The Popcorn Reel's Twenty One Films To See This Fall

By Omar P.L. Moore/July 23, 2008

Summer films at the North American box office have been on a fast-track for an all-time record grossing box office.  As of the date of this piece, eleven summer films have already topped the $100 million mark. 

So how does the Fall film season shape up?

Below are The Popcorn Reel's 21 films to watch as they open in the U.S. and in Canada from September through the end of 2008.  Some of these films will be certified box-office winners, others likely nominees for Academy Awards come January 2009. 

Note: Films with two release dates in parentheses -- the date on the left is a limited release for New York and Los Angeles, the date on the right is the release date for general wide release across the U.S. and in Canada.

Clicking on the blue links will yield to trailers, posters or additional information.  Other films to be released this fall in the U.S. and Canada will be added here.

Blindness -- Based on the powerful best-selling novel from Nobel Prize winning author Jose Saramago, Fernando Meirelles' first film since his 2005 Oscar-winning drama "The Constant Gardener" is about a pandemic of blindness which has ravaged everyone, for no apparent rhyme or reason and with no cure.  Only one person can see: Julianne Moore.  With Mark Ruffalo, Gael Garcia Bernal, Sandra Oh and Danny Glover.  (October 3)

Burn After Reading -- The Coen Brothers' first film since their "No Country For Old Men" Oscar triumph in February.  The new film is about a disgraced CIA agent whose memoirs are stolen by two bumbling opportunistic gymnasium employees.  And here's the impressive cast: George Clooney, Frances MacDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins and Brad Pitt.  (September 12)

Lakeview Terrace -- In a role-reversal of "you're not welcome in this neighborhood", Samuel L. Jackson (above) plays an Los Angeles police officer hostile to the presence of an interracial couple in the affluent Los Angeles neighborhood in which he resides.  The couple is played by Kerry Washington and Patrick Wilson.  The film is directed by Neil LaBute.  (September 12)

Righteous Kill -- Thirteen years after appearing in "Heat" Al Pacino and Robert De Niro are back on the big screen together again in the same scenes but this time on the same side of the law as veteran New York Police Department detectives in Jon Avnet's drama about a serial killer who may be on the New York police force.  Mr. Avnet and Mr. Pacino are looking to rebound after a disastrous "88 Minutes" back in April.  With Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Carla Gugino, Brian Dennehy, Donnie Wahlberg, Trilby Glover, John Leguizamo, Anthony Michael Hall.  (September 12)

The Duchess -- Keira Knightley stars in the title role and could be an early candidate for an Oscar nomination early next year.  Can Stephen Frears do for Miss Knightley what he did for Helen Mirren in 2006's "The Queen"?  With Ralph Fiennes and Charlotte Rampling.  (September 19/September 26)

Choke -- Chuck Pahlaniuk directs this film of his novel about a sex addict.  The film was one of the most popular at Sundance earlier this year.  Sam Rockwell plays the sex addict.  With Angelica Huston.  (September 26)

Miracle At St. Anna -- Spike Lee's World War II epic drama will surely receive Academy Award nominations next year.  "Miracle" is based on author James McBride's fiction book of a true story of Buffalo Soldiers, black U.S. infantrymen trapped behind enemy lines in an Italian village with the Nazis closing in.  An outstanding cast includes John Turturro, Derek Luke, Laz Alonzo, Michael Ealy, Omar Benson Miller and Alexandra Maria Lara.  After New York University film school alums Martin Scorsese and Joel Coen winning consecutive best picture and director Oscar honors (in 2007, 2008) will Mr. Lee make it three years in a row?  (September 26)

Religulous -- Political satirist, social commentator, comedian and part-time libertarian Bill Maher uses "Borat" director Larry Charles to chronicle his search for the cult of . . . religion!  Mr. Maher believes religion is a joke and is a mirage.  Here's hoping that the documentary isn't.   (October 3)

Body Of Lies -- Ridley Scott is back after last year's searing "American Gangster" with another true-life crime drama, this time featuring Leonardo DiCaprio (above) and Russell Crowe in the Middle East, Jordan to be precise.  The British director works with Mr. Crowe for the fourth time ("Gladiator", "A Good Year", "American Gangster") and Mr. DiCaprio for the first.  (October 10)

W -- Along with "Milk", "The Spirit" and "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button", Oliver Stone's drama about current sitting U.S. president George W. Bush is the most eagerly-awaited film of the year.  Josh Brolin isn't going to be a problem at all as W, but the most interesting performances are sure to come from Richard Dreyfuss as self-selected Vice President Dick Cheney and Scott Glenn as former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  With Elizabeth Banks, Ellen Burstyn, James Cromwell, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, Toby Jones, Ioan Gruffudd, Noah Wylie, Jason Ritter and Rob Corddry.  Teaser poster above courtesy of Lionsgate.  (October 17)

Changeling -- After the Clint-Spike feud, Mr. Eastwood focuses his energies on his new film, set in the 1920's and based loosely on the real-life Wineville Chicken Murders.  Angelina Jolie reportedly gives an arresting performance as the mother of a kidnapped daughter.  John Malkovich, Amy Ryan and Colm Feore are among the co-stars in Mr. Eastwood's first film since the 2006 WWII double-header "Flags Of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima".  (October 24/October 31)

Quantum Of Solace -- Bond is back.  So is Daniel Craig, who stepped in so ably as the new James Bond in "Casino Royale" in 2006.  This time the going gets even tougher for our favorite British secret agent 007.  With Gemma Arterton, Mathieu Almaric (of "The Diving Bell And The Butterfly"), Olga Kurylenko (of "Hitman"), Jeffrey Wright and Judi Dench.  It's likely Marc Forster's film will leave you shaken and stirred.  (November 14)

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince -- It's almost over for Harry and the wizardry school of Hogwarts, as the sixth novel hits the big screen.  Daniel Radcliffe is back again as Harry Potter as are Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.  If you've read the book, you know the story.  If you haven't, you can watch it in 3-D and IMAX.  The final book, "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows", will be released as a two-part movie in May 2009 (part one) and November or December 2009 (part two).  David Yates directs each of these films, including "Half-Blood Prince", and judging from his "Order Of The Phoenix" last year, that's a good thing.  (November 21)

Milk -- Sean Penn (with megaphone in red jacket) stars as the first openly gay American politician Harvey Milk, the leader of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who was assassinated by Dan White in 1978, just over a year after Mr. Milk was elected to the office.  Josh Brolin plays another controversial political figure in Dan White.  Gus Van Sant directs.  With Emile Hirsch, James Franco, Diego Luna, Victor Garber, Lucas Grabeel, Alison Pill.  "Milk" was shot almost exclusively in San Francisco.  (November 26/December 5)

Frost/Nixon -- Ron Howard's film version of the London and Broadway stage play that starred Frank Langella as U.S. president Richard Nixon and Michael Sheen as British television interviewer David Frost who famously interviewed the president in the 1970's.  Both actors reprise their roles for the big screen.  The only question is, will the line from the real-life 1977 interview with Mr. Frost when Mr. Nixon says, "well when the president does it that means that it is not illegal" feature in the film?  (December 5)

Defiance -- Daniel Craig takes center stage again, this time in a World War Two drama about the extraordinary odds faced in order to liberate Eastern European Jews during Nazi Germany's reign of horror and terror.  Edward Zwick, who has been hit and miss with his last two efforts ("The Last Samurai" and "Blood Diamond") looks for a hit here.  With Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell.  (December 12)

Seven Pounds -- The last time Gabriele Muccino directed Will Smith the actor played a homeless man on the streets of San Francisco who later would strike it rich in real life.  This time Mr. Muccino directs Mr. Smith -- who plays a suicidal IRS agent -- who affects the lives of numerous people in Los Angeles.  After the critically disappointing "Hancock", Mr. Smith, in both performance and film overall, will be much better here.  With Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson and Connor Cruise, the adopted son of Mr. Smith's good friend Tom.  (December 12)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button -- Reverse aging?  Sounds like a great thing, eh?  Not so fast.  In David Fincher's hands it will be the creepiest thing to watch -- and it, like his excellent "Zodiac" film of 2007, will be well worth it.  With Brad Pitt in the title role.  Cate Blanchett, who could act her way out of a phone booth in three different time zones at once if she wanted to, reunites with her "Babel" co-star.  Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton, who will also be on screen with Mr. Pitt in "Burn After Reading", is part of Mr. Fincher's cast, as is Taraji P. Henson, "Zodiac" alum Elias Koteas, Julia Ormond, Jason Flemyng and Elle Fanning.  This film marks the director's third collaboration with Mr. Pitt ("Se7en", "Fight Club".)  (December 19)

The Spirit -- "Sin City"'s Frank Miller is back and this time he writes and directs "The Spirit", a graphic novel from the early 20th century about a man who has risen from the dead to defend the world against evil.  The Spirit is a ladies man to boot.  Gabriel Macht stars in the title role, with Samuel L. Jackson as arch nemesis The Octopus.  And woe betide you if you make eye contact with The Octopus.  Detroit Red Wings hockey fans beware!  With this role, Mr. Jackson has now played three bad guys this year (after "Jumper" and "Lakeview Terrace".)  The unsurprising word about Mr. Miller's film: there's lots of women and femme fatales, lots of sex and violence.  Blood, blood and more blood.  With Scarlet Johansson, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Jaime King and Paz Vega.  The trailer is eye-catching.  (December 25)

Revolutionary Road -- The much-delayed film, at least release date-wise, from "American Beauty" and "Jarhead" director Sam Mendes, who directs his wife Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio (reunited from "Titanic") as a married couple in the 1950's trying to escape the staid conventions of their small town.  The title is not to be confused with last year's Terry George-directed film "Reservation Road".  With Kathy Bates.  (December 26)

Valkyrie -- This film about Nazi colonel Claus Von Staffenburg's real-life plot to assassinate Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler has shifted its release date at least three different times, finally settling for a day-after-Christmas release.  The troubled MGM/UA studio throws Tom Cruise (who probably heads United Artists solo these days following Paula Wagner's departure) into the mix as Von Staffenburg.  Bryan Singer ("Superman Returns", "The Usual Suspects") directs this international all-star cast, which includes Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Branagh, Carice Van Houten and Terence Stamp among others.  Will the wings of this film fly with the American public?  (December 26)

Winged Creatures -- This film's rating has been changed from PG-13 to R, but one thing hasn't changed: the search for a release date in 2008.  A story about a random shooting that draws a group of complete strangers closer together in Los Angeles stars Oscar winners and nominees Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker and Jackie Earle Haley.  With Guy Pearce, Kate Beckinsale, Dakota Fanning, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Embeth Davitz.  Will the film be "Grand Canyon"-esque?  The expectation is that the film will be released before the calendar year is complete.

Copyright The Popcorn Reel.  2008.  All Rights Reserved.

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