It’s time to get serious as superheroes, dinosaurs, robots and explosions give way to movies about sociopolitical concerns and weighty issues — the fall film season isn’t about momentary distractions. (Release dates are subject to change.)
The Visit (Sept. 11)
Though M. Night Shyamalan’s recent movies are duds, on the strength of “The Sixth Sense” alone, he deserves a second chance. “The Visit,” starring Kathryn Hahn, looks like a basic horror film, with two kids visiting their strange and possibly homicidal grandparents. The trailer’s creepiness reveals the director in command; let’s hope the screenplay holds together. Rated PG-13.
Time Out of Mind (Sept. 11)
The fact that Richard Gere has never been nominated for an Oscar may change as a result of his fearless, selfless performance as a homeless man on the streets of New York in this movie. Oren Moverman (“The Messenger”) directs with an observational quality that’s immersive without being oppressive. Rated PG.
Black Mass (Sept. 18)
Johnny Depp plays Boston mobster and eventual FBI informant Whitey Bulger; Benedict Cumberbatch plays his brother, William “Billy” Bulger, a senator in Massachusetts. Depp, who has been stuck in a series of lackluster roles lately, looks powerful in the trailer. Rated R.
Coming Home (Sept. 18)
Chinese director Zhang Yimou re-teams with Gong Li, star of the beautiful Oscar-nominated “Raise the Red Lantern” and “Ju Dou.” Here he tells the story of a husband reunited with his wife after the Cultural Revolution. Horrifyingly, she doesn’t remember him. Chen Daoming, from Zhang’s hit “Hero,” plays the husband. Rated PG-13.
Pawn Sacrifice (Sept. 18)
The biopic of chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer stars an intense Tobey Maguire, who faces Liev Schreiber, putting on his best Russian accent for bad guy chess champ Boris Spassky. Director Edward Zwick often has a heavy touch, perhaps the intimacy of the game will mitigate, Rated PG-13.
The Intern (Sept. 25)
The tagline “from the maker of ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ and ‘It’s Complicated’” may not be enticing to all, but Nancy Meyers’ latest looks kinda sweet. Anne Hathaway plays the harried CEO of a startup fashion company, and somehow or other, Robert De Niro becomes her intern. The trailer likely gives away the best parts, with De Niro and Hathaway embracing their warm sides. Rated PG-13.
Sicario (Sept. 25)
French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s intense-looking thriller with Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin is about FBI agents getting in over their heads while tracking down drug lords in Mexico. His previous films, the Oscar-nominated “Incendies,” as well as “Prisoners” and the mind-blowing “Enemy,” were thoughtful and well-paced; “Sicario” (the title means “hitman”) may follow suit. Rated R.
The Walk (Sept. 30)
In this feature film telling the same story as James Marsh’s 2008 Oscar-winning documentary “Man on Wire,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays French tightrope walker Philippe Petit, who attempted to traverse the open space between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. Robert Zemeckis directs; Ben Kingsley co-stars. Rated PG.
99 Homes (Oct. 2)
Ramin Bahrani’s movies (“Man Push Cart,” “Chop Shop,” “Goodbye Solo”) often focus on humans down on their luck. After a misstep casting Zac Efron in “At Any Price,” he’s back with a timely drama starring Andrew Garfield as a man whose house is foreclosed upon, who subsequently goes to work for the sleazeball (Michael Shannon) that helped ruin his life. Laura Dern co-stars. Rated R.
The Martian (Oct. 2)
After being stranded alone in space in “Interstellar,” Matt Damon plays an astronaut who is accidentally left behind during a manned mission to Mars and must try to survive until rescue comes in this drama based on Andy Weir’s novel. Director Ridley Scott adds this sci-fi title to a resume boasting “Alien,” “Blade Runner” and “Prometheus.” Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain and Kristen Wiig co-star. Rated PG-13.
Mississippi Grind (Oct. 2)
At last, mesmerizing character actor Ben Mendelsohn gets the lead. He plays a scrounging lowlife gambler who meets a “good luck charm” (Ryan Reynolds) and decides to go to Mississippi to win big. The movie is written and directe by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, whose soulful films include “Half Nelson,” “Sugar” and “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.” Rated R.
Steve Jobs (Oct. 9)
Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle is at the helm of this high-class biopic of Steve Jobs that hopefully makes up for the quickie Ashton Kutcher version. Michael Fassbender plays the beloved founder of Apple computers, with Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak. Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”) wrote the screenplay. Rated R.
Bridge of Spies (Oct. 16)
Steven Spielberg returns, three years after his incredible “Lincoln,” with a Cold War thriller based on a true story. Tom Hanks plays a lawyer recruited by the CIA to rescue a downed pilot in the Soviet Union. Joel and Ethan Coen provided the screenplay, and Amy Ryan and Alan Alda co-star. Rated PG-13.
Crimson Peak (Oct. 16)
After making the slick but empty “Pacific Rim,” the great Guillermo Del Toro returns to the dark, wormy horror films on which he made his name. This one appears to be a haunted house movie, and a “person who is not who he seems to be” story, and probably more. Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunnam star. Rated R.
Truth (Oct. 16)
Robert Redford’s earnest, socially-aware movies sometimes don’t work, but “Truth” could be incendiary. Redford plays Dan Rather, whose reports on the shady nature of George W. Bush’s military service led to backlash and scandal. Cate Blanchett plays Mary Mapes, Rather’s producer who wrote the book on which the film is based. Screenwriter James Vanderbilt (“Zodiac”) makes his directorial debut. Not yet rated.
Rock the Kasbah (Oct. 23)
Bill Murray could be at his wisecracking prime, playing a music manager who gets stranded without a passport in Afghanistan (long story). But he discovers a beautiful young singer (Leem Lubany) and decides to help her. Kate Hudson, Bruce Willis and Zooey Deschanel also appear in the Barry Levinson-directed comedy. Not yet rated.
I Smile Back (Oct. 23)
Known for her hilariously offensive stand-up comedy, the controversial Sarah Silverman showed she can act in her incredible supporting role in Sarah Polley’s “Take This Waltz.” Now she takes the lead in a drama about a married woman with kids whose self-destructive behavior (drugs, men, etc.) takes her to the brink. Not yet rated.
Our Brand Is Crisis (Oct. 30)
Based on Rachel Boynton’s 2005 documentary of the same name, the film follows political strategists from the U.S. who take their methods to events and elections across world, with less-than-ideal results. Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton star, and the always-fascinating David Gordon Green directs. Not yet rated.
The Peanuts Movie (Nov. 6)
This is the first big-screen animated Charlie Brown movie since 1980, and certainly the first to use computer animation. Judging from the trailer, director Steve Martino (“Horton Hears a Who!”) has created a look that honors the feel of the famous TV specials. The entire gang, including the Little Red-Haired Girl, will be there. Charles M. Schulz’s sons Bryan and Craig cowrote the screenplay. Rated G.
Spectre (Nov. 6)
Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes returns for his second James Bond film, and that’s OK since his “Skyfall” was one of the best of the series. Daniel Craig says “Bond… James Bond” for the fourth time, Léa Seydoux and Monica Bellucci are the Bond girls, Ralph Fiennes is the new M, and Christoph Waltz is the bad guy. Rated PG-13.
Spotlight (Nov. 6)
Director Tom McCarthy (“The Station Agent,” “The Visitor,” “Win Win”) may recover from his Adam Sandler debacle earlier this year with this film about Boston Globe reporters investigating a conspiracy of child molestation in the Catholic Church. The amazing cast includes Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci and Billy Crudup. Rated R.
Trumbo (Nov. 6)
The famous, blacklisted Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (“Roman Holiday,” “Spartacus”) been the subject of a Broadway play and a 2007 documentary. This biopic has Bryan Cranston in the lead role and, strangely, Jay Roach (“Meet the Fockers,” “Dinner for Schmucks”) directing. Elle Fanning and Diane Lane co-star. Rated R.
Nov. 20: “The Secret in Their Eyes,” “Carol”