It’s been a fairly lackluster year for movies so far in 2013, but there appears to be hope as we head into the fall.
With the kids back in school, Hollywood is counting on grownups to start forking over their dough at the multiplex. And that means an emphasis on fare that’s more serious, substantial and challenging and less spectacular, loud and explosive. With nary a superhero in sight. Well, except for that big, blonde Nordic guy with the hammer.
Here are 10 to look forward to between now and Thanksgiving.
“Don Jon” (Sept. 27) — After a big year in front of the camera in 2012 (“Dark Knight Rises,” “Premium Rush,” “Looper”), actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also stepping behind it this year for his starring/writing/directing debut about a young guy whose romantic life is complicated by an obsession with Internet porn. And a non-porn-friendly Scarlett Johansson.
“Rush” (Sept. 27) — Director Ron Howard runs the famous 1970s rivalry between Formula 1 racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda (Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl) around the track for high-speed drama featuring a script by Peter Morgan (who also wrote Howard’s “Frost/Nixon.”)
“Gravity” (Oct. 4) — Mexican writer/director Alfonso Cuarón (“Y Tu Mama, También”) reportedly wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up, so perhaps he’s working out his frustrations with this outer-space thriller about adrift astronauts (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock) struggling to survive.
“12 Years a Slave” (Oct. 18) — A free man sold into slavery (Chiwetel Ejiofor, playing the real-life Solomon Northup) in the pre-Civil War South struggles for years to regain his freedom. Issues-oriented English filmmaker Steve McQueen (“Hunger,” “Shame”) directed. Co-producer Brad Pitt briefly provides abolitionist sympathy.
“The Fifth Estate” (Oct. 18) — Benedict Cumberbatch (“Star Trek: Into Darkness,” TV’s “Sherlock”) goes blonde and subversive as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange with Oscar-winner Bill Condon (“Gods and Monster”) directing.
“Thor: The Dark World” (Nov. 8) — The Norse God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) will no doubt be hot stuff when he faces off against menacing Malekith, ruler of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim (Christopher Eccleston) — but his timing seems a tad off. Should this really be happening during sweater weather?
“Captain Phillips” (Oct. 11) — The 2009 hijacking of a U.S. cargo ship by Somali pirates — the first such event in 200 years — is the setting for this drama by director Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Ultimatum,” “United 93”). With Tom Hanks occupying the wheelhouse.
“All is Lost” (Oct. 18) — Robert Redford is a cast of one in this almost dialogue-free drama about a yachtsman on a solo ocean voyage forced to navigate his slowly sinking ship with minimal instruments and meager supplies after a collision and a major storm. Fortunately there are no sharks. Oh, wait — there are.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Nov. 15) — Still in a super-rich groove, apparently, after “The Great Gatsby,” Leonardo DiCaprio wallows in filthy lucre as ‘90s brokerage firm founder Jordan Belfort — with Martin Scorsese presiding over his rise and fall.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (Nov. 22) — Jennifer Lawrence returns as the bow-dacious archer heroine of Suzanne Collins’ young-adult romance and revolution novels — after the original movie scored nearly $700-million worldwide. Bulls-eye.