With good movies actually starting to trickle into theaters (see: The Town, Easy A, Never Let Me Go), the fall film season is officially upon us. And after an especially weak summer dominated by Toy Story 3, Inception and only a handful of quality indies (including The Kids Are All Right and Winter’s Bone), it couldn’t have arrived soon enough. Luckily for film lovers, this fall’s promising crop of cinematic offerings is dominated by some of the business’ most dazzling auteurs: Mike Leigh. Sofia Coppola. Peter Weir. Danny Boyle. Alejandro González Iñárritu. Darren Aronofsky. David Fincher. And more. Below are the 15 films we can’t wait to see, a few of which aren’t technically released in the fall but looked too good not to include:
Release Date: Oct. 15
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Matt Damon, Bryce Dallas Howard
Studio: Warner Bros.
Based on its cryptic trailer, Clint Eastwood’s self-described “chick flick” is a welcome change-of-pace for the director, whose films of late have been simultaneously well-made and a bit dull. With an ensemble cast led by the ever-reliable Matt Damon, Eastwood’s latest meditation on life and loss looks interesting. Or, the very least, more interesting than Changeling.
14. Rabbit Hole
Release Date: Dec. 17
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest
Nicole Kidman has always been better in independent films than big-budget studio fare, and here she’s collaborated with risque avant garde filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Itch, Shortbus) for what sounds like a devastating drama about two parents (Kidman, Eckhart) dealing with the sudden loss of their child. Sounds like a second coming of In the Bedroom, which is a very good thing indeed.
Release Date: December
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Javier Bardem
Studio: Roadside Attractions
Early word on Babel and 21 Grams director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest pegs the film as devastating and relentles—so, just like any other one of his films. Front and center is Javier Bardem who, after a series of supporting roles in Hollywood productions like Eat Pray Love and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, looks like he’ll be able to lose himself in a character that will further confirm he’s one of the most gifted actors on the planet.
12. The King’s Speech
Release Date: Nov. 26
Director: Tom Hooper
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham-Carter
Studio: The Weinstein Co.
Colin Firth stars as King George VI, who enlists Geoffrey Rush as his speech therapist to help him battle his image-crippling stutter. That doesn’t exactly sound like rousing entertainment, but The King’s Speech has already been designated as an Oscar frontrunner. Moreover, director Tom Hooper made last year’s overlooked The Damned United, and after his superlative performance in A Single Man, Firth has established himself as an actor worth trusting.
11. The Tourist
Release Date: Dec. 10
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Starring: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany
There is something perfect about pairing Angelina Jolie opposite Johnny Depp. Their star wattage and good looks alone are enough to guarantee a blockbuster, but this crime-caper flick looks like it will fill that crucial slot of the breezy crowdpleaser that aims for nothing more than a good time at the theater (rather than a seat at the Kodak). It doesn’t hurt that its production values and exotic European locales are almost as handsome as the stars themselves.