1. The Master
Following his indelible portrait of one American monster in There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson tackles another—an L. Ron Hubbard figure, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Has there been a better moment in the last half-century to consider such an American, uh, original as Hubbard (or Joseph Smith)? You can look forward to Joaquin Phoenix as Hoffman’s increasingly disenchanted No. 2—but probably not a cameo from Magnolia co-star Tom Cruise. Sept. 14.
2. Cloud Atlas
Those pop visionaries the Wachowski siblings team with Run Lola Run’s Tom Tykwer in this adaptation of David Mitchell’s virtuosic, kaleidoscopic, … uh [Checking thesaurus] … phantasmagorical novel. With Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, and many more. Not to be confused with the cloud-cuckoo Atlas Shrugged: Part II. Oct. 26.
Robert Zemeckis returns to the land of live-action with the story of a commercial pilot who flies a damaged plane to (more or less) safety—then faces an unexpectedly bumpy going-over. This one must be pretty good, too, since it ends the 50th New York Film Festival. Then again, the stinkeroo Hereafter closed the one before last. Nov. 2.
Abraham Lincoln, director Steven Spielberg, screenwriter Tony Kushner, star Daniel Day-Lewis: The pedigree alone can drop you to your knees. The hope is that the movie itself won’t be overly reverent. My hopes are higher than the Washington Monument. Nov. 9.
5. Life of Pi
After a shipwreck, a boy and a 450-pound Bengal tiger share a boat in this unique mismatched-buddy picture from Ang Lee, based on the best seller by Yann Martel. (“Do you know the toxin levels of raw fish guts?” “I like ’em. Almost as tasty as—your mama.”) It must be pretty good, since it opens the 50th New York Film Festival. Then again, the stinkeroo Carnage opened the last one … Nov. 21.