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The fall movies we can't wait to see

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Lisa’s Picks
The Master Hands down, the movie I’m personally, passionately most eager to watch is the one by Paul Thomas Anderson, the master who made There Will Be Blood (i.e., one of the greatest movies of the new millennium). It’s the one that’s ”not” about Scientology. It’s the one where Philip Seymour Hoffman ”doesn’t” play L. Ron Hubbard. It’s opening in three weeks. I want to believe! (Sept. 14)

Argo Ben Affleck’s comeback is one of the great narratives of Gen-X Hollywood: Sometime after Pearl Harbor and Gigli, he became a fine, focused actor. With The Town, he emerged as a seriously interesting director. In Argo — a killer true-story premise for a political drama set during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis — Affleck gets to be both. With a great cast. I want to see what he does away from Boston. (Oct. 12)

Flight First of all, I like the eerie motion-capture animation stuff Robert Zemeckis has been doing for the past dozen years. (His 2009 A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carrey, is an unsung beaut.) Second of all, I love his movies What Lies Beneath and Cast Away. Third of all, the top-drawer New York Film Festival has chosen Flight for the closing-night gala marking the NYFF’s 50th season this fall. I’ve got high hopes for Denzel Washington in Zemeckis’ return to live-action drama. (Nov. 2)

Zero Dark Thirty I’ve been patiently waiting for this one for three years. Kathryn Bigelow was the trailblazing 2009 Oscar-winning director of Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker — my No. 1 movie of that year — and here she turns her extraordinary eye to a drama about the long hunt for Osama bin Laden. How long until December? (Dec. 19)

Holy Motors How did I come to pick this as my final dream date for fall? Owen won the arm wrestle to write about Lincoln (see below). I’m excited about The Hobbit but, come on, Peter Jackson needs to do three movies? So I’ll talk up the latest from the furiously original French auteur Leos Carax (The Lovers on the Bridge), once again starring the filmmaker’s rubbery muse, Denis Lavant. The film was a sensation this year at Cannes, and I recently saw a Stateside sneak. It’s mad crazy beautiful. (Oct. 17)

Owen’s Picks
Lincoln Steven Spielberg’s historical drama couldn’t be further from comic-book escapism, yet if ever there was a superhero of American history, it’s Abraham Lincoln. The challenge — and potential thrill — of the movie is this: Can Spielberg, with a script by Tony Kushner and Daniel Day-Lewis in what may be his ultimate act of spiritual shape-shifting, usher us inside Lincoln’s way of seeing, his way of being? If so, this look at the final four months of Lincoln’s life may prove a time machine more revelatory than anything in sci-fi. (Nov. 9)

Django Unchained I used to question Quentin Tarantino’s fixation on the grindhouse ’70s until I realized that, for him, the B-movie sleaze of that era is the Garden of Eden, a lost paradise of freedom that bears strange fruit. His latest, starring Jamie Foxx as a slave seeking vengeance on a plantation lord (Leonardo DiCaprio), sounds like a bloody exploitation Western: Mandingo meets Death Wish meets whatever QT has devised this time to turn the emotions of violence into a throwback that’s also a wholly original cinematic game. (Dec. 25)

Not Fade Away Once you’ve masterminded The Sopranos and changed the face of television, what do you do for an encore? David Chase took a very long holiday, but now the Scorsese of the small screen is finally coming out with his first movie. It’s set in 1964 and tells the story of three Jersey teens who form a band after seeing the Rolling Stones on TV. It sounds like the perfect fusion of gritty reality and rock dreams, David Chase-style. (Dec. 21)

Skyfall As a critic who included Casino Royale on his 10 Best of the Decade list, I’ve got my hopes pinned on director Sam Mendes to lift the Bond series back up where it belongs, and to coax out the latter-day Connery — hell, the latter-day Bogart — potential in Daniel Craig. Let’s hope that Skyfall aims high. (Nov. 9)

Amour I have already experienced Michael Haneke’s Cannes Film Festival winner, and it’s as richly disturbing as anything he has made, but with a humanity that transcends his past work. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva are brilliant as Georges and Anne, a Parisian couple in their early 80s whose lives are consumed by Anne’s disintegration. This is nothing less than the greatest movie about old age ever made. Whatever your age, put it on your short list. (Dec. 19)

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