1. The Master (September 14) & 2. Django Unchained (December 25)
Directors: Paul Thomas Anderson ("Master") and Quentin Tarnatino ("Django")
Casts: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Laura Dern ("Master"); Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson ("Django")
Distributors: The Weinstein Company (both)
Why Are They "Must Sees"? Harvey Weinstein and his Weinstein Company are clearly looking to outdo themselves (something of a feat after two consecutive best picture winners) this fall with a mighty, mighty duo: Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" and Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master."
Arguably the year's two most anticipated films, they'll essentially bookend the season with September 14th and December 25th release dates, respectively. The former -- as one is surely aware of by now -- is suggestively a veiled take on Scientology starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a L. Ron Hubbard-esque cult leader and Joaquin Phoenix as a drifter who becomes his right hand man. The latter follows a pre-Civil War era slave (Jamie Foxx) who teams up with a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to take down a brutal plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). Footage at Cannes from both films wowed pretty much everyone, while "The Master" is already earning raves from advance screenings ahead of its Venice premiere.
Check out the films' trailers below:
3. The Sessions (October 26)
Director: Ben Lewin
Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Why is it a "Must See"? The film formerly known as "The Surrogate" is the second half of Fox Searchlight's impressive duo of Sundance pick-ups (the first being summer release "Beasts of the Southern Wild," which has clearly worked out for them).
The newly named "Sessions" comes out in late October, offering audiences the real life story of Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes), a poet and journalist with an iron lung who contacts a professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to help him lose his virginity. Remarkably heartfelt and built to please crowds (it won the audience award at Sundance), Oscar noms for Hawkes, Hunt and William H. Macy (as O'Brien's priest) are surely -- and reasonably -- on Fox Searchlight's mind.
Check out the trailer below:
4. Hyde Park on Hudson (December 7)
Director: Roger Michell
Cast: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams, Olivia Colman, Samuel West
Distributor: Focus Features
Why is it a "Must See"? While the Spielbergian take on Abraham Lincoln might be the Presidential biopic on more people's minds this fall, Roger Michell's take on FDR is an indie alternative with quite a bit going for itself.
"Hyde Park on Hudson" finds Bill Murray playing Franklin Roosevelt over a June 1939 weekend when the King and Queen of England (Samuel West and Olivia Colman) visit his home in upstate New York. The story is told through FDR's friend and neighbor Daisy (Laura Linney), and reads like "The King's Speech" meets "My Week With Marilyn," which as far as a second Oscar nomination for Murray is concerned, bodes well.
Check out the trailer below: