Why does Matt Damon keep getting stranded in outer space? Is he just hapless? In “Interstellar,” Damon beckoned Matthew McConaughey to come check out his icy planet through the wormhole, though his true purpose in sending out an intergalactic Evite eventually became clear.
Anyway, that was last fall. This fall, Damon’s pretty much the whole show in “The Martian,” director Ridley Scott’s adaptation of the Andy Weir novel about an astronaut left for dead on the red planet. It’s a problem-solving exercise, and early word on “The Martian” suggests there’s room in the moviegoing universe for more than one “Gravity”-type showcase for an A-list star, working more or less solo, playing someone yearning to return to the blue planet we call home.
Our 10-to-watch list ends before Thanksgiving comes. Therefore, these fall season highlights (fingers crossed!) don’t include the end-of-year holiday releases, among them “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens” and “The Hateful Eight.”
But the fall film festival season has already begun, first with Telluride, Colo., moving on to Venice, Italy, then Toronto and then regional efforts such as our own Chicago International Film Festival in October. This means we’re about to see 100 or more films carrying high hopes, awards-season expectations and a star turn or two designed to impress. Release dates subject to change.