2011 Fall Film Guide

(Re-posted from limitémagazine.com)

Looking at this fall’s movie releases, it doesn’t take much to get excited. Some of today’s best and brightest filmmakers have their latest works hitting theaters, many of which primed for Oscar consideration and box office dominance. I mean, look at this list. LOOK AT IT!

Almodóvar, Anderson, Bird, Clooney, Condon, Cronenberg, Crowe, Eastwood, Emmerich, Estevez, Fincher, Forster, Lloyd, Marshall, Miller, Payne, Polanski, Ratner, Reitman, Ritchie, Schumacher, Scorsese, Sheridan, Singh, Singleton, Smith, Soderbergh, Spielberg, Van Sant, von Trier

It’s not often that this many top filmmakers release their films so close together. It’s a bit overwhelming, so let Limité guide your movie list for this fall. This is going to be a great season.

Note: All non-authored pieces’ loglines are courtesy of IMDb.com.

Michelle Williams stars as Marilyn Monroe in MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, which is slated for a November 4 release. 

SEPTEMBER

RED STATE

Director: Kevin Smith

Cast: John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Michael Parks

Genres: Horror, Thriller

Website: coopersdell.com

Release Date: September 1 (video on demand)

Logline: Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.

CONTAGION

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, John Hawkes, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet

Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Website: contagionmovie.warnerbros.com

Release Date: September 9

Logline: An action-thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak.

WARRIOR

Director: Gavin O’Connor

Cast: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Nick Nolte

Genres: Action, Drama, Sports

Website: warriorfilm.com

Release Date: September 9

Logline: The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he’s trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament — a path that puts the fighter on a collision corner with his older brother.

DRIVE

by John Lee

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Cast: Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, Ryan Gosling, Christina Hendricks, Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman

Genres: Action, Crime, Drama

Website: drive-movie.com

Release Date: September 16

Summary:

Ryan Gosling stars as “Driver,” a Hollywood stunt driver by day who moonlights as a getaway driver for armed heists at night. Isolated and a loner, Driver becomes involved with his beautiful neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan). Things get complicated when Irene’s ex-convict husband returns and drags Driver into a crime plot gone awry.

The indie film was originally conceived as a big-budget action movie starring Hugh Jackman. Once Jackman dropped out of the project and Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (Valhalla Rising, 2009) took the reins with Gosling attached, the film became a stripped-down stylish thriller with a drastic change in tone. The change can be credited to REO Speedwagon, if you can believe it. As Gosling was driving Refn home one day, “Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” came on the radio. By the end of the song, Refn turned to Gosling and told him, “This is the film — a guy who drives around at night listening to pop music because it’s the only way he can feel anything.”

The movie premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival to rapturous reviews and won Refn the Best Director prize. The film is adapted from the eponymous novel by James Sallis.

RESTLESS

Director: Gus Van Sant

Cast: Henry Hopper, Ryo Kase, Mia Wasikowska

Genre: Drama

Website: sonyclassics.com/restless

Release Date: September 16 (NY & LA)

Logline: The story of a terminally ill teenage girl who falls for a boy who likes to attend funerals, and their encounters with the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot from WWII.

ABDUCTION

Director: John Singleton

Cast: Maria Bello, Lily Collins, Jason Isaacs, Taylor Lautner, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver

Genres: Action, Drama, Mystery

Website: abductionthefilm.com

Release Date: September 23

Logline: A thriller centered on a young man who sets out to uncover the truth about his life after finding his baby photo on a missing persons website.

MACHINE GUN PREACHER

Director: Marc Forster

Cast: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon

Genres: Action, Biography

Website: machinegunpreacher.org/movie

Release Date: September 23 (NY & LA)

Logline: The story of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing biker tough guy who found God and became a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children who’ve been forced to become soldiers.

MONEYBALL

by Curtis John

Director: Bennett Miller

Cast: Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brad Pitt, Robin Wright

Genres: Biography, Drama, Sports

Website: moneyball-movie.com

Release Date: September 23

Summary:

Based on the 2003 book of the same name by Michael Lewis, Moneyball tells the true-life story of struggling Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), who, with a limited budget and a lot of desperation, uses sabermetrics (statistical analysis that analyzes baseball records to make determinations about player performance) to draft a misfit group of players. Watching the feel-good, heart-warming trailer makes you feel like the film goes beyond that. With his boyish smile, still at age 47, Pitt makes it apparent that it’s more than about changing the system, it’s about believing that you actually can be successful at doing so, despite the old guard and a nagging self-doubt determining that you won’t be — no small feat to do in life, or to portray on film.

But with Oscar-winning scribes Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, 1993) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, 2010), along with Oscar-nominated director Bennett Miller (Capote, 2005) at the helm, one can imagine the book’s dense material will be dramatized in a more than entertaining fashion.

50/50

by John Lee

Director: Jonathan Levine

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, Anna Kendrick, Seth Rogen

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Website: 50-50themovie.com

Release Date: September 30

Summary:

Back in 2003, writer Will Reiser was working with friend Seth Rogen on HBO’s Da Ali G Show as a producer. It was during that time when the 27-year-old Reiser was suddenly diagnosed with spinal cancer. Rogen encouraged Reiser, who has now been in remission for years, to channel his experiences into a feature-length script.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Reiser’s alter ego. 50/50 chronicles his treatment and the subsequent reactions to the news from his girlfriend, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help, 2011); his mother, played by Academy Award winner Anjelica Houston; and his best friend, played by Rogen, who also co-produces.

It was important to Reiser and Rogen to capture all the unexpected humor that came from certain situations while not shying away from any of the harsh realities of dealing with chemotherapy, diminished libido, and hair loss. The result is an original story that shows — while cancer is no laughing matter — having a sense of humor certainly helps with the diagnosis.

DREAM HOUSE

Director: Jim Sheridan

Cast: Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz

Genres: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Website: dreamhousemovie.net

Release Date: September 30

Logline: Soon after moving into their seemingly idyllic new home, a family learns of a brutal crime committed against former residents of the dwelling.

OCTOBER

THE IDES OF MARCH

by Morgan Goldin

Director: George Clooney

Cast: George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright

Genre: Drama

Website: idesofmarch-movie.com

Release Date: October 7

Summary:

A young staffer (Ryan Gosling) for a rising, charismatic presidential candidate (George Clooney) gets flung into the ugly side of the political process during his time on the campaign trail. The Ides of March is based on the play by Beau Willimon. George Clooney wore many hats during this production, pulling off directing, co-writing, and acting duties. He looks to bring the same passionate brio for politics that he displayed in his Oscar-nominated Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005). Combining that interest in politics with some real cinematic bravado keeps his films imminently watchable. Showing that he is as adept behind the camera as he is in front of it reveals Clooney to be one of the more prominent artists working in mainstream cinema today.

Clooney has also assembled an amazing cast for this production, but the one who seems to stand out is Ryan Gosling. Gosling continues his quest to be the thinking woman’s sex symbol, by picking such diverse and eclectic roles when he could easily coast along in rom-com purgatory. Between Crazy, Stupid Love, Drive, and The Ides of March, Gosling is having a truly banner year in cinema.

THE WAY 

Director: Emilio Estevez

Cast: Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger

Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Website: theway-themovie.com

Release Date: October 7

Logline: An American father travels toFrance to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling “El camino deSantiago” fromFrance to Santiago de Compostela (Spain).

FOOTLOOSE 

Director: Craig Brewer

Cast: Julianne Hough, Andie MacDowell, Dennis Quaid, Kenny Wormald

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Musical

Website: footloosemovie.com

Release Date: October 14

Logline: City kid Ren McCormack moves to a small town where rock ‘n’ roll and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace.

THE SKIN I LIVE IN 

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Cast: Elena Anaya, Jan Cornet, Antonio Banderas

Genres: Drama, Foreign Language (Spain)

Website: sonyclassics.com/theskinilivein

Release Date: October 14 (NY & LA)

Logline: A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.

TRESPASS 

Director: Joel Schumacher

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Cam Gigandet, Nicole Kidman

Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Website: trespass-the-movie.com

Release Date: October 14

Logline: As they’re held for ransom, a husband’s and wife’s predicament grows more dire amid the discovery of betrayal and deception.

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE

Director: Sean Durkin

Cast: Hugh Dancy, John Hawkes, Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson

Genres: Drama, Thriller

Website: foxsearchlight.com/marthamarcymaymarlene

Release Date: October 21 (limited)

Logline: Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS

by Curtis John

Director: Paul WS Anderson

Cast: Orlando Bloom, Milla Jovovich, Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, JunoTemple, Christoph Waltz

Genres: Action, Adventure, Romance

Website: threemusketeers-movie.com

Release Date: October 21

Summary:

Paul WS Anderson reunites with his muse Milla Jovovich in the latest update to Alexandre Dumas’s revered novel The Three Musketeers. Definitely a departure from the director’s usual fare — he’s perhaps best known for the Resident Evil franchise — this re-telling is full of technology, idiosyncratic or not, and looks to be a thrill ride that still employs lots of sword-fighting. Naturally.

In this version, the famed Musketeers Athos (Matthew Macfayden), Aramis (Luke Evans), and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) are tasked to steal highly coveted airship designs. They are successful, but are then betrayed by their beautiful partner in crime, M’lady De Winter (Jovovich), who sells the designs to a high bidder, the suave Duke of Buckingham, played by Orlando Bloom.

Three years later, when D’Artagnan  (Logan Lerman) journeys to Paris to realize his dream of becoming a Musketeer, he finds the famed trio a shadow of their former selves, working menial jobs and seeking a cause worth serving. That cause presents itself when the Musketeers and D’Artagnan uncover a plot by the Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) to overthrow the king. Then the real adventure begins.

ANONYMOUS 

Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson, David Thewlis

Genre: Drama

Website: anonymous-movie.com

Release Date: October 28

Logline: A political thriller advancing the theory that it was, in fact, Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, who penned Shakespeare’s plays; set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I and the Essex Rebellion against her.

LIKE CRAZY 

Director: Drake Doremus

Cast: Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Messina, Anton Yelchin

Genres: Drama, Romance

Website: likecrazy.com

Release Date: October 28 (limited)

Logline: A British college student falls for an American student, only to be separated from him when she’s banned from the US after overstaying her visa.

THE RUM DIARY 

Director: Bruce Robinson

Cast: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins, Giovanni Ribisi

Genres: Adventure, Drama

Release Date: October 28

Logline: Paul Kemp is a freelance journalist who finds himself at a critical turning point in his life while writing for a run-down newspaper in the Caribbean. Paul is challenged on many levels as he tries to carve out a more secure niche for himself amidst a group of lost souls all bent on self-destruction.

NOVEMBER

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN 

Director: Simon Curtis

Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Dominic Cooper, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Toby Jones, Julia Ormond, Eddie Redmayne, Emma Watson, Michelle Williams

Genre: Drama

Website: myweekwithmarilynmovie.com

Release Date: November 4

Logline: Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier’s, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of The Prince and the Showgirl.

PUSS IN BOOTS

by Morgan Goldin

Director: Chris Miller

Cast: Antonio Banderas, Zach Galifianakis, Salma Hayek, Amy Sedaris, Billy Bob Thornton

Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Website: pussinbootsthemovie.com

Release Date: November 4

Summary:

A prequel spin-off for one of the more beloved characters in the Shrek universe, this film charts how this fencing feline met up with the famous green ogre and his friends. The character is based on an old French fairy tale by Charles Perrault from 1697. Antonio Banderas reprises his role, lending his vocal chops to this animated adventure.

Puss in Boots looks to continue the Shrek series’s patented mix of smart-alecky, pop culture referential humor aimed to appeal to both kids and adults. It will be interesting to see how this film fares without the help of comedic talents Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy. Dreamworks Animation needs this film to be a hit just to keep up with the more critically acclaimed and commercially successful Pixar.

Joining Banderas is an all-star cast of vocal talents, including Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, and Shrek the Third alumna Amy Sedaris.

TOWER HEIST 

Director: Brett Ratner

Cast: Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Judd Hirsch, Téa Leoni, Eddie Murphy, Michael Peña, Gabourey Sidibe, Ben Stiller

Genres: Action, Comedy, Crime

Website: towerheist.net

Release Date: November 4

Logline: When a group of hard-working guys find out they’ve fallen victim to a wealthy business man’s Ponzi scheme, they conspire to rob his high-rise residence.

J. EDGAR

by Curtis John

Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast: Judi Dench, Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Josh Lucas, Dermot Mulroney, Lea Thompson, Naomi Watts

Genres: Biography, Drama

Release Date: November 9

Summary:

In J. Edgar, Leonardo DiCaprio portrays J. Edgar Hoover, the face of law enforcement in America for almost 50 years. As the founder of the FBI, Hoover was feared and admired, to say the least. And he put as much energy into chasing the guilty, the not-so-guilty, and his personal detractors as he did hiding his intimate secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career, and his life, had they been exposed.

It’s surprising that there’s so much hush about this project. (There’s not even a poster or trailer yet available.) But at this point, whether you’re a fan of his or not, Clint Eastwood is a reliable director and it’s doubtful the film is being covered up because it’s not good. But there is that 800-pound gorilla in the room: whether Hoover’s homosexuality and/or cross-dressing are addressed in the film. As Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, 2008) stated, “It [the film] won’t be going into anything that is a gay stereotype, especially that was used in that day to bash gay men … It will deal with sexuality in a far more human, realistic way.” Black adds, “ … It’s one part of a very complicated man and it’s one piece of a very complicated history” (AfterElton.com).

IMMORTALS 

Director: Tarsem Singh

Cast: Henry Cavill, Stephen Dorff, John Hurt, Kellan Lutz, Freida Pinto, Mickey Rourke

Genres: Action, Drama, Fantasy

Website: immortalsmovie.com

Release Date: November 11

Logline: Greek warrior Theseus battles against imprisoned titans.

MELANCHOLIA 

Director: Lars von Trier

Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling, Alexander Skarsgård, Stellan Skarsgård, Kiefer Sutherland

Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi

Website: melancholiathemovie.com

Release Date: November 11

Logline: Two sisters find their already-strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide into Earth.

HAPPY FEET TWO 

Director: George Miller

Cast: Hank Azaria, Ned Beatty, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Pink, Brad Pitt, Sofía Vergara, Hugo Weaving, Robin Williams, Ray Winstone, Elijah Wood

Genres: Animation, Comedy, Family

Release Date: November 18

Logline: Mumble the penguin has a problem: his son Erik, who is reluctant to dance, encounters The Mighty Sven, a penguin who can fly! Things get worse for Mumble when the world is shaken by powerful forces, causing him to bring together the penguin nations and their allies to set things right.

TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN, PART 1

Director: Bill Condon

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Anna Kendrick, Taylor Lautner, Kellan Lutz, Lee Pace, Robert Pattinson, Nikki Reed, Michael Sheen, Kristen Stewart

Genres: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

Website: breakingdawn-themovie.com

Release Date: November 18

Logline: The Quileute and the Volturi close in on expecting parents Edward and Bella, whose unborn child poses different threats to the wolf pack and vampire coven.

THE ARTIST 

Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Cast: Bérénice Bejo, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Malcolm McDowell, Missi Pyle

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Website: weinsteinco.com/the-artist

Release Date: November 23

Logline: Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.

A DANGEROUS METHOD 

Director: David Cronenberg

Cast: Vincent Cassel, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen

Genres: Drama, Thriller

Website: sonyclassics.com/adangerousmethod

Release Date: November 23 (NY & LA)

Logline: A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.

THE DESCENDANTS 

Director: Alexander Payne

Cast: BeauBridges, George Clooney, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Shailene Woodley

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Release Date: November 23

Logline: A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident.

HUGO

by Stephanie Dawson

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Sacha Baron Cohen, Richard Griffiths, Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, Christopher Lee, Chloe Moretz, Emily Mortimer, Michael Pitt, Michael Stuhlbarg, Ray Winstone

Genres: Adventure, Drama, Family

Website: hugomovie.com

Release Date: November 23

Summary:

Set in 1930s Paris, Hugo is the story of an orphan boy (Asa Butterfield) who lives in the walls of a Parisian train station. He befriends Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), and the two set off on a series of adventures while trying to avoid being caught by the train conductor and revealing Hugo’s home. Hugo also befriends a lonely toy seller and finds an automaton, or mechanical toy, and decides to fix it. Everything comes together when Isabelle reveals she holds a key that fits into Hugo’s own automaton, and the only link to his past.

This 3D fantasy is Martin Scorsese’s first family film and is based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by writer/illustrator Brian Selznick. The writer was inspired by filmmaker George Méliés from the 1902 film A Trip to the Moon. Méliés collected mechanical toys (also known as automata) and was a toy seller later in life. Sir Ben Kingsley plays Méliés in the film. Scorsese was inspired to make the film after reading it to his 11-year-old daughter. Producer Johnny Depp is rumored to have a cameo.

THE MUPPETS 

Director: James Bobin

Cast: Amy Adams, Jack Black, Emily Blunt, Chris Cooper, Fozzie Bear, Zach Galifianakis, Ricky Gervais, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Neil Patrick Harris, Rashida Jones, Kermit the Frog, John Krasinski, Mila Kunis, Miss Piggy, Katy Perry, Jason Segel

Genres: Comedy, Family

Website: disney.go.com/muppets

Release Date: November 23

Logline: With the help of three fans, the Muppets must reunite in order to save their old studio from a greedy oil tycoon.

DECEMBER

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

by Morgan Goldin

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Cast: Ezra Miller, John C. Reilly, Tilda Swinton

Genres: Drama, Thriller

Website: oscilloscope.net/weneedtotalkaboutkevin

Release Date: December 2 (limited)

Summary:

A mother (Tilda Swinton) of a teenage boy (Ezra Miller) who went on a horrific killing rampage tries to reconcile her overwhelming guilt and grief by writing to her estranged husband (John C. Reilly). Like this summer’s Beautiful Boy, We Need to Talk About Kevin chooses to explore the other side of the story not usually covered in the media when these types of atrocities occur — that of the parents of the perpetrator. It is that perspective that puts films like these in a unique position, serving as a reminder that the parents of the young people who commit these crimes are also victims. Instead of sensationalist tripe and avoiding a didactic “ripped from the headlines” approach, these films manage to elicit sympathy for those whom society considers to be failures on such a massive scale.

It is that approach that keeps this film tasteful. By not focusing on the violence directly, director Lynne Ramsay shows sensitivity to the material that keeps it from being exploitative. Showing the same delicate touch and unique style that she brought to her previous films, Morvern Callar (2002) and Ratcatcher (1999), this looks to be one of the more artistically ambitious releases of the fall.

We Need to Talk About Kevin screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, earning Tilda Swinton high praise and early Oscar buzz for her portrayal of the emotionally tortured mother. The film is adapted from the 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver.

NEW YEAR’S EVE 

Director: GarryMarshall

Cast: Jessica Biel, Abigail Breslin, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Carla Gugino, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Alyssa Milano, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Sofía Vergara

Genres: Comedy, Romance

Website: newyearsevemovie.warnerbros.com

Release Date: December 9

Logline: The lives of several couples and singles in New York intertwine over the course of New Year’s Eve.

TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY

by Stephanie Dawson

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, David Dencik, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Ciarán Hinds, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Gary Oldman, Mark Strong

Genre: Thriller

Website: tinker-tailor-soldier-spy.com

Release Date: December 9

Summary:

In the Cold War spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6, sends an experienced operative into Hungary to complete a mission that goes deadly wrong. Following the failure, it is believed a mole has compromised the highest ranks of SIS. George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is called back from forced retirement to ferret out the spy, assisted by younger agent Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch). They get a massive lead when maverick agent Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) contacts Guillam. The suspects are narrowed down to five men, codenamed Tinker (Toby Jones), Tailor (Colin Firth), Soldier (Ciarán Hinds), Poor Man (David Dencik), and Smiley, himself, who is tagged as Spy.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was the first of a series of novels by John le Carré, based on his experiences in MI5 and MI6 that eventually uncovered the Cambridge Five: KGB agents employed by SIS in the 1950s and ’60s. In 1979, the novel was adapted for the small screen in a successful seven-part BBC production, with Sir Alec Guinness as Smiley. This time around, Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, 2008) is at the helm in his first English-language film.

W.E.

Director: Madonna

Cast: Abbie Cornish, James D’Arcy, Natalie Dormer, Oscar Isaac

Genres: Drama, Romance

Release Date: December 9

Logline: A two-tiered romantic drama focusing on the affair between King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson, and a contemporary romance between a married woman and a Russian security guard.

CARNAGE

by Daniel Quitério

Director: Roman Polanski

Cast: Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Website: sonyclassics.com/carnage

Release Date: December 16 (NY & LA)

Summary:

Following a fight at school between two boys, their parents converge to discuss the incident. As the meeting progresses, the adults regress into behavior that’s no more civilized than that of their sons.

Based on the 2009 Tony-winning Best Play God of Carnage by French playwright Yasmina Reza, the Brooklyn-set movie is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Roman Polanski, who shot the film in Paris due to his well-noted inability to travel to the United States. Reza and Polanski wrote the screenplay together, tapping the film out at just 79 minutes (just shy of the play’s approximate 90-minute runtime). The stage production was originally performed in French before being translated into English by Oscar-winning scribe Christopher Hampton (Atonement, 2007) and eventually landing on Broadway, where it originally starred screen veterans Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini, and Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden. (Harden went on to win the Tony for Best Lead Actress in a Play.) The quartet is being portrayed on film by a set of equally adept screen veterans: Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, and Jodie Foster. The film had its world premiere at the currently running Venice Film Festival and will open the 49th New York Film Festival this month.

THE IRON LADY

by John Lee

Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Cast: Jim Broadbent, Richard E. Grant, Meryl Streep

Genres: Biography, Drama

Website: theironladymovie.co.uk

Release Date: December 16

Summary:

Acting goddess Meryl Streep stars in this biopic about Margaret Thatcher, the first and only woman to become British Prime Minister. Director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!, 2008), wanted to chronicle Thatcher’s historic political career — her struggles against class and gender — but more importantly, her intimate life. In the end, the film is also about family, love, loss, and bereavement.
The casting of Streep — an American — playing such a quintessential British public figure caused some controversy in the UK, even with her Academy Award pedigree. Well aware of the skepticism,  Streep was determined to not make her performance an impersonation in any way — rather, it would be an incarnation. She dove into months of research and even attended a session at the House of Commons in January.
Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, 2011) co-stars as Denis Thatcher, and Anthony Head (Scoop, 2006) portrays Thatcher’s longest-serving cabinet member, Geoffrey Howe. Is there anyone in the world who doubts that Streep will earn her 17th Academy Award nomination with this role?

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS

Director: Guy Ritchie

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Stephen Fry, Jared Harris, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace

Genres: Action, Adventure, Crime

Website: sherlockholmes2.warnerbros.com

Release Date: December 16

Logline: Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.

YOUNG ADULT 

Director: Jason Reitman

Cast: Patton Oswalt, JK Simmons, Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Release Date: December 16

Logline: Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now married with kids.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

by Stephanie Dawson

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Joely Richardson, Stellan Skarsgård, Robin Wright

Genres: Drama, Thriller

Website: dragontattoo.net

Release Date: December 21

Summary:

Hard-hitting journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) serves jail time after losing a libel case against a powerful billionaire. Disgraced and unemployed, Blomkvist takes a freelance job for the wealthy Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to find Vanger’s daughter, who has been missing for 40 years. Vanger agrees to provide information against the billionaire that could clear Blomkvist’s name. Meanwhile, Vanger has Blomkvist investigated by a talented computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). Salander is a loner and generally repels people with her goth leather wardrobe, hairstyle, piercings, and large dragon tattoo. Blomkvist’s search for Vanger uncovers a possible serial killer with powerful connections, dating back several decades. Salander, herself a victim of violence and rape, decides to help Blomkvist find the serial killer, and the two form an unconventional bond.

This much-anticipated US remake of the 2009 Swedish film is helmed by innovative director David Fincher, though is based on the book by Stieg Larsson. This is the first book in the posthumously published Millennium trilogy, which became a best-seller across Europe and the US. Rising star David Dencik (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, 2011) is the only actor to appear in both the Swedish and US versions of the films.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE — GHOST PROTOCOL

by Daniel Quitério

Director: Brad Bird

Cast: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, Tom Wilkinson

Genres: Action, Adventure, Thriller

Website: missionimpossible.com

Release Date: December 21

Summary:

In just the first 34 seconds of the Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol trailer, Tom Wilkinson spills all the exposition we need to understand the plot of the fourth installment of the high-octane franchise. And here it is:

Following the devastating bombing of the Kremlin, the United States government initiates a “ghost protocol,” disavowing all Impossible Mission Force (IMF) agents. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team are to take the blame for the terrorist attack, but allowed to escape in order to work outside of the agency. The stakes are high, as Hunt and his team will be charged as terrorists if caught. Meanwhile, Hunt must work with Brandt (Jeremy Renner), an ex-IMF agent with a lot on his mind.

Cruise returns for another turn at the helm of the Mission: Impossible franchise, but in this installment, Renner’s character Brandt is introduced — primed to potentially take over the franchise if Cruise decides to bow out. Like the others, this low-budget indie was made on a budget of something like six bagillion dollars — and it promises the same fast-paced, explosive action and thrills that the films’ hardcore fans come to expect. Pixar regular Brad Bird (two-time Oscar winner for Ratatouille [2007] and The Incredibles [2004]) helms Ghost Protocol in his live-action feature directorial debut.

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN 

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Cary Elwes, Toby Jones, Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis

Genres: Animation, Adventure, Family

Website: tintin.com

Release Date: December 23

Logline: Tintin and his friends discover directions to a sunken ship commanded by Capt. Haddock’s ancestor and go off on a treasure hunt.

WE BOUGHT A ZOO 

Director: Cameron Crowe

Cast: Thomas Haden Church, Matt Damon, Elle Fanning, Scarlett Johansson

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Release Date: December 23

Logline: Set in Southern California, a father moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo.

WAR HORSE

by Daniel Quitério

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jeremy Irvine, David Thewlis, Emily Watson

Genre: War

Website: warhorsemovie.com

Release Date: December 28

Summary:

Set in Europe during World War I, young Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and the beloved horse he trained, Joey, are separated after Joey is sold into battle. Though Albert is too young to enlist in the military, his desire to find his equine friend drives him to France in pursuit.

Based on the 1982 children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse is Steven Spielberg’s second entry into this fall’s string of Oscar hopefuls — the first being the animated The Adventures of Tintin. (The two films are slated for releases just five days apart.) For a man who has seemingly done it all in the film industry, some might be surprised to learn that War Horse marks the first of Spielberg’s films to be edited digitally, as opposed to be cut on film. The living legend knew immediately after reading Morpurgo’s novel that he wanted to make the film, recognizing its global reach. Spielberg stated, “Its heart and its message provide a story that can be felt in every country.” Certainly, DreamWorks hopes that this film will garner the same type of success as the theatrical version, which is currently on Broadway and the winner of the 2011 Best Play Tony Award.

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