Pad out your movie calendar with these must-see new releases.
Released: 27 September
Why we're excited: Many had lost hope that Woody Allen would ever deliver another film that fans could consider canonical, but early word suggests he has with Blue Jasmine. Starring Cate Blanchett opposite Sally Hawkins, Louis CK and, eh, self-styled '80s stand-up shitbird, Andrew "Dice" Clay, the film offers a contemporary riff on Tennessee Williams' American theatrical cornerstone, 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. And the word 'Oscar' is already being mooted with regard to Blanchett's devastating central turn.
True fact: Woody Allen's favourite food is lettuce.
Directed by: Hong Sang-soo
Released: 4 October
Why we're excited: One of South Korea's greatest living directors has had his work confined to the UK festival circuit for the best part of 20 years. Finally, the great Hong Sang-soo is getting one of his wry, laconic dramas released in the UK, and it's a wonderful, melancholic and subtly affecting work too. In it, a young woman is left to wander around a suburb of Seoul, reconnecting with old flames, getting wasted on Soju and listening to cruddy dictaphone recordings of Beethoven. Trust us, it's funny...
True fact: Hong writes his scripts on the back of fag packets while commuting to the set every morning.
Directed by: Bill Condon
Released: 11 October
Why we're excited: Alex Gibney delved into the Julian Assange trove with illuminating doc We Steal Secrets and now it’s time for national treasure Benedict Cumberbatch to turn his mad imitation skills to the WikiLeaks co-founder and strangest man on earth. The controversy-courting Australian hacker, Ecuadorian embassy resident and evader of the Swedish justice system will surely be up there in Benedict’s impressive gallery of interesting, morally amorphous roles.
True fact: Assange has slammed the film unseen, labelling it "a massive propaganda attack".
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Released: 18 October
Why we're excited: Don’t let the blandly literal title put you off (in fairness 'A Hijacking' was already taken). Bourne director Paul Greengrass’ film charts the genuinely incredible true story of Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), whose vessel the Maersk Alabama was seized by Somali Pirates in 2009, the first incident of a US cargo ship being hijacked in 200 years. By our count, this is the third time Hanks has found himself stranded in open water. Is that enough to constitute a running theme in double Oscar winner’s illustrious career? Probably not.
True fact: Somalia is home to 43% of all the camels in Africa.
Released: 25 October
Why we're excited: The first one was a hoot, so much so that we're not (that) worried that original directorial twosome Phil Lord and Chris Miller have decided not to return from for this snack-based sequel. The film looks to be about the evolutionary process, as the surplus of junk food created by daffy inventor Flint Lockward (Bill Hader) has mysteriously come to life and created its own ecosystem. He and a plucky crew will venture into the dark heart of comestibles and come together to… who knows what?
True fact: Swiss inventors recently created a talking hamburger in their labs, but it was deemed a failure as the only words it could say were "mess hall".
Released: 1 November
Why we're excited: This slow-burning character study of the middle-aged, owl-specs-wearing Gloria proves sensuality ain’t just a youngster's game. Set in Santiago, Chile, the film's naturalistic style builds to a rollicking pay-off, as funny as it’s empowering. This is essential viewing for anyone who believes women should be as free as men to make a royal tit out of themselves in the pursuit of a life well-lived.
True fact: Paulina García won the Best Actress Award in Berlin for her performance.
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Released: 8 November
Why we're excited: A succession of spine-tingling teaser clips released last month have piqued our interest in Alfonso Cuarón’s atmospheric looking astro-thriller, in which Sandra Bullock and George Clooney find themselves drifting in an ocean of emptiness after a routine Shuttle mission goes catastrophically wrong. The fact that Cuarón’s first feature effort since 2006’s Children of Men has been picked to open the 70th Venice Film Festival suggests this isn’t your typical $80m sci-fi. While a full length trailer contains audible explosions, Cuarón recently confirmed that the space scenes would be entirely silent. Because in space, no one can hear you crap yourself.
True fact: Owing to the high-risk factor associated with spaceflight, President Nixon commissioned a speech ahead of the Apollo 11 mission to inform the nation in the event that the astronauts became stranded.
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Released: 15 November
Why we're excited: By the time Prometheus arrived last summer, anticipation had reached fever pitch. Ridley Scott hadn’t made a decent movie since Gladiator. But that didn’t matter. This was his long-mooted return to the Alien universe, and he’d assembled a mouth-watering cast to boot. One year on and Ridley Scott still hasn’t made a decent movie since Gladiator. And yet... And yet, here we are, saliva glands swelling at the prospect of The Counselor. This time, however, it’s not the names above the title — Pitt, Fassbender, Cruz, Diaz, Bardem — that we’re giddy with excitement over but rather the one under the 'written by' credit. With an original story from the pen of revered American novelist Cormac McCarthy ('The Road', 'No Country for Old Men'), The Counselor has all the right ingredients to be one of the year’s best.
True fact: The Counsellor is Cormac McCarthy’s first screenplay.
Released: 21 November
Why we're excited: Film one of the kids-killing-kids thriller was filled with absurd costumes, delicious cameos and a dystopian notion so strong it was like an arrow to the heart. Girl power represents via Katniss Everdeen, a kick-ass heroine, played by Jennifer Lawrence, a kick-ass actress, based on a book by Suzanne Collins, a kick-ass author. More kick-ass than Kick-Ass, you could say.
True fact: David Cronenberg was in the running to direct this. Imagine the fun…
Directed by: Andrew Bujalski
Released: 22 November
Why we're excited: Chess. Sixty-four places. Thirty-two pieces. Infinite possible moves. If that hasn’t got your nerd juices flowing, try this: the latest from one-time mumblecore doyen Andrew Bujalski is an '80s set mockumentary that takes place over the course of a weekend tournament for chess software programmers. Said to be a playful and inventive look at the genesis of artificial intelligence, Computer Chess came out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival on a wave of hype that’s been steadily picking up momentum throughout the busy festival period.True fact: Chess originated in India, where board designs were inspired by the vibrantly coloured local flora. The popular version we know and love today can be traced back to RL Bishop, a colour-blind British spice merchant who introduced a simplified version of the game to Western audiences in the early 17th century.
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Released: 13 December
Why we're excited: The first part was met with mild bemusement, which is probably understandable considering this was a director crawling back to the franchise that made him famous. Yet, once the vaguely discombobulating hyper real effects of the 48fps wore in, the film was something of a romp, and all teaser material released thus far would suggest that Jackson may have used that first film to get back into the fantasy epic grove. Plus, it's rare that actor Martin Freeman makes good on the big screen, so it's kinda lovely to see him in top form as harried hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.
True fact: Peter Jackson and his wife/producer Fran Walsh own a special patch of land in New Zealand on which they enjoy driving around on customised quad bikes and hunting wild animals.
Directed by: Adam McKay
Released: 20 December
Why we're excited: Nine years after the original Anchorman launched a thousand quote-a-long film nights, Ron Burgundy is back. Questions we must ask ourselves include: Will the Burgundy bouffant be boasting new styles? What indignities will be foisted on Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst? Does Ron still love mahogany and is Will Ferrell still one of the most joyfully silly actors around?
True fact: Fictional character Ron Burgundy will be releasing a memoir to coincide with the film’s release.
What are your most anticipated forthcoming releases?