The eyes of the world are on the Olympics, but the competition is heating up for fall movies, too. This week’s previews include a Juno-esque teencom, a horror schlock-shocker, a superhero sequel, and a festival-fave character study.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

October 3

Plot: Two indie-cool high schoolers (Juno’s Michael Cera and House Bunny’s Kat Dennings) fall for each other over a night of music-filled misadventures in New York City.

Looks like: Can’t Hardly Wait (High Fidelity remix)

Verdict: The title sounds like some kind of butt-numbing experimental film (actual running time is a sub-infinite 95 minutes), but this trailer paints Nick & Norah as a straightforward teen comedy, complete with puppy love, out-all-night hijinks, and plenty of drunk-girl slapstick. It’s nothing new, but the gag-to-chuckle ratio is pretty high. And when has Michael Cera ever let us down?

The Haunting of Molly Hartley

October 31

Plot: A teenager (Haley Bennett) who believes her soul belongs to the devil tries to escape her fate at a posh private school.

Looks like: Gossip Girl meets The Exorcist

Verdict: Attempted infanticide? Prep school possession? With the fall movie season gearing up to deliver its usual glut of staid prestige pics, it’s a relief to know that at least one movie this year will be a flat-out, unapologetic trashfest. Sign me up.

Punisher: War Zone

December 5

Plot: The skull-sporting anti-hero (Rome’s Ray Stevenson) brings his own brand of justice to a criminal mastermind with a jacked-up face (The Wire’s Dominic West).

Looks like: A punishing second-rate superhero movie.

Verdict: Hmm. A tormented vigilante battling a disfigured baddie…. Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it? But the low-rent stunts in this trailer make us think this Punisher will probably end up closer to Daredevil than Dark Knight.


October 10

Plot: A quirky brit (Sally Hawkins) in quirky clothes does quirky things quirkily, to bittersweet effect.

Looks like: A big-screen Britcom.

Verdict: The latest character study from Mike Leigh… wait a sec. Mike Leigh? The limey grief-monger behind 2004’s Vera Drake? Yup, it’s the same guy, although Happy-Go-Lucky seems much closer in tone to 1999’s Victorian romp Topsy Turvy — or 1996 Best Picture nominee Secrets & Lies. With some good festival buzz behind it, this looks like a definite Oscar contender, especially for Hawkins (2007’s Cassandra’s Dream).

Your turn, PopWatchers: Do you think that any of these movies are destined for box office — or Oscar — gold?