25 Most Anticipated Films of the Third Trimester

The second trimester aka Summer blockbuster season is quickly waning and we turn our attention to the part of the year that we really care about: Oscar season. Typically the third portion of the year, September through December, is when studios save their intelligent, adult-aimed fare in hopes that they will get some attention at the annual Oscar ceremony. Here are the films that I’m most excited for whether they do or do not have any Oscar chances:

25 Most Anticipated Films of the Third Trimester

25) You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger
Directed By:
Woody Allen

Every year I find myself a sucker for Woody Allen films with several of his recent efforts placing on my end of the year top ten list. I always enter the year with the knowledge that there will be a Woody Allen film released, it won’t make much money, it will have a strong cast, and I may or may not adore it. His latest features Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Freida Pinto, and Gemma Jones. The initial trailers for the movie indicated that this might be Woody in his Vicky Cristina Barcelona form. In other words – very good.

Watch the Trailer | Opens September 22

24) Buried
Directed By:
Rodrigo Cortes

The poster for this film is remarkably clever with its claustrophobic display of the review quotes. The internet movie crowd that saw Buried at Sundance have been raving for months and I’m enthusiastic to find out what the fuss is all about. For those who aren’t in the know, the movie stars Ryan Reynolds as a truck driver who finds himself 6 feet underground not knowing how he got there. It sounds like it will get some attention for its editing and cinematography and could be one of the biggest critical hits of the year.

Watch the Trailer | Opens October 8

23) Love and Other Drugs
Directed By: Edward Zwick

It looks like this movie is going to try to do what Up in the Air managed to do with moderate success last year. Zwick is a capable talent behind the camera who has proven to be a success as both a director and producer. Jake Gyllenhaal looks great as the confident Viagara salesman and I’ve heard mumblings that Anne Hathaway’s performance is one of the year’s best and will be a major awards magnet at the end of the year. This will be a great Thanksgiving weekend release and could be a hit of the year.

Watch the Trailer | Opens November 24

22) Somewhere
Directed By: Sofia Coppola

I haven’t been as enamored by Sofia Coppola as many other critics, but the trailers for this film looks fantastic. Stephen Dorff is the perfect actor for this type of role because of his relatively low profile and Elle Fanning may be this year’s youngest star to get an Oscar nomination for her performance as Dorff’s estranged daughter. The film looks genuinely sentimental and with its schedule to play the festival circuit before an end of the year release it’s lining up like the studio thinks it’s a major Awards contender.

Watch the Trailer | Opens December 22

21) Hereafter
Directed By:
Clint Eastwood

This is the film on the list that I know the least about besides the fact that it is directed by Clint Eastwood, produced by Steven Spielberg, written by Peter Morgan, and it stars Matt Damon. I don’t think that there is really anything else that I need to know before committing to see this Oscar-magnet movie.

Opens October 22

20) The Way Back
Directed By:
Peter Weir

Rumor has it this film might play at this year’s Telluride Film Festival, which could mean huge things for the Awards possibilities of the movie. I’ve had it as the frontrunner for Best Picture for a while because of its Oscar magnet director, cast, and Scott Rudin. The film stars Colin Farrell, Jim Sturgess, Mark Strong, Saoirse Ronan and Ed Harris as prisoners in Serbia who make their way across Eastern Europe in an elaborate jailbreak journey. The film could easily flop, but all the parts of the whole seem to be very strong.

Opens Limited in December and Wide on January 21

19) Inside Job
Directed By:
Charles Ferguson

This documentary about the financial crisis premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and it is set to play at the Toronto and New York Film Festivals. Early word on the film has been overwhelmingly positive and many would call it the frontrunner for the Best Documentary Oscar. Director Charles Ferguson just missed the top prize for his 2007 film No End in Sight and it sounds like the critics could carry him to his first Oscar win for this film. It’s also narrated by Matt Damon – who is proving to be one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood.

Watch the Trailer | Opens October 8

18) The Fighter
Directed By:
David O. Russell

Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Melissa Leo anchor this amazing cast in this early 80s set film about the Irish boxer Mickey Ward. David O. Russell has derived some excellent performances from the star-studded casts in his past films and the acting should be one of the strong points in this movie as well. The one aspect that concerns me is that the film has 4 credited writers, which would be appropriate for a large scale epic, but might not work for the type of intimate movie this appears to be. The one thing that I can hope to get from this movie is an Oscar nomination for the absurdly overdue Christian Bale.

Opens December 10

17) 127 Hours
Directed By:
Danny Boyle

With Anthony Dod Mantle behind the camera for Danny Boyle once again the film has a look that is remarkably similar to his Best Picture-winning Slumdog Millionaire in terms of coloration and pacing. This implies a sort of fast-paced movie with moments of true pathos that worked so well in his last film. James Franco should be a great leading man for the type of movie this is trying to be. When an actor is called on to carry a movie with a minimal dialogue mostly solo performance it can either be a smashing success or a miserable failure. In this case I’m rooting for the former.

Watch the Trailer | Opens November 5

16) Biutiful
Directed By:
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Javier Bardem is one of the most dynamic performers no matter what language he is acting in. He won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival and is a favorite for the Oscar even though the Academy is inappropriately biased against foreign film actors. I am also excited because this film looks like Inarritu returning back to his Amorres Perros roots after I was less than impressed with his ensemble film Babel. If Focus Features chooses this film as their horse in the 2010 Oscar race it could do big things, but I suspect it will have to be satisfied with some Best Actor attention.

Watch the Trailer | Opens December 17

15) Catfish
Directed By:
Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

This is one of those movies that I’m dying to see just to find out exactly what it is. Part documentary, part thriller, and complete mystery, most of the reviews that I have read can not seem to put the film into words. I love movies that mystify and this seems like one of them.

Watch the Trailer | Opens September 17

14) Howl
Directed By:
Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

This movie didn’t receive overwhelmingly positive reviews at Sundance, but it looks fantastic so I’d like to form my own opinions at the end of next month when it gets released. The story of Allen Ginsberg’s controversial poem looks brilliantly shot by cinematographer Edward Lachman and the immensely likable James Franco looks at the top of his game in this eclectic performance. This might not be an Oscar contender, but it looks like it could be one of my end of the year favorites.

Watch the Trailer | Opens September 24

13) Fair Game
Directed By:
Doug Liman

Naomi Watts and Sean Penn made a powerhouse couple in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s 21 Grams and I’m excited to see them back together again. This drama received polite praise at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and has all of the elements that could make it a strong Oscar contender. The story is based on the novels of Valerie Plame and her husband Joe Wilson who tell differing versions of the former CIA agent’s story. The trailer for the film looks rather simplistic, but those who have seen the movie say don’t buy what the trailer editors are selling.

Watch the Trailer | Opens November 5

12) Miral
Directed By:
Julian Schnabel

Julian Schnabel has proven his abilities with his first three films Basquiat, Before Night Falls and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. His next movie stars Freida Pinto as a young Palestinian orphan growing up in the turbulence of the Arab-Palestinian war. Both Mathieu Almaric and Max Von Sydow were robbed for their performances in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and hopefully this cast, which also consists of Hiam Abbass, Willem Dafoe, and Vanessa Redgrave won’t experience the same fate.

View the Trailer | Opens December 3

11) The King’s Speech
Directed By:
Tom Hooper

One of the most buzzed about films leading up to the Toronto International Film Festival, The King’s Speech has been predicted all year by awards prognosticators to be one of the major Oscar frontrunners. Colin Firth stars as a stuttering and awkward King George VI and Geoffrey Rush stars as his speech tutor. Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, and Michael Gambon make up other members of the royal family and the film also star Derek Jacobi, one of my personal favorite actors of all-time.

Opens November 26

10) Another Year
Directed By:
Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh’s comedy of manners has been getting all-out raves ever since its debut at the Cannes Film Festival and it is expected to be a major contender at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival. I don’t have an official synopsis, but from the trailer I gather that Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen star as married couple Tom and Gerri who live on a small farm in the country and re-examine their lives along with Lesley Manville and Imelda Staunton. Leigh has a knack for deriving fantastic performances from actors outside of the mainstream and Lesley Manville sounds like she’ll be a competitor for the Oscar this year.

Watch the Trailer | Opens December 29


9) The Social Network (October 1)
Directed By:
David Fincher

One of the best trailers this year comes from the infamous Facebook movie. Directed by David Fincher, penned by Aaron Sorkin, and starring Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, and Andrew Garfield the film looks to be a drama packed film that could land Fincher a second Oscar nomination. Eisenberg stars as Mark Zuckerberg, the young founder of Facebook, and the film follows his destructive path to success. There is no doubt that this is one of the few films that has Oscar hopes that is also going to do particularly well at the Box Office.

Watch the Trailer | Opens October 1

8) True Grit
Directed By:
Joel and Ethan Coen

Just about any top 5 list of Best Directors working right now would have to include the Coen brothers. They have been incredibly consistent with two decades of brilliant films and Best Picture nominations for two of their last three. This remake of the 1969 Western classic will have Jeff Bridges stepping into the shoes of John Wayne to play Marshal Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn who is enlisted to help a young girl solve her father’s murder. Also in the cast are Josh Brolin, Matt Damon, Barry Pepper, and Hailee Steinfeld. The style looks like it could be reminiscent of their 2007 Best Picture winning No Country for Old Men, which could spell good things for the filmmaking duo.

Opens December 25

7) Never Let Me Go
Directed By:
Mark Romanek

Kazuro Ishiguro’s book, on which the film is based, has been featured on numerous best of the decade lists and was ranked in TIME Magazine’s 100 most important books of all-time. The film stars Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield, and Carey Mulligan as students at a British boarding school who are forced to face their fate when they leave the school grounds. The film looks beautifully shot and has an element of science fiction that could play well with the Academy given their recent unexpected sci-fi kick.

Watch the Trailer | Opens September 15

6) The Town (September 17)
Directed By:
Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck proved remarkably capable behind the camera with his directing debut Gone Baby Gone, one of my top ten films of 2007. He’s back in the neighborhood he knows so well in this Boston-set crime thriller starring Affleck, Jeremy Renner, and one of my favorite actresses Rebecca Hall. Affleck stars as the bank robber with a conscience who starts to develop feelings for one of the bank managers he is robbing. The trailer looks strong and while it may not be a major Oscar contender, it’s high on my list.

Watch the Trailer | Opens September 17

5) Waiting for ‘Superman
Directed By:
Davis Guggenheim

Education is the political subject that I am most passionate about and this documentary about public education greatly intrigues me. Schools around the country are cutting staff, losing programs, and leaving kids hung out to dry. What politicians don’t realize is that while they may balance the budget in the short run, they’re hurting everybody in the long run by failing to adequately educate our future. It’s appropriately positioned release date has it coming out right around election time, which I hope will bring the topic to the forefront of voters’ consciousness. I also hope that it’s good.

Watch the Trailer | Opens September 24

4) The American
Directed By:
Anton Corbijn

I have to wait less than 24 hours to see my fourth most anticipated movie of the third trimester. Anton Corbijn’s film is being described as more a European art film than an American action/thriller, contrary to its title. George Clooney plays an assassin who escapes his duties in the Italian countryside where he hides out and works to construct a weapon. Based on the trailers the film seems to have an almost claustrophobic feel to it as George Clooney’s character seems to live in constant fear. I trust Corbijn’s directing to make this a stellar action movie that is more character driven than similar franchises.

Watch the Trailer | Opens September 1, 2010

3) The Tempest
Directed By:
Julie Taymor

Julie Taymor is one of my favorite Broadway directors and she integrates her background in Asian puppetry into every production that she does. The Tempest is one of the Shakespeare’s dramatic comedies that is completely open to interpretation and I love that Taymor is completely making it her own by cross-gender casting Helen Mirren in the leading male role. Browsing of the cast list, everything seems to be perfect from Russell Brand as Trinculo to Alfred Molina as Stephano and Djimon Honsou as Caliban. Those who regularly read this blog know that I adore the bard and will see just about anything with his name attached as a partially credited screenwriter.

Opens December 10

2) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I
Directed By:
David Yates

I’m not usually one to be enamored by fan franchises, but Harry Potter is the one exception. I have read all seven books multiple times, seen and dedicated many blog posts to the films, and have my tickets purchased to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the spring. Every time a new film is released I will be there for the midnight showing and it will consume much of my casual conversations for the week. I enthusiastically support the decision to split the final book into two films (the same decision may have helped other films in the series) and I look forward to David Yates returning to direct the last two movies. It is going to be disappointing when such a great franchise finally comes to an end so I’m glad to stretch it out as long as possible.

Watch the Trailer | Opens November 19

1) Black Swan (December 1)
Directed By:
Darren Aronofsky

I struggled over where to put Darren Aronofsky’s ballet drama Black Swan on my list, but eventually decided on the top spot because I feel that this film has genuine potential to be something truly great. Aronofsky has already delivered a modern classic with his 2000 film Requiem for a Dream, but I can’t help but feel that his best work has not been seen yet. Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as a ballerina who is struggling to maintain her youth as a new competitor, Mila Kunis, enters her company. The film’s trailer has a mesmerizing color scheme that meshes perfectly with the score and what appears to be fantastic performances from Portman, Kunis, and Vincent Cassel.

Watch the Trailer | Opens December 1

What is your most anticipated movie of the third trimester?

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  • Kelly

    What about Tron?

  • My most anticipated are Never Let Me Go, The Kids Are All Right (hasn’t premiered over here), Biutiful, The Social Network, The American and Black Swan.

  • Jose

    Black Swan, Never Let Me Go, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, The Tempest ( I will watch anything with Helen Mirren), paranormal Activity 2 (it looks like a fun way to spend the Halloween weekend) and I think that’s about it. I can patiently wait for the other films. And is anyone even interested in Tron Legacy?

  • I find myself feeling a bit of trepidation about “The Town” for the same reason I’m now worried about “The American”. Because they just don’t feel like they have the power to go the extra mile.

    “Black Swan” is a close second, as it does look like one of the most phenomenal films of this year. When we get word on the quality of the film after its Venice Film Festival premiere, things will become much clearer.

    My number one remains “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” as test screenings for it have been performing amazingly positive.

  • @Kelly ‘Tron’ might make my honorable mention list as well as ‘Wall Street 2’, but neither pique my interest all that much.

  • Andrew R.

    Of those 25:

    You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger-Sure. Why not?
    Buried-Am I the only one that thinks this looks stupid?
    Love and Other Drugs-Yep.
    Somewhere-Higher, please.
    Hereafter-Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes.
    The Way Back-Sure.
    Inside Job-I don’t watch a whole lot of documentaries…
    The Fighter-Raging Bull or Rocky? We’ll see. (Rocky = OVERRATED.)
    127 Hours-The trailer looks good.
    Biutiful-GIVE IT TO US NOW.
    Catfish-I’ve heard it’s good.
    Howl-Eh…
    Fair Game-The trailer better be misleading.
    Miral-He’s a great director, yes.
    King’s Speech-Interesting looking.
    Another Year-Yep.
    Social Network-I would be apeshit for this movie if it wasn’t for Timberlake.
    True Grit-We’ll see.
    Never Let Me Go-Yes please. Trailer looks great.
    The Town-He can direct, but it looks a little too action-y.
    Waiting for Superman-Not a big documentary person.
    The American-I don’t know.
    The Tempest-Sure. Looks great.
    Harry Potter 7 Part 1-YESYESYES! I love it too! (On a side note, what are its Oscar chances? I’d like to see a nomination for Best Pic, but I doubt it.)
    Black Swan-There have been 3 HOLY CRAP THAT LOOKS AMAZING trailers this year. Inception, Scott Pilgrim, and this. HELL YES.

  • Davin

    Andrew, I don’t know about you, but the holy crap trailer for me was Social Network, I don’t see Timberlake as a bad thing, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned out to be quite a performer.

  • Quinn

    “You Will Meet A Tall, Dark Stranger” – Looks pretty good.
    “Buried” – YES
    “Love and Other Drugs” – YES YES
    “Somewhere”- Can’t Wait.
    “Hereafter” – I know almost nothing about about it but I love Eastwood and Damon so I am really looking forward to it.
    “The Way Back” – I know even less about, but it looks great based on what I do know”
    “Catfish” – YES.
    “Howl” – Yeah
    “Inside Job” – Never heard of it
    “The Fighter”-DEFINITELY. Mostly because the people it is about i have met and they live (or lived) in the city I live in”
    “127 Hours”- I loved “Slumdog Millionaire” and this seems similar in the way of visuals.
    “Biutiful”- I didn’t think the trailer was sensational but I love Babel and I’ve been waiting for this a while. Yes.
    “Catfish”- YES YES.
    “Howl”- Not totally dying to see it but it does look good. James Franco has two really promising performances this year.
    “Fair Game” – YESYESYESYES
    “Miral” – YES PLEASE I loved the trailer.
    ” The King’s Speech”- I like Colin Firth and this movie looks good. Yes
    “Another Year” – Yes, very much yes.
    “Social Network” – YES YES YES October 1st can not come quick enough.
    “True Grit” – Yeah.
    “Never Let Me Go” – YES. YES. YES. YES.
    “The Town”- “YES YES YES YES. In my top three, maybe number 1.
    “Waiting for Superman” – I’m not a big documentary person, but this looks great.
    “The American” – Yes Yes. I cannot wait and it comes out tomorrow!.
    “The Tempest” – I like Helen Mirren and it seems really interesting
    “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I”-YES YES YES! I can’t WAIT! If its great than it might get a BP nomination.
    “Black Swan”- YES. Can’t wait!

  • I am really looking forward to Miral, simply because I loved Before Night Falls & Diving Bell. Similarly I’d see anything Sofia Coppola makes and that trailer for Somewhere was great. And speaking of trailers The Social Network must be best of year which is why I’ll be there opening night.

  • Patrick

    For me…

    1. The Fighter
    2. Black Swan
    3. The Town
    4. Social Network
    5. Due Date
    6. Conviction
    7. Somewhere
    8. True Grit
    9. It’s Kind of a Funny Story
    10. The American
    11. 127 Hours
    12. How Do You Know
    13. Love and Other Drugs
    14. Hereafter
    14. Jack Goes Boating
    15. The King’s Speech
    16. How Do You Know
    17. The Next Three Days
    18. Megamind
    19. Fair Game
    20. I’m Still Here
    21. The Tempest
    22. Another Year
    23. Biutiful
    24. Morning Glory
    25. Jackass 3D – I know this won’t make many lists but these guys are always pretty entertaining.

  • Jose

    Did not think I weould see Jackass 3D anywhere here.

  • This isn’t related to the topic, but has anyone else looked at the Netflix site today? They’ve got TONS of new movies: “Dead Man Walking”, “Persona”, all three “Godfather” films, “Iron Man”, “The Cove”…

    This is just cool.

  • Yeah, I did see that September 1st was a big rollout day for new Watch Instantly. A bunch of Criterion films are going to be taken off Watch Instantly at the end of the month so I’m going to try to plow through those.

  • Susan Viebrock

    I think this is one of the best of the best articles to have surfaced in my GoogleAlerts. I am slightly biased: Love And Other Drugs. My brother-in-law, Stevie Rosenblum is the editor on that film. After three Oscar nominations for “Glory,” “Braveheart” and “Blood Diamonds,” perhaps, ironically, a comedy will do the trick. Several of the films are coming to Telluride, though it is one day too early to say which. You might want to check out our podcasts with Festival director Gary Meyer tomorrow at 12:01 p.m. when the embargo is lifted.

  • David Frank

    I see a definite lack of mention for “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” It looks like it will be lighthearted, yet more mature (intelligent) than the previous two Narnia films.

  • @ Alex – I know that you probably saw “The American” yesterday, and I wanted to know what you thought of it. Did it deserve the number 4 spot on this list?

  • I actually didn’t get a chance to see it because I got tickets to the MN Twins game instead. I’m headed out on vacation so I’ll have to see it when I get back.

  • adorian

    Comment at #20 Is “The Way Back” about prisoners in Serbia or in Siberia? I think it’s the latter.

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