2010 Fall Movie Preview: 25 Movies for September

Justin Long and Drew Barrymore in Going the Distance
Photo: Warner Bros.

How many great movies should we expect from each movie season each year? Looking back at this summer, and not including my trip to Cannes, I reviewed 45 films. Of those 45 films I gave four of them — Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Inception, Toy Story 3 and Winter’s Bone — an A- or higher. Four months and four movies I’d consider really good. Should we expect anything more?

There were, of course, other movies I enjoyed such as having fun with Get Him to the Greek and Knight and Day. As well as other films such as Get Low, The Tillman Story, Howl, Despicable Me, The Kids are All Right and Dogtooth. It was a mixed bag and there were certainly some films that did very little to impress, but that’s not important right now. What’s important is that Summer 2010 wasn’t quite as bad as it originally seemed to be. The problem is there are just too many bad movies being made and cluttering up the scene, which is one of the reasons Fall 2010 looks so great.

A lot of the fat has been cut out of the 2010 movie scene and these past few weeks worth of late August dumping groung features have us moving in to what looks like a lean and mean September through December. We’re moving into the heart of the awards season and I have a whole slew of films to look out for and I’m going to break it down on a month-by-month basis over the next four days. We’ll start with, obviously, September…

Some of these I’ve seen. Some I’ll be seeing very shortly while in Toronto and some we’ll all have to wait a little while longer before the word is out. Either way, let’s get started with 25 films from this coming September and go from there.

September has a decent line-up with the most prominent adult fare of the bunch being Never Let Me Go (9/15), The Town (9/17), Going the Distance (9/3) and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (9/24). I already saw Wall Street at Cannes (my review) and enjoyed it quite a bit, though it is certainly a departure from what we’ve come to expect from Oliver Stone. It’s far more playful and much more of an entertainment piece than we’re used to from the Oscar-winning helmer and certainly not a film that will fall into awards consideration later in the year.

The Town looks excellent when you mix the high-octane (and potentially spoilerish) trailer with expectation after director Ben Affleck’s debut Gone Baby Gone. And Never Let Me Go has the pleasure of being an adaptation of the highly acclaimed Kazuo Ishiguro (“The Remains of the Day”) novel as well as serving as director Mark Romanek’s first film since his 2002 feature debut One Hour Photo. With Oscar nominated actresses Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley along with up-and-comer Andrew Garfield leading the cast, Never Let Me Go is one not to miss. Both of these films will be playing at the Toronto International Film Festival where I will be seeing them and reporting on shortly.

As for the Drew Barrymore and Justin Long romantic comedy Going the Distance, which opens the first Friday of September, it’s great. Long and Barrymore play well off each other in a rom-com with smarts and a story where the lead characters make rational decisions rather than creating extra problems for themselves. The film leave the silliness up to the supporting cast, primarily Christina Applegate, Jason Sudeikis and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star Charlie Day. In my opinion it’s a must see.

Catering to a select group of three different rom-com audiences you also have the crass and juvenile Sex Drive knockoff The Virginity Hit (9/10) and the terrible-looking You Again (9/24). However, there seems to be a small silver lining in the form of Easy A (9/17) starring Emma Stone (Zombieland), which is actually playing in Toronto as well and has already started garnering some good word of mouth.

Genre fans will most likely have their eyes on Robert Rodriguez’s Machete (9/3), Resident Evil: Afterlife (9/10), the M. Night Shyamalan presentation Devil (9/17) and the Ryan Reynolds trapped in a box thriller Buried (9/24).

Personally, Buried seems too limited and Machete seems as if it’s trying too hard. The trailer for Devil seems pretty good, but the concept appears to be just too silly.

Of the bunch, only Resident Evil: Afterlife has me even remotely interested, and that’s because I find that trilogy to be a decent diversion, though nothing I would ever call “great.”

The indie sect will have Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (9/22) to gaze at, though I saw it in Cannes and was none too impressed. For a better bit of independent film watching, check out James Franco in Howl (9/24). I saw Howl at the Seattle Film Festival (my review) and enjoyed it as an alternative piece of art. Give it a look and go in with an open mind.

Also, kicking off the month with a Wednesday, September 1 release, is Anton Corbijn’s assassin feature The American (9/1) starring George Clooney. I actually just saw this film yesterday and enjoyed it quite a bit, but don’t go in expecting the typical assassin movie. The American is more of a moody and atmospheric tension builder. As would be expected from Corbijn, it’s photographed beautifully, but it’s going to be a hard sell for Focus considering selling it as a balls-out actioner would certainly be a lie, but to portray it for what it is will turn off general audiences entirely.

Other indie opportunities include Gaspar Noe’s controversial Enter the Void (9/24), Zhang Yimou’s remake of the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple, A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (9/3), part two of the excellent two-year-old French thriller Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 (9/3) (note: part two is not as good as part one), Lovely, Still (9/10) and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s directorial debut Jack Goes Boating (9/17), which I have already seen and can’t recommend.

September also brings three hotly anticipated documentaries in the form of the Joaquin Phoenix “Is it a documentary? Mockumentary” I’m Still Here (9/10), the Sundance hit Catfish (9/17) and Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for ‘Superman’ (9/24).

Families will most likely have their eyes fixated on the Sam Rockwell feature The Winning Season (9/3), which looks downright terrible and fellow Lionsgate release Alpha and Omega (9/17), which I’m still waiting to see if the studio will use the fact it is Dennis Hopper’s last film role (even though it’s animated voice acting) for their marketing.

The other animated selection of the month is Zack Snyder’s animated attempt with Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (9/24) based on the books by Kathryn Lasky. The trailers for this one look sort of cool, but I can’t say I am all that interested in seeing it.

All that said, and considering I’ve already seen some of these, I won’t give you a ranked list of what I am most anticipating from September, but instead a list of films I would place at the top of the list based on those I have seen and those I am looking forward to seeing. This list is in release date order and I’ve marked those I’ve seen with an *, which should give you a good indication of what I think of them if I haven’t yet reviewed them officially.

Browse the Rest of My 2010 Fall Movie Preview: