Who: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto and Dennis O’Hare
What: The story of Texas electrician Ron Woodroof and his battle with the medical establishment and drug companies after being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986.
When: November 1st
Why: “Dallas Buyers Club” is the archetypal Oscar bait movie. Not only is it based on a true story, but it deals with hot-button issues like AIDS, the health care industry and homosexuality. And then there’s Matthew McConaughey’s dramatic physical transformation (dropping 38 pounds for the role of Ron Woodroof), which earned its own share of publicity when the film began production last year. Whether or not the weight loss was worth it remains to be seen, but based on early buzz from the movie’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, McConaughey could be in line for a much-deserved Oscar nomination come awards time. Perhaps even more surprising, however, is that co-star Jared Leto looks to be an even bigger lock for his work as a transgender hooker, making “Dallas Buyers Club” a must-see for these two performances alone.
Who: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston and Christopher Eccleston
What: Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet.
When: November 8th
Why: The first “Thor” is one of my favorite Marvel movies – effortlessly mixing action, drama and comedy in a story that already had the difficult task of exposing the human side of a god – so the bar has been set pretty high for its sequel. Still, despite Kenneth Branagh abandoning the director’s chair to reboot the Jack Ryan franchise, his replacement (Alan Taylor of “Game of Thrones” fame) is a pretty exciting prospect, especially since this installment appears to spend more time in Asgard and the other realms. Of course, the main reason the first film worked so well was the relationship between Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Tom Hiddlestone’s mischievous brother Loki, and as long as they’re in sync again, “The Dark World” should have no trouble maintaining Marvel’s impressive success rate.
Who: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson
What: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.
When: November 22nd
Why: The second book in Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy suffers from a major case of sequelitis, so it will be interesting to see how director Francis Lawrence manages to stay true to the story without making it feel like audiences are just watching the same movie again. Obviously, there are some key differences this time around, but having the characters take part in another Hunger Games feels a bit repetitive. Where “Catching Fire” is a marked improvement over the first movie, however, is the expanded cast, which really opens up the “Hunger Games” universe and dives deeper into the history of the fictional Panem. The film also looks much larger in scope with Lawrence behind the camera, and hopefully that means the action sequences will be bigger and better, because that’s one area where the original disappointed.