Fall Arts Preview: The Season’s Top 10 Films

keira knightley anna karenina Fall Arts Preview: The Seasons Top 10 Films

Keira Knightley in ‘Anna Karenina’

Skyfall

Sam Mendes

Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes

November 9

The next, and long-delayed, installment in the James Bond story comes with a schmancy pedigree–director Sam Mendes has experienced diminishing returns since the 1990s, but he still, you know, has an Oscar. So too does Javier Bardem, who promises to be the most menacing villain since Dr. No. Un-bedecked by golden trophies are new Bond girls Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe, but that’s hardly the point, is it? About the plot, little is known, but for the promise of spy-queen M’s past coming back to haunt her. All the better: it’s about time Judi Dench got to stretch her acting muscles in the Bond movies.

Anna Karenina

Joe Wright

Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

November 9

Joe Wright just can’t resist the charms of Keira Knightley–and he’s hardly alone! Mr. Wright made it cool to think Ms. Knightley was a good actress by directing her in well-received roles in Pride & Prejudice and Atonement–without his attentions, she’s languished a bit. But Ms. Knightley is back doing what she does best (aristocratic hauteur, wearing elaborate garments, telling off gentlemen), and this time, she’s got a complement of men to choose from. Though all of us English majors know how it ends, let’s form factions rooting for Jude Law’s Karenin or Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Vronsky–or, at least, let’s decide after the fact who had the most convincing Russian accent.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn–Part 2

Bill Condon

Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner

November 16

The series that launched a million magazine covers has finally ended (though the saga of its stars’ offscreen love will surely inflate the bottom line at many a media company for years to come). It’s the final installment of the Twilight series–or “Saga,” as the producers would Germanically have it–and if you waited a week to see any of the fine independent films released last week, get in line early for popcorn. Every tween and teen and regressing thirtysomething within a five-mile radius cannot wait to see just how the Bella-Edward vampire-mortal union ends–even though the book came out years ago! No matter. Fandom, like vampirism, is eternal.

Life of Pi

Ang Lee

Irrfan Khan, Gérard Depardieu

November 21, 2012

Another unfilmable novel adapted to the screen? It must be fall! Ang Lee attempts something of a comeback with his adaptation of Yann Martel’s Booker Prize-winning novel, wherein a boy and a tiger are trapped on a raft floating in uncharted waters. Mr. Lee has a lot to prove, having released a couple of films consecutively that couldn’t quite match Brokeback Mountain in terms of popular acclaim. Perhaps the transfer to a wholly new environment, with the challenge both of a dense, allusive text and of a, you know, tiger, will move him to new heights! If not, it’ll at least be the season’s most compelling misfire.

Les Misérables

Tom Hooper

Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway

December 14

Anne Hathaway has subjected you to her songs through lo these many Oscar ceremonies–and now she finally has the opportunity to belt it out on film! The world’s most energetic entertainer shifts down a gear to play doomed prostitute Fantine in the adaptation of the world-rattling Broadway show; her costars include Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe playing, respectively, the unfairly convicted Valjean and the doggedly devoted Javert. Other cast members in director Tom Hooper’s first post-Oscar flick include Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the garrulous-to-a-fault Thénardiers, but it’s Ms. Hathaway who’s likely dreaming a dream… of Oscar!