Fall movie previews

DUBUQUE — If you’re feeling down because of the weather, the election, or the fall semester, there’s one reason to keep hope alive: movies! With new fall television seasons premiering, it’s going to be hard for movies to compete. Nevertheless, there are some films that will garner a lot of attention at the box office and generate a buzz at the Oscars. Let the speculation begin!

Movies to see…

“Big Hero 6” (Nov. 7): The chances of this becoming the next Frozen are as likely as a heatwave in an Iowan winter. Still, there’s much that could go right for this one: it’s adapted from a Marvel comic series, it has a big, squishy sidekick named Baymax, and it takes place in a town that combines San Francisco and Tokyo. Fingers crossed for this one.

“Interstellar” (Nov. 5): Now, this critic isn’t the biggest fan of Christopher Nolan. Only a year after “Gravity,” the bar for epic space films is awfully high. Still, considering that Nolan is a critical darling boasting a cast that includes Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine and Matthew McConaughey, there’s a chance that it could fly.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” (Nov. 20): Forget the fact that the ending is split into two parts. The last book tugged so many heartstrings that two parts can be justified. Expect lots of action with slick special effects, plenty of suspense, and a strong performance from Jennifer Lawrence. May the odds be ever in this film’s favor.

“Big Eyes” (Dec. 25): Tim Burton has created one of the most distinct cinematic styles of his generation, but his work doesn’t always generate critical respect. What could change that is Big Eyes, a biopic about Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), who became famous for her paintings of children with big eyes. However, her husband Walter takes all the credit for the paintings, which leads to a divorce battle and a competition to see who the true painter is. This one doesn’t have Johnny Depp in it, but Burton is long overdue for an Oscar. Perhaps he has a chance with this one.

“Into the Woods” (Dec. 25): The film adaptation of the popular Sondheim musical has a myriad of elements that could ensure success: the source material, which pulls from fairy tales including Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Little Red Riding Hood; a big production full of special effects; and a cast of well-established actors who can sing, including Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick and Johnny Depp. The film is directed by Rob Marshall, who also did “Chicago,” so there’s a chance for this one.

Movies to avoid…

“Dumb and Dumber To”: The original 1994 film has a big following, and Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are two very talented actors. But a sequel 20 years after the first one is a big risk, not to mention that the original was slammed by critics.

“Exodus: Gods and Kings” (Dec. 12): Let’s make something very clear: the story of Moses has been done already. Between “The Ten Commandments” and “The Prince of Egypt,” there has to be something original for another film to be fresh. The film garnered a lot of controversy about its casting, including Christian Bale as Moses. Since Hollywood already suffered a backlash from some groups for its other biblical epic, “Noah,” perhaps the genre should be laid to rest.

“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” (Dec. 19): It’s hard to give the award of Most Unnecessary Sequel to any one film, but this season, the third installment in the Night at the Museum series might pick it up. The first film wasn’t terrible, but this isn’t a franchise that screams for more films. You would be better off saving your money for Christmas gifts or a better movie coming out Christmas Day.

What’s interesting about this year’s lineup is the lack of a clear frontrunner for Best Picture so far. Toronto may have passed, but unlike last year, 2014 doesn’t seem to boast any films on the level of “12 Years a Slave.” Stay tuned to see if this critic is proven wrong.

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