With what was arguably the worst summer season in decades preceding it, the 2013 fall roster (as always) finds the industry placing its’ financial interests (just minimally) behind its collective desire to snare awards nominations and year-end Top 10 list inclusions. While slightly top-heavy with navel-gazing dramas there are more than enough comedies, thrillers and family offerings to (hopefully) keep everybody happy.
As usual, the release dates of all titles are subject to change on a whim and without reason at a moments’ notice.
• THE FAMILY — Robert de Niro and Michelle Pfieffer star as husband and wife criminals in a comedy-drama where they and their kids are going nuts doing nothing while in the witness protection program.
• INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 — The requisite sequel to an amazingly scary original, “IC2” includes the two leads (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) from the first but the law of averages says don’t expect too much.
• SHORT TERM 12 — Musician/singer/actress Brie Larsen stars as the administrator of a foster home for children in this low-budget art-house offering that is generating huge positive buzz.
• BATTLE OF THE YEAR — Notable mostly for its inclusion of rapper Chris Brown, “Battle” appears to be a movie about competitive dancing (or something like it) along the lines of “Drumline” and “Bring It On.”
• ENOUGH SAID — The final performance of James Gandolfini is in a romantic comedy were his character plays a divorced man that falls for another divorcee (Julia-Louis-Dreyfuss) who is a friend of his ex-wife.
• PRISONERS — Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard star as fathers whose daughters are kidnapped on Thanksgiving and spend the next few days playing mind games with the alleged perpetrator (Paul Dano).
• THANKS FOR SHARING — Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim Robbins lead an all-star cast in this comedy about three couples undergoing sexual-addiction therapy who decide to pursue their own form of recovery.
• BAGGAGE CLAIM — Urban romantic comedy about a woman (Paula Patton) who, determined not to become her family’s oldest-living spinster, sets out on a month-long journey to find her ideal mate.
• CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 — The “food-from-the-sky” premise that worked to a tiny degree in the first will likely be stretched out and diluted so much it will only be appreciated by children.
• RUSH — Director Ron Howard’s latest stars Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) and Daniel Bruhl (“Inglorious Basterds”) in a fact-based action-drama about two rival 1970s-eras Formula One racecar drivers.
• GRAVITY — The trailers make “Gravity” look a lot like “2001: A Space Odyssey.” George Clooney and Sandra Bullock co-star as an astronaut and a medical specialist who get separated outside a space station.
• RUNNER RUNNER — This thriller — with hints of “Rounders” and “21” — stars Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck and has a great premise. After getting involved in on-line card game, a college student presses his luck when he seeks to meet with the web-site’s owner.
• CAPTAIN PHILLIPS — Tom Hanks is back in full Oscar-seeking mode as the title character is this factual thriller directed by Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Ultimatum”) about a US boat captain who engages in a battle of wits with Somali pirates.
• MACHETE KILLS — In this sequel no one asked for or expected, the sick-puppy title character (Danny Trejo) is hired by the U.S. government to seek out and squash forces intent on sending weapons into space.
• ROMEO & JULIET — Not much is known about this most recent incarnation of the most produced of all Shakespearean plays other than it resembles one of the more popular traditional versions made by Franco Sefferelli from 1968.
• 12 YEARS A SLAVE — Sounding like an alternate universe version of “Django Unchained,” “12 Years” is an epic drama about a free black man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) from pre-Civil War New York sold into slavery.
• ALL IS LOST — The studio releasing “All is Lost” is making sure critics see the film far in advance in hopes to propel the almost-certain Oscar push for Robert Redford as he channels Tom Hanks in “Cast Away.”
• CARRIE — Atlanta native Chloe Moretz as the title character and Julianne Moore as her suffocating mother star in this remake of the landmark 1976 flick based on one of Stephen King’s earliest novels.
• DON JON — The immensely talented actor Joseph-Gordon Levitt wrote, directed and plays the title lead in this black comedy about a man whose views on love and romance are altered after he sees a porn flick.
• ESCAPE PLAN — In an attempt to parlay the success of the “Expendables” franchise, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger star as convicts planning to breakout from a maximum security prison.
• THE FIFTH ESTATE — Director Bill Condon’s potentially-controversial bio-drama about the “Wiki Leaks” founder Julian Assange will surely examine free-speech and the fall-out of unchecked Internet content.
• THE COUNCELOR — Appearing to be a more audience-friendly “Traffic,” this crime thriller directed by Ridley Scott starring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender looks like a rare bird: a movie both audiences and critics will love.
• JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA — You’ve got to hand it to Johnny Knoxville and his “Jack Ass” crew; they are totally lacking pretention, completely committed to their ideal of latent adolescent hi-jinx and are laughing all the way to the bank on their crutches.
• ABOUT TIME — Rachel McAdams and a guy no one has ever heard of star in this romantic fantasy about some dude who is given a chance to go back in time to right past wrongs and finds the chore a tad difficult.
• ENDER’S GAME — Once child stars now teens Asa Butterfield and Abigail Beslin share the screen with Harrison Ford in this sci-fi adventure about a gifted child being prepped for a possible future alien attack.
• FREE BIRDS — One of, if not the only original fall animated offerings is voiced by Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson as two turkeys who travel back in time in to try to change Thanksgiving dining traditions.
• LAST VEGAS — Filmed partially in Atlanta, this senior version of “The Hangover” has Robert de Niro, Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas and Morgan Freeman going to Sin City to send off the last bachelor in their aging gang.
• THOR: THE DARK WORLD — The latest in the seemingly unending Marvel Comic action juggernaut is the first sequel (unless you count “The Avengers”) featuring Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the blonde guy with the magical hammer.
• THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY — Urban comedy with Terrence Howard and Morris Chestnut that will likely hit home with many viewers. At a high-school reunion, old romantic and competitive pairings resurface.
• THE BOOK THIEF — A somber but uplifting tale recalling “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Schindler’s List” is about a Jewish refugee living secretly with Germans who escapes the horrors of war via literature.
• THE WOLF OF WALL STREET — Director Martin Scorsese and leading man Leonardo DiCaprio team up again in this fact-based drama about a trader who masters the financial world and later pays a big price.
• DELIVERY MAN — Based on the French comedy “Starbuck,” Vince Vaughn plays an aging underachiever who makes the dubious decision to seek out the many children he fathered while he was a sperm donor.
• THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE — Another major production of the season shot in Georgia, the first sequel in the dystopian young adult action franchise will do what the original did: make big bucks.
• NEBRASKA — Director Alexander Payne (“Sideways,” “Election”) cast Bruce Dern as a father and “SNL” vet Will Forte as his son in this dark comedy about an aging man who attempts to claim a lottery prize.