I just became a contributor to EXHALE magazine and here’s my first article all about the Fall Movie Season beginning with 50/50! (Ironically I am also a 3X cancer survivor, and am the subject of a separate feature story in the same issue of EXHALE about that experience.) Now that the car crashes of summer are gone, and the last hangover has been hung it’s time to get down to business—Oscar business. This is the time when the studios trot out their serious contenders, and the race to OSCAR unofficially begins. Some 100 movies will open between now and the end of the year, but here are the ones I can’t wait to see!

50/50—Actually, I have seen it– and it’s terrific! It’s a buddy comedy about cancer based on the true story of actor Seth Rogan and his friend Will Reiser who wrote the screenplay. 50/50  stars a slimmed down Rogan and a bald Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose character has just been diagnosed with spinal cancer. Boys will be boys and Rogan’s character spends a lot of time trying to figure out how his pal’s cancer can be used to get chicks. That said, the film manages to be funny not frivolous, sensitive not sappy, real not morbid. Throw in the quirkily charismatic Anna Kendrick, the ubiquitous Bryce Dallas Howard, and the formidable Anjelica Huston, and I’m sold. So were the two teenage boys I overheard after the screening saying, “That’s one o f the best films I’ve seen, dude.” Score! Opening (9/30)

I’ve also seen MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, a dark and unrelenting psychological thriller starring Elizabeth Olsen–younger sister of Mary Kate and Ashley. If her performance here as a traumatized cult survivor is any indication, Elizabeth will henceforth stand on her own merit. The 23 year-old Olsen is built for screen stardom; lean yet voluptuous, she absorbs us with her stillness and lucid beauty. On the run after two years under the spell of a Manson-like “family” leader (John Hawkes of WINTER’S BONE), Martha attempts to reconnect with her estranged sister (Sarah Paulsen) and her sister’s new husband (Hugh Dancy). This is director Sean Durkin’s feature film debut for which he also won “Best Director” at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s easy to see why; he has deftly orchestrated the fine line between present and past, reality and illusion, as the movie seamlessly shifts back and forth across the fault line of Martha’s jangled psyche– with volatile results. It’s no accident that her two families—and two selves –mirror each other. We are in thrall to the last frame as Martha/Marcy May Marlene fights for her sanity. (10/28)

Here’s the rest of my wish list:

IDES OF MARCH—You could tie me up and tie me down but wild horses couldn’t keep me from this timely political fable about a candidate wrestling with his ethics starring the debonair George Clooney and the ubersexy Ryan Gosling. (10/7)

TOWER HEIST—an action comedy starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy who plot a revenge robbery on the rich financier who lost their pension. YES! It’s Robin Hood for the Madoff era; will “Stiller and Murphy” be its new comedy team?  (11/4)

J. EDGAR—Leonardo DiCaprio teams up with Director Clint Eastwood in this biopic about the monumental and mysterious creator of the FBI: J. Edgar Hoover. Leo always had titanic talent but grows more interesting and nuanced in every role. In the spare but emotionally forthright Eastwood’s hands, I am prepared to be amazed. (11/9)

TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART I—Yes I know it’s for teenage girls. I read it to keep up with my daughter, and must say, got sucked in. Onscreen we’re up to Part I of the weirdest installment of the mega best-selling vampire series starring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. I want to see Edward and Bella’s wedding. I want to see Jacob and the baby. But really, I want to see some big vampire love. (11/18)

CARNAGE—I saw a stellar production on Broadway where it was called “God of Carnage,” about two couples who plan a civil get -together to discuss a “mole hill” of a mishap  involving their offspring; what erupts, is mount Vesuvius. Can you think of a more explosive foursome than Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly – all corralled by Polish outlaw filmmaker Roman Polanski? I’m chomping at the bit. (11/18)

THE IRON LADY- Meryl Streep  as British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher. Ironclad OSCAR nomination. (12/16)

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO—Swedish author Steig Larsson’s best-selling crime caper gets the American screen treatment. Rooney Mara will have to go some to compare with Noomi Rapace as the gritty and unforgettable antiheroine Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish screen adaptation. Co-star Daniel Craig as hard-bitten investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist should provide intriguing ballast. It’s directed by the brilliant David Fincher who’s got a knack for dark material. (12/21)

WE BOUGHT A ZOO—The ultra charming Matt Damon plays a zookeeper coping with his wife’s death. Who better to assist than a beautiful and talented zooworker played by Scarlett Johansson. Cameron Crowe directs this charismatic menagerie. (12/23)

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE—Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, and 13 year old newcomer Oskar Schell in his screen debut as a young boy who searches for the lock that fits a key left behind by his father who perished on 9/11. Just in time for Christmas! (12/23)

WAR HORSE—Steven Spielberg directs the screen adaptation of the Tony nominated play about Joey a beloved horse who’s sold into coombat during World War I and the young man who searches the British battlefields for him. I’m reaching for the tissues already. (12/28)