Fall movie preview 2014

If you read “Gone Girl,” by bestselling Chicago author Gillian Flynn, the schedule of movies opening between now and the end of the year is pretty much the book’s big-screen version—directed by David Fincher! (“The Social Network,” “Fight Club”)—and everything else.

As pretty much everyone knows, the thriller centers on Nick (Ben Affleck) being suspected of his wife Amy’s (Rosamund Pike) disappearance. So we looked at some other mysteries worth investigating about the season’s big movies.

***= One of Matt Pais' 10 most-anticipated movies

Sept. 5

“Life After Beth”
Zach (Dane DeHaan) struggles to deal with the death of his girlfriend, Beth (Aubrey Plaza). Her returning from the grave and acting like nothing’s wrong doesn’t make things easier.
Mystery: Will an awesome cast (including Anna Kendrick and John C. Reilly) help cure viewers’ zombie exhaustion?

Sept. 12

“The Drop”
Adapting his novel, author Dennis Lehane (“Mystic River”) wrote the script for this crime-drama about a botched robbery. Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini star.
Mystery: You wouldn’t miss your last chance to see Gandolfini, would you?

“No Good Deed”
A convict (Idris Elba) arrives at a woman’s (Taraji P. Henson) house. This causes some problems.
Mystery: Didn’t we just see this movie (the awful “Labor Day”)?

“The Skeleton Twins”
Former “SNL” co-stars Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig star as estranged, unhappy siblings reunited after Milo’s (Hader) failed suicide attempt.
Mystery: Can Bill Hader prove himself as a dramatic actor? (Spoiler alert: I’ve seen the movie, and the answer is a resounding “hell yes.”)

Sept. 19

“The Maze Runner”
With his memory erased, Jason Bourne—I mean Thomas (Dylan O’Brien of “Teen Wolf”)—must figure out how the devil he arrived in this maze and, more importantly, how to get out.
Mystery: Will yet another adaptation of a YA dystopian novel rise above the recent crop (“Divergent,” “The Giver”)?

"This is Where I Leave You"
Family mayhem ensues (of course) when four disparate siblings (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Corey Stoll) stay in their old house following their father’s death. Based on the book by Jonathan Tropper, who also wrote the script.
Mystery: Combining Fey with Paul Rudd (“Admission”) failed, but Fey and Bateman can’t go wrong, right?

***“Tusk”
Nothing weird about an interviewer (Justin Long) speaking with an elderly subject. Somewhat weirder: the guy gradually and terrifyingly turning the younger man into a walrus.
Mystery: Is writer/director Kevin Smith relevant again? Also, whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!

Sept. 26

"The Equalizer"
Denzel Washington reunites with “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua for an action movie about a former tough guy who gets pulled back in blah blah blah.
Mystery: Can Washington make this less formulaic than it looks?

Oct. 3

***“Gone Girl”
You know the drill, and you’ve argued about the ending. Which I liked, FWIW.
Mystery: Can director David Fincher bring this highly anticipated adaptation to even greater heights than his English-language version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”?

“The Good Lie”
Sudanese refugees come to the U.S. to stay with a woman (Reese Witherspoon).
Mystery: Many movies have brushed aside minority subjects (cough, “The Blind Side,” whose executive producer is also behind “The Good Lie”) to focus on the white character’s “heroism.” Will this story about the Lost Boys of Sudan actually revolve around its main characters?

Oct. 10

“The Judge”
Following the death of his mother, a lawyer (Robert Downey Jr.) returns to his hometown and winds up defending his estranged father (Robert Duvall) in a murder trial.
Mystery: These guys couldn’t do bad work together, could they?

***“Men, Women & Children”
People of varying ages (played by Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Ansel Elgort, Judy Greer, Rosemarie DeWitt and more) deal with sexual frustration and technology-based communication issues.
Mystery: Will director/co-writer Jason Reitman recover from “Labor Day” and prevent Sandler’s (“Punch-Drunk Love,” “Funny People”) occasional display of effort from seeming like a remake of Jason Bateman’s “Disconnect”?

Oct. 17

“Fury”
Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman and Shia LaBeouf star in this WWII-set epic about the crew of a tank and its fight against the Nazis.
Mystery: Can writer-director David Ayer recover from “Sabotage,” a big step back after “End of Watch”?

Oct. 24

“St. Vincent”
A brash schmo (Bill Murray) befriends the kid next door, to the chagrin of the boy’s mom (Melissa McCarthy).
Mystery: Aside from how singer/guitarist St. Vincent will feel about this, any chance “St. Vincent” comes anywhere near Murray’s classic “Rushmore”?

***“Kingsman: The Secret Service”
“X-Men: First Class” director/co-writer Matthew Vaughn helms this spy thriller about a newbie (Taron Egerton) learning the ropes from a veteran (Colin Firth).
Mystery: Will anyone see a movie like this that looks and sounds cool but features a little-known young star?

Oct. 31

***“Nightcrawler”
Jake Gyllenhaal, so good as a journalist in “Zodiac,” returns to the profession as a freelancer covering crime in L.A.
Mystery: Can writer/first-time director Dan Gilroy replicate the success of his brother, Tony (“Michael Clayton,” “Duplicity”)?

Nov. 7

***“Interstellar”
With Earth in bad shape, a group of people (including Matthew McConaughey) travels very, very, very far away to see if anywhere else is doing better.
Mystery: Is remarkably talented director/co-writer Christopher Nolan (“Inception,” “The Dark Knight”) from another planet?

Nov. 14

“Dumb and Dumber To”
Twenty years after “Dumb and Dumber,” Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) bumble again, this time trying to track down Harry’s daughter.
Mystery: This movie doesn’t actually exist, does it?

Nov. 21

“The Hunger Games—Mockingjay Part 1”
The finale of the hugely popular series takes on even greater significance as the last times we’ll see Philip Seymour Hoffman on the big screen.
Mystery: Was it necessary to break the last of Suzanne Collins’ books into two parts?

Nov. 26

“Horrible Bosses 2”
More bad behavior from the unhappy guys (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis), this time featuring Christoph Waltz!
Mystery: Will this sequel improve upon its predecessor, which had a good cast but wasn’t that funny?

Dec. 12

***"Inherent Vice"
New Paul Thomas Anderson. Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”) stars again. That’s all you need to know.
Mystery: Can I see this right now, please?

“Exodus: Gods and Kings”
Director Ridley Scott (“Gladiator”) returns to epics and Moses (Christian Bale) leads Israelite slaves from the Egyptian command of Rhamses (Joel Edgerton).
Mystery: Is there any way this isn’t 10 times better than “Noah”?

Dec. 17

“The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies”
Peter Jackson’s prequel trilogy finally ends.
Mystery: There aren’t going to be three more of these, are there? Please?

Dec. 19

“Annie”
Yep, a modernized version of the classic. Starring Quvenzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne and Cameron Diaz. From the director of “Friends with Benefits” and “Easy A.”
Mystery: Can Wallis repeat her extraordinary turn in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”?

Dec. 25

“Into the Woods”
Classic fairy tale characters (including Anna Kendrick as Cinderella and Johnny Depp as the Wolf) get a lesson from a witch played by Meryl Streep.
Mystery: Can Rob Marshall (“Chicago,” “Nine”) do more with his latest musical than he did with mediocre “Pirates” sequel “On Stranger Tides”?

“Hot Tub Time Machine 2”
Adam Scott steps in for John Cusack for the sequel to a movie that wasn’t as amusing as its title.
Mystery: Really?

***“The Interview”
The CIA recruits entertainment industry bozos (James Franco, Seth Rogen) to kill Kim Jong-un.
Mystery: Will this writing/directing effort from Rogen and Evan Goldberg will be more consistent than “This is the End”? And as ridiculous as it sounds to say this: Will this movie have an effect on international relations?

“Unbroken”
Your interest in a movie about an Olympic runner (Jack O’Connell) who becomes a Japanese prisoner during WWII may increase when learning that it was co-written by the Coen brothers and directed by Angelina Jolie.
Mystery: Can Jolie’s latest directorial effort surpass the disappointing “In the Land of Blood and Honey”?

“American Sniper”
Bradley Cooper stars, but don’t confuse “American Sniper” with “American Hustle”: The former is about a Navy SEAL who has killed more than 150 people.
Mystery: Can we not give this automatic Oscar buzz after Clint Eastwood’s recent run of non-great movies (“Jersey Boys,” “J. Edgar,” “Hereafter,” “Invictus”)?

Release date TBD

***“Foxcatcher”
Overrated director Bennett Miller (“Moneyball,” “Capote”) adapts the true story of Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and sponsor John DuPont (Steve Carell), who killed Schultz’s brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo).
Mystery: Are Carell and Tatum about to become Oscar nominees?

Watch Matt review the week's big new movies Fridays at noon on NBC.

mpais@tribune.com

 

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