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The Indiewire 2015 Fall Preview: The 28 Films We’re Most Excited to See (That We Haven’t Seen Yet)

The Indiewire 2015 Fall Preview: The 28 Films We're Most Excited to See (That We Haven't Seen Yet)

READ MORE: The Indiewire 2015 Fall Preview: The 15 Films We’ve Already Seen (And You Won’t Want to Miss)

“About Ray” (September 18)

Elle Fanning has long been on the cusp of a major breakout role, thanks to her steadily evolving oeuvre (that Fanning is the second sister to seamlessly translate from child star to adult actress shouldn’t surprise, it seems to be their M.O.) and a filmography marked by director-driven offerings. In Gaby Dellal’s TIFF premiere, the younger Fanning plays Ray, a teenager in the midst of transitioning to better suit his gender identity. Although his close-knit family — including Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon — approach the situation with love and respect, things get complicated when Ray’s estranged father (Tate Donovan) becomes involved (and recent comments from the film’s director have reflected an uncomfortable disconnect between the material and her take on it). The film’s first trailer struck an odd tone between honest drama and raucous family-centric comedy, though the talent involved is more than heartening and Fanning’s dedication to the role seems singular. This one has real potential, and we’re anxious to see how it delivers this season.

“Black Mass” (September 18)

Johnny Depp has spent the better part of the last decade taming his adult sensibilities for family-friendly Disney audiences, and the few times he’s catered to serious-minded moviegoers — “The Tourist” (2010), “Transcendence” (2014) — the results have been truly disastrous. Fortunately, Scott Cooper’s “Black Mass” looks to be the Depp comeback vehicle we’ve been desperately waiting for. With a receding hairline, a gravely Boston accent and a pair of ghostly eyes, Depp seems downright sinister in the role of James “Whitey” Bulger, the notorious Boston gangster who became an FBI informant from the ’70s to the early ’90s in order to eliminate criminal competition. Adding further anticipation for the film is its acclaimed source material — the book of the same name by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth — its Venice Film Festival world premiere date, and an ensemble cast that includes Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard and more. Writer-director Cooper has nailed a violent, brooding atmosphere before in “Out of the Furnace,” and this drama should play to those strengths while offering Depp another chance to blow us away.

“Everest” (September 25)

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur continues to make his move into American cinema — he recently directed “2 Guns” and a remake of his own “Contraband” — and “Everest” poses a major undertaking for the filmmaker, his very own mountain to climb. Packed with a top-tier cast, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Keira Knightley and Josh Brolin, and a heart-stopping premise, the Venice opener has the potential to thrill and chill audiences, but it remains to be seen how much genuine emotion and true human drama Kormákur can include in the mix. With a festival pedigree behind it, cinephiles ready to deride it as another 3D spectacle may want to give it another look. Of course, it can be that too, but if there’s something deeper there, it’s worth exploring.

“Stonewall” (September 25)

Roland Emmerich’s latest has already stirred up quite a bit of controversy in the wake of its first trailer release, a small slice of marketing that made it clear that the historically rooted film may not be as grounded in fact as its viewership are hungry for. Still, the team behind the film promises that their fact-based feature comes from a place of love and respect for the participants in the Stonewall Riots. It’s hard to judge that sentiment from a trailer alone, but the film will soon show on the fall festival circuit, including TIFF, before getting an official release this season. If nothing else, it shows Emmerich’s continued dedication to breaking away from the world-busting action features that have so dominated his career, even if the final result could stand a hefty dose of veracity. 

“The Walk” (September 30, limited; October 9, wide)

Philippe Petit’s daring high-wire walk across the Twin Towers in 1974 was masterfully chronicled in James Marsh’s Oscar-winning doc “Man on Wire,” but that’s not stopping Robert Zemeckis from giving the same story another cinematic treatment. Selected as the Opening Night film at the 53rd New York Film Festival, the drama stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the French daredevil, but all eyes are on Zemeckis and his thrilling eye for 3D adventure. The Oscar winner’s career as of late has been all over the place — from motion capture projects like “A Christmas Carol” to adult dramas like “Flight” — but his ability to craft intense, sustained action sequences remains unmatched. For this reason, Petit’s Twin Towers walk has all the potential to be another classic moment in Zemeckis’ history, especially since it’s been tailormade for IMAX 3D.

“Freeheld” (October 2)

Based on the true story of New Jersey police detective Laurel Hester, “Freeheld” examines what happens to a loving partnership when it isn’t viewed as equal in the eyes of the law. Hester falls in love with car mechanic Stacie Andree before being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and fearing for her partner’s future, she appeals the county’s board of chosen freeholders with the hopes of ensuring her pension benefits will be passed on to Stacie. The emotional storyline could not be more relevant, and while director Peter Sollett hasn’t made a feature since 2008’s “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” he’s assembled a cast of dramatic heavyweights, including recent Best Actress winner Julianne Moore and Oscar nominees Ellen Page, Steve Carell and Michael Shannon. If any cast can make a predetermined tearjerker feel fresh and surprising, we’re putting our money on this acclaimed quartet.

“Legend” (October 2)

Tom Hardy is always a reason to get excited, but Tom Hardy starring opposite Tom Hardy as a pair of infamous London gangsters is causing some mind-blowing levels of anticipation. Returning to the crime drama for the first time since “LA Confidential,” Brian Helgeland brings the story of Reggie and Ronnie Kray to the big screen, chronicling their rise as mob kings in London during the ’50s and ’60s. The film is based on the book “The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins” by John Pearson and promises its fair share of period glamour and extreme mob brutality. Emily Browning, Colin Morgan and Chazz Palminteri co-star, though it’s really Hardy opposite Hardy that has “Legend” at the very top of our fall movie wish list.

“The Martian” (October 2)

You’ve seen Matt Damon stranded on a planet before. You’ve seen Jessica Chastain stranded on Earth before. You’ve seen Ridley Scott grapple with near-future worlds featuring robots and aliens. But “The Martian” is promising to be something altogether different. Based on the best-selling self-published novel by Andy Weir, the sci-fi feature stars Damon as an astronaut left behind during a dangerous mission on Mars. The film is said to match the novel’s unique tone: It embraces a bleak situation with levity and infuses rigorous science with a casual first-person feel. Over the past couple years, Ridley quietly assembled an all-star crew — Jessica Chastain, Michael Peña, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Donald Glover and Chiwetel Ejiofor — to play Damon’s devoted fellow earthlings determined to rescue him from solitary confinement on Mars.

“Steve Jobs” (October 9)

Danny Boyle’s portrait of America’s tortured genius is arguably the most highly-anticipated film of 2015. The sharp-witted Aaron Sorkin penned the script, which follows Jobs, played by Michael Fassbender, through Apple’s initial product launches and behind the scenes of the digital revolution. Broken up into three 30-minute scenes, the film concludes with the 1998 launch of the iMac. The trailer showcases stark and stunning cinematography as it sets up the epic events that would change technology forevermore. Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Katherine Waterston also star.

“Bridge of Spies” (October 16)

Few Hollywood pairings are as enticing as Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Whether collaborating behind the scenes as producers (“Band of Brothers”) or at the forefront of projects as director and actor (“Saving Private Ryan,” “Catch Me If You Can”), the duo have been a consistent high mark of cinema and television for over two decades now. Cold War thriller “Bridge of Spies” finds the two reuniting for the first time since “The Terminal” to tell the true story of James Donovan, a Brooklyn lawyer who gets entangled with the CIA in order to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot. With Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan and Alan Alda in supporting roles, Spielberg’s longtime DP Janusz Kaminski back behind the camera and the Coen Brothers helping out on the screenplay, “Bridge of Spies” has almost too much amazing talent to be true. Color us very, very excited. 

“Crimson Peak” (October 16)

After the effects-heavy bombast of “Pacific Rim,” visionary director Guillermo del Toro returns to his Gothic roots in “Crimson Peak.” The haunted house pic stars indie darling Mia Wasikowska as an aspiring author torn between the love for her childhood friend (Charlie Hunnam) and the temptation for a mysterious outsider (Tom Hiddleston). Trying to escape the ghosts of her tragic past, she gets swept up in the stranger’s house where things aren’t all as they seem, including his sister (Jessica Chastain). Early trailers for the film have touted the movie as “Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece,” and while that certainly remains to be seen, all of the lavish period costumes, eye-popping architecture and supernatural undertones suggest a tour-de-force from the Mexican filmmaker. Throw in Chastain in her first villainous role, and it looks like we have the makings of a new horror classic, something along the lines of Daphne du Maurier by way of del Toro’s fantasy imagination. 

“Room” (October 16)

Brie Larson took the indie world by storm in 2013 with her acclaimed, Gotham Award-winning performance in “Short Term 12,” and she looks to do it again this fall thanks to her lead role in the highly anticipated “Room.” Adapted by Emma Donoghue from her bestselling novel of the same name, the drama centers around a mother and her five-year-old son (newcomer Jacob Tremblay) who have been living in captivity in a small room for a number of years. Fans have long thought the book was impossible to translate to the big screen, but director Lenny Abrahamson, who last showed an assured vision behind the camera in “Frank,” reached out to Donoghue directly to convince her of the novel’s cinematic possibilities. As fans of the book already know, the finished result should be a powerhouse drama about the bonds between mother and son. 

“Truth” (October 16)

“Truth” has got to be one of the biggest question marks of the fall season. The cast is undeniably strong, with Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford in the leads and Dennis Quaid, Elisabeth Moss, Topher Grace and Bruce Greenwood in support, but the drama is the directing debut of action-oriented screenwriter James Vanderbilt (“White House Down,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” franchise) and not a single trailer has been released, even though the film is less than a month away from screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. Still, Vanderbilt wrote the script for David Fincher’s dense “Zodiac,” which brought a frightening intensity to a journalistic investigation, something that should bode well for this story about CBS news anchor Dan Rather and the controversial Killian documents scandal. Considering both Redford and Blanchett have been at the height of their powers lately (see “All is Lost” and “Carol”), the chance to see them opposite one another can’t be missed. 

“Suffragette” (October 23)

Featuring a stacked cast of female talent in front of and behind the camera, Sarah Gavron’s “Suffragette” promises to provide a lightly fictionalized look at the beginning of the feminist movement in the UK. Starring Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Romola Garai, the girl power vibe in this one is strong, just as it should be. Penned by “Shame” and “The Iron Lady” scribe Abi Morgan, the film will likely thread together the personal and the political to provide a fuller look at the battles waged in the early part of the suffragette movement by unstoppable women who fought to be heard.

“The Wonders” (October 30)

Alice Rohrwacher’s latest walked away from Cannes with a Grand Jury Prize, a Palme d’Or nomination and plenty of lavished (and very well-deserved) praise. Loosely based on the filmmaker’s own life, “The Wonders” stars Rohrwacher’s own sister Alba (who recently stunned audiences with her turn in the jarring “Hungry Hearts”) as a version of the pair’s own mother. The family-centric drama is mostly concerned with telling an intimate family story, but Rohrwacher’s eye for details and lush lensing should also make it a feast for the eyes, as well as the heart.

“Our Brand is Crisis” (October 30)

Indie darling David Gordon Green has dipped his toe in star-packed fare before, but the results have been widely mixed, with “Pineapple Express” sparking to audiences while both “The Sitter” and “Your Highness” fell mostly flat. Despite Green’s own interest in broader comedies, he looks to be finally marrying his earlier dramatic sensibilities with pointed humor in “Our Brand is Crisis.” Based on the documentary of the same name, Green’s latest centers on political campaign maneuvering in South America, as headed up by Sandra Bullock as fixer “Calamity” Jane Bodine. A strong supporting cast, including Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie and Zoe Kazan, further up the film’s cred, giving Green a fresh chance to shine in the studio space.

“Trumbo” (November 6)

Jay Roach made a name for himself as the director of the “Austin Powers” franchise and comedy blockbusters like “Meet the Parents,” though in the past couple of years he’s reinvented himself as the Emmy-winning director of HBO political dramas “Recount” and “Game Change.” His television work should serve him well in the upcoming biographical drama, “Trumbo,” which stars Bryan Cranston in an awards-ready role as the eponymous screenwriter who was blacklisted by Hollywood at the height of McCarthyism. Trumbo ended up fighting the U.S. government and studio bosses in a war over words and freedom, and if Roach can successfully bring his political edge to the big screen, the results should be enthralling. Louis C.K., Elle Fanning, John Goodman, Diane Lane, Alan Tudyk, Michael Stuhlbarg and Helen Mirren co-star.

“Spotlight” (November 6)

Looking to rebound after the critically maligned comedy “The Cobbler” earlier this year, writer-director Thomas McCarthy is in good hands with a star-studded ensemble and a plot ripped from one of the biggest headlines of all time. Starring Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci, the drama tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe team that investigated allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church. Their year-long search for the truth uncovered a cover-up at the highest level of Boston’s religious, legal and government establishments and ignited a wave of controversy and revelations around the world. McCarthy, best known for small human dramas and strong character work, paints his biggest canvas yet on this ambitious drama, and his incredible cast is too promising to miss in action.

“By the Sea” (November 13)

Angelina Jolie’s transition from actress to director has been largely effective so far. Although her first two films — war dramas “In the Land of Blood and Honey” and “Unbroken” — may have been a bit too ambitious for their own good, they showed a directorial promise that was hard to deny. Based on the gorgeous first trailer for “By the Sea,” it appears scaling back for a morality drama between a husband and wife was the right direction for Jolie to go in to really hone her craft. The drama finds the director in front of the camera as well, starring opposite husband Brad Pitt as a women trying to fix her martial crisis while on vacation at a French seaside resort. The 1970’s setting and alluring vistas should make for an emotional drama, one that Jolie has already gone on record as calling an art film. Forget Brad Pitt for a second, because “By the Sea” could be Jolie’s true directorial breakout if all goes well.

“Secret in Their Eyes” (November 20)

Hollywood has had an uneven track record mounting domestic remakes of foreign language hits. For every success (“Let Me In”) there has been a handful of tragic imitators (“The Vanishing”), but things look optimistic for “Secret in Their Eyes” based on the acclaimed talent involved. The remake of Juan Jose Campanella 2009 Argentinian crime drama, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film, stars a triumvirate of Hollywood heavyweights — Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor — and marks Billy Ray’s first film since 2007’s “Breach” (though he recently received a writing Oscar nom for “Captain Phillips”). The shocking story of an FBI investigation into the death of one of its members’ children is full of twists that really hit hard emotionally. It’ll be hard to compete with the astute execution of the original, but here’s hoping Ray and company have what it takes. 

“Creed” (November 25)

Nearly everyone in the indie community was waiting with anticipation to hear what project Ryan Coogler would take on after the staggering success of “Fruitvale Station.” When it was announced he’d be directing “Creed,” a spin-off of the “Rocky” franchise centered around Apollo Creed’s son, it turned quite a few heads. However, the project slowly started coming together, with “Fruitvale” breakout Michael B. Jordan stepping into the lead role opposite Sylvester Stallone and a dramatically talented supporting cast, including Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad. When the stunning first trailer dropped, it was clear this was a sports movie to get very, very excited about. In what looks to be a continuation of the “Rocky” universe but a revitalization of the aesthetic approach to the series (Coogler is going more grounded than ever for a look at sports and urban life), “Creed” should have no problem becoming the heavyweight of 2015 boxing dramas.

“The Danish Girl” (November 27)

Poised to be a perfect combination of rising star power — from current it girl Alicia Vikander to newly minted Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne — and fascinating historical drama, Tom Hooper’s “The Danish Girl” seems guaranteed to set the awards circuit alight this season. At its heart, the film promises to be a classic love story, but its timely nature should also set it apart as a tale still relevant to today’s world. Complete with a Alexandre Desplat score, the art-infused feature will likely look and sound stellar, but we’re banking on this one to give us sterling performances that should carry over well into 2016.

“I Saw the Light” (November 27)

Tom Hiddleston may have rocketed into the Hollywood stratosphere thanks to his indelible turns in the Marvel universe, but the actor has true chops and appears to finally be able to show them off to a wider audience thanks to his upped recognizablity and a meaty role in Marc Abraham’s Hank Williams biopic. With Elizabeth Olsen by his side as Williams’ wife Audrey Mae, the film will probably find plenty of time to pile on the romance and classic jams. If nothing else, Hiddleston in a cowboy hat is certainly something new. Bring on the country twang.

“In the Heart of the Sea” (December 11)

Going head to head with “Star Wars” would be a David and Goliath-type box office battle for any title, yet that somehow is only fitting for Ron Howard’s epic “In the Heart of the Sea.” Starring Chris Hemsworth (his second collaboration with Howard after “Rush”), Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Ben Whishaw and Brendan Gleeson, the historical disaster film recounts the story that inspired Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.” During an 1820 voyage, the whaleship Essex is sunk by a large bull sperm whale, forcing the crew to survive on the open ocean for 90 days and fight the untamed beast. The last time Howard brought stranded adventurers to the big screen, it was the miraculous “Apollo 13,” and we’re certainly hoping he’s able to scale those dramatic heights for this harrowing drama about the resiliency of the human spirit. 

“The Hateful Eight” (December 25)

Any time Quentin Tarantino sits in the director’s chair, it’s a cause for celebration, and this Christmas’ “The Hateful Eight” will be no exception. In many ways, the director’s eighth feature looks to be a greatest hits collection. Not only is he returning to the Western genre after the Oscar-winning success of “Django Unchained,” but he’s back in business with some of his greatest collaborators, including cinematographer Bob Richardson and cast members Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth and Bruce Dern. Throw stars like Kurt Russell and a roughed-up Jennifer Jason Leigh into the mix, and it seems like we have ourselves a new Tarantino classic in the making. Best of all, the director and Richardson shot the movie on 70mm film and will premiere it on a limited release road tour at select 70mm theaters. In the days of digital overload, it really doesn’t get more classic Hollywood than that. 

“Joy” (December 25)

In keeping with David O. Russell’s interest in left-of-center characters, “Joy” is the untold story of the inventor of the Miracle Mop. Jennifer Lawrence plays Joy Mangano, a single mother of three who hustles to achieve the American Dream. Though she starts out with the intention of providing for her children, Joy eventually succeeds in building an empire. She encounters betrayal and ill will along the way; in the end, she has only her sheer will and fierce imagination to thank for her rollicking accomplishments. It’s a classic rags-to-riches story, and, of course, it also stars Bradley Cooper.

“Snowden” (December 25)

Spending Christmas with Oliver Stone may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but count us incredibly excited that Stone is heading back to theaters, especially because he’s got the controversial topic of the NSA and whistleblowers providing the backbone for his latest expose of American politics. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as the titular Snowden, and the film chronicles his rise to becoming one of the world’s most controversial figures after he leaks classified government documents to The Guardian in June 2013. Stone has always been an impassioned filmmaker, and this timely subject matter should be just the fuel to reignite his fires, something fans have been waiting for since the disappointing returns of “W.” and “Savages.”

“The Revenant” (December 25)

We’ve all heard the reports by now that the conditions on “The Revenant” set were “a living hell.” From long shoot days in the brutal cold to disagreements that led to defections to a budget that doubled to accommodate so many schedule changes, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s unrelenting methods tested the sanity of his crew. But, in true Inarritu fashion, the director promises the strife will be worthwhile. Judging from the trailer, he’s yet again right on the money. Longtime collaborator and Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki delivers breathtaking frames in the wilderness suffused with natural light. The Western revenge story, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a 19th century frontiersman, looks to be a thrilling experience told with the precision and beauty that only Inarritu and Lubezki are capable of. 

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