This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on September 7, 2015.
With Labor Day weekend upon us, summer movie season has finally drawn to a close. It was an exciting several months packed with incredible releases like Mad Max: Fury Road and Inside Out. August and September are a bit of a dumping ground, a no man’s land for big releases. But fall is just around the corner and with it comes the next round of blockbusters and the biggest prestige pictures of the year. There is a lot coming out before 2015 ends, but we’re here to help you narrow it down to the most exciting new releases.
10. Bridge of Spies
Every time director Steven Spielberg and actor Tom Hanks team up, they deliver something special. Movies like Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal are endlessly rewatchable and a lot of fun, but their true combined masterpiece is, without a doubt, Saving Private Ryan. Now the team is revisiting another war together: The Cold War. Bridge of Spies promises to be a taut spy thriller from two of the most talented veterans working in Hollywood today. The talent attached to this picture alone is enough to make it a must see, and then the trailer doubles that promise.
9. Black Mass
While Hanks and Spielberg have consistently delivered over the past ten years, Johnny Depp has hit a significant slump. However, Black Mass is looking more and more likely to be his return to greatness. This feature about Whitey Bulger, one of the most notorious fugitives in American history, and the corruption that surrounded his rise to power is reminiscent of classic Martin Scorsese gangster flicks (and that’s a big compliment). Depp looks to have fallen completely into the role of Bulger, every bit the sociopathic, violent, and amusing villain. Black Mass has a lot of promise and there’s no reason to doubt it won’t deliver.
8. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two
It’s not often that films adapted from novels improve upon the source material, but that has certainly been the case with The Hunger Games. Whereas Suzanne Collins books began to lose their luster in the final installment, these movies have only improved. Mockingjay Part One was a tense examination of propaganda and wartime sacrifice, setting the stage for an action packed finale while maintaining the momentum of its predecessors. Now that finale is here and even if you haven’t read the books you know it will be filled with some of the biggest drama and set pieces of 2015. If the trend holds, the final Hunger Games movie will be the best one yet.
7. The Good Dinosaur
Pixar Studios has already hit one enormous home run this year with Inside Out and it looks like they are ready to make it two with The Good Dinosaur. The first trailer for this picture hit so many sweet spots for Hollywood’s greatest animation studio focusing on ideas of empathy, childhood, friendship, and overcoming barriers (physical, linguistic, and emotional). On top of all that, it features an adorable dinosaur at its center in a world packed with the colorful creatures. Between the studio’s almost impeccable track record (we don’t talk about Cars) and everything revealed so far, it appears that The Good Dinosaur will be yet another instant Pixar classic.
How long has it been since the James Bond franchise has been as great as it has been with Daniel Craig in the lead role? Two of this three entries have been great, and Casino Royale is a contender for the best Bond film. Now that we’re likely on the back half of Craig’s time playing 007, director Sam Mendes is going bigger than ever. Spectre is featuring one, if not two, of Bond’s greatest villains, massive set across the world, and one of the best supporting actors roaming Hollywood today: Kristoph Waltz. This one has all of the ingredients for greatness and may even top Craig’s first outing, if that’s even possible.
5. Crimson Peak
One of the easiest strategies to market a movie to film buffs is to put three words on it: Guillermo, del, and Toro. Del Toro is one of the few auteurs left working with big budgets in the Hollywood system (another is listed at #2). His films are stylish, bold, captivating, and works that could not be done by anyone else. No one produces horror or action or humor quite like del Toro does, so every film he releases is a gift unlike anything else. Crimson Peak is playing on all of his best attributes with a terrifying core, bigger than life sets, and some top Hollywood talent. This is going to be the movie to see this Halloween; it’s not even a competition.
4. The Revenant
Alejandro Iñárritu just won Best Screenplay, Director, and Picture last year for Birdman, and it appears that he’s going for a repeat in 2015 with The Revenant. This film is based on a truly unbelievable revenge story pulled directly from American history. The period piece was shot by Iñárritu primarily outdoors and entirely in natural lighting, leading to some big production delays, but a trailer that looks simply stunning. The Revenant features two of Hollywood’s biggest actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, both pursuing their own first Oscars, as well. There’s a lot of artistry at work here, and the film is bound to drop a lot of jaws this fall.
3. The Martian
A good script is the foundation of a great film, and The Martian is pulling from some truly excellent source material in Andy Weir’s novel of the same name. The story fuses wonkish, technical science fiction with an exceedingly lovable, dry humored leading man to create a tale about ingenuity, determination, and the durability of the human spirit. In addition to Matt Damon in the starring role, The Martian features a killer cast of recognizable faces. Based on the talent involved, this should be every bit as good as Interstellar was supposed to be, and then some.
2. The Hateful Eight
Is there any director working today who is as important to American cinema as Quentin Tarantino? That’s a rhetorical question; the answer is no. Tarantino has defined his career by doing exactly what he wants, and doing so with style, intelligence, and a revolutionary understanding of film making at every turn. The cast, setting, and premise of The Hateful Eight would all be exciting on their own rights, but you only need to know one thing about this movie to know that it’s must see material. It is the eight feature length film by director Quentin Tarantino. ‘Nuff said.
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
As if there was any doubt as to what the top pick on this list would be, of course it’s Star Wars. The excitement surrounding the newest installment of this legendary film franchise hasn’t been felt since… well, since the last time a new Star Wars trilogy was begun in 1999. That may not have turned out as well as we hoped, but this time there’s a new cause for hope. With George Lucas stepping back to let a new generation tackle his greatest creation, everything about this movie has stoked excitement and given no cause for concern. The look, the feel, and the tone all feel right. So come December, we can all sit down for the most anticipated movie of 2015, and venture again to a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.