Fall Movie Preview: What to Look Forward to this Autumn Movie Season
With Toronto (TIFF September 5th-September 15th) in full swing, New York (NYFF September 27th-October 13th) on the horizon, and Venice and Telluride already premiering some big name fall players (Ad Astra, Marriage Story, Uncut Gems), and lighting the hot flame of relentless social media discourse (Joker), the autumn movie season has officially kicked off. Here’s a list of Fall releases to look forward to this autumn, including Oscar hopefuls, indie darlings, and blockbuster fare. Forget the summer movie season, the best time to watch movies is when the leaves are falling and the weather is getting colder by the day, pushing you to the theater. Or couch, since that’s what many prefer nowadays.
It: Chapter 2 (September 6th)
Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) is back to haunt the adult version of the kids from the first film. Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, and James McAvoy play three of the grown up kids from the Losers Club in the town of Derry. It’ll be hard to surpass the first one, but there’s no doubt this 3-hour second chapter will be just as memorable, especially with an all-star cast. Bill Hader can do no wrong and hopefully Andy Muschetti can continue his cinemagic from the first film. No matter what, this will always be the best Stephen King horror adaptation that isn’t called The Shining.
The Goldfinch (September 13th)
With both director John Crowley (Brooklyn) and the best cinematographer in the world (Roger Deakins) behind the camera, this adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name is in very good hands. With Ansel Elgort, Sarah Paulson, and Nicole Kidman in front of the camera, well, now we’re just getting spoiled. If the movie is as beautiful as the trailer, then this could be one of the best of the year.
Monos (September 13th)
This Sundance 2019 film from Colombian director Alejandro Landes looks thrilling and raw.
Ad Astra (September 20th)
Brad Pitt continues his stellar year with James Gray’s Ad Astra. Gray is one of the most interesting American directors and with rave reviews coming out of Venice, Ad Astra may be his best yet. It also looks like a must-see in IMAX.
Judy (September 27th)
Renée Zellweger as the iconic Judy Garland in this biopic directed by Rupert Goold (True Story) looks like a typical acting category showcase but nonetheless worth watching.
The Death of Dick Long (September 27th)
A24’s Sundance entry looks as bizarre as it sounds. From director Daniel Scheinart, the co-director of the bonkers Swiss Army Man, Dick Long is about two friends in small-town Alabama trying to conceal how their friend actually died.
The Laundromat (Theaters September 27th; Netflix October 18th)
Steven Soderbergh’s second film of the year with Netflix after High Flying Bird opened in February. The Laundromat is a complete turnaround from Bird, starring Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, and Meryl Streep. Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns tackles the Panama Papers scandal through the eyes of a very curious widow, fourth-wall breaking exposition, and a satirical tone. Though it has mixed reviews coming out of Telluride, there’s enough talent here making it worth the stream on a cool autumn day.
The Hunt (September 27th)
Joker (October 4th)
Here it comes. Todd Phillips (The Hangover I,II, and III, Due Date, Old School, yeah) brings the origin story and character study of one of the greatest comic villains to the screen. Joaquin Phoenix is the eponymous anti-hero in 1980s Gotham City. It’s all the rage at Venice, with Phoenix’s performance getting the most praise. It’ll be interesting and probably exhausting to see what this stirs up in October, but it’s sure to be an exciting watch.
Pain and Glory (October 4th)
Pedro Almodóvar’s new movie premiered to much acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival in May. While I’ve only seen one of Almodovar’s films (The Skin I Live In), that was enough to continue an exploration of his works. Unfortunately, the Criterion Channel took down all of his movies. This one will have to hold me over until his others stream again. Here’s the 8 ½-type synopsis: a film director reflects on the choices he’s made in life as past and present come crashing down around him. With some Fellini influence and Almodóvar regular Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory is sure to please.
Lucy in the Sky (October 4th)
One of Fox Searchlight’s potential Oscar contenders this year is this space drama starring Natalie Portman and Jon Hamm. Natalie Portman never disappoints (see Jackie, Annihilation) and the last time she was in space she was dating Anakin Skywalker. Lucy in the Sky looks like it’ll suit her acting chops a little better.
Dolemite Is My Name (Theaters October 4th; Netflix streaming October 25th)
Eddie Murphy makes a comeback in this Netflix film about rapper and comedian Rudy Ray Moore and his kung-fu alter-ego Dolemite in the 1970s.
Low Tide (October 4th)
From a first-time director and Tribeca Film Festival premiere from earlier this year, this A24 release is heavily influenced by The Goonies (1985) and Stand By Me (1986). Three young troublemakers on the Jersey Shore find a treasure, setting off a journey of mystery and violence in this thriller.
Gemini Man (October 11th)
Ang Lee attempts a comeback after his failure with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk in 2016 and Gemini Man looks suspicious as well. But Will Smith is always a fun commanding presence, Ang Lee is a very capable director, and with David Benioff of Game of Thrones glory as a contributor to the script, this could be something. Maybe a hit we’re not expecting? We’ll see.
Parasite (October 11th)
Making history as the first Korean film to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite is one of the most anticipated releases of the fall. The lucrative genius behind such genre treasures as Memories of Murder, The Host, Snowpiercer, and Okja brings this clash of classes thriller to western audiences in October.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix October 11th)
Sometimes I wish things could just end. The Breaking Bad finale was perfect and there’s no reason to continue it. But that’s what Hollywood does and yet I can’t help but be excited for this one. Following Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul returning to his famous role) after escaping the white supremacists thanks to Walter White, this Breaking Bad movie is still in good hands with original creator Vince Gilligan as the writer and director. Obviously everyone sees how Disney is changing Hollywood but does anyone else notice the subtle influences Disney has on the film industry? “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” sure sounds like “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” If Disney hadn’t have made these titles first with their franchise spinoffs and continuations, would Netflix have “A Breaking Bad Movie” in the title? I don’t know, just something to think about.
The King (Theaters October 11th; Netflix November 1st)
With mostly mixed reviews out of Venice so far, The King still looks like a hell of a movie. Plus, with Timothée Chalamet at the center, it can’t be terrible. In fact, the 23-year old’s performance is getting the most praise as the reluctant-to-rule King Henry V. David Michôd hopes to get back to his glory days when he made such gems as Animal Kingdom (2010) and The Rover (2014) before he really misfired with his bombastic Netflix film War Machine and Brad Pitt’s worst performance. Luckily, Netflix has given him another chance and The King seems like it’s going to be quite entertaining if the Game of Thrones vibe the trailer is giving off means anything.
Zombieland: Double Tap (October 18th)
Oh look, another sequel to a movie that came out 10 years ago. But why am I excited again? Because the same cast is back and the first one was just so much fun and so good. I don’t mind revisiting this kickass zombie film.
Jojo Rabbit (October 18th)
Taika Waititi is one of the funniest voices in Hollywood. Hunt for the Wilderpeople was an absolute blast, his Thor reinvention as a full-blown comedy in Thor: Ragnarok was an ingenious inclusion into the MCU, and What We Do in the Shadows is a brilliant comedy about vampires struggling in the mundanities of the modern world. Now his new anti-hate satire about a young boy befriending an exuberant Hitler (played by Waititi himself) looks like another delightful and moving film. We should enjoy this while we can, before Waititi takes his talents back to the MCU with Thor: Love and Thunder.
The Lighthouse (October 18th)
A24 release and Robert Eggers’ sophomore feature stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as two lighthouse keepers in the 1890s living off the coast of Maine. Shot in black-and-white 35mm, two phenomenal actors voicing quite the accents, and blink-and-you-miss-it footage of mermaids in the trailer, this is sure to be something else entirely. Eggers’ first feature, The Witch, was a whole new kind of craze and paranoia, and he looks to exceed that with the The Lighthouse.
The Kill Team (October 25th)
A24 goes to Afghanistan in its first war movie starring Nat Wolff and Alexander Skargård from writer-director Dan Krauss. Based on his 2013 documentary of the same name, The Kill Team is about a young soldier in Afghanistan at odds with his sadistic, civilian-murdering leader.
The Irishman (Theaters November 1st; Netflix November 27th)
Martin Scorsese reunites with his Goodfellas stars Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for this crime drama about a hitman claiming his involvement in the killing of mob boss Jimmy Hoffa. Al Pacino and Harvey Keitel also star. It’s been a long wait for this one and at 3 ½ hours, it will be a long movie. But in Scorsese’s hands we can trust that every minute will count. This callback to 20th century Scorsese is getting a lot of headlines for its use of de-aging VFX technology, making Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci look younger and shooting the budget to over $150 million. The Irishman will open the New York Film Festival before Netflix gives it a quick theatrical release and then streams it starting November 27th.
Harriet (November 1st)
Harriet Tubman gets honored on the screen for the first time in what looks to be a simple but intriguing story about the life of one of America’s bravest heroes.
Motherless Brooklyn (November 1st)
Adapted from the novel of the same name by Jonathan Lethem, Edward Norton stars and directs this 1950s crime drama about a private detective with Tourette’s investigating the murder of his only friend.
Waves (November 1st)
A24’s potential Oscar film looks magnificent. With raves from Telluride and directed by Houston native Trey Edward Shults (Krisha, It Comes at Night), his third film looks to be his best yet. Set in South Florida, Waves is about a suburban African-American family finding their way through a tragedy. Starring Luce breakout Kelvin Harrison Jr., Sterling K. Brown as the father, Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie, and Lucas Hedges. With Moonlight imagery and a score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Waves could be one of the best of the year.
Terminator: Dark Fate (November 1st)
I’ll probably pass myself but there are still some die-hard fans of this never-ending franchise. It peaked with T2: Judgement Day but that’s just mine and many others opinions.
Earthquake Bird (November 1st; Netflix streaming November 15th)
There’s not much to go off of on this one besides Colette director Wash Westmoreland at the helm with Alicia Vikander and Riley Keough starring. World premiering at the BFI London Film Festival on October 10th, this could be a surprise Netflix hit. Official synopsis from IMDB: A young woman living in Tokyo becomes the prime suspect in a horrific murder when her friend goes missing in the wake of a tumultuous love triangle.
Marriage Story (Theaters November 6th; Netflix Streaming December 6th)
I cannot contain my excitement for this one. From Noah Bambauch, one of my favorite writer-directors, Marriage Story is about a stage director (the admirable Adam Driver) and his actress wife (Scarlett Johansson) going through a divorce. Also starring Laura Dern and Ray Liotta as the lawyers, this divorce story spanning coast-to-coast from Los Angeles to New York looks like not only an insightful look into the hardships of divorce, but also a gripping, emotional ride about two creative people jarred by their turbulent love life.
Doctor Sleep (November 8th)
Remember when I said It is the best horror Stephen King adaptation that isn’t The Shining? Well, that could change just two months later when Doctor Sleep, King’s sequel to The Shining, is released. With Ewan McGregor leading and horror master Mike Flanagan behind the camera, Doctor Sleep could be the next great Stephen King adaptation.
Honey Boy (November 8th)
After watching Shia LaBeouf in The Peanut Butter Falcon this summer, I was reminded by how great of screen presence he is no matter how troubled he is. Now he’s using his artistic talents to document his life troubles. With a screenplay by LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges as LaBeouf, and LaBeouf playing his own father, Honey Boy is the fictional story of LaBeouf’s life from his tumultuous childhood to his early acting years while struggling with mental health and his rough father.
Last Christmas (November 8th)
It looks like a sweet little Christmas rom-com. What’s not to like about that? Plus, Emilia Clarke and director Paul Feig? Why not?
Ford v Ferrari (November 15th)
From James Mangold, the director behind Walk the Line and Logan, comes an old-school film that grownups are begging for these days. Finally, an original studio movie (not an indie) with a middling budget, two A-list actors, and an awesome story with shock-fueled, tense race-scenes that is sure to please. It’s the ultimate dad movie, and that, as well as being a movie they literally don’t make anymore, is something to celebrate. In this true story, Christian Bale is Ken Miles, a race car driver recruited by Matt Damon’s character, Carroll Shelby, to compete against Enzo Ferrari with their new Ford design in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France 1966. Though this is technically Disney now they acquired 20th Century Fox, I like to believe this is the legendary studio’s final film and they’re going out with a big middle finger to Disney’s franchise obsession.
I Lost My Body (Theaters November 15th; Netflix streaming November 29th)
This animated French film was acquired by Netflix at Cannes. A severed hand escapes from a dissection lab to find its way back to its body. Sounds super interesting.
The Lodge (November 15th)
Riley Keough stars in this atmospheric horror film about a woman and her stepchildren isolated in a remote winter cabin.
The Report (Theaters November 15th; Amazon Prime November 29th)
The Laundromat isn’t Scott Z. Burns’ only film coming out this fall. This time he directs and Steven Soderbergh produces as Adam Driver stars in this political drama about the investigation into the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.
Atlantics (Theaters November 15th; Netflix Streaming November 29th)
Directed by Mati Diop, the first black woman ever to compete for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Atlantics is the story of a group of construction workers who abandon their work on a skyscraper due to absent wages. Seeking better opportunities at sea, lovers Suleiman and Ada struggle to stay together.
21 Bridges (November 22nd)
This Anthony and Joe Russo (Avengers: Endgame) produced film has been delayed many times. While that isn’t a good sign, this Chadwick Boseman starring crime mystery could be a surprise.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (November 22nd)
When you cast one of America’s most beloved icons (Tom Hanks) as one of America’s most beloved icons (Mr. Rogers) and put Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) behind the camera then there’s bound to be some magic and maybe even some Oscar gold.
Knives Out (November 27th)
Word about this one will be out soon as it premieres in Toronto. Rian Johnson’s creative excursion between his Star Wars projects is a whodunnit with quite the ensemble. Chris Evans, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, and Jaeden Martell round out this impressive cast that looks to be an American, but more humorous version of Robert Altman’s Gosford Park. While that is one of my least favorite of Altman’s work, I’m still all for Johnson’s Knives Out. Knowing his genius mind, he’ll have some twisty tricks up his sleeve for this one. After making quite possibly the boldest and best Stars Wars film with The Last Jedi and hired by Disney to make more for their streaming service, we must enjoy Johnson’s last completely original endeavor while it lasts.
Queen and Slim (November 27th)
Written by Lena Waithe and starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith as a couple on a first date when things take a turn for the worse after a cop pulls them over. With nothing else to do, the couple goes on the run, evading the law, and trying to claim their innocence.
The Two Popes (Theaters November 27th; Netflix Streaming December 20th)
A buddy movie with Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict. The two popes walk around talking about their lives and the future of the Catholic Church. This is one of Netflix’s many Oscar hopefuls.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (December 6th)
This film received raves from Cannes about a female painter in the eighteenth century painting the wedding portrait of a young woman.
The Aeronauts (Theaters December 6th; Amazon Prime December 20th)
The Theory of Everything co-stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones reunite for this adventure film about a scientist and a wealthy young widow who attempt to fly a hot-air balloon higher than anyone in history in 1862.
Uncut Gems (December 13th)
With a lot of praise for this one at Telluride this year, the Safdie Brothers return with A24 after their electrifying 2017 movie Good Time with an incredible Robert Pattinson. Who do they go to next for their crime comedy-drama about a jewelry store owner and dealer in New York City? Adam Sandler. Yes, the one and only Adam Sandler. There’s no denying Sandler’s talent and it’ll be fun to watch him take on a serious role again, especially if it’s as fast-paced and thrilling as Good Time.
A Hidden Life (December 13th)
Terrance Malick has needed a career comeback for quite some time now. Not since Tree of Life in 2011 has he received so many good reviews. A Hidden Life premiered at Cannes with some calling it the best movie of the year already. Expectations are high for this one but it looks like a doozy. An Austrian farmer tries to reconcile with his faith after refusing to fight for Nazi Germany during World War II. With Malick’s signature camera glides and voiceover for a story like this, A Hidden Life could see some Oscar glory.
Bombshell (December 20th)
Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie star in this true story about the women who took down Fox News head Roger Ailes for sexual harassment.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (December 20th)
The end of the Skywalker saga. Hopefully J.J. Abrams doesn’t retcon every bold decision and new direction Rian Johnson took with The Last Jedi.
Cats (December 20th)
I just… why?
Little Women (December 25th)
Greta Gerwig’s sophomore feature after the wonderful Lady Bird, this adaptation of Little Women has an impressive cast with Saoirse Ronan as Jo, Florence Pugh as Amy, Emma Watson as Meg, Eliza Scanlen as Beth, Meryl Streep as Aunt March, and Timothée Chalamet as Laurie. While I haven’t seen Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 iteration, George Cukor’s 1933 version is hard to beat. Can Saoirse Ronan’s Jo be just as captivating as Katharine Hepburn’s Jo? We’ll have to see.
1917 (December 25th)
Sam Mendes brings World War I to the screen like so few films have done. With Mendes’ frequent composer Thomas Newman and Roger Deakins handling the camera, this war film looks to both riveting and stunning.
Just Mercy (December 25th)
This true story follows a young lawyer (Michael B. Jordan) trying to save a wrongly convicted
prisoner from death row (Jamie Foxx). Brie Larson also stars. With Destin Daniel Cretton writing and directing, this film is sure to be poignant.
Clemency (December 27th)
A prison warden deals with the emotional and psychological toll of death row executions. This premiered at Sundance way back in January and looks for potential Oscar attention.
Now for the films that are premiering at fall festivals that don’t have distribution yet and could be picked up for a fall release. Or films that do have a distributor but have not yet set a release date:
Premiering at Venice, this film about French New Wave actress and icon Jean Seberg is mostly getting praise for Kristen Stewart’s portrayal.
Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s much anticipated new film starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, and Ethan Hawke premiered at Venice. Kore-eda won the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year and was Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Language Film with the phenomenal Shoplifters.
Olivier Assayas’ new film is getting hailed as a misfire from the acclaimed director at Venice. Either way, a new film by one of the best filmmakers in the world is worth checking out. Every great artist has their misses.
This quasi-Harvey Weinstein story about an assistant to a powerful corporate figure premiered at Telluride with star Julia Garner (Ozark) receiving praise for her performance.
Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín returns with this drama about a dancer trying to reunite with her son. Larraín’s last film, the incredible Jackie, should give anyone reason to visit this one.
The Personal History of David Copperfield (Fox Searchlight)
This Charles Dickens adaptation has already premiered in Toronto so hopefully it can get a release date soon. Starring Dev Patel and directed by The Death of Stalin director Armando Iannucci, this could be a really funny retelling of Dickens’ classic novel.
Les Misérables (Amazon)
This French film and loose adaptation of the novel premiered at Cannes back in May. Amazon could announce a fall release.