With the end of the year heading this way, there’s only so much time to cram in all forms of entertainment from this year before it’s too late (if you’re writing an end of post, that is). With that said, there are still plenty of new releases heading this way competing for your attention.
Heather’s #2 Pick: Gladwell, a writer for the New Yorker and author of bestsellers Blink, The Tipping Point, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw is back with a new book and I couldn’t be happier. Gladwell is a non-fiction writer, and uses a combination of History and Psychology to explain and challenge our thinking about common phenomena in the world around us. The title of his latest book is pretty self-explanatory. Gladwell seeks to explain just how we deal with roadblocks, and challenges our perceptions of the underdog. Even if non-fiction doesn’t appeal to you, I think you will be surprised by Gladwell’s storytelling skills if you give it a shot.
The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz (Oct. 8)
Zac’s Pick: From what I hear this is an essential book for any fans of the auteur director and features a gorgeous layout with amazing illustrations. Seitz interviews the director on each and every film and it covers every release from Bottle Rocket to last year’s Moonrise Kingdom. I can’t wait.
Great Showdowns: The Return by Scott Campbell (Oct. 15)
Zac’s Pick: This isn’t a book you read, but it is an excellent coffee table book follow up to Scott C.’s excellent collection of film’s greatest showdowns. I love checking in on his tumblr to see his latest creations, and this new book has thrown together another awesome batch of drawings.
Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Oct. 22nd)
Lauren’s #1 Pick: That was quite the twist ending in book two, so it’s hard to imagine exactly what Roth has in store for Tris and Four (I refuse to call him by his real name because it makes me picture him as a member of the Amish or something) in the conclusion of this trilogy. But one thing is sure, I cannot wait to find out!
Heather’s #1 Pick: I too cannot wait for the conclusion to the Divergent trilogy. Unfortunately, unlike Lauren, I just vaguely remember the ending of book two, even though I finished it just a month or two ago. Darn you stupid memory! I blame grad school for depleting my mental faculties.
Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield (Nov. 5th)
Lauren’s #2 Pick: Setterfield’s first novel, The Thirteenth Tale, is easily the best book I have read this year (though it was actually released few years past). There have been some great new releases I’ve come across that have provided quick reads and entertaining stories, but this is one of those books that affected me more deeply than most novels seem to. Not only that, but I simply loved the concept of how the story unraveled between the past and present storylines, waiting until the end to truly come into focus. This is setting expectations high for Setterfield’s new novel, so fingers crossed it is everything I hope for.
Lauren’s #3 Pick (Tie): As you’ll see, all the boys had ties at #3 for their film choices, so I thought I would do the same. Because of this, I chose Gravity with this disclaimer: technically I am not extremely excited for the release because I’ve already seen it. With that said, everyone else should have this on the top of their lists because it is one epic and beautiful ride.
Zac’s #1 Pick: Probably my most anticipated film of the year turned out not to be my favorite film of the year (I still thought it was pretty amazing), but no film I have seen in the last couple years demands to be seen in a theater. Do not miss it and buck up for the 3D.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (Oct. 11th – Limited)
Lauren’s #3 Pick (Tie): This may seem like just another horror film where a bunch of teens get killed, and it doesn’t even have the best review average, but I’m just so happy it’s finally being released after being shelved since its filming in 2006.
Zac: I’ve seen it, its good, though it might still be Levine’s worst film.
Captain Phillips (Oct. 11th)
Grant’s #3 Pick (Tie): Will Oldboy and Captain Phillips represent a potential October 11th double feature? Probably not; you may need to enter a decompression chamber after Oldboy. Anyway, Tom Hanks seems to excel in roles with historic and cultural significance, so he should be good. Lets hope that Paul Greengrass can learn from last year’s Zero Dark Thirty to make a film that is both powerful and interesting.
Zac: Very excited for this, and I think you can see it this Saturday in sneak previews. Green Zone was not good though, not good at all.
12 Years a Slave (Oct. 18th)
Grant’s #3 Pick (Tie): Steve McQueen is getting his first large-scale film, and I don’t think it will be his last. The cast is large and impressive. While the film could be seen as Oscar bait, I am excited about its potential. McQueen is a visionary director and he hasn’t disappointed yet.
Zac’s #2 Pick: McQueen is super talented (Shame was my #2 film the year of its release) and, like Grant said, the cast is unreal. This is supposed to be the real deal, and if it wasn’t for years of anticipation for Gravity this would easily be my number one.
Thor: The Dark World (Nov. 8th)
Lauren’s #1 Pick: Even with Iron Man 3 as a disappointing entry in the current run of Marvel excellence (with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. looking to continue the awesomeness based on the two episodes that have aired so far), it’s hard to contain the levels of excitement brewing deeply within for anything and everything superhero. Not only that, but they didn’t add a character that is going to steal the spotlight, especially cast with a “questionable” choice. I just hope Natalie Portman is allowed to be something more than that love interest over there this time around.
Zac: Excited for this as I seem to be the only person who like the first Thor. And bold prediction, Portman is dead for the majority of the film.
Lauren: Zac, you are not the only one who liked the first Thor. And how dare you say that about Portman! If you’re correct then you will suffer!
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Nov. 22nd)
Laurens #2 Pick: Another Hunger Games film means more Jennifer Lawrence interviews. I mean more Jennifer Lawrence competing in the Hunger Games! Yeah, that’s it… I can’t wait to see how everyone responds to the Quarter Quell as the water starts to boil around the games thanks to what Katniss started the first time around, as well as how they manage to bring this version of the games to the screen …But seriously, I am still extremely excited for Lawrence’s time with the press.
Zac: Hopefully I won’t want to walk out of the theater for this one.
Oldboy (Nov. 27th)
Grant’s #2 Pick: This remake could follow the formula laid out by the remake of Infernal Affairs (The Departed). Adapt a great story, then get a great director and a great cast. The director is Spike Lee, and the cast is led by Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, and Samuel L. Jackson. While it will have things in common with The Departed, don’t expect Oldboy to be grounded in sanity, it will be strange. By the way, if you haven’t seen Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene, catch up with that one first.
Zac: Love the cast, loved the original, hoping this isn’t a mess. And how do you not give Sharlto Copley some love Grant!
Inside Llewyn Davis (Dec. 6th – Limited, Expands Dec. 20th)
Grant’s #1 Pick: The Coen brothers are the writer/director duo that have created some of my all time favorites. When they come out with a new film, I’m going to see it. The cinematography, humor, drama, and music should be excellent once again. And maybe it will work out for that cute couple from Drive this time around.
Zac’s #3 Pick (Tie): Oscar Isaac is a star in the making, and I can’t wait to finally see him as a lead. And new Coen’s, be still my heart.
Her (Dec. 18th – Limited, Jan. 10th – Wide)
Zac’s #3 Pick (Tie): I really could have picked all four of my films as number one, but I think Spike Jonze latest has the chance to be the most fresh and original film of the year. Phoenix is coming off my number one film last year, The Master, and the ladies in this cast are a checklist of some of the best working today. Adaptation, Being John Malkovich and Where the Wild Things that’s three for three A+’s, I hope Her makes it 4.
Zac’s Honorable Mentions: Captain Phillips (Oct. 11th), Escape from Tomorrow (Oct. 11th – Limited), Zero Charisma (Oct. 11th – Limited), All is Lost (Oct. 18th – Limited), The Counselor (Oct. 25th), Dallas Buyers Club (Nov. 1st – Limited), Thor: The Dark World (Nov. 8th), Nebraska (Nov. 15th), The Wolf of Wall Street (Nov. 15th), Oldboy (Nov. 27th), American Hustle (Dec. 13th – Limited, Dec. 25th – Wide), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Dec. 13th), The Monuments Men (Dec. 18th), , Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Dec. 20th)
Lauren’s Honorable Mentions: Parkland (Oct. 4th – Limited), Romeo & Juliet (Oct. 11th), 12 Years A Slave (Oct. 18th), Carrie (Oct. 18th), About Time (Nov. 1st – Limited), Ender’s Game (Nov. 1st), Mr. Nobody (Nov. 1st – Limited), Best Man Down (Nov. 8th – Limited), How I Live Now (Nov. 8th – Limited), The Book Thief (Nov. 15th), Oldboy (Nov. 27th), The Last Days on Mars (Dec. 6th – Limited), American Hustle (Dec. 13th – Limited, Expands Dec. 25th), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Dec. 13th), Saving Mr. Banks (Dec. 13th – Limited, Dec. 20th – Wide), Her (Dec. 18th – Limited, Jan. 10th – Wide), Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Dec. 20th), August: Osage County (Dec. 25th – Limited), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Dec. 25th)
Lauren’s #1 Pick: If there’s one thing I can say about Panic!, it is that their music is constantly changing. This may be hard for some fans to remain loyal, but I’ve loved the journey they’ve taken over the years that removed them from Fall Out Boy’s shadow in my mind. This new album is far from Pretty. Odd. (my favorite album of theirs) with it’s music that seems to create this blend of modern recording tricks with the dances of decades past (Alan will surely explain this better), but I’m all for it. Now we will just have to wait to see where they take their sound next.
Heather’s # 3 Pick: Although I liked their first album the best, Panic! At the Disco still manages to put out some catchy tunes time and time again. Lauren is right that their music is constantly changing though, but each album is still reminiscent of their original sound (no matter how vaguely) so they never feel like complete strangers.
Cage The Elephant’s Melophobia (Oct. 8)
Alan’s #2 Pick: I got the privilege to see them live a couple of weeks ago, and I was pleasantly surprised on how great their new material sounded live. This only fuels my interest in Melophobia even more – Cage the Elephant has yet to disappoint me – and their third full length looks to continue that trend.
The Head and the Heart’s Let’s be Still (Oct. 15)
Heather’s #1 Pick: The band is back with their second album, and I am expecting great things. In a recent interview they said they were able to experiment a bit more in this album than the last, while still maintaining that sound the made them so popular the first time around. If the first two singles are any indication of what the rest of the album will be like, I’m fully on board.
Lauren’s #2 Pick: What she said!
The Avett Brothers’ The Magpie and the Dandelion (Oct. 15)
Heather’s #2 Pick: The Avett brothers have released an impressive array of music since releasing their first EP in 2000. While I haven’t been listening quite that long, you can be sure that I will embrace every new album. My one complaint would be that the first single off their upcoming album is sort of forgettable and blends with their music from past albums. I would love to see them take a little bit more risks and mix up their sound somewhat.
Arcade Fire – Reflektor (Oct. 29th)
Zac’s #1 Pick: Did you hear The Suburbs? Need I say more? Oh, I should? How bout James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem produced the record? It’s going to be awesome.
Hellogoodbye’s Everything is Debatable (Oct. 29th)
Alan’s #1 Pick: Seriously, and I don’t say this to a lot of bands: Hellogoodbye is one of the most underrated bands of this generation. They play a certain kind of pop music that is both fun to listen to and obnoxiously catchy for the long haul. Their lyrics are honest and vocalist Forrest Kline gives them the sensibility they deserve. Hopefully Everything is Debatable doesn’t stray too far from their incredible formula.
Lauren’s #1 Pick: First there was a haunted house, then there was an asylum with a lot more than mental healing going on, now something wicked this way comes for season three. Ok, something wicked is always around in American Horror Story… Witches! I meant witches! A cast of new and familiar faces return for season 3 of this series in which the girls work towards protecting their kind in a school in New Orleans. Take that, The Originals, you’ve got some competition in that magical city down south.
Once Upon A Time In Wonderland (Oct. 10th)
Lauren’s #3 Pick: I have mixed feelings when it comes to spin-offs, but this show that has spawned from the popularity of Once Upon A Time looks to be more than a simple continuation of the characters that got the boot from the main series. This story of Alice isn’t just a change of setting, though, but looks to have a different tone as well as Alice is thought to be a crazy girl rambling about this other world down the rabbit hole. I doubt that the show is going to really play on the idea that maybe she really is crazy and it is all in her mind, but they still need to find a balance between the serious side of the story and the ridiculous nature of Wonderland for the show to work.
The Walking Dead Season 3 (Oct. 13th)
Lauren’s #2 Pick: Daryl Dixon is the best. Enough said. …Fine, I’ll say more. I’ve only read through volume 8 of the comics so a lot of the events have been crossing paths between comic and show for me recently, but there was definitely a chasm dug out between the two when they went in completely different directions in terms of character numbers. With the group growing considerably on TV, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic shifts. And we have to deal with dead inside Carl, who goes out and kills unarmed children when he refuses to stay inside…
Zac: I’m still in, but I hate that the Governor is still alive.
Zac’s #1 Pick: I never got to play Heavy Rain, but this game looks like something that is transcending games. I must play this, I just need to not be poor… And GTA V has to stop being awesome so I have time to play something else.
Batman: Arkham Origins (Oct. 25)
Lauren’s #2 Pick: Arkham Asylum filled a very vacuous void in the gaming world because the superheroes were anything but up to that point, and Arkham City managed to be even better than that as the world expanded. We may be going back in time for this prequel, but the quality looks to be moving forward as new, but familiar, villainous faces come to take down the bat. Now say it with me: “I. AM. BATMAN!!!!!”
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Oct. 29th):
Lauren’s #3 Pick: Even though I will probably have to up my anxiety medication to handle the amount of time I will be spending in the water with all of the evil sharks, I still can’t wait to continue on with this series after ending on a high note with Assassin’s Creed III. All the gameplay footage I’ve seen so far looks promising, as it always does for Assassin’s Creed, I just hope that Desmond’s exclusion won’t hurt the series. Guess I will just have to wait and see, but for now I will just look forward with the optimism that the pirates life is for me.
Watch Dogs (Nov. 19th)
Lauren’s #1 Pick: I honestly cannot fathom the extent of what is possible in this game in which the main character uses the cyber infrastructure of a city to do what he feels is right, and that is incredibly exciting. But if all goes well, Watch Dogs will easily be in the running for best game of the year.
Lauren’s Honorable Mentions: Beyond: Two Souls (Oct. 8th), Lego Marvel Super Heroes (Oct. 22nd), Dead Rising 3 (Nov. 22nd), Ryse: Son of Rome (Nov. 22nd)
Final Thoughts: Agree with our list? More excited for other things that didn’t make the top cut for us? Let us know!