Who doesn’t love a good movie? With the summer blockbuster season firmly in the rearview mirror, we find ourselves in the interesting part of the release year, when studios are beginning to mix big budget action movies with more family-oriented fare for the holidays, as well as a run of more serious films that aim for awards season glory. When you combine that with the return of the pumpkin spice latte, it’s really a wonderful time of year.

While many of us enjoy movies that make us laugh or tug on the heartstrings, it’s worth remembering that great movies move the mind as well. Mindless comedies or romances have their place, but movies have a unique ability to teach us, inspire us, and move us to question our place in the world or our beliefs. In other words, they can make us think, and this should be considered a good thing, rather than a distraction. The life of the mind is what we make it, and we would do well to not shy away from the hard questions that arise from great art. 

There are also lessons to be learned from the craft of movies. Whether it’s writing the screenplay, directing the film, performing a role, designing the costumes, composing the music… the list of what goes into the finished film is quite extensive, and reminds us that, first and foremost, movies are creative endeavors. They are put together by artists fulfilling their roles in the world, and the degree to which they execute that role is a reflection of how seriously they take their craft. According to the creation account recorded in Genesis, God made the world in seven days, paying special attention to even the smallest details of his creation. When we use our creative abilities to their fullest extent, it can be a giving back to God of a great gift, a way for us to say, Thank you, Lord, for making this world and putting me in it – here’s what I can give back to you, as much as I am able to give of myself. 

So grab a big bowl of popcorn. Here are eight movies coming out this fall that we think will be worth checking out. 
 

   The Martian    Adapted from Andy Weir’s bestselling novel, this film tells the story of Mark Watney, a botanist on a mission to Mars who, in an unfortunate turn of events, finds himself stranded on the Red Planet alone, with limited food and supplies. Armed with an unwavering desire to survive (and the ability to grow potatoes), Watney sets out to keep himself alive until a rescue crew can come back for him – in four years. Starring Matt Damon and directed by the king of sci-fi himself, Ridley Scott,  The Martian  looks to be a thrilling movie about human ingenuity and compassion. And, you know, Mars. 


The Martian

Adapted from Andy Weir’s bestselling novel, this film tells the story of Mark Watney, a botanist on a mission to Mars who, in an unfortunate turn of events, finds himself stranded on the Red Planet alone, with limited food and supplies. Armed with an unwavering desire to survive (and the ability to grow potatoes), Watney sets out to keep himself alive until a rescue crew can come back for him – in four years. Starring Matt Damon and directed by the king of sci-fi himself, Ridley Scott, The Martian looks to be a thrilling movie about human ingenuity and compassion. And, you know, Mars. 

   Room   Author Emma Donoghue adapted her own bestselling novel to tell the story of Jack, a 5-year-old boy being raised in a small room by his mother, who was kidnapped and has been held in captivity for years. When Jack escapes and is able to free his mother, the two of them must learn to live in a world that is both thrilling and foreign to them. The film won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and early reviews have been great, with stars Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay earning particular praise. This looks like one you won’t want to miss.


Room

Author Emma Donoghue adapted her own bestselling novel to tell the story of Jack, a 5-year-old boy being raised in a small room by his mother, who was kidnapped and has been held in captivity for years. When Jack escapes and is able to free his mother, the two of them must learn to live in a world that is both thrilling and foreign to them. The film won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and early reviews have been great, with stars Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay earning particular praise. This looks like one you won’t want to miss.

   Spectre   A new James Bond movie is never one to pass up. Picking up after the excellent  Skyfall , this film finds Bond following a cryptic message in order to bring down a secret organization. While Bond movies have never taken themselves too seriously, Daniel Craig’s run as the MI-6 agent has taken a more insightful look into James Bond, the man, and raised some questions about the morality of his work. Featuring Christoph Waltz as the villain and Craig in possibly his last turn as 007, we’re thinking this one’s a no-brainer.


Spectre

A new James Bond movie is never one to pass up. Picking up after the excellent Skyfall, this film finds Bond following a cryptic message in order to bring down a secret organization. While Bond movies have never taken themselves too seriously, Daniel Craig’s run as the MI-6 agent has taken a more insightful look into James Bond, the man, and raised some questions about the morality of his work. Featuring Christoph Waltz as the villain and Craig in possibly his last turn as 007, we’re thinking this one’s a no-brainer.

   Joy   Jennifer Lawrence again. Details about the plot are scarce, save that it’s about a woman named Joy…and that’s really all we know. The trailer looks good though, and the film reunites director David O. Russell with Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro, all of whom starred in his Oscar-winning (and really great)  Silver Linings Playbook . Play this one by ear, but it’s sure to be one of the most talked-about movies of the season.


Joy

Jennifer Lawrence again. Details about the plot are scarce, save that it’s about a woman named Joy…and that’s really all we know. The trailer looks good though, and the film reunites director David O. Russell with Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro, all of whom starred in his Oscar-winning (and really great) Silver Linings Playbook. Play this one by ear, but it’s sure to be one of the most talked-about movies of the season.

   Steve Jobs   Less than two years after the first film about the legendary Apple founder hit theaters (Ashton Kutcher, anyone?), we’re getting another attempt at telling his story. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin chose to focus the film around three iconic Apple product launches throughout the 1980s and 1990s, giving us a backstage look at the man most of us knew only as a guy in a black turtleneck. Directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle and starring the great Michael Fassbender in the title role, this should be a stirring, moving film about one the foremost creative thinkers of our time. 


Steve Jobs

Less than two years after the first film about the legendary Apple founder hit theaters (Ashton Kutcher, anyone?), we’re getting another attempt at telling his story. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin chose to focus the film around three iconic Apple product launches throughout the 1980s and 1990s, giving us a backstage look at the man most of us knew only as a guy in a black turtleneck. Directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle and starring the great Michael Fassbender in the title role, this should be a stirring, moving film about one the foremost creative thinkers of our time. 

   Spotlight    Following up his Oscar-nominated performance in  Birdman , Michael Keaton leads an all-star cast in this film telling the true story of how a group of journalists at  The Boston Globe  uncovered the child molestation scandal, and its cover up, within their local Catholic church. At this point most of us are aware of how the Catholic church covered up the horrendous actions of dozens of priests, and while this film may be uncomfortable to watch, it should invite us to ask questions about why the scandal happened, why the church chose to cover it up, and what it means to live as a follower of Christ and to be accountable for our actions.


Spotlight 

Following up his Oscar-nominated performance in Birdman, Michael Keaton leads an all-star cast in this film telling the true story of how a group of journalists at The Boston Globe uncovered the child molestation scandal, and its cover up, within their local Catholic church. At this point most of us are aware of how the Catholic church covered up the horrendous actions of dozens of priests, and while this film may be uncomfortable to watch, it should invite us to ask questions about why the scandal happened, why the church chose to cover it up, and what it means to live as a follower of Christ and to be accountable for our actions.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Are you surprised to see this one here? Don’t be. The movies in this series have so far been surprisingly great, and this final installment looks to keep that trend alive. Here we find Katniss and company making their last stand in the battle to bring down the evil rulers in the Capitol. Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of books ended with a well-earned emotional payoff, one that was simultaneously aching and triumphant, though time will tell if the movie remains faithful. Regardless, Jennifer Lawrence has been consistently strong in her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen, so you probably don’t want to miss her last time wielding the bow. 

   Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens   Luke Skywalker. Han Solo. Princess Leia. Lightsabers. A mysterious villain. Space. Duh.


Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Luke Skywalker. Han Solo. Princess Leia. Lightsabers. A mysterious villain. Space. Duh.