November Movie Guide: 15 Films to Watch For

Bond is back, two animated blockbusters duke it out and Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee and David O. Russell go for the Oscar.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

Did Summer spring a leak? Because November is flooded with high profile releases, and not just the usual Oscar bait either. James Bond is back, there are two potential blockbuster animated releases and Twilight's here for its last hurrah. Meanwhile Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, David O. Russell and plenty more directors besides are making their Oscar bids. Do they have a shot? Are any of these films worth your time? CraveOnline's November Movie Guide has you covered.

The ABCs of Death (Rated R)

Starring: A Lot of Actors

Directed by: A Lot of Directors

Release Date: November 2

An anthology horror film featuring 26 entries, each corresponding with a different letter of the alphabet (“A is for Apocalypse” to “B is for Bigfoot,” etc.).

CraveOnline’s Call: Two hours, 26 movies? At least none of them will be able to outstay their welcome. Horror anthologies are always, perhaps by definition, a mixed bag, but the sheer volume here implies that most of The ABCs of Death is likely to suck. Still, with talent like Nacho Vigalondo (Time Crimes), Ti West (House of the Devil), Ben Wheatley (Kill List) and Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun) contributing installments, it might be worth scoping out for horror fans.

Flight (Rated R)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Release Date: November 2

Denzel Washington plays a pilot who saves a plane full of passengers from a potentially deadly crash, but his heroism comes into question when his employers find out he was drunk during the flight.

CraveOnline’s Call: The actors are all great, but Flight gets so mired in Washington’s straightforward alcoholism melodrama that it neglects the most fascinating moral dilemmas of the story, so the film just comes across as judgmental and preachy. For hardcore Denzel fans only.

A Late Quartet (Rated R)

Starring: Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Wallace Shawn, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots

Directed by: Yaron Zilberman

Release Date: November 2

When tragedy strikes the members of a tight knit, renowned string quartet, their relationships are tested.

CraveOnline’s Call: It doesn’t sound like Transformers, does it? But with a cast this remarkable we bet they could make ordering an egg salad sandwich sound dramatic. The reviews were quite positive for A Late Quartet coming out of the festival season, and it may be just the antidote for the fall pseudo-blockbusters if you have no interest in Skyfall or Wreck-It Ralph.

The Man with the Iron Fists (Rated R)

Starring: RZA, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Dave Bautista, Jamie Chung,
Byron Mann, Rick Yune

Directed by: RZA

Release Date: November 2

A blacksmith (RZA) gets embroiled in a conflict between warring clans in an ultraviolent, comedic, action-packed tribute to Hong Kong kung fu flicks.

CraveOnline’s Call: RZA makes his directorial debut here, and packs The Man with the Iron Fists with every character, action sequence, outlandish conceit and bizarre joke he could have ever possibly wanted to put in a movie. The result is a bit of a mess, but always an enjoyable one. Anyone who isn’t a kung fu nut may be put off by the film’s outrageous style, but everyone else should have a fistful of fun.

This Must Be the Place (Rated R)

Starring: Sean Penn, Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch,
Kerry Condon, Harry Dean Stanton

Directed by: Paolo Sorrentino

Release Date: November 2

A retired rocker (Penn) travels to America to avenge a decades-old injustice against the father.

CraveOnline’s Call: Remember when Sean Penn made weird movies? This Must Be the Place is apparently for you. The bizarre trailer, sweet sensibility and apparent willingness to use the plot as an excuse for a road trip movie evokes pleasant memories of 1990s indie cinema, and Penn looks like he’s having the most fun he’s had in years. We reserve the right to judge the finished product differently, but the promise of This Must Be the Place is one of the most heartening of the year.

Wreck-It Ralph (Rated PG)

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch

Directed by: Rich Moore

Opening: November 2

A video game villain (Reilly) gives up his day job and hops to different games in the arcade in order to become a hero himself, and find acceptance.

CraveOnline’s Call: Wreck-It Ralph is funny, gorgeously animated and engaging to kids and many adults. But some of us are distracted by the way the story gets stuck in a single game for the second half of the film, and a concept that has some troubling, probably unintentional undercurrents of conformity. Your kids will love it, but it’s not a classic and it’s not the best animated movie of the year.

Lincoln (Rated PG-13)

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn,
James Spader, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Release Date: November 9

Steven Spielberg’s latest historical drama, and first collaboration with lauded actor Daniel Day-Lewis (playing Lincoln), follows the complex and unexpected political machinations behind convincing congress to abolish slavery once and for all.

CraveOnline’s Call: Spielberg can be great, and Spielberg can be frustratingly maudlin, but we suspect Lincoln could be one of the great ones. Lewis practically guarantees a brilliant performance, and the film’s focus on the political wheelings and dealings over the battlefields of the Civil War should keep most of the melodrama in background. If nothing else, we can’t imagine it sucking.

Skyfall (Rated PG-13)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris,
Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Berenice Marlohe

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Release Date: November 9

James Bond (Craig) returns from the dead to stop a new villain who’s holding the identity of the world’s secret agents hostage and, for some reason, specifically targeting his boss, Q (Dench).

CraveOnline’s Call: We had to wait a long, long time for Skyfall, but it was worth it. Craig’s still great, Bardem may prove to be one of the best Bond villains ever and the one-two punch of director Sam Mendes and D.P. Roger Deakins winds up giving us the most gorgeous Bond movie to date. The only issue is that Skyfall spends a lot of time setting up the next wave of the franchise, and you may or may not prefer the new direction to the old one. But that’s not our problem… yet. Until then, Skyfall delivers the goods.

Anna Karenina (Rated R)

Starring: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson,
Matthew Macfadyen, Domhnall Gleeson

Directed by: Joe Wright

Release Date: November 16

Leo Tolstoy’s sweeping tale of romance, infidelity and guilt gets a highly theatrical treatment from Atonement director Joe Wright.

CraveOnline’s Call: Joe Wright tries his hand at Baz Luhrmann’s schtick with this new, elaborate and highly stagey rendition of Anna Karenina, and the results are thrilling but sometimes seem to show off more than they actually have. If you can get past the flashiness (or embrace it), you’ll find some stellar performances in Wright’s latest, and probably enjoy the hell out of it.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (Rated PG-13)

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner

Directed by: Bill Condon

Release Date: November 16

The story, and the cultural zeitgeist, finally comes to a close as Edward (Pattinson) and Bella (Stewart) strive to save their child from the vampire Volturi.

CraveOnline’s Call: You’re either seeing it or your not. Quality is a non-issue. If you’ve followed the franchise before, you aren’t missing the last installment. Otherwise, you probably aren’t going unless someone drags you, and if you have to be dragged, you probably aren’t going to like it much.

Hitchcock (Rated PG-13)

Starring: Sir Anthony Hopkins, Dame Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, James D’Arcy

Directed by: Sacha Gervasi

Release Date: November 23

The inside story of how the world’s most famous director, Alfred Hitchcock, placed his career on the line to direct the controversial horror thriller Psycho.

CraveOnline’s Call: We love Alfred Hitchcock, and we love the trailer for this film, which appears to scratch our itch for old school Hollywood fan service and impish humor. It was a “must see” on sheer principle, but now that we’ve seen a bit, our hopes are actually high.

Life of Pi (Rated PG)

Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan

Directed by: Ang Lee

Release Date: November 23

The director of Brokeback Mountain is back with his latest Oscar contender, based on the novel about an Indian boy, shipwrecked along with wild animals like a Bengal tiger.

CraveOnline’s Call: It looks stunning, but Ang Lee has always been hit or miss with us, so we recommend waiting for the reviews to come in before you make your final judgment, if you’re not daring enough (or have sufficient disposable income) to take a leap of faith.

Rise of the Guardians (Rated PG)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Jude Law, Dakota Goyo

Directed by: Peter Ramsey

Release Date: November 23

Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny and The Tooth Fairy enlist Jack Frost to help save the world’s children from a powerful new threat.

CraveOnline’s Call: The phrase “Executive Producer Guillermo del Toro” is extremely encouraging here, since in the wrong hands Rise of the Guardians could be the worst kind of family movie pandering, but we like what we’ve seen so far. Action-packed, good sense of humor. Now if they can avoid getting sappy they might just be on to something.

Silver Linings Playbook (Rated R)

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker

Directed by: David O. Russell

Release Date: November 23

Bradley Cooper moves back in with his parents after a stay in a mental institution, and finds himself drawn to an equally troubled woman played by Jennifer Lawrence.

CraveOnline’s Call: David O. Russell has earned a lot of good will, particularly after his last feature, The Fighter, defied our expectations of competitive sporting movies. Perhaps Silver Linings Playbook could do the same for quirky dramas about outsiders falling in love. It’s got a great cast and a great director and a lot of great buzz. Put us down for tickets.

Killing Them Softly (Rated R)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Sam Shepard

Directed by: Andrew Dominik

Release Date: November 30

When a heist goes down at a poker game, professional mob enforcer Brad Pitt is called in to find the criminals and retrieve the money.

CraveOnline’s Call: We like the cast, but Killing Them Softly looks like a non-stop tour through crime cliché territory. We don’t care how you kill them, just don’t do it on a screen in front of us.

Disclaimer: Release dates, and our opinions, are subject to change.