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Five to Anticipate This Fall
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Sandra Bullock in GRAVITY

The fall television and movie seasons are finally upon us. And that means we can sigh with relief: this summer's lackluster movie run has, let's hope, ended. But that also means there's a lot to choose from at the theaters and on our televisions. Below, four of our regular critics—Brett McCracken, Kenneth R. Morefield, Jackson Cuidon, and Alissa Wilkinson—weighed in on five of the movies and television shows they're anticipating as the weather cools and the busy season begins.

Brett McCracken

Gravity, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (in theaters October 4). The teaming of Alfonso Cuarón, in his first directorial effort since 2006's Children of Men, and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life) makes me think this film will be full of long, extraordinarily beautiful shots. Oh, and terrifying. I mean, have you seen that trailer?

12 Years a Slave, directedby Steve McQueen (in theaters October 18). With his films Hunger (2008) and Shame (2011), Steve McQueen has established himself as one of cinema's most provocative and interesting new voices. That alone makes me excited to see his latest. The impressive cast—Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Alfre Woodard, Brad Pitt and more—only makes me anticipate it more.

Inside Llewyn Davis, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (in theaters December 20). The Coen Brothers are on a hot streak and their latest looks to impress once again. A tale of the halcyon days of the nascent folk music scene in 1960s Greenwich Village, Inside promises to have a soundtrack to match its cinematic prestige.

Captain Phillips, directed by Paul Greengrass (in theaters October 11). The last time Greengrass tackled a ripped-from-the-headlines story like this was his magnificent United 93 (2006), which I expect will be looked back upon as the definitive film about 9/11. With Tom Hanks starring in this intense narrative of the 2009 Somali pirate hijacking, I expect great things.

MobCity, created by Frank Darabont (premiering December 4 on TNT). From the director who brought us Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and AMC's The Walking Dead comes a new TV series on 1940s gangsters in Los Angeles. Here's hoping it's better than Gangster Squad.

Brett McCracken is a Los Angeles-based writer and journalist, and author of the books Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide (Baker, 2010) and Gray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism and Liberty (Baker, 2013). You can follow him @brettmccracken.

Kenneth R. Morefield

Elementary, created by Robert Doherty (season 2 premiere September 26 on CBS). Sherlock Holmes has been done to death, but this iteration resembles House more than anything else, with Johnny Lee Miller being every bit as charismatic as Hugh Laurie was in his self-tortured addict role. Television traditionally has a hard time portraying male-female relationships that aren't love interests, so I particularly appreciated the gradual partnership formed by Holmes and the female Watson (played by Lucy Liu) in Season One. I'm curious to see if Elementary can keep this up or whether they'll make the seemingly inevitable dive into "will they or won't they?" sexual tension between the leads.

Ender's Game, directed by Gavin Hood (in theaters November 1). Having spent most of my young adult years longing for an Ender movie, I spent a chunk of my summer rereading the novel (and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead). Doing so reminded me both of how hard it would be to make a film that was both true to its source material and commercially successful. It's hard to go wrong with Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfield, Abigail Breslin, and Viola Davis, but I'm still holding my breath. Come November 1, you'll either hear a deep sigh of relief or a loud groan of disappointment coming from my direction.

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Five to Anticipate This Fall