There's plenty of reasons why I always argue that October is my favorite month of the year. First, there's the weather. The beautiful sunny days followed by chilly nights, I spend the Summer months just craving Fall's immaculate forecast. Next, October boasts my favorite holiday, Halloween. With all the horror movies and delicious candy floating around to keep us occupied, there's plenty to love about the tenth month of the year. But none of these irrefutable arguments can compare to my biggest reason why October is the best. It's the host month of the annual Philadelphia Film Festival. In its 22nd year, I decided to devote October's Movie-List of the Month to this year's 5 most anticipated film festival screenings. The Philadelphia Film Festival, which runs from October 17th to 27th, is the best way to get an early look at many of the biggest Oscar-contenders.
*** Click here for September's Movie-List of the Month
Honorable Mention: Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner Blue is the Warmest Color, Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in Philomena, then there's Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner who star in The Immigrant, Le Week-End featuring Jeff Goldblum, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan and finally the thriller Grand Piano starring Elijah Wood and John Cusack.
#5. Labor Day
Director Jason Reitman developed quite the fan base among voting members of the Academy with earlier works Juno and Up in the Air. While his previous release, Young Adult, failed to garner a nomination, the jury is still out on Reitman's latest effort, Labor Day. Kate Winslet stars as a depressed single mother who won't even venture outside of the house. But when she gathers up the courage to take a routine trip to the grocery store, she and her son end up helping out a fugitive on the run (Josh Brolin).
Whenever you mention Meryl Streep's name, you have to assume that the Academy is listening. This year Streep stars as a recently widowed matriarch who takes center stage after a crisis brings her entire dysfunctional family back together. Co-starring Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch and many more, August: Osage County undeniably has dreams of awards season glory.
#3. All Is Lost
Opening Night of the Philadelphia Film Festival marks the triumphant and talked about return of Robert Redford in the survival tale All Is Lost. In the twilight of his career, Redford is in the early Best Actor conversation with his turn as a sailor who faces mortality after his boat collides into a shipping container floating aimlessly in the sea.
Believe it, anything director Alexander Payne touches turn to gold. He's a modern-day "King Midas". Payne returns in 2013 with his black & white comedy-drama Nebraska. Bruce Dern gives a highly buzzed-about performance as a befuddled old man who journeys with his estranged son (Will Forte) to Nebraska in order to claim his million-dollar sweepstakes prize. And not only does the Philadelphia Film Festival always offer a first look at Oscar-caliber features, they provide excellent insight with Hollywood insiders. Alexander Payne and Will Forte will be doing a brief Question & Answer session following the Monday screening of their film.
#1. 12 Years a Slave
Despite being a late addition (not even mentioned in the festival's program), the film to be most-excited about is Steve McQueen's festival darling that's swept every competition it's been nominated for, 12 Years a Slave. The reviews have been astounding and the cast is star-studded. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup a free black man living in New York prior to the Civil War. However, Solomon is captured and transported to the south and sold into slavery where he suffers to stay alive and regain his freedom over the course of the next 12 years. Co-starring Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti and Paul Dano, 12 Years a Slave could be this year's Best Picture Winner!