It’s sad, but true: summer is coming to an end, school is gearing up (if you’re still of that age), and the fall film festival season is upon us. That means, it’s time to pack away the blockbusters—for the most part, anyhow—put away the superhero toys and get ready for the season of adult-centered dramas and awards-contending movies.
With the advent of the fall, we’re going to get a rush of new films, some of them from the Cannes and Sundance film festivals, that are finally hitting North American shores, but also major waves of new titles from the big five film festivals: Venice, Telluride, the Toronto International Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, and the New York Film Festival. Eventually, AFI will join the fray in November, too.
We’re getting new films from masters like Martin Scorsese, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Terrence Malick, Pedro Almodovar, and Bong Joon-ho, as well as Marielle Heller, Destin Daniel Cretton, John Crowley, Lorene Scafaria, Todd Philips, and Taika Waititi. There are also plenty of movies from up-and-comers you need to watch like Minhal Baig, Alma Har’el, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Kantemir Balagov and many more.
Fall is bringing the riches. From studio pictures, indies, streamers like Netflix and Amazon, fall festival movies without distribution yet., there are literally hundreds of films that are arriving over the next few months. Here’s a quick taste of what’s actually scheduled with a release date, plus a few more titles likely to land by the end of the year.
“It: Chapter Two”
Andy Muschietti’s 2017 horror blockbuster “It” was a stylish haunted house thrill ride and an undeniable box office hit. The 2017 film went on to gross over $700 million worldwide and became the highest-grossing horror film of all time. Perhaps a sequel was always inevitable. “It: Chapter Two” doesn’t exactly pick up where its predecessor left off, set almost three decades after the events of the first film, long after the children of Derry have grown up and tried to leave their memories of the sewer-dwelling demon clown Pennywise in their rearview mirrors. Muschietti’s sequel boasts an higher profile, illustrious cast than the more modest first film, with James McAvoy, Bill Hader, James Ransome, and Jessica Chastain playing grown-up members of the Loser’s Club (indie filmmaking darling Xavier Dolan, a big fan of the first film, is playing a small role as well). The first trailer for ‘Chapter Two’ admittedly makes it look like a slick, suitably souped-up scare machine, and even if the film isn’t as critically well-received as its precursor, we’re betting it will still do insane numbers as the U.S. box office.
Release Date: September 6 – Nicholas Laskin
Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, acclaimed author Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” is the kind of controversial novel that Hollywood was always going to attempt to adapt as soon as possible. Warner Bros. has basically been developing the big-screen translation ever since the best-selling book was released (tellingly, from the same producers as “The Hunger Games”). Directed by theater-director-turned-filmmaker, John Crowley (“Brooklyn”) and starring Ansel Elgort, of “Baby Driver” fame, the story follows a young man named Theo, whose mother was killed in a horrible bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when he was only 13. Guilt and grief-stricken, the one symbol of life that seems constant in Theo’s world is a painting of the titular bird chained to its perch he obsesses over. Honestly, it sounds like the kind of release that will either strongly connect with mournful audiences, or turn out to be an untimely exercise in self-pity. While some literary critics compared the book to Charles Dickens, others called it out for being cloying, child-like and tedious. The movie adaptation also stars Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, and Jeffrey Wright; all the talent involved points to our being hopeful, but the handling of such intense topics is a sensitive subject in the current climate.
Release Date: September 13 – Andrew Bundy
“Hustlers” looks like the kind of brassy, unapologetic romp that was probably crafted with a summer release in mind. That said, this is the kind of film that would have killed any summer in the ’90s but might have gotten drowned out by the modern era’s endless deluge of reboots and franchise properties (with that in mind, a September release sounds reasonable). The film, which has been directed by Lorene Scafaria (“Seeking a Friend at the End of the World”), is a fast-paced, crime dramedy about a gang of exotic dancers who swindle a cadre of white-collar businessmen. Based on a New York Magazine article by Jessica Pressler, “Hustlers” could honestly do well on the basis of its star power alone – the primary ensemble features Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, emerging hip-hop sensation Lizzo, and none other than Bernie Sanders’ new BFF, Cardi B – but “Hustlers” might also be a hit due to the fact that it looks to be a good time in a month that’s mostly crowded with adult-oriented Oscar hopefuls (producing credits from Will Ferrell and Adam McKay certainly don’t hurt the movie’s prospects either).
Release Date: September 13 – NL
Up until now, James Gray has been best known for his gritty, intimate New York City crime yarns (“The Yards,” “We Own The Night”) and a pair of lush, operatic period melodramas (“The Immigrant,” “The Lost City of Z”) that both managed to get snubbed during awards season. That could all change with this year’s “Ad Astra:” a sci-fi epic possessed by a discernibly human touch, produced by and starring none other than Brad Pitt. “Ad Astra” (whose Latin definition translates to “To The Stars”) is the story of Roy McBride, an astronaut who journeys to the far reaches of the galaxy in search of his long-missing father (Tommy Lee Jones), whose mysterious experiments may pose a threat to the future of humankind. The film looks to be a sturdy continuation of one of Gray’s foremost themes – fathers and sons – and Pitt, hot off one of the best performances of his career in Quentin Tarantino’s Tinseltown epic “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” looks to be working in a more restrained, but commanding, register. In movie-going terms, September is traditionally a month reserved for grown-up dramas that don’t necessarily have Oscar written all over them, but we’re betting that a Venice premiere spells promising things for Gray’s latest classically-minded cinematic odyssey.
Release Date: September 20- NL
Following her breakthrough role in “Jerry Maguire,” Renee Zellweger was one of the biggest names in Hollywood for almost a decade. From “Bridget Jones’s Diary” to awards darling “Chicago” and her Academy Award-winning performance in “Cold Mountain,” it seemed like there was no stopping her momentum. Then the second ‘Bridget Jones’ film came out and almost every high-profile project she was attached to seemed less than well-received movies like “Leatherheads,” “Appaloosa” (both being directed by acclaimed actors, ironically). She also took voice-over roles in a series’ of poorly reviewed animated projects that almost no one remembers (“Shark Tale,” “Bee Movie”). The third ‘Bridget Jones’ flick was released in 2016, and since then, the Oscar winner has been mounting a resurgence. She plays the iconic Judy Garland in the upcoming biopic “Judy,” also starring Jessie Buckley of “Wild Rose” acclaim. Appropriately, the film is set years after Garland’s own personal comeback in the late ‘60s and is expected to trace the singer’s last musical performance tour, leading up to her tragic overdose at the end of the decade. Hopefully, the movie will act as a respectful love letter to two actors with tremendous talent, two women who are certainly no stranger to struggling with society’s expectations of how a successful movie star is expected to act.
Release Date: September 27 – AB
“The Death of Dick Long”
One of 2016’s most unusual films was A24’s “Swiss Army Man,” a fantasy-comedy about a lovelorn loser and a flatulent corpse that was alternately sophomoric and surprisingly sweet. That film was directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as The Daniels. Striking out on his own, Scheinert is opting to partner with A24 once again for the release of this fall’s Southern-fried dark comedy “The Death of Dick Long.” Like “Swiss Army Man,” a cadaver figures into the plot for this strange film, but not in quite the ways you’d think based on the emotions elicited by the Daniels’ breakout film. ‘Dick Long’ is the story of a pair of hillbilly party animals, played by Michael Abbott Jr. and Andre Hyland, who find themselves in a world of trouble when their bud Dick (Scheinert himself) ends up dead. Honestly, the trailer makes this movie look like a lot of grim fun, and in a month mostly packed with franchise items (“It Chapter Two”, “Rambo: Last Blood”) and adult-oriented dramatic fare (“Ad Astra,” “The Goldfinch”), ‘Dick Long’ could afford to scare up a healthy cult audience on the goodwill of the tastemaker studio that’s releasing it.
Release Date: September 27 – NL
Also in September
“Zeroville” (September 6), “Freaks” (September 13), “Monos” (September 13), “Diego Maradona,” (September 20), Loro (September 20), the “Downton Abbey” movie (Sept. 20), Rob Zombie’s “3 From Hell” (September 16), “Rambo: Last Blood” (Sept. 20), “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” (Sept. 20), Chris Morris’ “The Day Shall Come” featuring Anna Kendrick (Sept. 27)