The Must See Movies of October Ranked in Order of Anticipation

By  · Published on October 3rd, 2014

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Hopefully you got all of your exercising in last month because October is determined to plant your ass in a theater seat for days on end. It’s our entry point into what we lovingly know as “Awards Season,” but there’s plenty here beyond prestige pics. The variety is commendable, from movies that have no business seeing a podium to slick future contenders to films too good for Oscar.

Let’s look for the movies with the most potential to be great. We can even look for Ben Affleck’s missing wife while we’re at it.

10. Left Behind

Opens October 3rd

Nic Cage battling the Book of Revelation come to life? Yes, please. It may be hilariously heinous or it may be action thriller brilliance, but it promises not to be boring. There’s a solid chance this could be the best of the paycheck projects.

This doesn’t bode well, though. We might be rubber necking this one.

9. John Wick

Opens October 24th

On a similar, yet non-ironic front, Keanu Reeves carved out a second home for himself at Fantastic Fest with Man of Tai Chi, and his return with John Wick was met with similar enthusiasm. It’s always refreshing to see fight choreography that isn’t precious, and the buzz from the fest is that this one goes for the throat.

“And then there’s the gun violence. So much gun violence. It’s precise and nasty and delivered by the calm hands of Reeves’ Wick, who is as efficient as he is deadly. Stylish backdrops are swiss cheesed with propelled lead, bad guys are impaled with almost humorous accuracy and everything explodes in a creative array of practical violence.

What I’m trying to tell you is that John Wick is a fucking blast.”

Quite the endorsement.

8. Stretch

Opens October 14th

This is the big gamble of the month, featuring a bearded Chris Pine reuniting with Joe Carnahan with a one-last-job story firmly in tow. It looks gloriously wacky, shifting back from The Grey toward Smokin’ Aces territory. It also has a troubled release history, but it seems more like a case of studio cold feet than truly worrisome art.

7. The Book of Life

Opens October 17th

The vibrant colors and textures of Jorge R. Gutierrez’s Day of the Dead-inspired comedy are enough to make this a standout, and if he can deliver on the world-spanning adventure, it has the potential to be one of the year’s best. After a summer without Pixar, it’s exactly what we need. Plus, all you can eat churros.

6. Fury

Opens October 17th

End of Watch seemed to jump out of nowhere to bite people. Here was the writer of Training Day making an impact in a way that Harsh Times didn’t. With David Ayer’s directorial career now firmly in place, he’s gotten the chance to tell the story of a tank battalion at the end of WWII. For one, it’ll be great to see Brad Pitt back to killing Nazis (pronounce it right), but more importantly, this will hopefully be a return to the kind of straightforward war movies that we haven’t seen in years.

While some will look to Gone Girl or even The Judge as the start of awards season, this is the real opening shot.

5. Dear White People

Opens October 17th

Good news, everyone. Racism is over.

There’s a mountain of good things being said about this satire, and after the year we’ve had, I can think of nothing more vital or of the moment.

4. Gone Girl

Opens October 3rd

At what point can we make any day David Fincher releases a new movie into a national holiday?

Here’s my review.

3. Nightcrawler

Opens October 31st

There’s something perfect about this movie coming out on Halloween. It’s probably the creepiest film coming out this month, due in large part to Jake Gyllenhaal as an amoral, highly effective version of Rupert Pupkin. The comparisons to Network and King of Comedy and Taxi Driver will continue to fly, and that should give you a solid idea of the pedigreed circle this film is playing in. It’s gleefully unrestrained, and even though I don’t want to frame everything within an award season lens, Gyllenhaal winning awards for this role would be very, very cool.

As a bonus, his character’s name is Lou Bloom, so obviously a dark Brothers Bloom sequel featuring a third sibling is in order.

2. The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Opens October 17th

As you can tell, the middle of the month is packed, and the last half of this list is one big tie between excellent, tonally different movies. Studio Ghibli’s latest eschews the typical amount of magical realism for a grounded story about growing up within gilded expectations, and the result is something delicately heartwarming. It also requires some Kleenex. After all, it’s from the director who brought us Grave of the Fireflies.

1. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

Opens October 17th

Michael Keaton running through Times Square in his tighty whities, driving himself crazy and screaming, “Kakaw!”. All of it is magical. There is no way this movie can come fast enough. A comeback movie for the actor who played Batman playing a washed up actor who played a superhero is a wondrously clever black comic concept, and it feels so, so right to close out this list by swinging back toward insanity.

What I Left Off

What are you looking forward to the most this month?

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector [email protected] | Writing short stories at Adventitious.