New movies to see: Six protagonists up against the odds: Rush
New movies to see: Six protagonists up against the odds: All Is Lost
New movies to see: Six protagonists up against the odds: 12 Years a Slave
New movies to see: Six protagonists up against the odds: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
New movies to see: Six protagonists up against the odds: The Wolf of Wall Street
New movies to see: Six protagonists up against the odds: Oldboy
Movie heroes often face extraordinary obstacles—that’s drama, people—but the hurdles in this fall’s crop of films are especially outrageous. Here are six of the most extreme examples, including Chris Hemsworth in Ron Howard’s Rush, and Josh Brolin in Spike Lee’s adaptation of Oldboy. No endings spoiled, of course, but getting there should be interesting.
RECOMMENDED: See all things to do in New York this fall
Ron Howard’s racing drama re-creates the ominous 1976 Formula One season, in which Britain’s James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth, finally out of Thor’s tights) faced off at dangerous speeds against Austrian daredevil Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). Their rivalry goes on, as does their fight to push speeding hunks of metal to their limits.
All you need to make a movie is Robert Redford and a boat. The Sundance Kid (hardly a kid anymore) plays a solo sailor who takes on Mother Nature after his vessel collides with a shipping container. Reports out of Cannes suggest this is one of the actor’s best-ever performances.
Shame’s Steve McQueen tackles the tragic, real-life tale of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in pre–Civil War America. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Northup, who must figure out a way to escape his white oppressors (Michael Fassbender plays the baddest of the bunch) and bolster the abolitionist movement.
Katniss returns in the adaptation of what is widely considered the most thrilling installment of YA novelist Suzanne Collins's trilogy—the one in which our girl-on-fire transforms into not just a survivor and beacon of hope, but a downright flaming revolutionary. Jennifer Lawrence, post–Oscar win, is expected to bring the emotional rhetoric (and plenty of arrows).
Or, Leo Cuts Loose. Martin Scorsese’s financial-industry melodrama follows a high-living Manhattan stockbroker (Leonardo DiCaprio) whose existence spirals out of control after the government starts investigating his business practices. But if that trailer shot of DiCaprio bustin’ a move to Kanye is any indication, there’s plenty of fun before the fall.
Spike Lee might be taking to Kickstarter of late, but here’s a movie he did the old-fashioned way; with a studio’s money. Remaking the ultraviolent 2003 Korean thriller, Lee cast Josh Brolin as an ad exec imprisoned by mysterious forces in solitary confinement for 20 years. Needless to say, when the dude gets out, he’s pissed.