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Top 10: Listing the best of this fall's flicks

October 13, 2013


Oct. 13--Summer's not my favorite for a variety of reasons, and movies are one of them.

Right around April, the previews foreshadow those 3D blockbusters that require movie-goers to check their brains at the door. Personally, I like to bring my brain everywhere, which is why fall is much more my speed.

Right around August, the previews begin to feature all the actors and directors I admire -- the ones who make such good project choices that, no matter what the movie is about, I'll go see it, knowing it's probably going to be unique and incredibly well-acted.

Now, I don't pretend to be a film scholar or critic, but I had a professor in college who said "movies are for everybody, so as a writer, don't be afraid to have an opinion." So, as a writer and a movie-lover, I'd like to share my list of upcoming movies I've really been looking forward to.

Here's my top 10 must-sees:

"American Hustle," Dec. 25

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence

Director: David O. Russell

About: A con artist and his partner are forced to work with the feds to nab mobsters and crooked politicians.

Say what you will about Christian Bale's temper and volatility. The guy knows how to pick a role, and he disappears into it every single time. I'll see whatever he makes, and I'm really looking forward to seeing him as a slimy, 1970s crook with a combover. (How fun will that be?)

David O. Russell made my favorite movie last year, "Silver Linings Playbook," which also starred Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. What a team they made on that project, and I'm hoping for a repeater here.

"Out of the Furnace," Dec. 6

Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson

Director: Scott Cooper

About: An older brother takes the law into his own hands when his brother disappears and officers don't come through.

Now here's a meaty role to really let Bale show his chops: a poor, uneducated prison inmate without much else in life except the love and loyalty he has for his brother. Can't wait.

"The Wolf of Wall Street," Nov. 15

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Favreau, Spike Jonze

Director: Martin Scorsese

About: Jordan Belfort becomes a wealthy stockbroker, only to become involved in crime and corruption. Based on a true story.

DiCaprio has been great since his childhood stint on "Growing Pains." But he's never better than when he teams up with Scorsese. I've liked all of their projects together, even "Shutter Island," which wasn't as much of a critical darling.

"Inside Llewyn Davis," Dec. 6

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver

Director: Coen Brothers

About: A struggling folk singer tries to navigate the 1960s folk scene in New York.

When I first heard about this movie, I was told the lead character was modeled after Bob Dylan, who is my favorite artist. But as it turns out, there's only a dash of Bob in there. Still, there are two other very good reasons this is near the top of my must-see list for fall: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.

"Captain Phillips," in theaters now

Starring: Tom Hanks

Director: Paul Greengrass

About: The true story of Capt. Richard Phillips, whose ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009.

Ask someone to name any actor and there's a good chance they'll say Tom Hanks. He's become such a household name and face that sometimes I wonder if people forget what a true talent he is. Even when his movies are "meh," the acting never disappoints.

"12 Years as a Slave," Oct. 18

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Director: Steve McQueen

About: During the pre-Civil War era, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery.

The premise and hype are what made me put this on my top 10 most anticipated movies list. I'm reading the words "Oscar" and "masterpiece" quite a bit, so I'm intrigued. The story seems to be quite a different take on slavery. I've read and seen plenty of pieces about American slavery, but never one about a free, educated man becoming a slave.

"Dallas Buyers Club," Nov. 1

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee

About: Real-life AIDS victim Ron Woodroof defied the FDA by smuggling and distributing illegal drugs in the 1980s.

For years I couldn't stand Matthew McConaughy. He made such trite choices. But "Mud" was amazing, and I have to believe that when one is willing to make such an incredible physical transformation for a role, he's going to put everything he has into the performance.

The same goes for Jared Leto. Both lost an unhealthy amount of weight to look like authentic AIDS patients.

"Rush," in theaters now

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde

Director: Ron Howard

About: A re-creation of the 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda

I'm not a Chris Hemsworth fan (although I don't mind looking at the guy). And I'm not a fan of auto racing (although my first job was as the nacho girl at a raceway).

But I am a Ron Howard fan. Here's why: The guy's a chameleon. Many good directors have a signature. You know when you're watching a movie by Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino or Woody Allen. Howard always surprises me with his choices, and I never "see him" in them. "Frost/Nixon," "Cinderella Man," "A Beautiful Mind," "The Da Vinci Code" -- no real connective tone or look.

I haven't liked all of his movies, and he's admitted to making commercial decisions over artistic ones. But I've liked enough to see one about stock car-racing.

"Labor Day," Dec. 25

Starring: Josh Brolin, Kate Winslet

Director: Jason Reitman

About: A woman and her young son unwittingly take in an escaped convict.

I know absolutely nothing about this movie, which doesn't matter. Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet are my favorite actors. So I'm there.

"Catching Fire," Nov. 22

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson

Director: Francis Lawrence

About: The second installment in "The Hunger Games" trilogy about kids chosen at random to fight to the death.

Remember what I said up there about blockbusters? Well, I would be lying if I said I wasn't super excited about this one.

I couldn't put "The Hunger Games" books down. I was up until 3 in the morning reading, and I hadn't seen that hour of the day since college. The first movie was flawed, but certainly not enough to skip the sequel.


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