If you care about quality filmmaking—with aesthetics, character development and, oh yeah, a little thing called plot—September to December is the time to pay attention. The majority of Academy Award-winning and nominated films are released from September to December, so keep an eye out for these releases that aren’t likely to disappoint.
Rush – September 27
Go back to the sexy, champagne-soaked golden age of Formula 1 racing in the 1970s with this story of Austrian driver, Niki Lauda, the 1976 crash that almost claimed his life and his rivalry with the handsome English playboy James Hunt.
With a monosyllabic title that’s easily forgotten, the latest release from director Ron Howard is sure to be thrilling. Once again, Howard adds variety to his impressive oeuvre, and hopefully Rush does better than The Dilemma. But with a budget of only $38 million for this period piece vs. $70 million for Vince Vaughn, even with a lukewarm reception it’ll have an easier time reaching the black. Aside from Howard’s filmmaking prowess—and top talent from Chris Helmsworth, Olivia Wilde and Daniel Bruhl—the major strength of this movie will certainly be the entertaining escape provided from a topic little traveled in 2013.
The Fifth Estate – October 18
This character-based history of WikiLeaks, shown through the relationship between founder Julian Assange and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg, is a timely release to awaken zombified news absorbers to the truth.
It’s extremely easy to ramble with on-screen true stories, so the strength behind this film is the use of the relationship between Assange and Domscheit-Berg as the focus. It’s impossible to make an audience care when showing a story like this via largely objective overview (like Zero Dark Thirty) so having something more intimate to help centralize a large plot gives the audience something to care about. More top talent flocks to this film, including Benedict Cumberbatch—fresh from success in Star Trek Into Darkness—as Assange, and Daniel Bruhl—also in Rush—as Domscheit-Berg, so rest-assured the portrayals will be well-done. Cumberbatch’s Aussie accent from the trailer already entices the audience with chilling narration.
Helmed by director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Kinsey, and, unfortunately, Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Parts 1 and 2), a filmmaker with a proven track record, the audience is guaranteed a valuable cinematic time capsule to remember the whistleblower era.
Saving Mr. Banks – December 13
In this latest movie about the making of a movie, “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers travels from to Hollywood as Walt Disney adapts her books for the big screen.
Tom Hanks plays Uncle Walt in the most interesting Hollywood royalty role since Anthony Hopkins hopped in the fat suit for Hitchcock. Emma Thompson plays Travers, who in order to protect the integrity of her creation, opposes everything that’s fun about the finished movie. In reality, as in the film, Travers tries to eliminate the animated sequences, the Academy Award-winning score by the Sherman brothers and more.
Directed by John Lee Hancock, who also helmed The Blind Side, it’s an extremely interesting story about the conflict and creativity that capped off Disney’s forty-year career—even if everyone will argue endlessly about Hanks’ portrayal.
With these three true stories to help kick off the pre-Award season, all audiences will be entertained, and educated in a thought-provoking way.