The air is getting cooler and fall is coming up fast: time for apple-picking, sweaters, and, well, a lot more time indoors. For us, that's as good an excuse as any to start mulling over the next season's line-up for movies and TV: whether you're watching in a 3D megaplex or on the tablet propped up on your bedside table, there's some good stuff coming up this season. So here's what we're daydreaming about, from the retro-futurism of Ascension to the weird superhero counterpoint of Birdman and the twee text-message interfaces in Men, Women & Children.
DC Comics TV shows
Gotham: September 22nd
The Flash: October 7th
Constantine: October 24th
Marvel is winning on the big screen, so DC is trying to take over the small one. And it's really starting in a big way this year, with three shows on three networks. Now, we'll admit, we haven't been particularly thrilled by any of them so far — Constantine and Gotham, in particular, have rocky starts — but they all have potential, and we're excited to see how DC plans to start bringing its heroes to life.
Read our preview of Constantine and The Flash and Gotham
Agents of SHIELD
Agents of SHIELD had a rocky start before hitting a creative stride during the final six episodes of its first season, when the series really began to address the fallout from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. With Marvel Studio's film success continuing unabated, Agents of SHIELD (along with a new show, Agent Carter, premiering in January) will undoubtedly be setting the stage for the studio's next blockbuster, Avengers: Age of Ultron — and that's definitely worth sticking around for.
David Fincher's next thriller is all about uncertainty. A woman has disappeared, and it's growing increasingly unclear whether her husband had anything to do with it. An adaptation of Gillian Flynn's bestselling novel of the same name, Gone Girl looks like it's bound to be another example of Fincher delivering all the moody, stylish storytelling we've come to expect from him.
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu's films don't really do simple. They usually tell several characters' intertwining stories, and Iñárritu has rightly garnered acclaim for his seamless execution. His next film, however, may be a bit different: Birdman appears to focus mainly on one character — a washed-up actor who's famous for having once played a superhero (smartly cast as Michael Keaton). That doesn't mean this will be a simple film, though. Birdman looks brilliantly surreal, gorgeously shot, and super smart. This one is easily among the top on our list.
Dear White People
Is this going to be the year's best comedy? Dear White People looks like it's going to be a sharp, snappy, and hilarious send-up of what it's like to be black on a white campus. Our own Casey Newton caught it early at Sundance, and we'll just leave you with a brief snippet of his previously published remarks: "See. This. Movie."
Men, Women & Children
Maybe more than any other major director, Jason Reitman's films are about examining modern culture and all of its eccentricities. Juno may be the prime example of that, but Men, Women & Children could just take its place this October: the film is all about how absorbed we've become with the screens in front of us, letting our devices know more about ourselves than even the loved ones around us. Perhaps it's a tired thought, but Reitman's exploration looks to be a truly thoughtful take on it.
Science fiction isn't just about shooting up aliens. Christopher Nolan's Interstellar finds the human race scared and alone, venturing out into space simply in order to find a way to survive. Nolan appears to be interested in rekindling the feeling of wonder we get when watching 2001, and we're more than ready to see if he can pull it off.
Big Hero 6
Disney bought Marvel a number of years back, and now it's starting to mine its trove of comic-book worlds for new characters to bring to life through animation. Big Hero 6 is its first choice. It's a kids movie, sure, but everything we've seen so far suggests that Big Hero 6 is going to be a fun and funny ride that brings out the best of Disney's animation and Marvel's heroes.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
We probably don't need to tell you how hyped the forthcoming installation of The Hunger Games has been — teasers, "motion posters," and tie-in microsites have been plastered all over the internet in the last few months. We were excited before, but this otherwise totally over-the-top event has been sobered somewhat by the fact that it will include some of the last performances by the late, fantastic Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Alternate histories can breed some of the very best sci-fi, and given the somber, dark tone of Ascension’s pilot we’ve got a good feeling about this one. Based on an actual rocket planned in the ‘50s but never built, this show follows 600 souls five decades after they left our planet — read: the present. These space-people (whose ranks include Tricia Helfer, aka Cylon #6) still act like it’s the Cold War, giving the show a very Mad Men-in-space sort of vibe.
Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights) is easily among today's best working directors, packing each of his films edge-to-edge with with a tangibly thick tension, masterful acting, and vibrant characters (to say the least of them). His next film, Inherent Vice, is a crime story based on a novel by Thomas Pynchon — so, yeah, there's a whole lot to be excited about.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
One last trip back to Middle-earth. Peter Jackson's epic Hobbit adaptation comes to a close this November, and there's little doubt that it'll be an absolutely huge affair. There's a dragon loose, a battle brewing, and dark forces sweeping the land. This may not be as exciting an event as Return of the King, but we'll still be sad to leave this world behind.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
This is, without question, the most controversial pick among The Verge staff — between the ones who hated the first Hot Tub Time Machine on principle and the ones who actually saw it. (Full disclosure: its inclusion was ultimately decided by way of arm wrestling. Seriously.) It's a ridiculous premise that actually ends up soaring through its actors' complete commitment to hamming it up and never taking things too seriously. We're looking forward to an equally goofy part two. And, hey, a little sci-fi never hurts.