By Joseph LiMandri
With the summer movie season officially behind us, studios begin to release their best offerings in competition for awards’ glory. After the amazing 2013 film season that brought us movies like “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave,” I personally thought this year would pale in comparison. Evidently, 2014 is shaping up to be quite the year for cinema, with a solid number of critical and commercial hits like “Boyhood” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” The fall movie season should carry us into a great year overall. Listed below are the top five films you should make sure to see when they release in the coming months.
Gone Girl (Oct. 3)
The masterful David Fincher (“Seven,” “The Social Network”) brings us this harrowing mystery based on the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn. Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, a husband who reports the disappearance of his wife and then finds himself the prime suspect in the investigation. Fincher has brought together an awesome cast, which includes Rosamund Pike as the title character and both Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris playing against their usual comedic roles. “Gone Girl” has built incredible buzz in the last few months, even without the boost of the typical festival screenings. This can be partly attributed to the wonderfully cryptic trailers recently released, but also to the pedigree director David Fincher has built himself as a virtuoso of dark and macabre material. He promises that the film will hold surprises for both movie-goers and book-readers alike.
Whiplash (Oct. 10)
Top-prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival, Whiplash has the potential to be a big hit come mid-October. The movie tells the story of a determined, young jazz drummer who is challenged and pushed to his breaking point by a sadistic music teacher. The increasingly impressive Miles Teller (“The Spectacular Now,” “Divergent”) leads as the aspiring artist, while the criminally-underrated J.K. Simmons (“Spiderman,” “Juno”) stars as the band leader. “Whiplash” received near universal praise by those who were lucky enough to have caught a screening earlier this year, so make sure to mark your calendar for Oct. 10.
Birdman (Oct. 17)
The most unusual movie on this list and maybe of the entire year, “Birdman” is a black comedy from prolific foreign director Alejandro González Iñárritu. Michael Keaton (“Batman,” “The Other Guys”) riffs on himself by starring as an actor known for playing an iconic superhero as he struggles to make a career comeback. The outstanding supporting cast, including Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts, only adds to the promise of this off-the-wall concept. Already generating plenty of rave reviews, this film has the potential for some big prizes come awards season.
Interstellar (Nov. 7)
The next project of Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight Trilogy, “Inception”) has been hotly anticipated for over a year now and promises with near certainty to be a huge hit when it lands this November. Matthew McConaughey, who picked up his first acting Oscar last year, stars in this sci-fi epic that deals with inter-dimensional travel. Not much else is known about the film, but rest assured that Nolan will blow your mind with jaw dropping visuals and a story designed to inspire a sense of awe. FYI: Try to catch it in IMAX theaters, as it is the movie’s native format.
Inherent Vice (Dec. 12)
Director Paul Thomas Anderson (“There Will Be Blood,” “Magnolia”) is back in theaters this December, yet again holding a potential masterpiece. Joaquin Phoenix finds himself in the lead role as a pot smoking detective in 1960s Los Angeles. He is thrust into a mysterious and psychedelic investigation that will have him interacting with characters varying from loan sharks to hippie surfers. Supporting Phoenix is one of the greatest ensembles put together in recent memory, including Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson and Martin Short. With a technical expertise that is matched by few, expect Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” to have a big presence during this year’s awards.
Other movies to look forward to: “Fury” (Oct. 17), “Nightcrawler” (Oct. 31), “Foxcatcher” (Nov. 14), “The Imitation Game” (Nov. 21), “Wild” (Dec. 5), “Exodus: Gods and Kings” (Dec. 12), “Mr. Turner” (Dec. 19), “Unbroken” (Dec. 25), “American Snipe” (Dec. 25).