Monday, January 22, 2018
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18 movies to see this fall, from '99 Homes' to 'Mockingjay, Part 2'

Fall movies change colors from summer like leaves on trees that aren't in Florida.

Out with the comic books and in with the bestsellers. Nothing around here for Vin Diesel to do. A time when 3-D and the word "sequel" are rarer, more selectively used.

It's the season to begin getting serious about award possibilities. Voting deadlines for major prizes are sooner than ever, and nobody wants to be this year's Selma or American Sniper, seen by voters too late to gain much Oscar momentum.

The silliest thing in Hollywood between now and New Year will be how seriously some releases take their chances of succeeding.

Our annual Fall Movie Guide is proof of that seasonal shift in Hollywood, from competing solely for money to campaigning for prizes. You'll read a bit of both on this list, from next week's openers through Thanksgiving, when our Holiday Movie Guide will be published.

As always, release dates are subject to change. Enjoy.

Sept. 25

The Intern

I promise: The fall movie season won't always be this square. But the movie bears mentioning since it stars Oscar winners Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, written and directed by Nancy Meyers, who can make the implausible amusing.

Sept. 30

The Walk

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays high-wire artist Philippe Petit, who in 1974 walked between the newly-constructed World Trade Center towers. Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) directs, in vertiginous 3-D.

Oct. 2

Sicario

This grim drug cartel drama stars Emily Blunt as an FBI agent pulled into a dubious CIA operation by a rat (Josh Brolin) and a cobra (Benicio Del Toro, better than he's been since Traffic).

The Martian

Matt Damon as an astronaut left for dead on Mars, who must survive through botany and bravery. Jessica Chastain leads the rescue, while everyone from Kristen Wiig to Chiwetel Ejiofor worries on Earth.

Oct. 9

Steve Jobs

Not Ashton Kutcher again, thankfully. Michael Fassbender portrays the IT pioneer in three pivotal acts, from a screenplay by word surgeon Aaron Sorkin. Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) directs a cast including Kate Winslet and a serious Seth Rogen.

Pan

Didn't Hugh Jackman learn anything from Christopher Walken's live TV embarrassment? Here's another take on Peter Pan, tracing the legend's Neverland roots with Jackman as Blackbeard. Clap if you must.

Big Stone Gap

St. Petersburg's Patrick Wilson stars as a coal miner in love, with roles for his father, former WTVT-Ch. 13 anchorman John Wilson, and brothers Mark and Paul, in a story set where the elder's career began. Ashley Judd is the object of Wilson's affection, while his real-life wife, Dagmara Dominczyk, plays Elizabeth Taylor breezing through their eccentric town.

99 Homes

The late Roger Ebert's favorite young filmmaker, Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart), visited the Times in 2013, researching this home foreclosure drama starring Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon and Laura Dern.

Oct. 16

Bridge of Spies

Steven Spielberg. Tom Hanks. What else do you need? Eleven years after The Terminal they reunite for a true-life Cold War thriller, with Hanks negotiating the release of downed spy pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell).

Beasts of No Nation

Netflix is beating and joining the traditional distribution model with its first original movie. Idris Elba stars as a commander of child soldiers in an unnamed African country. You can also see it at home on you-know-where.

Goosebumps

Simply because children need something to do. Jack Black plays a more exciting version of YA author R.L. Stine, whose literary creatures come to life.

Oct. 23

Suffragette

Carey Mulligan's solid year continues, this time near to the madding crowd. She plays a new recruit to the contentious fight for women's rights in early 20th century England, inspired by feminists like Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep, of course).

Nov. 6

Spectre

After hitting a new peak with Skyfall, the James Bond franchise faces as much pressure as Daniel Craig's 007. The emergence of SPECTRE and its deliciously cast mastermind (Christoph Waltz) leads Bond into more danger. Tampa resident Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) co-stars.

The Peanuts Movie

Agent 007's head-to-head competition will be Brown. Charlie Brown. On the big screen for the first time in 3-D, the late Charles Schultz's everykids might yank away the box office football. Snoopy chasing the Red Baron isn't that different from Craig chasing Waltz.

Trumbo

Bryan Cranston is stalking the third leg of EGOT status, if the trailers don't lie. He essays blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, rescued from ignominy by Kirk Douglas (Dean O'Gorman) and a little movie called Spartacus. Now, if Cranston can sing …

Nov. 13

Spotlight

This just might be the truest movie about journalism since All the President's Men, with Michael Keaton, who starred in The Paper, one of the most bogus. This time he's a Boston Globe editor with reporters (Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams) investigating sex abuse by Catholic priests. Solid reporting, in real and reel life.

Nov. 20

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

The saga concludes, but not before St. Petersburg's Eugenie Bondurant joins the revolution as Tigris, a feline freedom fighter. Never too late, I say. Look at what this gig did for Jennifer Lawrence.

Carol

The awards drumbeat began at Telluride for Rooney Mara, whose premature career tribute was smart campaigning. Mara plays a 1950s shopgirl in love with a married woman (Cate Blanchett). Directed by Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven) from a novel by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley).

Sprinkled like fallen leaves along the way are:

Gay pride drawing a line at Stonewall (Sept. 25), Julia Roberts uncovering The Secret in Their Eyes (Nov. 20), Tom Hardy times two in Legend (Oct. 2), Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as lovers in Freeheld (Oct. 9), Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on the rocks By the Sea (Nov. 13), Bill Murray will Rock the Kasbah on Oct. 23, Guillermo Del Toro's ghost story Crimson Peak (Oct. 16), Robert Redford as newsman Dan Rather in Truth (Oct. 16) and Bradley Cooper in the kitchen, Burnt (Oct. 23).

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

     
                         
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