Oregon Independent Film Festival
This showcase of lower-profile offerings from the U.S. and beyond includes shorts from up-and-comers and feature films like Portland director Dmae Roberts' Mei Mei, a Daughter's Song, an autobiographical movie using archival footage, live action and animation to tell the tale of Roberts and her mother's return to Taiwan to confront the past. SNL alum Laura Kightlinger's Laura Gets Adopted follows a swinger couple through the adoption process, while shorts explore everything from laughing at cancer to Bigfoot hunts and agoraphobia. Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St., 238‑5588, oregonindependentfilmfest.com. Sept. 25-27.
Portland German Film Festival
While German cinema has the occasional breakout (The Lives of Others, Run Lola Run), Portland audiences typically have to wait until the Portland International Film Festival to get a taste of the country's contributions to world cinema. The Portland German Film Festival offers up a wide swath of the talent coming out of that country, including the U.S. premiere of The Misplaced World and Lola on the Pea, a family adventure that disproves the stereotype of German film as all nihilistic expressionism. Other highlights include the U.S. premiere of the Alzheimer's drama Head Full of Honey starring director Til Schweiger, the metal documentary Wacken: The Movie, and a revival of 1946's The Murderers Are Among Us. Cinema 21, 616 NW 21st Ave., 223-4515; portlandgermanfilmfestival.com. Sept. 25-29.
H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
For 20 years, this festival has brought the gothic horror author's love of elder gods, tentacles, creeping dread and violated corpses to Portland. Offering a mix of horror, science fiction and the downright bizarre, the event is a whirlwind of parties, gaming, and classic and indie films. This year, the festival celebrates its longevity by hosting iconic weirdo actor Jeffrey Combs, star of Stuart Gordon's 1985 gorehound classic Re-Animator, the most famous film based on Lovecraft's tales. He'll join Laundry Files author Charles Stross in ushering in another decade of Cthulhu worship in Portland. Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd., 493-1128, cthulhucon.com. Oct. 2-4.
When he's not preoccupied with making robots punch monsters, Guillermo del Toro is one of the most visually poetic directors out there, and his return to gothic horror looks to be another knockout. With Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska in the leads, the otherworldly chiller looks like a cross between Edgar Allan Poe, Rebecca-era Hitchcock and H.P. Lovecraft, all with del Toro's penchant for creating the most alarming and original creatures in modern cinema. Scheduled release Oct. 16.
Daniel Craig has already defied skeptics by starring in two of the best Bond movies of all time, but expectations for Spectre are sky high. How could returning director Sam Mendes top Skyfall? Well, start with Christoph Waltz, who plays slimy and charming better than anyone, including Javier Bardem, who seethed menace in Skyfall. Rumors are circulating that Waltz might even play Bond nemesis Blofeld. Scheduled release Nov. 6.
Northwest Filmmakers' Festival
For 42 years, the Northwest Filmmakers' Festival has served up shorts, documentaries, comedies, horror films and everything in between from the region's emerging voices. Past entries have included works by Portland auteur (and maker of The Auteur) James Westby, local dread maestro E.P. Davee, "Twisted Twins" Jen and Sylvia Soska, and Peter D. Richardson, whose How to Die in Oregon became the face of the right-to-die movement. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park Ave., 221-1156, nwfilm.org. Nov. 12-17.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Even the hardest-core skeptic was left with goose bumps when the trailer hit—practical effects! Chewbacca and Han! The Millennium Falcon! That beach-ball droid thing!—and J.J. Abrams is the man who made Star Trek appealing even to the uninitiated. The Force is strong in that one. Even if The Force Awakens doesn't meet the hype, at least it'll be better than Attack of the Goddamned Clones. Scheduled release Dec. 18.
The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino's Western finally hits the screen, and in glorious 70 mm. If you haven't been paying attention, the Hollywood Theatre is among the few cinemas in the nation with 70 mm capability. Does that mean we'll get an earlier opportunity to see Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell and other badasses crack wise and paint the snow red while holed up in post-Civil War Wyoming? It happened with Interstellar, and Tarantino is hardcore about screening his films in their intended form. Scheduled release Dec. 25.