star-wars-the-force-awakens-bb8-daisy-ridleyBy Ashley Pauls/Box Office Buzz

Another summer movie season has come and gone, but there are plenty of movies to look forward to in this year’s fall/winter line-up, including a Bond film, the final chapter in the Hunger Games series and a certain little science fiction film directed by J.J. Abrams. Here are the five films I’m most looking forward to this fall and winter. Let me know what films you’re most excited about, as well!

The Martian (Oct. 2)

1E2FE3ADSpace movies seem to be experiencing a bit of a resurgence, with “Gravity” achieving commercial and critical success in 2013, followed by Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” in 2014. “The Martian” continues that trend, highlighting mankind’s feelings of fascination — and fear — about the dark reaches of outer space.

Based on a best-selling novel, “The Martian” is a survival story about an astronaut stranded on Mars after his team members have to abort their mission. It has a fantastic cast — Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, just to name a few — and the trailer certainly caught my attention.

Pan (Oct. 9)

PANThis is my wildcard pick for this fall and winter movie season. It could be really good, or it could be bad; it’s one of those films I don’t think will fall in the “in between” zone. We’ve seen Peter Pan on film plenty of times before, and even in Disney’s mash-up TV show “Once Upon a Time,” but this appears to be a darker take on the famous story.

The film features an almost unrecognizable Hugh Jackman as the pirate Blackbeard and has Peter befriending his future nemesis, Captain Hook. Retellings of famous fairytales can be hit or miss in Hollywood. For every live-action fairytale adaptation that’s good (such as this year’s charming “Cinderella”), there’s one that’s pretty bad (the 2012 Snow White retelling “Mirror Mirror”). “Pan” could be a fun twist on the Peter Pan legend, or it could fail to hit the mark.

Spectre (Nov. 6)

SpectreDaniel Craig continues his run as James Bond in “Spectre,” the follow-up to 2012’s blockbuster “Skyfall.” I love Craig’s portrayal as Bond; he brought fresh life to the Bond franchise back in 2006 with “Casino Royale,” which is still my all-time favorite spy film.

I’m excited to see the new series delve into classic Bond history, presumably charting the rise of the mysterious criminal syndicate Spectre. I’ll miss seeing Judi Dench as M, the head of MI6, but I’m also looking forward to seeing what Ralph Fiennes brings to the role. It will be interesting to see if this is Craig’s last outing as Bond, and if so, what film makers have planned next for the franchise.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 (Nov. 20)

Film Review The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1I still wish the film makers hadn’t split the final Hunger Games novel into two films instead of one (especially since “Mockingjay — Part 1” mostly felt like a two-hour long trailer for the series finale). But what’s done is done, and judging by the trailer, this film will bring back the sense of dangerous tension that made “Catching Fire” such a thrilling watch.

Many fans of the book have complained about the series’ ending, and I’m hoping the film will fix some of the issues, such as abrupt and jarring character deaths that don’t give the other characters (or readers) time to grieve. Let’s hope the final film ends the franchise on a high note.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Dec. 18)

Star-Wars-Force-Awakens-First-Order-stormtroopersThis is, hands down, my most anticipated film of the year and, OK, I’ll be honest, of the decade (I’m just a little excited about this). I’m also incredibly nervous, because this is my all-time favorite film franchise. But I’ve got a good feeling about this. The cast is solid. The costumes look great. The trailer gave me goosebumps. And I believe J.J. Abrams and Co. will be able to pull it off.

As a fan of the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels, it was a little hard to let go of stories and characters I’d already come to love. I don’t know how much, if any, of those details or characters will show up in the new Star Wars universe. But this is a brand-new Star Wars movie — in theaters — something I didn’t think I’d ever get to see. As much as I want to know more about the plot, I’m trying to avoid learning too much about it, because I want to be surprised and simply let the film sweep me away. I’m excited that we all get to return to that galaxy far, far away. I hope it will be magical.

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