“12 Years as a Slave,” Oct. 18
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Director: Steve McQueen
About: During the pre-Civil War era, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery.
The premise and hype are what made me put this on my top 10 most anticipated movies list. I'm reading the words “Oscar” and “masterpiece” quite a bit, so I'm intrigued. The story seems to be quite a different take on slavery. I've read and seen plenty of pieces about American slavery, but never one about a free, educated man becoming a slave.
“Dallas Buyers Club,” Nov. 1
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
About: Real-life AIDS victim Ron Woodroof defied the FDA by smuggling and distributing illegal drugs in the 1980s.
For years I couldn't stand Matthew McConaughy. He made such trite choices. But “Mud” was amazing, and I have to believe that when one is willing to make such an incredible physical transformation for a role, he's going to put everything he has into the performance.
The same goes for Jared Leto. Both lost an unhealthy amount of weight to look like authentic AIDS patients.
“Rush,” in theaters now
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde
Director: Ron Howard
About: A re-creation of the 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda
I'm not a Chris Hemsworth fan (although I don't mind looking at the guy). And I'm not a fan of auto racing (although my first job was as the nacho girl at a raceway).
But I am a Ron Howard fan. Here's why: The guy's a chameleon. Many good directors have a signature. You know when you're watching a movie by Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino or Woody Allen. Howard always surprises me with his choices, and I never “see him” in them. “Frost/Nixon,” “Cinderella Man,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “The Da Vinci Code” — no real connective tone or look.