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Fall's Must-See Films

From the bookish to the New Moon-ish, we have the trailers for the films that will keep you warm as the seasons change.

 

When there's a September chill in the air, you can be sure that the movies will switch over from big-budget robots at war to a cerebral mix of biopics, festival favorites, adaptations of high-minded literary novels, and small, eccentric stories calibrated for maximum gold rewards.

In this roundup, we will explore Precious, The Lovely Bones, Nine, Disgrace, Good Hair, Capitalism: A Love Story, An Education, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, Zombieland, The Invention of Lying, Whip It, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, Amelia, Broken Embraces, The Men Who Stare at Goats, and Up In the Air.

Whew! It's a nice time to be an adult—not a 12-year-old boy—at the movies. (12-year-old girls, you may want to skip down to our New Moon preview.) Here's our guide to the Oscar bait, books-on-film, auteur pieces, docs, and palate-cleansing goofball films that we're looking forward to this fall.
 



Precious
Dir. Lee Daniels
November 6

It sounds improbable: a film about an overweight teenage black girl living in Harlem, pregnant with her daddy's baby, featuring Mariah Carey and Mo'Nique. The proof is in the trailer, which should make you bawl. Based on the book Push by Sapphire, Lee Daniels' film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, was accepted to Cannes, currently has the backing of Oprah and Tyler Perry, and has started Oscar talk for Mo'Nique.


 



The Lovely Bones
Dir. Peter Jackson
December 11

Alice Sebold's everyone-was-reading-it-on-the-subway 2002 bestseller took a long time to come to the screen. Ratcatcher director Lynne Ramsay was originally attached to the project, then it got into Peter Jackson's hands, and then, during filming, Ryan Gosling (fresh off Half Nelson) was sacked after gaining weight for the role. However, all that drama disappears when you see the preview, going for a dreamy, Heavenly Creatures quality. Excellent.


 



Nine
Dir. Rob Marshall

November 25

If musicals are back, it's Rob Marshall's fault, thanks to the Oscar-winning Chicago. This adaptation of the similar Broadway baby Nine (based, loosely, on Federico Fellini's 8 1/2) follows a philandering director and lots of women. The female cast is a force to be reckoned with—Judi! Nicole! PenélopeKate! Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas! etc.!—but the man uniting them all is arguably the best actor in the world, Daniel Day-Lewis. In a musical. How exciting!


 



Disgrace
Dir. Steve Jacobs
September 18

High-minded books by Nobel Prize winners have a spotty record on screen—see Beloved or The Piano Teacher, for example—but mostly due to the fact that they're so emotionally wrenching. This John Malkovich starrer, based on J.M. Coetzee's haunting novel (a metaphor for post-Apartheid South Africa) is serious stuff: will it pack a punch on screen?



 



Good Hair
Dir. Jeff Stilson
October 19

This doc, which played Sundance 2009, has a really informative preview. Who knew lots of Black women are wearing Indian women's hair as weaves? Hair is loaded with meaning and symbolism (remember: curly-haired chicks, they're crazy. See Fatal Attraction), and Chris Rock appears to be a heck of a guide to what it means for Black women. And the root of his journey—his daughter's question of "Daddy, why don't I have good hair?"—man, what a heartbreaker.


 



Capitalism: A Love Story
Dir. Michael Moore
September 23

Michael Moore takes on the collapse of the world economy, in his own inimitable style. Will he strike a note with ordinary people, a la Roger and Me? Hit the zeitgeist, Fahrenheit 9/11-style? Or fizzle like Sicko?


 



An Education
Dir. Lone Scherfig
October 9

We've seen An Education, and you can believe the hype. It's simply one of the best coming-of-age movies to come out in quite some time, and the previously unknown Carey Mulligan makes such an impression as the aching-for-worldliness Oxford candidate Jenny. A lovely film.


 



The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
Dir. Rebecca Miller
November 27

Rebecca Miller excels in getting complicated women on screen (Personal Velocity, The Ballad of Jack and Rose), and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee has garnered early buzz for the ever-gorgeous Robin Wright Penn, as a woman living in a retirement home with her much older husband.


 



Brief Interviews With Hideous Men
Dir. John Krasinski
September 25

If Nobel Prize-winning writers are very hard to adapt, than what of the late, great, footnote-heavy David Foster Wallace? The Office's John Krasinski shows brass balls in adapting one of Wallace's funnier books for the big screen, starring New York theatre actors, mostly. Who knows if it will work, but respect is due!


 



Zombieland
Dir. Ruben Fleischer
October 2

Know what's awesome? Woody Harrelson could potentially be an Oscar nominee if his well-reviewed drama The Messenger picks up enough heat, and, frankly, his hick routine is so working in these ads. It looks a little Shaun of the Dead, but there's nothing wrong with that, right? This red-band preview brings the funny right and left.


 



The Invention of Lying
Dir. Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson
October 2

The premise here is that Ricky Gervais is the only person who lies in his honest world filled with funny, blunt truth-tellers. It's, admittedly, a little hokey. But Gervais created the best TV show ever (The Office (UK) is at least top-ten-of-all-time) and the cast has Tina Fey and Louis C.K. This may be a sleeper for comedy nerds.


 



Whip It
Dir. Drew Barrymore
October 2

We're kind of excited for this one. Ellen Page is a pageant girl rebelling in Texas by playing roller derby, and Drew Barrymore brings enviable on-set experience (20+ years, people!) to her directorial debut. Barrymore's already quite the mini-mogul with Flower Films; the results here could be roller-tastic.


 



The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Dir. Chris Weitz
November 20

TEAM JACOB! TEAM EDWARD! TEAM JACOB! TEAM EDWARD! TEAM JACOB! TEAM EDWARD! TEAM JACOB! TEAM EDWARD! TEAM JACOB! TEAM EDWARD! TEAM JACOB! TEAM EDWARD! TEAM JACOB! TEAM EDWARD! TEAM JACOB! TEAM EDWARD!
TEAM JACOB! TEAM EDWARD! TEAM JACOB! TEAM EDWARD! TEAM JACOB! TEAM EDWARD! TEAM JACOB! TEAM EDWARD!
(punch) (faints)


 



Where the Wild Things Are
Dir. Spike Jonze
October 16

Let the wild rumpus begin! Arguably the best trailer of the lot, we'll see if this becomes a newly minted classic or pales in comparison to the Maurice Sendak classic. To quote Saved By the Bell's Jessie Spano: "We're so excited! We're so excited! We're so...scared!"


 



Amelia
Dir. Mira Nair
October 23

How does Hilary Swank do it? How does she find all these interesting, Oscar-friendly roles? Mira Nair is sure to give a sensuous take on the great aviator, and Swank is looking the part. We'll fly these friendly (ha!) skies, for sure.


 



Broken Embraces
Dir. Pedro Almodóvar
November 20

Pedro Almodovar. Penélope Cruz. A story of blindness, regret, and pseudonyms. Sounds perfect for the auteur, yeah? Will premiere at the New York Film Festival, so we should hear some buzz soon.


 



The Men Who Stare at Goats
Dir. Grant Heslov
November 6

This is a George Clooney event, supposedly based on true (crazy) events, that smacks of a nice Three Kings feel. Great. But is is also a jumping off point for an Ewan McGregor comeback? We've missed that attractive Scotsman, and it's his second film of the season (after Amelia).


 



Up In the Air
Dir. Jason Reitman
December 4

This film is already shaping up as the one-to-beat this year at the Oscars. Based on the Walter Kirn novel, it's about corporate downsizing, and a lonely traveler looking for connection (again played by Mr. Cool himself, George Clooney). It sounds as if Reitman has potentially captured lightning in a bottle and we can't wait to see it.
 


Up in the Air
teaser trailer from /Film on Vimeo.

 


 

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