A family guide to the 2013 fall movie season, Part 1

A family guide to the 2013 fall movie season, Part 1

After four months of movies aimed primarily at prepubescent boys—and adolescents of all ages—summer is finally over. Welcome to the fall movie season, when there’s something for everyone: weighty awards contenders for the parents, animated adventures for the kids, and plenty of other options for those who fall somewhere else on the family tree. Given the wealth of new movies opening between now and the end of the year—and considering that the autumn cinema season basically begins with The Family—the A.V. Club film staff has decided to break down this crowded, eclectic slate by the relatives for whom its various multiplex offerings would be perfect. Because this is awards season, we’ve also identified the prestige components of each upcoming flick. (Believe it or not, almost all of them have at least one.) Today, we’ll cover September and October releases. Check back tomorrow for the biggest upcoming movies of November and December.

The Family (September 13)
The basics: The latest from French director Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element), this action-comedy finds married couple Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer trying to escape their mafia pasts by relocating—via the Witness Protection Program—to Normandy, France. Like Al Pacino in The Godfather, however, the more they try to escape the old life, the more it pulls them back in.
Prestige pedigree: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones are an impressive A-list headlining trio. While Luc Besson is better known in France, he remains an international heavyweight. 
Who it’s perfect for: Uncle Mark, who used to be Uncle Vincenzo.
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Insidious: Chapter 2 (September 13)
The basics: Just two short months after scaring up major business with The Conjuring, director James Wan delivers more haunted-house thrills—here in the form of a sequel to his 2010 hit, Insidious. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, whose characters apparently failed to bust all them ghosts harassing their family last time around, return for a second round of crapping their pants in primal terror.
Prestige pedigree: Wan has come a long way from Saw, having earned some surprisingly strong reviews for The Conjuring, but don’t expect either of his 2013 offerings to win over the crowd that made The Sixth Sense a Y2K awards contender. Chapter 2 does feature Oscar nominee Barbara Hershey (The Portrait Of A Lady), reprising her role from the original Insidious.
Who it’s perfect for: Your preteen son who failed to talk you into letting him see The Conjuring. (This one’s rated PG-13, not nightmares-for-a-month R.)
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Prisoners (September 20)
The basics: In Denis Villeneuve’s thriller, a father (Hugh Jackman) is pushed to the vigilante breaking point—while clashing with Jake Gyllenhaal’s detective—after his 6-year-old daughter and her friend disappear. What ensues is Ransom by way of Misery.
Prestige pedigree: Hugh Jackman embodies paternal grief and rage in his first dramatic role since nabbing an Oscar nomination (and Golden Globe win) for Best Actor in Les Misérables. Jake Gyllenhaal is no slouch, either. Also, Villeneuve directed the Oscar Foreign Language contender Incendies.
Who it’s perfect for: Your evil stepmother who wishes she could leave you in the deep, dark woods without breadcrumbs.
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Battle Of The Year 3-D (September 20)
The basics: Retired basketball coach Josh Holloway assembles a dream team of popping-and-locking sensations to compete in an international dance competition. With no Step Up sequel scheduled to open between now and New Year’s, this could be the season’s only reliable source of fancy footwork. B-boy fans should clear their dance card for that weekend.
Prestige pedigree: Well, it’s loosely based on an acclaimed documentary, 2010’s Planet B-Boy. Otherwise, not so much.
Who it’s perfect for: Your third cousin you’re pretty sure once competed in a slam-dancing competition. Or maybe it was slam poetry. Definitely slam something.
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Rush (September 20)
The basics: Before reprising his role as a blond-locked, hammer-wielding deity in this November’s Thor: The Dark World, Chris Hemsworth plays a different god among men: daredevil Formula One racer James Hunt, who sparred on and off the track with the sport’s world champ, Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), during the 1976 season.
Prestige pedigree: Director Ron Howard and hotshot screenwriter Peter Morgan, who worked together on the Best Picture-nominated Frost/Nixon, re-team for another historic tale of mano-a-mano rivalry. Composer Hans Zimmer also provides orchestral accompaniment to the rubber-burning action, while Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire) trains his jittery lens on cool cars and heated arguments.
Who it’s perfect for: Your stepfather, who liked The Avengers, but thought it could use more nudity and cars crashing into things.
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Enough Said (September 18)
The basics: A single masseuse (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) starts dating a fellow divorcé (the late James Gandolfini, in his penultimate appearance), only to discover that he’s the ex-husband of her new friend (Catherine Keener). These seriocomic complications come courtesy of writer-director Nicole Holofcener (Please Give, Friends With Money), who has yet to meet a first-world problem around which she couldn’t build a movie.
Prestige pedigree: Toni Collette joins a cast of one-time Oscar and Emmy darlings. Holofcener’s movies usually earn solid reviews.
Who it’s perfect for: Your divorced parents—though make sure they go on separate nights. It could get Sopranos-ugly otherwise.
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C.O.G. (September 20)
The basics: In this excellent coming-of-age drama, based on one of the autobiographical essays from David Sedaris’ Naked, Jonathan Groff (Glee) plays a gay Ivy League grad roughing it as an apple picker in Oregon. A terrific Denis O’Hare is the born-again war veteran who takes the pretentious kid under his wing, ushering him into the titular congregation—that’s Children Of God, for those not hip to the Christian lingo.
Prestige pedigree: C.O.G. is the first official film adaptation of a Sedaris story; though he’s not the literary golden boy he used to be, the author’s stamp of approval still carries some clout. The film also features a key supporting performance from Corey Stoll, who earned raves for his impersonation of Hemingway in Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris.
Who it’s perfect for: Your Princeton-alum nephew, who can absorb some harsh life lessons vicariously instead of going through the shit young Sedaris apparently did.
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The Face Of Love (September 20)
The basics: Annette Bening stars as a widow who, five years after the death of her husband (Ed Harris), finally musters the strength to start dating again. The catch: Her new man (Harris again) looks exactly like her late hubby. Arie Posin, who made the coming-of-age comedy The Chumscrubber, co-writes and directs.
Prestige pedigree: Bening, Harris, and Robin Williams (who plays a close confidant stuck in the friend zone) all qualify as acclaimed talent.
Who it’s perfect for: Poor, lonely Aunt Judy, formerly of “Aunt Judy and Uncle Tony.”

Thanks For Sharing (September 20)
The basics: Folks who thought Shame was a little too anguished in its depiction of sex addiction may dig this gentler, rom-com take on the subject. While Mark Ruffalo attempts to romance Gwyneth Paltrow without spilling the beans about his disease, sponsor Tim Robbins struggles to forgive his recovering-junkie son (Patrick Fugit), and sponsee Josh Gad enlists the help of a fellow fornication fiend (singer Pink) to conquer his raging libido.
Prestige pedigree: Besides that (mostly) A-list cast, Thanks For Sharing boasts the involvement of director/co-writer Stuart Blumberg, who worked on the script for The Kids Are All Right.
Who it’s perfect for: Your uncle Charlie. He knows why.
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Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 (September 27)
The basics: In this sequel to 2009’s amusing kids’ film, Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) must again prevent gastro-tastrophe after he discovers that his meal-creating machine is now birthing food-animal hybrids. Though helmed by a new directing duo (Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, taking over for Phil Lord and Chris Miller), the original’s cast returns, save for Mr. T, who’s replaced by the similarly intense Terry Crews.
Prestige pedigree: The original was based on a very well-regarded children’s book by Judi Barrett.
Who it’s perfect for: Your little sister who still only eats pasta with butter and cheese.
Trailer

Don Jon (September 27)
The basics: Joseph Gordon-Levitt writes, directs, and stars in this comedy about a New Jersey ladies’ man whose love of porn leads only to discontent. Luckily, his fortunes change when he meets good girl Scarlett Johansson, who helps reconfigure his female-objectifying worldview.
Prestige pedigree: Gordon-Levitt, Johansson, and Julianne Moore round out a strong cast, which also features a potential comeback role for Tony Danza as the hero’s father.
Who it’s perfect for: Your horndog nephew who is equally obsessed with Black Widow and porn.
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Baggage Claim (September 27)
The basics: In what sounds like a stalker-ish cross between Up In The Air and that Anna Faris vehicle What’s Your Number?, Paula Patton plays a flight attendant desperate to land a spouse before her little sister’s wedding. Traveling 30,000 miles in 30 days, she jet-sets across the country on a man-seeking mission, “coincidentally” bumping into old flames. The prospective hubbies include Taye Diggs, Derek Luke, and Djimon Hounsou.
Prestige pedigree: The best friend role is dutifully occupied by Jill Scott, who has earned plenty of praise… for her music and poetry, not her acting. But Hounsou, of Amistad and In America fame, is a real catch for a breezy romantic comedy.
Who it’s perfect for: The family spinster? No, it would just depress her. This is better for your sister-in-law, with her perfect goddamn marriage, for whom the desperate maneuvers of single people are just an endless source of fucking amusement.
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Metallica Through The Never (September 27)
The basics: Vulgar auteur Nimród Antal (Vacancy, Predators) offers a novel, somewhat bewildering twist on the concert film: While the aging thrash-metal giants tear through a blistering set of hits, the director cuts to a fictional subplot in which a Metallica roadie (Chronicle’s Dane DeHaan) embarks on an epic errand for the band—a quest that eventually puts him in the middle of an apocalyptic battle between anarchists and riot cops. This is shaping up to be either the best or the worst concert film of all time.
Prestige pedigree: None, though it’s only a matter of time before DeHaan—who was quite good in this spring’s The Place Behind The Pines and is even better in this fall’s Kill Your Darlings—pops up in a Scorsese joint or something.
Who it’s perfect for: Your brother who’s old enough to care about Metallica in 2013, but also young enough to be unaware of all the unforgivable nonsense those guys pulled in the ’90s. Wait, does such a human exist?
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As I Lay Dying (September 27)
The basics: William Faulkner’s classic novel about a Mississippi family transporting a corpse to another town gets the big-screen treatment, courtesy of that indefatigable modern-day Renaissance man, James Franco. He directed the film, co-wrote the screenplay, and also plays Darl Bundren. 
Prestige pedigree: The film premiered at Cannes in May, albeit as part of the Un Certain Regard sidebar rather than in Competition. (It failed to win any prizes.) And any Faulkner adaptation is automatically perceived as classy stuff, even one “from the stars of Pineapple Express!” (No Seth Rogen, but Danny McBride appears in a key role, as Vernon Tull.)
Who it’s perfect for: Your dying grandmother and/or her barely intelligible husband.
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Also opening in September:
Sundance acquisition Blue Caprice (9/13) revisits the Beltway Sniper incident. Lefty activist-turned-FBI-snitch Brandon Darby is profiled in Informant(9/13). Billy Bob Thornton steps back into the director’s chair for the multi-generational family portrait Jayne Mansfield’s Car (9/13). Another Sundance pickup, Mother Of George (9/13), chronicles the marital troubles of a Nigerian couple living in New York. In Wadjda (9/13), a young Saudi girl defies traditions by entering a Koran recitation contest. Brooklyn stoner comedyNewlyweeds (9/18) forces a man to choose between love and ganja. Sam Rockwell copes with a guilty conscience in the Elmore Leonard-ish drama A Single Shot (9/20). The documentary After Tiller (9/20) follows the four doctors in the United States willing to openly perform late-term abortions. The Ip Man biopics continue with Ip Man: The Final Fight (9/20). Former U.S. labor secretary Robert Reich breaks down the economic gap in Inequality For All (9/27). And in We Are What We Are (9/27), an American remake of a Mexican horror movie, a family with a dark secret finds its way of life threatened.

Gravity (October 4)
The basics: For his six-years-later encore to Children Of Men, Mexican genre master Alfonso Cuarón strands a pair of astronauts (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, acting through glass helmets) in the terrifying vacuum of space. The virtuosic disaster movie wowed festivalgoers at Venice and Telluride. There’s plenty of awards talk, but can it make back its reported $100 million budget?
Prestige pedigree: Clooney + Bullock + Cuarón seems like a surefire recipe for acclaim, even if the film is (reportedly) more of a dazzling thrill ride than a think piece.
Who it’s perfect for: You! Ditch your relatives and treat yourself to what sounds like the season’s most surefire sensory spectacle.
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Parkland (October 4)
The basics: Like Emilio Estevez’s Bobby, this ensemble drama follows a sprawling cast of characters on the day a Kennedy was assassinated. Here, said Kennedy is President John Fitzgerald, said day is November 22, 1963, and said cast of characters includes everyone from the hospital staff in Dallas to Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother to famous cameraman Abraham Zapruder.
Prestige pedigree: Tons. The truly enormous cast list includes Oscar alums Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, and Jackie Earle Haley. Writer-director Peter Landesman is a high-profile journalist—one who, granted, has some controversy to his name—and the source material is the acclaimed nonfiction book, Four Days In November: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy.
Who it’s perfect for: Anyone in the family who can’t shut the hell up about where they were when they heard the president had been shot.
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Runner Runner (October 4)
The basics: With 1998’s Rounders credited as one of the factors that launched the poker boom of the mid-aughts, the time is apparently ripe for a follow-up (but not a sequel) set in the world of online poker, which remains largely illegal in the U.S. The story involves a college student (Justin Timberlake) who gets fleeced and winds up in a deadly game—not involving cards—with the website’s owner (Ben Affleck). 
Prestige pedigree: Screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien, who also penned Rounders, have worked repeatedly with Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Thirteen, The Girlfriend Experience), though this film was directed by Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer). But Runner Runner is primarily a popcorn action flick.
Who it’s perfect for: Any poker players in your family, especially if they’re young men with big egos.
Trailer

A.C.O.D. (October 4)
The basics: Adam Scott plays a successful thirtysomething restaurateur and the titular adult child of divorce (ACOD), who learns that as a kid he was part of a study examining the effects of divorce on children—and that it didn’t have kind things to say about him.
Prestige pedigree: Comedy prestige, at least: Daily Show and Modern Family writer/producer—and former editor of The Onion—Ben Karlin wrote the script, along with director Stu Zicherman. 
Who it’s perfect for: Your comedy-nerd brother who thinks Judd Apatow has sucked since Funny People.
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A Touch Of Sin (October 4)
The basics: The latest effort by Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-Ke—who usually specializes in subdued, nearly plotless examinations of how modernization is changing his country—is an atypically bloody experience, based on four unrelated, harrowing stories plucked from newspaper headlines. 
Prestige pedigree: Jia is perhaps the most acclaimed director in China. His previous films, none of which have made a big splash in their limited U.S. releases, include Platform, Unknown Pleasures, The World, and the Venice prizewinner Still Life. His more visceral approach this time may finally spell crossover.
Who it’s perfect for: The family member with the lowest income and the most pent-up rage.

I Used To Be Darker (October 4)
The basics: An Irish teenager (first-time actress Deragh Campbell) drops in unexpectedly on her American aunt and uncle (musicians Kim Taylor and Ned Oldham), only to discover that the two are in the middle of a messy separation. Somewhat lost in the shuffle of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, this deeply affecting broken-home drama is a substantial step forward for Putty Hill director Matthew Porterfield.
Prestige pedigree: Is it possible to be both largely unknown and a prestigious filmmaker? If so, Baltimore native Porterfield fits the bill. Darker also earns indie cool points for casting a pair of singer-songwriters as its estranged lovers.
Who it’s perfect for: Your father’s first wife whom the family never talks about.
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All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (October 6)
The basics: Originally set for a 2006 release, only to languish in red-tape hell, this indie horror film from director Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies) finally sees the light of day. That’s good news for fans of Amber Heard, who plays the beguiling new girl in town invited to party with a group of teenagers at a remote house, where a stalker soon preys on the guests.
Prestige pedigree: Not much, unless you count Levine. 50/50 did score a couple of Golden Globe nominations.
Who it’s perfect for: Your adopted goth sister who likes her serial-killer sagas drenched in dreamy romanticism.
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Captain Phillips (October 11)
The basics: Here’s the true story of the 2009 hijacking of an American ship by Somali pirates, in which the crew didn’t exactly give up easily—first fighting and then negotiating with the bandits, who took the captain hostage.
Prestige pedigree: That captain? None other than awards magnet Tom Hanks, who may end up competing with himself for Best Actor votes between this role and his turn as Walt Disney later in the year. Also: Paul Greengrass directs, and though he’s best known for Bourne movies, this one seems much more in line with his other harrowing real-life story, United 93.
Who it’s perfect for: Your uncle with the “These Colors Don’t Run” T-shirt and the wife who puts up with him.
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Machete Kills (October 11)
The basics: Writer/director Robert Rodriguez continues to peddle faux-exploitation thrills with this sequel to his 2010 actioner, which itself was based on a fake trailer featured in 2007’s Grindhouse. Danny Trejo returns as the titular Mexican badass, this time tasked by Charlie Sheen’s president with thwarting the evil plans of Mel Gibson’s crazed billionaire revolutionary. 
Prestige pedigree: Well, Gibson made Braveheart. In 1995.
Who it’s perfect for: The chest-tattooed stepson you’re secretly terrified of.
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Romeo And Juliet (October 11)
The basics: “Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona,” yadda, yadda, yadda, the rest of the prologue you memorized in high school. But this time Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey, Gosford Park) has adapted the Bard’s most famous tale of romantic tragedy, with Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and Douglas Booth (BBC’s Boy George biopic Worried About The Boy) as the doomed lovers, closer to the intended age for the roles. The adult cast includes Damian Lewis as Lord Capulet, Paul Giamatti as Friar Laurence, and Stellan Skarsgård as Prince Of Verona.
Prestige pedigree: Lots. This isn’t just Shakespeare, but Julian Fellowes doing Shakespeare—and with an elite cast, no less.
Who it’s perfect for: Your PBS-donor aunt, obsessed with Downton Abbey and anything involving Julian Fellowes.
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Escape From Tomorrow (October 11)
The basics: First-time filmmaker Randy Moore smuggled cameras into Disneyland, Disney World, and Epcot Center and shot an entire surreal feature, unauthorized, on the rides and among the tourists. The result, which premiered at Sundance, was said to be legally unreleasable, yet here it is all the same. 
Prestige pedigree: Absolutely none. For obvious reasons, Moore used completely unknown actors, not movie stars, and the film looks very much like the guerrilla production it is. All the same, its unconventional backstory should garner it plenty of interest and media attention.
Who it’s perfect for: Dad, assuming he’s the kind of dad who gets utterly frazzled by family vacations.

Camille Claudel, 1915 (October 16)
The basics: Punishing French provocateur Bruno Dumont (Twentynine Palms, Hadewijch) pulls his most shocking move yet and directs (gasp!) a biopic. Granted, the film isn’t so much a primer on the life of the eponymous sculptor as a dramatization of her miserable final years—the three decades she spent locked in an insane asylum, where she was committed against her will by her brother. Thirty years of wrongful confinement? Sounds like a quintessentially Dumontian ordeal.
Prestige pedigree: Claudel is played by none other than Juliette Binoche, maybe the most honored actress on the planet. (She’s won at the Oscars, the Césars, Berlin, Cannes, and Venice—an unprecedented haul.) And though he seems to enrage as many cinephiles as he impresses, Dumont is an important figure of international cinema.
Who it’s perfect for: Your half-sister with the liberal-arts degree and the martyr complex. Wait ’til she sees what suffering for your art really means.
Trailer 

Kill Your Darlings (October 16)
The basics: Basically Beat Generation: The College Years, this literary origin story zeroes in on the first meetings of its famous artist subjects, while speculating wildly about a true-crime incident from their shared past. Daniel Radcliffe plays a young Allen Ginsberg, pulled into the orbit of charismatic classmate Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), as well as fellow writers William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston).
Prestige pedigree: The subject matter certainly screams “prestige.” No one involved has a reputation for greatness just yet—settle down, Hogwarts fans—though both DeHaan and Foster are having busy, promising years.
Who it’s perfect for: Any younger sibling ready to graduate from Deathly Hallows to Howl.
Trailer

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12 Years A Slave (October 18)
The basics: Chiwetel Ejiofor plays a free black man in the pre-Civil War North, where he is a respected violinist and family man. But when he’s kidnapped and sold to a vicious slave owner (Michael Fassbender), he spends 12 years trying to get his old life back.
Prestige pedigree: A period piece adapting a bestselling historical memoir. A story about one man’s triumph over racism and America’s original sin. A cast stacked with notable actors (Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, even Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis), guided by a respected director (Steve McQueen). Swelling strings underneath Ejiofor proclaiming “I don’t want to survive. I want to live!” Why didn’t Fox Searchlight just put “FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION” at the end of the trailer?
Who it’s perfect for: Any Academy member in your family looking for an Important Movie for that Oscar-nominations ballot.
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All Is Lost (October 18)
The basics: Robert Redford gives an extraordinary, almost completely silent solo performance as a man struggling to stay alive after his boat is rammed by a shipping container in the middle of nowhere. Rarely has the dictum that action defines character been put so severely and arrestingly to the test.
Prestige pedigree: Director J.C. Chandor made a splash a couple of years ago with Margin Call. But Redford is literally the whole show here, and given that he’s never won an Oscar for acting, and is pushing 80, he’s the man to beat at this point.
Who it’s perfect for: Grandpa, who’ll imagine he could accomplish the same feats if he could only get out of the Barcalounger.
Trailer

Carrie (October 18)
The basics: In this third adaptation of Stephen King’s first novel, Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In) slips into the blood-splattered prom dress previously worn by Sissy Spacek and Angela Bettis. Advertisements are calling the film a “re-imagining,” but fans of Brian De Palma’s blackly comic 1976 version will get déjà vu watching the trailer.
Prestige pedigree: Julianne Moore takes over the Piper Laurie role, bellowing misconstrued scripture as Carrie’s religious-nut mother. The film is also directed by Kimberly Peirce, who made Boys Don’t Cry, another tale of a young woman who faces a terrible crucible.
Who it’s perfect for: Your mean-girl-in-training stepsister. Maybe this will scare some kindness into her adolescent heart.
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The Fifth Estate (October 18)
The basics: Three years since WikiLeaks had its first blockbuster, a video of a 2007 American airstrike in Iraq that killed journalists, the saga of Julian Assange’s organization receives its inevitable movie treatment.
Prestige pedigree: The subject couldn’t be a bigger deal or better timed, considering WikiLeaks has recently abetted NSA leaker Edward Snowden. It’s based on the book Inside WikiLeaks, written by former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl in the film, opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Assange). Directed by Oscar winner Bill Condon, The Fifth Estate also opened this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Who it’s perfect for: Your hacktivist little sister who tells you what the real crime is.
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Escape Plan (October 18)
The basics: Because two ’80s action icons are always better than one, Mikael Håfström’s film finally pairs Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a proper tough-guy vehicle. In this case, they’re two inmates trying to break out of the high-security prison that Stallone’s wrongly incarcerated engineer originally designed. 
Prestige pedigree: Jim “Passion Of The Christ” Caviezel has a supporting role.
Who it’s perfect for: Your ex-con brother-in-law. The one who loves HGH.
Trailer 

Enzo Avitabile Music Life (October 18)
The basics: Jonathan Demme continues his tireless efforts to capture on film every cultishly revered, individualistic musician out there. His latest rock doc follows Neapolitan saxophonist Enzo Avitabile as he jams with world-music icons like Eliades Ochoa (from Buena Vista Social Club). In the process of exploring the titular artist’s history and craft, the director also offers a glimpse at the vibrant music scene of Naples.
Prestige pedigree: Any time Demme locks his lens on a musical instrument, folks tend to swoon. At the very least, Music Life has more built-in fanfare than John Turturro’s film about Neapolitan music, Passione.
Who it’s perfect for: The Italian exchange student staying with your family for a semester. If you see it together, maybe the two of you will finally have something to talk about.
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Paradise (October 18)
The basics: A good Christian girl from Nowhere, USA, has an epiphany when she’s hurt in an accident, so she heads to Las Vegas to try and live a little. She apparently meets the only two nice people there, and it looks like she learns some heartwarming life lessons while tittering about the “weird” people.
Prestige pedigree: Diablo Cody—Best Original Screenplay winner for Juno, thank you very much—makes her directorial debut, with help from The Help’s Supporting Actress winner Octavia Spencer.
Who it’s perfect for: Your Christian-leaning niece who maybe wants to start exploring the world, but in a safe, PG-13 environment. Baby steps.
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The Counselor (October 25)
The basics: For a little while there, it looked like Ridley Scott was going to be the one to bring Cormac McCarthy’s brutally violent oater Blood Meridian to the big screen. That adaptation never happened, but the director and author have teamed up to deliver this intense-looking crime thriller, about a lawyer (Michael Fassbender) who gets mixed up in the drug-smuggling business.
Prestige pedigree: Beyond the promising pairing of Scott and McCarthy—the latter of whom wrote the script, his first one produced—The Counselor also features a powerhouse cast. Joining Fassbender are Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz, and Javier Bardem (who enhances the strong No Country For Old Men vibe of the trailer).
Who it’s perfect for: A thriller from the director of Alien and the writer of The Road, starring Michael Fassbender? Bring the whole family!
Trailer

Blue Is The Warmest Color (October 25)
The basics: Adapted from a graphic novel, this intimate epic (it’s three hours long) depicts a lesbian relationship in extraordinary emotional detail… though it’s likely to get more attention, as it did in its native France, for the duration and frankness of its sex scenes.
Prestige pedigree: Blue Is The Warmest Color won the Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival—and the jury, in an unusual move, awarded the prize to the film’s two lead actors, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, as well as to its acclaimed director, Abdellatif Kechiche (The Secret Of The Grain).
Who it’s perfect for: Honestly? Your 14-year-old brother. Tell him to wear a raincoat.
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Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (October 25)
The basics: Johnny Knoxville and his Jackass troublemakers are back, though this time, their hazardous stunts and juvenile pranks all revolve around a fictional storyline featuring Knoxville’s grandpa character—an 86-year-old named Irving Zisman—and his cross-country journey with his 8-year-old grandson. Regardless of that plot, expect crotch shots.
Prestige pedigree: You have to ask with this one?
Who it’s perfect for: Your badass prankster grandpa, because those totally exist in real life.
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Also opening in October:
The horror comedy Bad Milo! (10/4) finds Ken Marino coping with a demon that crawls out of his intestines to murder those who have crossed him. A housewife experiments with women and prostitution in the Sundance indie Concussion (10/4). The documentary Narco Cultura (10/4) examines the glorification of drug peddlers in Latino culture. In the tradition of Touching The Void comes the mountain-climbing doc The Summit (10/4), about an ill-fated voyage to the top of K2. Legendary, now-defunct rock club CBGB (10/11) gets the nostalgic profile treatment. Jennifer Hudson, Anthony Mackie, and Jeffrey Wright star in the coming-of-age indie The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete (10/11), by Soul Food director George Tillman Jr. Longtime friends Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark are the titular stars of the documentary Shepard & Dark (10/11). A Dungeon Master rages against the hipster who’s invaded his circle of friends in Zero Charisma (10/11). The director of Splice returns with Haunter (10/18), a ghost story starring Abigail Breslin. Reformed drug smuggler Ja Rule romances a pious hottie in I’m In Love With A Church Girl (10/18). The ambitious documentary The Square (10/25) follows activists involved in the Egyptian Revolution.


Tomorrow: Part two, with the upcoming releases for November and December

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