September 5: The Longest Week
What it is: When a self-absorbed rich man (Jason Bateman) is suddenly cut off from his trust fund, he moves in with his best friend (Bill Crudup) — but their mutual interest in the same woman (Olivia Wilde) threatens to derail their friendship.
Why you should care: September is an odd time at the box office — long past the mega-blockbusters of the summer, but too early for many of the Best Picture contenders to hit theaters. As the month begins, each of the new releases is a bit of a gamble; The Longest Week looks a little shaggy, but if you don't feel like going to see Guardians of the Galaxy or whatever again, this is probably your best bet. Bateman is always a welcome presence, and Wilde is due for a comedy that will play up her luminous charm. "How am I supposed to care about a group of over-privileged affluent types who go gallivanting around without any sort of a moral compass?" says Jenny Slate in the film's trailer. It's a fair question — but there's always the hope that The Longest Week's self-awareness is a sign that they have a good answer to it.
What else is coming out: Kelly & Cal, a dramedy about an aging riot girl (Juliette Lewis) who befriends a younger, wheelchair-bound neighbor (Jonny Weston); God Help the Girl, a peppy pop musical about the travails of a young British band.
September 12: The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
What it is: A drama tracing the troubles that arise in the lives of a young married couple (Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy).
Why you should care: The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby might sound like your standard-issue romantic drama (albeit one with two unusually qualified actors) — but the really interesting thing is the structure of the story. By alternating between the perspectives of its two leads, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby promises a fascinatingly multidimensional look at the nature of love and relationships, and the ways in which our limited points of view prevent us from fully understanding even the people we love the most. [One caveat: In October, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby will also be released in separated versions, dubbed Him and Her — two distinct movies that tell the story from each of the main characters' perspectives. If you'd prefer to experience each version separately, you might be better off waiting instead of watching the spliced-together version.]
What else is coming out: The Drop, a moody crime thriller that features James Gandolfini's final film performance; Dolphin Tale 2, a sequel to 2011's unlikely family hit about a dolphin with a prosthetic tail; No Good Deed, a ludicrous-looking home invasion thriller starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson; Atlas Shrugged: Part III, the third and final entry in the low-grossing Atlas Shrugged trilogy, which exists in defiance of the free market's will.
September 19: The Skeleton Twins
What it is: A pair of estranged twins (Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader) reunite at a time of mutual crisis in their lives.
Why you should care: It has been three years since Bridesmaids became a massive global success, but star Kristen Wiig hasn't appeared in another film that shows off her full range as an actress. That seems poised to change with The Skeleton Twins, which earned universally positive reviews after a Sundance screening earlier this year. Wiig and Bill Hader share a magnetic and believable chemistry that dates back to their Saturday Night Live days, and the trailer offers a glimpse at what looks to be be a potent, thoughtful dramedy.
What else is coming out: Tusk, an offbeat horror movie about a psychopath who kidnaps a stranger (Justin Long) and tries to turn him into a walrus; This is Where I Leave You, a star-studded dramedy about a dysfunctional group of siblings (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey) coming to terms with their father's death; The Maze Runner, a YA adaptation about a group of boys trying to escape a massive, mysterious maze; Tracks, a drama based on the true story of a girl (Mia Wasikowska) who walked across a 1700-mile stretch of Australian deserts; A Walk Among the Tombstones, yet another entry in Liam Neeson's unlikely career as a generic action star; Reclaim, a Taken knock-off about a couple (Ryan Philippe and Rachelle Lefevre) who attempt to recover their kidnapped adopted daughter; Hector and the Search for Happiness, a Walter Mitty-esque story about a man (Simon Pegg) who embarks on a global quest to discover the secret to happiness.
September 27: The Boxtrolls
What it is: An orphan (the voice of Isaac Hempstead-Wright) is raised by friendly trolls who hide in the shadows of our real world — but a new danger forces them to come out into the open.
Why you should care: Several of the all-time best children's films — The Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — smuggle a certain degree of menace into their family-friendly narratives. Stop-motion animation studio Laika, who produced 2009's Coraline and 2012's ParaNorman, has successfully carried some of that spirit into the modern day — and The Boxtrolls looks to be cut from a similar cloth. At a time when most movies aimed at children share a kind of uniform CGI blandness, Laika's carefully rendered stop-motion films offer a welcome dose of originality and style.
What else is coming out: Laggies, a comedy about a dysfunctional young woman (Keira Knightley) who finds an unlikely friend in a teenaged girl (Chloe Grace Moretz); The Equalizer, a big-screen revival of the all-but-forgotten 80s action series about a retired black-ops agent (Denzel Washington) who uses his skills to help people in need; The Two Faces of January, a twisty thriller about a group of people involved in the death of a private eye; The Song, a modern-day riff on the life of the biblical Solomon that follows a Christian singer (Alan Powell) tempted by the trappings of fame.