Fall Preview

Well, it’s that time of the year again. The summer film season has ground to a halt, and the months ahead are packed with the studios’ best hopes for Oscar glory (as well as a few holiday treats). What follows here is a breakdown of 40 of the seasons films, not a comprehensive review, simply the best 30 and worst 10 films as I predict them. I’m sure there are plenty of gems I’ve missed (and a few which, due to a computer glitch I’m sure, I’ve mis-predicted). But what would a Fall movie season be without surprises.

OK, to start the season out on a sour note…here are the ten Fall films which I have serious doubts about. Hopefully they will be better than they seem…

10. Babe: Pig in the City
Babe was a cute enough movie, but not much more than cute. It should have stood on its own. The trailers for this sequel, with the talking chimpanzees, doesn’t bode well.
9. Urban Legend
The concept behind this one has potential. Yet, the previews have been a complete letdown. Rather than a refreshingly original horror film, we’re treated to a rehash of I Know What You Did Last Summer, where ghost stories come to life.
8. Jack Frost
This one has some redeeming talent behind it (Michael Keaton might be able to pull it off). But a live-action snowman tearjerker??? It’ll have to be brilliant to be watchable.
7. Knock Off
When was VanDamme’s last good film? When was Rob Schneider’s???
6. A Night at the Roxbury
Saturday Night Live skits are flimsy material at best…and this one is based on one of the flimsiest.
5. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
What can be worse than a bad film? A bad film’s sequel!
4. The Rugrats Movie
The cartoon has some amusing moments, but this is a project that cries out “direct-to-video” release.
3. Psycho
What is the point? Even if this film is a superb adaptation, no one will admit it.
2. The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave
Glaringly dated. In his heyday, Super Dave didn’t merit a movie. Why now?
1. Bride of Chucky
This one might be so bad, it’s good. Scratch that…it’ll probably simply be horribly bad.

OK…now on to some better material. Here are the top thirty Fall films that I am looking forward to:

30. One True Thing
The plot looks cloyingly sentimental, but there’s great talent behind this one: Meryl Streep, William Hurt and Renee Zellweger.
29. Practical Magic
It’ll probably only be a puff piece, but look at the cast: Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock, Aidan Quinn, Diane Wiest, Vanessa Redgave, and Stockard Channing.
28. Permanent Midnight
Ben Stiller has been on a role this year. Can he tackle this heavy dramatic role? The early buzz says “yes”.
27. The Mighty
Even though there’s a Culkin involved here, the advance word has been positive on this one.
26. John Carpenter’s Vampires
Ho hum…another vampire movie. But John Carpenter and James Woods should be able to spice things up a little bit.
25. Theory of Flight
Helena Bonham Carter grabs a juicy role here, and Kenneth Branagh is no slouch either.
24. The Faculty
Robert Rodriguez’ unique brand of ultraviolence should lend a creative spark to this high school body-snatcher film.
23. Rounders
The team of Edward Norton and Matt Damon is good. Adding John Malkovich, Martin Landau and John Turturro just sweetens the pot.
22. Dancing About Architecture
Just look at the cast here: Sean Connery, Gena Rowlands, Madeleine Stowe, Angelina Jolie, Gillian Anderson, Dennis Quaid, Ellen Burstyn, Jay Mohr, Anthony Edwards, Dylan McDermott, Jon Stewart, Ryan Phillippe. Need I say more.
21. A Civil Action
If it doesn’t get heavy-handed, this John Travolta courtroom drama could be a winner. He’s got a hefty supporting cast backing him up.
20. Simon Birch
A loose adaptation of A Prayer for Owen Meany could have its faults. However, it looks like an amiable enough film, if a little saccharine.
19. Antz
The first of the season’s most unusual genre: the computer-animated bug film. There’s some hefty talent behind this one (which actually beats Prince of Egypt to become Dreamworks’ first animated film), but something about the previews is vaguely unsatisfying.
18. Enemy of the State
It looks like they’re cooking up some good paranoia in this thriller. Will it finally be a Bruckheimer action flick with brains?
17. Meet Joe Black
By the time this one opens, the year will already have had its full of supernatural romances. However, Anthony Hopkins has made few missteps of late, and Brad Pitt fits well into a good, quirky role.
16. Gods and Monsters
Good buzz surrounds Ian McKellan’s performance as aging director James Whale.
15. At First Sight
The pairing of Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino alone makes this one interesting. Add in an Oliver Sachs story, and we might have an intellectually stimulating romance here.
14. Soldier
Is it Blade Runner 2? Sort of, but not quite. Behind some cool visuals are some unsettling rumblings that this could be this year’s The Postman.
13. Ronin
Although it looks somewhat Mission: Impossible-ish, Robert DeNiro leading a group of rogue spies is a compelling concept.
12. The Siege
The trailers hint at a good moral conflict, and Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis should provide adequate friction.
11. You’ve Got Mail
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in a Nora Ephron romantic comedy loosely adapted from an old movie…why does this sound familiar?
10. Star Trek: Insurrection
On the upside, it’s a Star Trek film. On the downside, it’s an odd-numbered Star Trek film (#9 to be precise). The trailers look better than the synopsis may indicate…
9. Apt Pupil
Brian Singer’s contemplation of evil has had its share of controversy, but the story has its fans…and word is this’ll be one to watch.
8. Very Bad Things
Very good buzz surround these Very Bad Things. A post-Mary Cameron Diaz is another draw.
7. Beloved
Jonathan Demme directs his first film after an absence of five years. And it looks to be a good one, with Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover and Thandie Newton rounding out a good cast.
6. A Bug’s Life
Looks promising…but has two hurdles to overcome: Toy Story and now Antz.
5. A Simple Plan
This long-in-development project has got some spectacular buzz behind it. Director Sam Raimi and a strong cast can’t hurt either.
4. Pleasantville
An intriguing, though familiar, idea. However, try to avoid the annoying trailer, which reveals the entire movie.
3. What Dreams May Come
The sets look spectacular, the story seems interesting. In my mind, the wild card here is Robin Williams, who could either nail this one dead on, or collapse into sappiness.
2. Prince of Egypt
Despite the trailer which nearly spoils every spectacular animated effect in the movie, this one looks like one of the best animated films in a while…
1. The Thin Red Line
This WWII epic is one I’ve been looking forward to all year. However, it now faces a huge hurdle: Saving Private Ryan. Can the world cope with two good WWII dramas in a single year?
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