Ah, fall. The fall movie season is when we film lovers do our very best to shake off a summer’s supply of Transformers, ‘80s remakes, and wilted comic book heroes, and open our arms to the “prestige pictures”: the smart movies for grown-ups that studios trot out as close to Oscar time as possible, so that they can pretend like these are the kind of movies they make all year long.
Of course, those studios still have bills to pay, so it would be a mistake to presume that quality and intellect will be the sole flavor of the season. Too often, your fall movie previews tend to focus on the most promising releases, as though Oscar bait is all we’re going to see this autumn. Make no mistake: there will still be plenty of dumb comedies, mindless action, and copious amounts of 3-D. So in order to present the most complete picture of fall 2011 at the cinemas, we’ve assembled a comprehensive list of the major fall releases, good and bad alike. Of course, that’s quite a big list of movies, so we’ve boiled our comments down to the basics: who’s in it, what it is, who it’s for, and if we’re in or out. Break out your calendars and join us after the jump.
THE STARS: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte
THE PITCH: No, it’s not exactly like The Fighter and The Wrestler. It’s about mixed martial arts. So it’s a totally different movie.
FOR FANS OF: The Fighter and The Wrestler and mixed martial arts. Oh, and of seeing Tom Hardy without his shirt on.
IN OR OUT: We’ve seen it, so we’re pleading the Fifth.
THE STARS: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lawrence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, pretty much any actor who had a couple of free days for Soderbergh
THE PITCH: Hand sanitizer! Always use hand sanitizer!
FOR FANS OF: Outbreak, Irwin Allen all-star disaster movies, watching Paltrow expire on-screen.
IN OR OUT: In, way in.
Bucky Larson: Born to Be A Star
THE STARS: Nick Swardson, Don Johnson, Christina Ricci
THE PITCH: Swardson is back, to recapture some of that Grandma’s Boy magic.
FOR FANS OF: The supporting players in Adam Sandler movies, things that are terrible.
IN OR OUT: Take a guess.
THE STARS: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks
THE PITCH: Gosling came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and he’s all out of bubblegum.
FOR FANS OF: Antonioni and Cannon Films. Yep, both of ‘em.
IN OR OUT: In. Drive is brutal, graphic, strange, and brilliant.
Straw Dogs (9/16)
THE STARS: James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgård
THE PITCH: Taking Peckinpah’s most troubling picture to remake town.
FOR FANS OF: Class tension, violence, and, um, rape?
IN OR OUT: Squarely the middle on this one — good cast, intriguing trailer, but even more unnecessary than the scores of other remakes this year.