast that includes Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James, and John Slattery. This thing’s got prestige all over it and could very well score McCarthy his first Academy Award directing nomination. Then, and maybe then, we’ll all forgive him for The Cobbler. –Randall Colburn

Release Date: November 6th

20. The Danish Girl

Admit it, you might have been outwardly pulling for Keaton to win Best Actor last year at the Oscars, but deep down, you think that Eddie Redmayne is a darling frog prince of an actor and that he really wanted and earned that Oscar for gracefully portraying the life and times of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Redmayne is a rising star, and every casting decision, every new role he takes, is gonna be an exciting one for a little while. Next year, he’s heading up J.K. Rowling’s new Potter franchise, and this year, he’s at the center of Tom Hooper’s (The King’s Speech) latest bid at “GIVE US SOME DAMN AWARDS, PLEASE!”

In The Danish Girl, Redmayne will be portraying Einar Wegenar, the world’s first person to receive male to female sexual re-assignment surgery. Alicia Vikander, seemingly in every film in 2015, is in this as Wegenar’s supportive wife, Gerda, and the film explores the gender politics, the discoveries, and complications that arise from Einar’s transition.

The Danish Girl has been in development hell for years, with respected (stuffy Awards season vets) directors like Tomas Alfredson, Lasse Hallström, Neil LaBute, and Anand Tucker attached at varying points. Actresses like Charlize Theron, Uma Thurman, Marion Cotillard, and even Gwyneth Paltrow were lined up to play Gerda over the years. But now, never fear, Redmayne is here. And he wants to help tell the true, well, true according to an allegedly embellished novel’s story. Hell, if Redmayne could walk away from Jupiter Ascending unscathed, then this should be awesome, right!? –Blake Goble

Release Date: November 27th

19. Sicario

On paper, Sicario sounds like a perfectly serviceable, if not exactly groundbreaking, crime drama: In the midst of the increasingly fraught war on drugs on both sides of the US-Mexican border, a promising and idealistic young FBI agent (Emily Blunt) joins a government task force to assist in tracking down a mysterious drug lord. What makes this film so promising, though – and potentially worth turning off yet another Narcos bingewatch on Netflix and actually leaving home for – is the director attached to it.

Denis Villeneuve has made a career of subverting and/or surpassing expectations, whether he’s setting the French Canadian film world on fire with a gut-wrenching epic narrated by soon-to-be slaughtered philosophical fish, or making his mark on Hollywood with a pair of Jake Gyllenhaal films that put varying levels of psycho in psychodrama. If the early reviews that came out of Cannes, where Sicario enjoyed its world premiere last spring, are to be believed, this film continues that trend quite admirably. And we’re looking forward to seeing what a uniquely Villeneuvian stamp on the drug trade genre looks like. –Sarah Kurchak

Release Date: September 25th

18. Trumbo

As one of the Hollywood Ten who refused to participate in the Red Scare interrogation practices of the House Un-American Activities Committee, screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted from Hollywood for much of his career, despite winning two Academy Awards for his work under various guises. It’s hard to believe that in Trumbo’s time anybody could’ve ever imagined a legitimate member of the Communist party for part of the 1940s would one day have a Hollywood biopic made about him, but here we are. Bryan Cranston takes on Trumbo, and the actor’s tired charisma seems to be a spot-on choice for a man whose most lauded days came long after his own. Hell, it wasn’t until just four years ago that Trumbo finally got his credit for Roman Holiday. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

Release Date: November 6th

17. The Peanuts Movie

“We need[ed] to have absolute quality control and keep it under Dad’s legacy,” Craig Schulz told The Washington Post last October, insisting why he wrote and produced the film with his son, Bryan. “You can’t bring people in from the outside and expect them to understand Peanuts.”

And so, Charles M. Schulz’s timeless cartoon strip lives on this year with its fifth full-length film and first feature based on the characters in 35 years. What’s different? Well, for one, the whole gang will be in 3D animation. Don’t sweat it, though, as director Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who!) spent over a year with his animators obsessing and studying the original strips in an effort to capture Schulz’s trademark style. They even nabbed the rights to use past recordings of the late Bill Melendez to voice Snoopy and his trusty pal Woodstock.

Needless to say, this is a genuine production that warrants its poster’s tagline of “dream big.” The only problem is that we can’t start until November. To quote Charlie Brown: “AAUGH!” –Michael Roffman

Release Date: November 6th

16. The Walk

Being that we already have a thoughtful, in-depth documentary on Philippe Petit’s most famous high-wire act in Man on Wire, it’s probably a good thing that Robert Zemeckis is turning the story into a caper-like action epic. If you’re confused by that last sentence, allow me to clarify: In 1974, Petit, a French high-wire artist, illegally constructed a cable between the two World Trade Center buildings, then walked it eight different times over the course of 45 minutes. It made for a great documentary, it made for a great children’s book, and it’s bound to make for a great popcorn flick, especially since it’s been filmed in 3D and will screen on IMAX.

While Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s silly French accent will turn some heads, the one to watch here is Zemeckis. A special effects innovator, Zemeckis is behind some of the most whiz-bang films of our generation, compulsively watchable fare like Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and Forrest Gump. His post-Gump track record, however, is less impressive, with films like The Polar Express and Flight being more interesting than fun. But The Walk’s trailers not only indicate a visual, vertigo-inducing masterwork, but also a seriously good time. And silly French accents, of course. –Randall Colburn

Release Date: October 9th

15. In the Heart of the Sea

Sometimes a single money shot can make you want to see a movie. Sure, the end result might end up being just plain meh (The Matrix: Reloaded, The Perfect Storm, and lots of other flicks from the early 2000s), but what’s important is that there was a hook to get you into the theater. The marketing team did their job. Not only is the still of a ship dwarfed by the ghost-like silhouette of a sperm whale beneath it enough to get me into the theater, it was enough to get me to read the book on which In the Heart of the Sea is based.

The real-life inspiration for Moby Dick (Herman Melville got the idea for his novel after meeting one of the survivors), it chronicles a whaling ship that gets destroyed by the very beast it’s hunting, thus sending the crew on a grueling odyssey for survival that involves racial segregation, a near-barren island, and yes, cannibalism. Hopefully, Ron Howard will focus on these depressing elements and not just the Oscar-bidding moments of triumph. Come to think of it, there really isn’t much triumph to be found. Turns out the sea’s heart is one of darkness, and as we know, so is mankind’s. Don’t punk out on us Ronnie. Apollo 13 this is not. –Dan Caffrey

Release Date: December 11th

14. Black Mass

The trailer alone, with Johnny Depp’s maliciously Boston-baked pronunciation of “marinade,” put goose pimples on the back of our neck. When was the last time a Johnny Depp film … when was the last time Johnny Depp, seemed this exciting? Black Mass looks like the Hail Mary Depp was looking for after a period of not-so-boffo box office (Mortdecai, Transcendence, Dark Shadows, The Lone Ranger).

It’s the “true” story of James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger Jr., the infamous Irish-American mobster who doubled as a long-term FBI informant. Bulger initially inspired the likes of Jack Nicholson’s Frank Costigan in The Departed, but now Warner is releasing the official Bulger story with Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) as the boss of things.

Depp looks like he’s having fun again, ripping into lines with creepily pale, scalp-headed makeup. Depp’s all about the bad boy’s life as Bulger, a genre he knows all too well post-Public Enemies and Blow. Black Mass looks like Donnie Brasco, except now Depp gets to be the old wiseguy. Throw in some game, trendy talent, like Dakota Johnson and Benedict Cumberbatch, and put Depp in the seemingly right kind of costume, and we may have a gangland hit on our hands. No. Not that kind of hit. –Blake Goble

Release Date: September 18th

13. Beasts of No Nation

Check you out, Netflix. Stepping into the film distribution scene like an Oscar-baiting machine.

Based on Uzodinma Iweala’s novel of the same name, Beasts of No Nation has a number of curious things going for it. It’s Netflix’s debut effort in original film distribution, and it looks a whole hell of a lot more promising than November’s The Ridiculous Six, a film with Adam Sandler and Native Americans named “Big Beaver.” No, Beasts is a different kind of traumatizing tale about a young West African boy being raised and trained by a militant guerrilla Commandant (the royal Idris Elba, looking deadly and daring) during a civil war.

Beasts is also hotshot director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s first work since winning all the awards and directing contracts for his work on HBO’s True Detective, and the film looks brutally expressive. It even just did a soft launch at the Venice Film Festival, and critically, Beasts is doing quite nicely with an 81 on Metacritic, and the film will open mid-October on Netflix and in limited release. We’ll see for ourselves, but mostly, we want to see how this plays for awards consideration, on our TVs.

Imagine, and this is a crazy hypothetical, if this film wins Oscars and makes it into the canon. Think of all the people saying they remember first seeing this film while watching it on their cellphones while commuting to work. David Lynch would be so pissed! –Blake Goble

Release Date: October 16th

12. Sisters

The latest vehicle for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, about a pair of adult sisters hosting one last house party before they have to sell their childhood home, features a cast and crew so promising that the comedians/writers/friends/retired Golden Globes hosts might actually be the least interesting thing about the film. The script is written by longtime SNL and 30 Rock writer Paula Pell, who also appeared on the latter as Pete Hornberger’s long-suffering wife. Fellow SNL vets Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Kate McKinnon, and Bobby Moynihan all have roles. So do Daily Show alum Samantha Bee and the WWE’s John Cena, who continues to prove himself far more likable as a comic foil than a lumbering, pro rasslin’ good guy. Ike Barinholtz, arguably the MVP of The Mindy Project, plays the main love interest. And none other than Heather Matarazzo, who will always be Welcome to the Dollhouse’s Dawn Wiener in our hearts, also makes an appearance. Between that comedic talent pool and the plot’s lighthearted bent toward misadventure, Sisters should make for a playful alternative to all of the big, emotional Oscar bait that will be dominating screens by mid-December. –Sarah Kurchak

Release Date: September 18th

11. Bridge of Spies

Check out this roster and byline: Steven Spielberg directs Tom Hanks with a screenplay written by British playwright Matt Charman and polished by Joel and Ethan Coen to tell the story of an American lawyer recruited by the CIA to rescue a pilot during the Cold War. It’s based on the 1960 U-2 Incident, the true story of Francis Gary Powers, who was shot down over the Soviet Union while flying a spy plane. Somewhere in the distance, you can hear these people folding note cards and sticking hypothetical awards acceptance speeches into their pockets for 2016. Who knows, there might even be something waiting for the supporting cast, which includes heavy hitters like Amy Ryan and Alan Alda. And for history buffs worried about inaccuracies, it should be noted that Spielberg worked with Francis Gary Powers, Jr., who’s not only the pilot’s son but also the founder of The Cold War Museum. You can’t find a better technical advisor than that. –Blake Goble

Release Date: October 16th

10. Creed

I love the Rocky movies. The first one is an undisputed champion, II, III, and IV best represent the cheesy excess of the ‘80s (and I love them for it), V is a movie, and Rocky Balboa makes up for it. This fall, I’m interested to see what the duo of Fruitvale Station do with the Balboa legend.

The director (Ryan Coogler) and star (Michael B. Jordan) of that critically acclaimed 2013 film are teaming up again to introduce us to Adonis Creed, the son of the late Apollo (Carl Weathers cameo, please). It looks like we’re going to follow his rise to dominance under the tutelage and support of his father’s best friend and greatest opponent in the ring: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone)!

This is the first time anyone other than Stallone is writing a Rocky flick, so it will have a different feel, for sure. Will they stick with the winning formula of training montages and original Bill Condon score? Will Rocky actually die in this? Will we see the statue? Maybe, but here’s to hoping they add something new to the pot. Science and cooking analogies for all! Go get ‘em, Adonis! – Justin Gerber

Release Date: November 25th

9. Steve Jobs

Hark! Another biopic! Must be awards season again.

But see, here’s the thing: Few of the biopics of 2015 have been this buzzy or this well covered in the entertainment press (Thanks again, Sony hack). Steve Jobs, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s three-piece story about the infamous Apple magnate, has been languishing in prestige-y turnaround for some time. The script for Steve Jobs was originally set up at Sony in 2011 when the studio had acquired rights to Walter Isaacson’s novel. In 2013, Open Road Films released Jobs with Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, and no one cared.

Back to Sony’s Steve Jobs. Sorkin finished his script in 2014, and the studio tried to attract David Fincher and Christian Bale. Hell yeah, The Social Network Deux! Several months later, Fincher left over “contractual disputes,” meaning he probably got into yet another fight with a studio over money. Damn it, Fincher! ALT+CTR+DELETE Fincher. Open Danny Boyle (way more fun than Fincher anyways…). Eventually, Michael Fassbender landed the titular role.

Suddenly, Sony shut the project down, and Steve Jobs rebooted at Universal, who is distributing the film this October. And in spite of all the patchwork involved in getting this film made behind the scenes, the movie looks promising, even exciting. In Apple terms, this looks to hopefully be the unveiling of a Macintosh and not the Apple Watch. Either way, a ticket to this will be much less expensive than Apple’s (mostly terrific) products. –Blake Goble

Release Date: October 9th

8. Rock the Kasbah

Bill Murray has earned the right to ride off into the sunset on the back of small-time passion projects and the occasional Wes Anderson movie, but he’s chosen an Afghan horse as his steed this time around — and a pretty wild one at that. Murray stars as washed-up rock manager Richie Lanz, who takes his star client (Zooey Deschanel) on tour to Afghanistan, of all places. Cue hilarity, much of which looks to be of the politically incorrect persuasion. This ambitious comedy of errors seems like a return to Murray’s halcyon days, and it’s nice to see him yukking it up again in a big-time leading role. We’re confident that he’ll bring the goods, but here’s hoping that the whimsical conceit is also enough to slap Barry Levinson back into his best form. The director hasn’t made a truly memorable comedy since Wag the Dog, and that was nearly 20 years ago. –Collin Brennan

Release Date: October 23rd

7. The Revenant

Coming off his bold Oscar win for last year’s BirdmanAlejandro G. Iñárritu will again be responsible for the year’s most startling and inventive film. Based in part on Michael Punke’s 2003 novel, The Revenant dials back to 1823 and follows the real-life frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonard DiCaprio), who is mauled by a bear while hunting in the Dakota Territory. To make matters worse, his pals (Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson) rob him for everything he’s worth and leave him to die. Because he’s DiCaprio, he survives and goes out on a 200 mile trek to take revenge.

Filming was complicated, to say the least, as Iñárritu insisted upon using natural light and refused to use any digital effects, hauling the production to remote locations across Canada and eventually far as Argentina, thanks to a surprising drought of warm weather. This led to a variety of issues, from budgeting (notching up to $95 mil) to casting (Tom Hardy had to nix Suicide Squad, which may or may not have been a bad decision), which ultimately made everyone grumpy and unhappy and moody.

As Iñárritu argued, “If we ended up in greenscreen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit.” Someone get this guy to a bar with George Miller. –Michael Roffman

Release Date: December 25th

6. Crimson Peak

It’s all but guaranteed that you have at least one friend who’s really, really excited about Guillermo Del Toro’s latest, a Victorian tableaux of repulsive CGI monsters and ornate costumes. As the filmmaker most likely to stage a Hammer horror throwback at the big-budget, studio level, Del Toro’s knack for outlandish character designs and period-piece genre movie filmmaking at large couldn’t be more well-suited to the material at hand. The ornate horror drama, focused on a young writer (Mia Wasikowska) who falls in love with a handsome, mysterious stranger (Tom Hiddleston) and discovers both his icy sister (Jessica Chastain) and the ghost-ridden estate they both call home, looks to be the kind of elegant-yet-Grand Guignol horror film that’s too rare in the modern era. And besides, the all-in pleasures of even the most excessive Del Toro movies are undeniable. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

Release Date: October 16th

5. Joy

Every director has its muse. Right now, it’s Jennifer Lawrence for David O. Russell — and that’s a good thing for both of them. The 25-year-old actress is Hollywood’s most valuable star, and every production she’s worked on with the filmmaker has led to the red carpet. Their third collaboration together, the biographical comedy-drama Joy, may be her most demanding role yet. Lawrence plays the titular role of Joy Mangano, a single mother of three children, who builds her own empire following the success of the Miracle Mop. The film follows her over four generations with support from an eccentric cast atypical of O. Russell’s works: Robert DeNiroÉdgar RamírezElisabeth RöhmIsabella Rossellini, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, and yes, Bradley Cooper. Earlier this year, there were reports that Lawrence and O. Russell clashed on set, to which  Lawrence responded: “David O. Russell is one of my closest friends and we have an amazing collaborative working relationship. I adore this man and he does not deserve this tabloid malarkey. This movie is going great and I’m having a blast making it!” The feeling will likely be mutual come Christmas. –Michael Roffman

Release Date: December 25th

4. The Martian

I struggled with The Martian on paper. It’s not that it’s not well written — in fact, the humor author Andy Weir is able to wedge in between so many nuts and bolts is astounding. It’s that the left side of my brain hadn’t been given such a workout in years. Stranded on Mars, astronaut Mark Watney must draw upon every botanical trick he knows of to survive the four years until the next team arrives. Weir exploits every potato, every calorie, every ounce of hydrogen Watney needs to survive, resulting in a read that’s as educational as it is entertaining. Adapting the book is Cabin in the Woods mastermind Drew Goddard, whose smart, blackly whimsical approach seems perfectly suited to translating Weir’s dense prose into something accessible. And the story’s literary cred and crack cast — Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Donald Glover, and everyone else — seem like just the ticket to absolving director Ridley Scott for Prometheus, The Counselor, and Exodus: Gods and Kings. –Randall Colburn

Release Date: October 2nd

3. Spectre

I’m a Bond freak. While everyone looks to the heavens and cries, “Elba!”, we forget that we’re smack dab in the middle of a run of films starring arguably the best Bond of them all. Seriously. Everyone’s always looking for what could be next instead of enjoying the moment.

Anyway, Spectre is the 24th entry in a series that can’t be stopped. The Broccolis have tossed in double-take pigeons (Moonraker), Tarzan yelps (Octopussy), and Denise Richards (The World Is Not Enough), and time and time again prove immune to box office disaster. How to up the ante? We’re seeing the return of that evil organization in the film’s title — a name that was long kept out of the series due to legal wranglings. They keep insisting that Christoph Waltz isn’t playing Blofeld, but c’mon, he’s playing Blofeld.

It will be interesting to see how that character works after such a long absence, filled only by relentless and ultimately tired parody (Austin Powers). We’re getting Ralph Fiennes debut as the new M for a whole movie, Q and Moneypenny are back, and Bond’s back in the snow. For the love of Quantum, can we please get the opening gun-barrel sequence back, as well? –Justin Gerber

Release Date: November 6th

2. The Hateful Eight

Sure, Quentin Tarantino just made a Western, and it’s rare that he ever works in the same genre twice, especially back to back. But The Hateful Eight looks to be the Sam Peckinpah counterpart to Django Unchained’s bloody Sergio Leone/grindhouse western tribute. The embattled production went from a one-off live screenplay reading to the leak of that screenplay online to Tarantino’s previous canning of the whole project to the sudden announcement of principal photography, and it looks to be the sort of blood-spattered genre tribute that few do better. This outing’s character actors vying for career resurgence include Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and a host of Tarantino standbys. Come on. You know you’re trying to figure out which theaters are showing this in 70mm on Christmas night like we are. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
Release Date: December 25th

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with social media — trends often stem from outrage culture rather than something positive — but every now and then, people find unity in an event characterized by love and good vibes. For me, the first official trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which dropped on April 16th, was one such event. From the opening moment when reformed Stormtrooper Finn popped his head into frame to the chill-inducing final line uttered by — holy shit — Han Solo, the entire Internet seemed to be in agreement that yes, this movie at least looks incredible and might actually live up to the hype. Subsequent footage and plot details have only stoked the flames of fandom, which will only become higher and hotter until the film comes out on December 18. Will it be an amazingly Merry Christmas or a shittily Happy Life Day? We’ll find out in (gasp!) less than three months. –Dan Caffrey

Release Date: December 18th

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