Let’s face it: Unless you were a young man who woke up in a world without Beatles or you happened to be a Disney shareholder, it’s been a rough summer movie-wise. Can’t-miss franchises gave us new entries that missed spectacularly; A-list comedies did D-list box office; reboots bored audiences senseless. Sleeper hits were few and far between, and usually had A24 stamped on them. By mid-July, you could already feel moviegoers saying: Thanks for Avengers: Endgame and all, but can the Fall Movie start a little earlier this year, please?
It’s not like you won’t get summer-movie–type fare once the leaves start turning crisp and brown — peruse the movies we’ve highlighted below, you’ll find superhero-related blockbusters (Joker), sequels (It: Chapter Two, Frozen 2, Rambo: Last Blood) and a project featuring the words “Star Wars” prominently in the title (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker). Autumn is no longer an all prestige-drama, all the time situation, man can’t live on important-people biopics alone.
No matter what your particular tastes are, you’ll find something in our Fall Movie Preview that feels tailored just for you. Hopefully, you’ll find a few things outside your normal viewing habits and will seek those out as well. Regardless, these are the films we’re excited about, curious about, invested in and/or 99-percent sure will be the ones generating non stop chatter well into next year. From Jokers to Jellicles — here’s what to check out this season.
‘It: Chapter 2’ (Sep. 6)
The conclusion of director Andy Muschietti’s two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s epic nightmare fast-forwards a few decades, with the “Losers Club” coming back to the scene of the crime as an adults (specifically as: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, James Ransone, Jay Ryan and Isaiah Mustafa) to finish what they started. And guess who’s there to greet them, red balloons and all? No offense to Tim Curry, who’s tenure as the villain of the 1990 TV-movie take is legendary, but the way that Bill Skarsgård plays Pennywise as the giggling, helium-voiced embodiment of evil is damn near iconic. Accept no psychotic-clown substitutes.
‘The Goldfinch’ (Sep. 13)
It’s not a proper fall movie season without an A-list adaptation of a prestigious novel — and Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller about a 13-year-old boy, a terrorist attack and priceless Dutch painting more than fits the bill. Director John Crowley (Brooklyn) takes on the story of Theo (Oakes Fegley), a child whose mother is killed in a museum bombing. He ends up taking her favorite work, Carel Fabritus’ The Goldfinch, with him when he escapes the rubble. Years later, our hero (now played by Baby Driver‘s Ansel Elgort) finds himself part of Manhattan’s upper crust, engaged and a partner in a successful antiques business. The painting of that bird, however, continues to throw his life into turmoil. Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Wilson, Sarah Paulson and Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard costar.
‘Hustlers’ (Sep. 13)
Based on Jessica Pressler’s New York magazine article about a real-life scam involving dancers at Scores, this tale of strippers ripping off their Wall Street fatcat clients hits the screen with a marquee-name cast: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Riverdale‘s Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, Cardi B. Sick of scraping for tips while these white-collar d-bags get rich by screwing everybody over, they decide to mount their own personal Robin Hood operation, with themselves playing the part of the poor. Imagine Ocean’s Eleven if the majority of the caper crew were excellent poledancers, and you’re almost there.
‘Ad Astra’ (Sep. 20)
‘Downton Abbey’ (Sep. 20)
‘Rambo: Last Blood’ (Sep. 20)
‘Joker’ (Oct. 4)
‘Jojo Rabbit’ (Oct. 18)
‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ (Oct. 18)
‘Ford v. Ferrari’ (Nov. 15)
‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ (Nov. 22)
‘The Irishman’ (Fall 2019)
‘A Hidden Life’ (Dec. 13)
The phrase “return to form” was being thrown around a lot this past spring when Terrence Malick premiered his latest at Cannes, which is great news for folks who’ve been hoping he’d return to a slightly sturdier form of storytelling à la Days of Heaven. But that doesn’t suggest that the famously iconoclastic filmmaker has abandoned his ethereal style or the spiritual concerns that have dominated his post-“comeback” years, either. In tackling the story of real-life Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), a devoted Christian who refuses to enlist in Hitler’s army during WWII, Malick has apparently found the perfect blend of narrative and free-form naturalism through which to examine his hero’s crisis of conscience. The man is a major artist. And this could well be the defining movie of his career. Attention must be paid.
‘Cats’ (Dec. 20)
The trailer for this long-awaited movie of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway behemoth caused a lot of fur to fly when it hit the internet last month, and it does not get any less disturbing the more you watch it. But listen, in a fall season dominated by jokers and jedis, why not bring on the Jellicles? Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Ian McKellen, James Corden, Judi Dench (finally!), Jennifer Hudson and Rebel Wilson all strap on the kitty ears and sing about being all alone in the moonlight, etc. Whether director Tom Hopper, no stranger to bringing ginourmous song-and-dance spectacles to the screen (Les Miserables), can channel the spirit of the beloved theatrical production is anyone’s guess, but this is shaping up to be the year-end, big-budget felinecentric megamusical movie to beat. Let the meow-mory live again.
What do we know about the upcoming ninth episode (and 11th Star Wars movie): It is the final entry in the “Skywalker Saga”; it will definitely feature Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac; Billy Dee Williams (yes) is back as Lando Calrissian (yesss!); you’re going to get droids and Wookiees and light sabers and firefights; The Force Awakens‘ J.J. Abrams is once again in the director’s seat; and … well, that’s really it. “No one is ever really gone,” says a voice in the teaser, and in the age of endless franchise moviemaking, that has never been more true. May the Force be with you, etc.
Remember the Panama Papers leak? Steven Soderbergh does — and he’s enlisted Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas to help tell the tale of a widow, a vast network of not-so-legal tax dealings, and some financial no-goodniks pulling strings for the rich, the famous and the infamous. We’re so glad this man decided that whole retirement thing was a bad idea.