Sadly, the 2010 Summer Movie season has been one of the worst in recent memory. Filled with sequels that ranged from the clunky (Iron Man 2) to the downright despicable (Sex and the City), if it weren’t for Pixar’s Toy Story 3, “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of Eat Pray Love and Christopher Nolan’s Inception, this summer might have been as successful as an underwater barbecue.

Luckily, there’s fall to look forward to. With the return of school bells, falling leaves and slightly dipping temperatures (Break out the scarves and beanies; it’s in the 60s!), comes a new crop of movie fare that promises a few early award contenders, some thoughtful indies and potentially the most ill-advised use of 3-D imaginable thanks to MTV’s “Jackass” crew. Here’s a preview of what’s coming to a theater near you this fall.

SEPT. 15

Never Let Me Go (Fox Searchlight)

Get acquainted with newly minted megastar Andrew Garfield (aka, the new Spider-Man) in Mark Romanek’s long-awaited follow-up to One Hour Photo. Set in dark, dystopian Britain, this sci-fi thriller is about a group of boarding school friends – Ruth (Keira Knightley), Kathy (Carey Mulligan) and Tommy (Garfield) – who face the sobering reality that awaits them all as they mature into adults. Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name that is considered by some to be one of the best contemporary novels ever written.

SEPT. 17


Before the controversial documentary even debuted at Sundance, it was already gaining attention because Andrew Jarecki, of Capturing the Friedmans fame, is one of the producers. After a sensational festival debut, Brett Ratner encouraged Rogue Pictures to acquire the film, directed by relative newbies Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. Considered one of the best docs to come out of Sundance in some time, the prevailing wisdom is to know as little as possible about the movie going into it so you can be blown away.

Easy A (Screen Gems)

Already building early buzz, Lindsay Lohan’s thunder stealer, Emma Stone, stars as a high schooler who takes a page from her assigned reading material, The Scarlet Letter, and uses its lessons to grease the school’s rumor mill, upping her social and financial standing. Directed by Will Gluck (Fired Up!), Easy A has been compared to Clueless (which most people forget was a modern-day version of Jane Austen’s Emma) for its remastering of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale of adultery and pious prudence.

El Súperstar (Cinema Libre)

El Súperstar: The Unlikely Rise of Juan Francés is a music mockumentary about Juan Francés, a mild-mannered, red-headed 33-year-old white guy who was orphaned as a child and raised in Beverly Hills by his Latina nanny (Lupe Ontiveros) and gardener (Machete himself, Danny Trejo). As an adult, fluent in Spanish, devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe and considering himself to be Mexican American, he starts a ranchero music career.

Jack Goes Boating (Overture)

He’s amazing in front of the camera, but how is he behind it? Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman directs and stars in this film, developed from the Off-Broadway production of Robert Glaudini’s play of the same name, which he starred in with John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega, all of whom reprise their roles. Amy Ryan is the cast’s newest addition in this unconventional romantic comedy about two working-class couples in New York during the dead of winter. Plays don’t always have the easiest time making the transition from stage to screen, but Hoffman at the helm is both reassurance and incentive enough to pay $14 to see what happens.

The Town (Warner Bros.)

Ben Affleck returns to the director’s chair after his triumphant feature, 2007’s Gone Baby Gone. As director, writer and star, word on the street is this might be Affleck’s chance to claim a golden statuette all his own (He shared an Oscar win with Matt Damon in 1997 for their Good Will Hunting screenplay.). Co-starring Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner and “Gossip Girl”’s Blake Lively, the film is about a career thief (Affleck) who’s in love with Claire (Hall), a bank teller who was traumatized by a recent heist that he was behind. As their relationship deepens, an investigator (Hamm), who’s also infatuated with Claire, closes in on cracking the case. Based on Chuck Hogan’s novel, Prince of Thieves.

The Virginity Hit (Sony)

Produced by comedy geniuses Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, directors Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland bring together a cast of relative newcomers (Matt Bennett, Zack Pearlman, Jacob Davich, Justin Kline) for a heavily improvised mockumentary about a teenager’s countless attempts to lose his virginity. If it’s good enough for the men who created Funny or Die, it’s good enough for us.

SEPT. 22

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
(Sony Pictures Classics)

Woody Allen is a brilliant director, there’s no two ways about that. But, in recent years, his films have been more hit-or-miss. Whatever Works didn’t, but Vicky Cristina Barcelona was fantastic. Scoop was meh, but Match Point was great. The ever-prolific Allen, who stated his goal was to direct one film a year and has since 1969, delivers his yearly offering with his film about a pair of married couples, Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) and Helena (Gemma Jones), and their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) and her husband Roy (Josh Brolin), as their passions, ambitions and anxieties get them into ever-deepening trouble.

SEPT. 24

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
(Warner Bros.)

A 3-D animated spectacular about Soren, a young barn owl who lives in the peaceful forest of Tyto. Kidnapped and brought to the foreboding St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, Soren must face Harry Potter-esque challenges, like taking his first flight, as he sets off on a dangerous adventure that leads to the mythical Great Ga’Hoole Tree. Directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen), this animated adaptation of Kathryn Lasky’s children books is guaranteed to be visually spectacular.

Waiting for “Superman” (Paramount Vantage)

You know what’s awesome about Davis Guggenheim? He’s made two of the best documentaries of the new millennium, but he also produced and directed the pilot for “Melrose Place” 2.0. He can do it all. With an outstanding record for docs, including his Oscar-winning 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth and 2008’s awesome It Might Get Loud, we can’t wait to see Guggenheim’s latest, an investigation on the state of public education in America.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Twentieth Century Fox)

Say it with me: “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” But will the sequel be? Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas resurrect ’80s icon Gordon Gekko (Douglas) as a fallen stockbroker who teams up with a young Wall Street trader (Transformers star Shia LaBeouf) whose mentor was recently murdered to track down the killer and warn others about an impending massive financial meltdown. Umm, too late. Also starring LaBeouf’s real-life girlfriend Carey Mulligan (An Education) as Shia’s love interest and Gordon’s daughter, Winnie. Should we be concerned that the film’s release was pushed from April to September? Probably, but that’s not gonna stop us from seeing it. Just the brick cell phone reference in the trailer is worth the price of admission.

You Again (Touchstone)

Two words: Betty. White. The 88-year-old comedienne is hotter than the weather in Boca and back on the big screen in director Andy Fickman’s comedy about a woman (Kristen Bell) who realizes her brother is about to marry the girl who bullied her in high school (Odette Yustman) and sets out to expose the fiancée’s dastardly true colors. With a supporting cast that includes White, Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kristin Chenoweth, how or why would you say no?

OCT. 1


James Franco stars as beat poet Allen Ginsberg in this film, written and directed by Oscar winners Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Common Threads: Stories of the Quilt). The film follows three interwoven times in Ginsberg’s life: his early years in New York City and his evolution as a writer and poet, an animated reimagining of the poem “Howl” and the 1957 obscenity trial launched after the publication of Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems, which became a landmark case establishing a key legal precedent guaranteeing First Amendment rights for other controversial literary works. Jon Hamm, who’s gunning for the title of Hardest Working Man in Showbiz, co-stars as Jake Ehrlich, Ginsberg’s defense attorney, whose slogan was “Never plead guilty” and whose life inspired the TV series “Perry Mason.”

Let Me In (Overture)

Did you see 2008’s Let the Right One In? It was amazing! So why do a remake so close to the original’s release? Who knows, but if that’s how you want to play the game, you better make a damn great film. Matt Reeves, who made The Blair Witch Project look like a steadicam workshop with Cloverfield, directs The Road’s Kodi Smit-McPhee and Kick-Ass star Chloe Moretz in this adaptation of the Swedish film and novel about an alienated and bullied 12-year-old boy who builds a tentative friendship with his mysterious new neighbor, Abby (Moretz).

The Social Network (Columbia)

Director David Fincher (Se7en) and writer Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing”) adapt Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook – A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal. Best summed up by the one sheet featuring Jesse Eisenberg in all his doe-eyed glory, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Starring Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard undergrad who recruited some of his classmates to develop a little social networking Web site you might have heard of called Facebook. If you haven’t already read about the lawsuits, scandals and in-fighting, the film delves deep into all the gory details. Co-starring Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield as Zuckerberg’s friend and co-founder, Eduardo Saverin.

OCT. 8

Inside Job
(Sony Pictures Classics)

This documentary, narrated by Matt Damon, investigates what brought about our current financial meltdown. So cash that unemployment check and go see a matinee! What else do you have to do on a weekday afternoon?

I Spit On Your Grave (Anchor Bay)

A remake of the 1978 rape revenge horror flick of the same name, the MPAA left it unrated for “pervasive strong sadistic brutal violence, rape and torture, nudity and language.” Lovely. If graphic violence are your cup o’ joe, then this is the film for you, sicko.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Focus)

Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck are outstanding filmmakers. After Half Nelson and the woefully underappreciated Sugar (If you haven’t seen it, rent it immediately.), the couple returns with a third indie feature starring Keir Gilchrist (“United States of Tara”), Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts. The film follows a clinically depressed teenager (Gilchrist) who gets a new start after he checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward, bonding with one patient (Galifianakis) and falling for another (Roberts).

Life as We Know It (Warner Bros.)

Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel star in this sentimental comedy about two singles paired up for a blind date by their best friends that ends up being like the Paula Abdul video with the animated cat where she’s uptight and he’s a wild man. Needless to say, things don’t go well. But when their friends die suddenly and tragically, they’re forced back together to care for the couple’s orphaned infant daughter and, wouldn’t you know it, sparks fly. Like Paula sings, “Opposites Attract.”

My Soul to Take (Rogue)

Director Wes Craven is back to doing what he does best: scaring the pants off of people around Halloween. Written and directed by Craven, this is his first new film since 1994. With a cast of unknowns, the film is about a serial killer who returned to the sleepy town of Riverton to murder the seven children who were born the night he allegedly died. Sixteen years after his death, folks start to disappear again. Creeeeepy! Bring someone to cling to or something to hide under.

Nowhere Boy (The Weinstein Company)

Scheduled for release on Friday, Oct. 8, 2010, to coincide with the weekend’s celebrations of the 70th anniversary of John Lennon’s birth (Oct. 9, 1940), this film is about Lennon’s adolescence, the creation of his first band, the Quarrymen, and its evolution into the Beatles. Starring Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass), the drama also examines Lennon’s relationship with the two most important women in his childhood, his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas) and his mother, Julia (Anne-Marie Duff).

Secretariat (Disney)

Secretariat is the true story of Penny Chenery (Diane Lane), whose racehorse, Secretariat, won the Triple Crown in 1973. Directed by Randall Wallace, who wrote the script for Braveheart, and written by Mike Rich who specializes in heartwarming, bring-a-tear-to-your-eye stories of triumph over adversity (Radio, The Rookie), the film, which co-stars John Malkovich, is drawing comparisons to Seabiscuit and early Oscar predictions.

Tamara Drewe (Sony Pictures Classics)

The brilliant Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters) directs Bond girl Gemma Arterton in this adaptation of Posy Simmonds’ graphic novel, a modern reworking of Thomas Hardy’s 19th century novel, Far from the Madding Crowd, about a young newspaper writer returning to her hometown in the English countryside and kicking up trouble wherever she goes.

OCT. 15

(Fox Searchlight)

Conviction is based on the true story of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank), an unemployed single mother who spent two decades putting herself through law school at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., so she could represent her brother, Kenneth (Sam Rockwell), after he was wrongfully convicted of murder. With any luck, this’ll be the role that finally earns Rockwell the widespread acclaim and attention he deserves – something we hoped would have followed his inspired performance in the outstanding film Moon last year.

Jackass 3D (MTV Films)

The mind reels at the gross potential. The “Jackass” crew, including Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and Bam Margera, are back for even more insane stunts, disgusting pranks and ridiculous public displays, this time in up close and personal 3-D.

OCT. 22

Hereafter (Warner Bros.)

Following Invictus, Clint Eastwood directs Matt Damon once again in Peter Morgan’s script that has been described as “in the vein of The Sixth Sense.” The film, which award predictors have been eyeing for months now, tells three parallel stories about three people affected by death in different ways. Damon plays an American factory worker who is somehow able to communicate with the dead, Cécile de France plays a French television journalist who survives a tsunami and Frankie and George McLaren play Marcus, an English boy whose brother is killed in a car accident.

Paranormal Activity 2 (Paramount)

Anyone remember Blair Witch 2, aka Book of Shadows? Of course you don’t. Because it sucked, and no one saw it. You can’t capture lightning in a bottle twice (Paging Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights.). Breakout sleeper successes with crappy sequels prove that time and again, but Hollywood insists on going back to milk an oft-dried-up cash cow time and again, hoping for their next Saw franchise. After Paranormal Activity pulled a Cinderella and earned $200 million when it was made for just $15,000, Paramount was quick to make a second film. The question is, will it be the next Poltergeist (Gawk, those sequels were terrible.) or the start of a new A Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween? With virtually no cast or plot details revealed, the newly debuted online trailer is the only information to go on. Original Paranormal hallmarks like the unique surveillance camera point of view remain, and a shadowy figure that looks an awful lot like Katie Featherston from the first film makes an appearance. Here’s hoping the second time is also a charm.

OCT. 29

Monsters (Magnolia)

Made for just $15,000, this sci-fi genre piece about alien life forms infecting Central America, leading to the quarantine of half of Mexico as U.S. and Mexican forces battle to contain the creatures, is, like District 9, a commentary on refugees, illegal immigration and the North-South divide in America.

Wild Target (Freestyle Releasing)

Based on the 1993 French film Cible Emouvante, Wild Target is a comedy about Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy), an uptight, middle-aged, lonely assassin, who lives to please his mother (Eileen Atkins), despite his reputation for lethal efficiency. When he finds himself drawn to one of his intended victims, Rose (Emily Blunt), he realizes it might be time for a new line of work and acquires a young apprentice, Tony (Harry Potter star Rupert Grint).

NOV. 5

127 Hours (Fox Searchlight)

After his triumph with Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle tells the story of Aron Ralston (played by James Franco), a mountaineer who became famous in 2003 when he amputated his own right forearm after it got trapped under a boulder during a climb in Utah. After five days drinking little water, his own urine, videotaping goodbyes to his family and carving his name, date of birth and presumed date of death into the sandstone canyon wall he was pinned against, Ralston snapped his bones and used a dull knife to amputate the limb. He then scaled a 65-foot sheer wall and hiked for miles until he ran into a family who gave him water and food and notified authorities. Rolston chronicled his ordeal in the 2004 book Between a Rock and a Hard Place and we’ve been dying to see the movie version ever since. Boyle calls the film, “an action movie with a guy who can’t move.” We call it Oscar bait.

Due Date (Warner Bros.)

Director Todd Phillips reunites with his The Hangover star Zach Galifianakis in this comedy about a high-strung father-to-be (Robert Downey Jr.), forced to hitch a ride with an aspiring actor (Galifianakis) on a cross-country road trip to make it to his child’s birth on time. We’re having some Planes, Trains and Automobiles flashes here. Just the idea of Galifianakis and Downey Jr. together is enough for us to buy a ticket. And possibly some Depends.

Megamind (DreamWorks)

If How to Train Your Dragon was any indication, DreamWorks has some serious animation chops. Their latest offering, produced by Ben Stiller and featuring the voices of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt, is about Megamind (Ferrell), the most brilliant supervillain the world has ever known … and the least successful. Over the years, he has tried to conquer Metro City in every imaginable way and has failed epically each time thanks to the caped superhero known as Metro Man (Pitt). But when one of his evil schemes actually goes according to plan, he’s forced on a path of redemption.

NOV. 12

Morning Glory (Paramount)

An aspiring news producer (Rachel McAdams) tries to save a struggling morning show anchored by two feuding hosts (Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford). As much as this smacks of something Nancy Meyers might make you suffer though, it was actually produced by J.J. Abrams (“Lost,” Star Trek) and directed by Roger Michell (Changing Lanes, Notting Hill). 50 Cent, Jeff Goldblum and Patrick Wilson also star.

Unstoppable (Twentieth Century Fox)

They rode the rails in last year’s The Taking of Pelham 123 ,and now Tony Scott and Denzel Washington are back into whoo-whoo mode for Unstoppable. This action romp is about a rail company frantically working to prevent an unmanned, half-mile-long freight train carrying combustible liquids and poisonous gas from wiping out a city – just another day at the office. Star Trek’s Chris Pine jumps on board for his first major outing since commandeering the Starship Enterprise (Carriers doesn’t count.).

NOV. 19

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I
(Warner Bros.)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final installment in the Harry Potter series, has been divided into two parts. The first film arrives Nov. 19, 2010; the second and final chapter isn’t in theaters until July 15, 2011, but Hogwarts devotees are already lathered into a frenzy over the Boy Who Lived. After the trailer for Part One debuted, Deathly Hallows became the top Twitter trend, and YouTube was flooded with reaction videos of fans freaking out while they watched the trailer, their mouths gaping, fists clenching and fluttering as they cried, squealed and gasped. So what’s got them so riled? There are plenty of moments guaranteed to make a Potter fan clutch their pearls and reach for the smelling salts, but the moment everyone’s been waiting for, the mother of all cinematic payoffs, finally comes in the Deathly Hallows with the highly anticipated showdown between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) in the Forbidden Forest. If you haven’t read the books or seen the movies, this face-off is on the level of Han Solo vs. Darth Vader, Jaws vs. the Boat, Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed, and it has taken six previous films to get there. Directed by David Yates, who also helmed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and co-starring (natch) Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as Hermione and Ron. This is the beginning of the end, my friends.