Jokers, Jedis and Singing Cats: The 50 Best Movies to See This Fall – Rolling Stone
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Fall Movie Preview 2019: Jokers, Jedis and Singing, Dancing Cats

From scary clowns to singing calicos, neurotic supervillains to real-life superheroes — the 50 movies you need to see this fall

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 50 movies we’ve highlighted below, all of which drop after Labor Day but before New Year’s Eve, and 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.

But what’s great about the Fall Movie Season circa 2019 is that it’s now possible to get a well-balanced cinematic diet over a four-month period. There’s plenty of what the kids call “Oscarbait” hitting theaters before the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31st. There is also Hollywood action movies and romantic comedies, both highbrow and high-concept sci-fi, literary adaptations, animated family fare, biblical sagas, big-budget epics by brand-name auteurs, Broadway musicals, old-school murder mysteries, French cop procedurals, British horror movies, South Korean social satires, and even a few projects filed under “unclassifiable” (lookin’ at you, Jojo Rabbit).

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 50 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.

Pennywise Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture

‘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.

Macall Polay

‘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.

Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star in HUSTLERS

Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star in 'Hustlers.'

STXfilms

‘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.

‘Monos’ (Sep. 13)

A left-field sensation at this year’s Sundance, this Colombian movie about teenage guerilla rebels holding an American woman (Julianne Nicholson) hostage is, to put it mildly, absolutely stunning. The oddball, hallucinogenic images and jungle-madness vibe earned it comparisons to Herzog’s work and Apocalypse Now at the fest (where it walked away with a jury prize); its tale of feral kids armed to the teeth and forming their own warped hierarchies had more than a few people namechecking Lord of the Flies. But even with those landmarks as general guideposts, filmmaker Alejandro Landes’ tale of Latin American political warfare is a singular mix of beauty and horror. Don’t sleep on this one.

Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

Francois Duhamel/Twentieth Century Fox

‘Ad Astra’ (Sep. 20)

Our vote for the father-issue sci-fi movie of the season, writer-director James Gray (The Yards, We Own the Night, Lost City of Z) sends astronaut Brad Pitt on an across-the-universe journey to find his long-lost pops. It seems his dad, also a space explorer, may have discovered the key to something that could lead to humanity’s salvation — or extinction. Cue a lot of masculine brooding and cosmic musings about life, the universe and everything. Oh, and, if the trailer is to be believed, moon-buggy chase scenes.

4127_D022_00003_RC(l-r.) Elizabeth McGovern stars as Lady Grantham, Harry Hadden-Paton as Lord Hexham, Laura Carmichael as Lady Hexham, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham and Michael Fox as Andy in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release.Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Focus Features

4127_D022_00003_RC (l-r.) Elizabeth McGovern stars as Lady Grantham, Harry Hadden-Paton as Lord Hexham, Laura Carmichael as Lady Hexham, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham and Michael Fox as Andy in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Focus Features

Jaap Buitendijk

‘Downton Abbey’ (Sep. 20)

The Earl and Countess of Grantham, Lady Mary, Lady Edith, crusty old Carlson, the servants, the scallywags, that silver-haired and serpent-tongued Dowager — they’re back, the whole stiff-upper-lipped lot of them. It’s 1927, that brief moment when Europe was between world wars, and royalty is apparently headed to the estate for an exclusive luncheon. There will likely be trouble and tears before the event is through, because this is Downton Abbey and why would you mess with a winning formula? But this big-screen brand extension promises to bring everyone back to that moment before the sun set on the British Empire, or at least to 2012, when this popular PBS soap opera captured the imagination of several continents.

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Yana Blajeva

‘Rambo: Last Blood’ (Sep. 20)

“I’ve lived in a world of death … the time has come to face my past.” When the person saying those words is one John James Rambo, you know that such a reckoning won’t be easy. Also, it will undoubtedly involve exploding arrows, guns, a good deal of grunting and lots of bloodshed. Sylvester Stallone trots out his Vietnam vet hero one last (maybe?) time, taking on a Mexican cartel who’s involved with kidnapping of a friend’s daughter. Shit gets violent, but you sort of guessed that, didn’t you?

‘First Love’ (Sep. 27)

Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike has a tendency to churn out movies by the pound — he’s got over a 100 to his name and may have added a few more in the time it takes to refresh your web browser — but this gory, gooofy, go-for-broke mix of romance and gangster flicks reminds you why he can kick out the jams when he puts his mind to it. A boxer (Masataka Kubota) with a brain tumor falls in love with a prostitute (Sakurako Kanishi). Her sword-wielding Mob guardian (Becky Rabone) isn’t happy about this affair of the heart, however. Then all three of them find themselves in the middle of a war involving drug smuggling, cops, Tokyo kingpins and ghosts. Chaos reigns.

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David Hindley

‘Judy’ (Sep. 27)

It was only a matter of time before Judy Garland got the triumph-to-tragedy biopic treatment, and this late-act take on the superstar’s life — borrowing primarily from Peter Quilter’s play End of the Rainbow — picks up right as Garland arrives London for what would become a legendary five-week concert run in 1968. Renée Zellweger plays the singer as she tries to stage one last career comeback and keep the wheels from falling off. Finn Wittrock is Mickey Dean, the nightclub manager who’d become her fifth husband right before her passing in 1969. We hope you dig sequins and crying jags.

Will Smith in GEMINI MAN from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films.

Ben Rosenstein

‘Gemini Man’ (Oct. 4)

Will Smith is a hit man who’s being pursued, for reasons unknown, by a ruthless, relentless, equally jiggy killer, played by…a younger version of Will Smith? Ang Lee’s big-budget science-fiction blockbuster makes good use of the new de-aging technology that’s become all the rage around Hollywood (see also: It Chapter 2, The Irishman) in addition to the usual action-movie thrills, spills and chills. We’ve heard of being your own worst enemy, but this is ridiculous.

Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros.

‘Joker’ (Oct. 4)

Here was a man who could not take it any more, who had finally hit his limit. Then, quicker than you could say “God’s Lonely Clown,” the downtrodden sad sack known as Arthur Fleck put on a happy face, gave himself a new name and set about terrorizing a world he just wanted to watch burn. Whether Todd Phillips’ solo outing for the legendary Batman nemesis is a sort of supervillian Taxi Driver — and its much talked-about teaser is certainly selling it that way — remains to be seen. But Joaquin Phoenix’s interpretation of the bad-guy icon looks particularly unhinged, and the idea of a crazy-looking man marshaling evil forces in the name of power and chaos feels especially relevant at this moment in time.

Natalie Portman in the film LUCY IN THE SKY. Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Natalie Portman in the film LUCY IN THE SKY. Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Fox Searchlight Pictures

‘Lucy in the Sky’ (Oct. 4)

Astronaut Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) was one of the proud few to float above the Earth, orbiting our planet on NASA’s Space Shuttle. Once she got back to terra firma, however, she began to go a little cuckoo. Like, the sort of “crazy” involving an obsession with a coworker (Jon Hamm) and having a nervous breakdown that involves being chased by the cops. If the story sounds slightly familiar, it’s because the movie is loosely based on real-life astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak’s experience in 2007; since director Noah Hawley (Legion, TV’s Fargo) is the one calling the shots here, we imagine something like a cross-country trek in a “space diaper” will be one of the least weird quirks to work itself into the narrative.

Sony Picture Classics

‘Pain and Glory’ (Oct. 4)

It may still be too early in Pedro Almodovar’s career to say his latest, the story of an aging filmmaker (Antonio Banderas) reunited with an estranged actor (Asier Etxeandia) and making peace with his past, is his masterpiece. (He’s only been doing this for 40 years, and we hope he keeps making movies for another few decades.) But to say that the titan of modern Spanish cinema has delivered one of the single greatest works in a filmography brimming with magnificence would be a grand understatement. It’s a personal, profound piece of art, featuring Banderas giving the performance of his career, lush flashbacks starring Penelope Cruz in full Sophia Loren mode and genuine sense of self-reflection. This is what cinema looks like.

‘Parasite’ (Oct. 11)

From South Korean director Bong Joon Ho (The Host, Snowpiercer, Okja) comes this brilliant, scathing satire about a working-class family desperately trying to make ends meet. Then the son (Choi Woo Shik) gets the chance to step in as a tutor for a rich young woman. He slowly manages to replace her wealthy parent’s servants with his own flesh-and-blood. They practically take up permanent residence in their employers’ posh home. And then…things get a little nuts. This year’s Cannes jury was 100-percent on-point in giving this movie the Palme d’Or. Absolutely stunning.

First still from the set of WW2 satire, JOJO RABIT. (From L-R): Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) has dinner with his imaginary friend Adolf (Writer/Director Taika Waititi), and his mother, Rosie (Scarlet Johansson). Photo by Kimberley French. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

First still from the set of WW2 satire, JOJO RABIT. (From L-R): Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) has dinner with his imaginary friend Adolf (Writer/Director Taika Waititi), and his mother, Rosie (Scarlet Johansson). Photo by Kimberley French. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Kimberley French

‘Jojo Rabbit’ (Oct. 18)

New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi deservedly gained a fresh legion of fans following his beautifully absurdist Thor: Ragnarok; we’re curious to see what these new recruits from the Marvel side of the street think of his latest endeavor. As World War II rages on, a young German boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) frets over the fact that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl from the authorities. He only has one person to talk to regarding this moral dilemma, an imaginary friend played by Waititi himself. This friend, it bears mentioning, is also an era-appropriate world historical figure. Think tiny mustache. No, not Chaplin. The guy who looks like Chaplin. Yeah, that dude.

‘Les Miserables’ (Oct. 18)

Never mind when the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums; filmmaker Ladj Ly’s feature debut doesn’t have anything to do with Victor Hugo’s novel or the musical based on it, though it does metaphorically sing the songs of angry men. A young French cop (Damien Bonnard) joins the anti-gang unit that patrols a particularly rough section of Paris’ Montfermeil neighborhood. Soon, he finds himself in the middle of a violent, vicious turf war — and having to contend with his corrupt partners, who have agendas of their own and may be more criminal than the hoodlums they’re supposed to keep in line. Who likes their gritty police procedurals with a Gallic accent?

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Eric Chakeen/A24

‘The Lighthouse’ (Oct. 18)

Fans of Robert Eggers’ The Witch, easily one of the most unique and unnerving horror movies of the past decade, your prayers have been answered: The writer-director’s follow-up, about two men (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) going stir-crazy by the sea, looks like he’s avoided the dreaded sophomore slump. The black-and-white cinematography and Ye Olde-Timey Facial Hair make it feel like a vintage photo come to life, plus there are tentacles and drunken dancing and German Expressionistic lighting. Make all the “they sound like the Sea Captain from The Simpsons” jokes you want, this looks surreal, batshit-crazy and terrifying.

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s MALEFICENT:  MISTRESS OF EVIL.

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL.

Courtesy of Disney

‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ (Oct. 18)

You can’t keep a good Disney villain down, people, which is why Angelina Jolie’s fairy-gone-bad is donning the horns again for another revisionist round. The sequel to the 2014 Maleficent finds Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) getting engaged to her beloved Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson). It’s all sunshine and Mazeltovs!, until her future mother-in-law Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) says that this means Aurora is basically her daughter now. Guess who gets so angry that she unleashes all sorts of green-tinted hell? No, really, guess.

The King - Steven Elder, Timothée Chalamet, Sean Harris - Photo Credit: Netflix

Netflix

‘The King’ (Fall 2019)

You loved him high on drugs and doing obscene things to a peach — now check out Timothée Chalamet getting his Shakespeare on! Australian director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) pins the Call Me By Your Name actor between a rock and Bard place, mixing elements of both Henry IV plays and some of Henvy V in order to chart the ascension of Prince Hal from royal screw-up to the rightful heir to the throne. Ben Mendelsohn plays his dad; Robert Pattinson is the Dauphin of France; Joel Edgerton gives the world what we assume will be the single trimmest Falstaff on record.

4130_D002_00002_RCCynthia Erivo stars as Harriet Tubman in HARRIET, a Focus Features release.Credit: Glen Wilson / Focus Features

Glen Wilson

‘Harriet’ (Nov. 1)

As in Harriet Tubman, the Civil War scout and abolitionist who helped establish “the Underground Railroad” and personally enabled dozens of slaves to escape a life of bondage. Widows powerhouse Cynthia Erivo plays the famed resistance leader and future suffragette; Janelle Monae, Clarke Peters, Leslie Odom, Jr., Joe Allwyn and more help frame the story of a genuine American hero. We’re always a little wary of Important People Biopics coming out around the end of the year (see also: Judy), but the fact that Kasi Lemmons, she of the great and underrated Eve’s Bayou, is directing gives us hope.

THE IRISHMAN (2019)Joe Pesci (Russell Bufalino) , Robert De Niro (Frank Sheeran)

Niko Tavernise / NETFLIX

Niko Tavernise / NETFLIX

‘The Irishman’ (Nov. 1)

Yeah, the de-aging technology used to help Robert De Niro portray Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, the labor union official who may have had Mob ties and was a close friend of Jimmy Hoffa (Al Freakin’ Pacino!), over several decades is … let’s just say it takes a moment to adjust to what you’re seeing. But there is not a more anticipated movie coming out this year than Martin Scorsese’s take on the rise and fall of these two men and their associates. It’s the Great American Filmmaker telling an epic story of wiseguys and working stiffs breaking bad, featuring De Niro, Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, Bobby Canavale, Stephan Graham, Ray Romano, and every other working Italian-American actor. Just give it all of the awards now.

(L-R) GUGU MBATHA-RAW as Laura Rose and EDWARD NORTON as Lionel Essrog in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Glen Wilson

‘Motherless Brooklyn’ (Nov. 1)

Edward Norton has been trying to adapt Jonathan Lethem’s brilliant 1999 novel — about a detective with Tourette’s — since the turn of the century. Now the writer-director-star has finally managed to pull it off. He plays the private investigator with the speech tic, trying to get to the bottom of who murdered his mentor (Bruce Willis); a who’s who of costars, including Willem Dafoe, Michael Kenneth Williams, Leslie Mann, Bobby Canavale, Alec Baldwin and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, suggest Norton called in a lot of favors. This has been a dream project of his. We’d be lying if we told you we weren’t curious to see what he’s done with the material.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton star in Skydance Productions and Paramount Pictures' "TERMINATOR: DARK FATE."

Kerry Brown/Paramount Pictures

‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ (Nov. 1)

They’ll be back — producer James Cameron and Linda Hamilton return to the sci-fi/action franchise they kickstarted way back in 1984, joining T2‘s Edward Furlong and the series’ O.G. killing machine Arnold Schwarzenegger for yet another humans v. robots showdown. Halt and Catch Fire MVP Mackenzie Davis joins the fun as an “enhanced” soldier working on behalf of the good guys; there’s also a sleek new Terminator version that seems even more liquid-y and relentless. And as Deadpool‘s Tim Miller is behind the camera, we’re assuming this entry is not going to pull any punches, literally or figuratively.

‘Doctor Sleep’ (Nov. 8)

Remember Danny Torrance, the young boy blessed (cursed?) with psychic powers from The Shining? He’s grown up now, looks a lot like Ewan McGregor, and has managed to put that whole Overlook Hotel business behind him. Then a young woman (Kyliegh Curran) contacts Dan. It turns out she has “the shine” as well, and there’s a cult led by someone named Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) who’s tracking folks with this gift for reasons that aren’t exactly friendly. No stranger to adapting Stephen King’s work, director Mike Flanagan (Gerald’s Game) steps into some huge shoes by taking on the writer’s 2013 sequel to one of his best-known works. Time to pour yourself a nice, hot cup of Redrum once again.

Noah Jupe in HONEY BOYCourtesy of Amazon Studios

Amazon Studios

‘Honey Boy’ (Nov. 8)

A child actor (A Quiet Place‘s Noah Jupe) tries to negotiate an existence that toggles between the unreality of film sets and life with his strict, semi-abusive screw-up of a dad. We also meet his older self (Lucas Hedges), a jaded star attempting to clean up his act after some hard times. Director Alma Har’el helps her screenwriter — one Shia LaBeouf — exorcise some personal demons in what sounds like a very autobiographical story; the fact that he also plays the father only adds to the psychodrama.

Kate (Emilia Clarke) in the romantic comedy Last Christmas, directed by Paul Feig.

‘Last Christmas’ (Nov. 8)

You think commanding dragons, leading legions of Dothraki warriors and laying waste to Westeros is hard? Try working in a Christmas store! Emilia Clarke is a thirtysomething loser down on her luck and killing time as an elf in Michelle Yeoh’s cluttered holiday shop. Enter Crazy Rich Asians‘ hunk Henry Golding, who initially strikes her as a bit of a square. Then they keep bumping into each other, and quicker than you can say “this sounds like the premise for a rom-com,” guess who’s turning her life around thanks to a newfound inspiration? Emma Thompson also shows up sporting a Borscht-thick Easter European accent. Director Paul Feig made Bridesmaids, so we’re willing to give this the benefit of the doubt.

Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott,  Ella Balinska and Elizabeth Banks star in Charlie's Angels.

Chiabella James

‘Charlie’s Angels’ (Nov. 15)

“Good morning, Angels!” The Seventies TV show about female private investigators already got the big-screen treatment back in 2000; now it’s time for the next-gen reboot. The holy trinity have been updated from P.I.’s to spies; Bosley, their handler, is played by the movie’s writer-director Elizabeth Banks; and this particular millennial trio (played by Kristen Stewart, Aladdin‘s Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska) are just one of Charlie’s many elite teams fighting international terrorists, criminal syndicates, etc. But you’ll go to see this movie primarily for the privilege of watching Stewart’s alpha-Angel dress like a jockey, beat up sexist jerks, lead a choreographed dance routine, wear an assortment of insane wigs and rock dark eyeliner better than any human being alive. K-Stew hive assemble!

Matt Damon and Christian Bale in Twentieth Century Fox’s FORD V. FERRARI.

Matt Damon and Christian Bale in Twentieth Century Fox’s FORD V. FERRARI.

Merrick Morton

‘Ford v. Ferrari’ (Nov. 15)

For years, Ferrari had dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans race — much to the dismay of Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca, who had their eyes on the prize via a buyout of the Italian company. When the Americans got the shaft, they turned to a British driver named Ken Miles (Christian Bale) and an engineer named Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) to design something to compete against the Europeans. The result: The legendary Ford GT40. James Mangold (Walk the Line, Logan) directs what sounds like a gearhead dream come true. There will be vroom!

Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Pictures

‘The Good Liar’ (Nov. 15)

Every con man worth their salt knows that you don’t get involved with a mark. So imagine the surprise of veteran grifter Roy Courtnay (Sir Ian McKellen) when he finds himself becoming emotionally attached to his new target: one Betty McLeish (Dame Helen Mirren), a woman he met online and who he believes is worth a small fortune. His partner (Downton Abbey‘s Jim Carter) warns him to keep things professional; her grandson (Years and Years‘ Russell Tovey) says her loneliness may be letting a stranger get too close. Why do we feel there’s a big twist coming here? Gods and Monsters/Chicago filmmaker Bill Condon directs.

‘The Lodge’ (Nov. 15)

Two kids (Lia McHugh and It‘s Jaeden Martell) have to spend a few days with their new stepmother (Riley Keough) in the family cabin in the dead of winter. Then, dad has to go back to the city, leaving them alone with a woman who’s essentially a stranger. Did we happen to mention she survived a mass suicide while she was growing up as part of a religious cult? And that she may not be, how do you say, completely sane? Fans of 2014’s Goodbye Mommy know that the Austrian duo of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala do not fuck around when it comes to conjuring dread or maternal horror. Best to assume that things are going get a little disturbing, and then maybe very, very sick.

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‘Marriage Story’ (Fall 2019)

Let’s acknowledge that Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson are both having a hell of a year: a much-praised turn in the Broadway revival of Burn This, a lead role in the prestigious, All the President’s Men-style drama The Report, the upcoming end of a tenure in the Star Wars universe for him; going out with a bang in Avengers: Endgame and a key role in Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit for her. But it’s Noah Baumbach’s blistering take on the end of a marriage, starring the ex-Marine-turned-movie-star and , that may finally affix “Oscar-winning actor” to both of their names. The word on the street is that each of them turn in career-best performances in what sounds like a contemporary Kramer vs. Kramer; the he-said/she-said trailers also suggest a 360-degree look at a slowly dying relationship in which there are no heroes, no villains and no easy answers.

Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers in TriStar Pictures' A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.  Photo by: Lacey Terrell

LACEY TERRELL

‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ (Nov. 22)

Tom Hanks as the late, great Fred Rogers — enough said, right? Getting the modern incarnation of Jimmy Stewart to portray TV’s personification of kindness is a casting coup, and it takes exactly three seconds of Hanks, clad in a red cardigan and singing the title in the movie’s first trailer, to make your heart melt. It’s based on Esquire journalist Tom Junod’s profile of the iconic PBS star, which ended up forming the basis for a friendship between the two men. The Americans’ Matthew Rhys plays a character based on the writer; director Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) is calling the shots behind the camera. We’re already tearing up.

frozen 2 trailer

‘Frozen 2’ (Nov. 22)

Let it go, let it gooooooo once more! Disney’s massive animated hit (subzero temperature division) returns for more snowplay and princess-related adventure, as Idina Menzel’s songbird Elsa feels the the need to head north in search of answers regarding her powers. The Mouse House has been extremely mum on plot specifics apart from that little tidbit, though we do know that Kristen Bell, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff once again lend their dulcet tones to the proceedings; Sterling K. Brown  and Evan Rachel Wood join in as well; and we were apparently very close to getting an out-of-the-closet Disney character.

Chadwick Boseman stars in 21 Bridges

Chadwick Boseman stars in 21 Bridges Courtesy of STXfilms

’21 Bridges’ (Nov. 22)

That’s the number of bridges — along with some tunnels and a few other exit routes — that Chadwick Boseman’s NYPD officer wants closed down. The reason? Two cop killers (Taylor Kitsch and Homecoming‘s Stephan James) are on the loose in Manhattan, and our man wants to make sure they don’t escape. There’s a lot more going on with this case than meets the eye, however, as the dogged detective finds out. J.K. Simmons, Sienna Miller and Keith David costar. Produced by Joe and Anthony Russo, the guys that made the one movie with the purple guy and the superheroes and the thing.

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KO_11039.dng

Claire Folger

‘Knives Out’ (Nov. 27)

On the evening of his 85th birthday, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) was found dead shortly after cake was served. Two detectives (Daniel Craig and LaKeith Stanfield) have asked the assembled family members to tell them the circumstances that led to this moment; one of them thinks it may, in fact, be [long dramatic pause] MURDER! Writer-director Rian Johnson looks to do to the Agatha Christie-style whodunnit what he did for hardboiled gumshoe noirs (Brick) and time-traveling sci-fi (Looper), i.e. scramble up conventions while still satisfying the basic genre requirements. Pound for pound, you can’t beat this cast: In addition to the three actors mentioned above, you’ve also got Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Don Johnson and Blade Runner 2049‘s Ana de Armas onboard.

(from left) Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) and Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) in Queen & Slim, directed by Melina Matsoukas.

Universal Pictures

‘Queen & Slim’ (Nov. 27)

A man (Get Out‘s Daniel Kaluuya) and a woman (Jodie Turner-Smith) are on a date. Cops pull them over for driving while being black; after the traffic stop ends with shots fired in self-defense and an officer down, the two become fugitives and are forced to go underground. And quicker than a character can say they they are “the black Bonnie and Clyde,” this couple on the run have also become viral folk heroes of sorts. Bokeem Woodbine, Chloe Sevigny, Indya Moore and Flea costar. Lena Waithe wrote the screenplay; Melina Matsoukas, the visual artist who directed Beyoncé’s “Formation” video, makes her feature-film debut. You want a visually ravishing outlaw story set against the backdrop of today’s racist America? You got it.

‘The Aeronauts’ (Dec. 6)

The Theory of Everything stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are reunited for this tale of James Glaisher, a 19th century scientist and lover of flight who pioneered hot-air ballooning. The Oscar-winning Redmayne plays the man of means and muttonchops; Jones is his copilot, a composite character partially based on Ameila Earhart who must battle the elements — and something called gravity — alongside the dashing gent. Up, up and away, as the kids say.

A24

‘In Fabric’ (Dec. 6)

British director Peter Strickland (The Duke of Burgundy) drops another nugget of fetish-filled horror, with two stories revolving around a haunted red dress. Yes, you read that correctly: An evening gown, possessed by ill spirits and doing the bidding of a very retail-friendly coven, invades the lives — and psyches — of a middle-class woman (the great Marianne Jean-Baptiste) and a nebbishy young man (Leo Bill). It’s one part homage to the old Amicus anthology movies, one part acid-dipped neo-giallo and one part consumerist satire par excellence.

‘Little Joe’ (Dec. 6)

Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner’s unnerving horror film about a plant breeder (Into the Badlands‘ Emily Beechum) and the mysterious gift she brings home for her son has already earned comparisons to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Shining and the work of David Cronenberg; Beechum’s Best Actress win at Cannes pretty much cements the need-to-see-this-ASAP deal. It seems this new hybrid she’s been working on has some…narcotic aspects that cause those who come into contact with it to achieve a euphoric state. Which leads to addiction, worshipping their vegetative savior, defending their newfound sense of peace and, of course, worse.

Valerie Pachner and August Diehl in the film A HIDDEN LIFE. Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Valerie Pachner and August Diehl in the film A HIDDEN LIFE. Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

‘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.

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart

‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ (Dec. 13)

Because what, you thought there wouldn’t be a sequel to Sony’s insanely successful reboot of the board-game-run-amuck blockbuster? Part 2 more or less picks up where the 2017 franchise extension left off, with Alex Wolff repairing the computerized version of Jumanji and getting sucked back into the virtual jungle. His friends, along with his grandfather (Danny DeVito), go in after him. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan return; Danny Glover and Awkwafina join in on the fun. If you like adventures and have ever wanted to hear the Rock talk like he’s a squat, 74-year-old from Asbury Park, this is the movie for you.

A24

‘Uncut Gems’ (Dec. 13)

Yes, he’s been filling up Netflix queues with some questionable comedies — but it bears repeating that, when Adam Sandler gets the right material and the right filmmakers to guide him, the man is a first-rate actor. (See: Punch Drunk Love, of course, but also the vastly underrated The Meyerowitz Stories.) And this gritty-looking story of a New York jeweler trying to sell a number of diamonds, and other precious stones, in the rough at an auction looks like just the ticket. Josh and Benny Safdie, the brothers who gave the world a beautifully scuzzy Robert Pattinson in Good Times, have been attempting to get this project off the ground for years; we’re so glad this finally came together with Sandler in the lead.

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Bombshell

Hilary B Gayle

‘Bombshell’ (Dec. 20)

We’ve already had a small-screen miniseries devoted to the rise and fall of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes this year; now comes the big-screen feature-film version. John Lithgow takes on the role of conservative media’s groper-in-chief and thenman who would be kingmaker; Nicole Kidman plays Gretchen Carlson (!); an almost unrecognizable Charlize Theron is a dead ringer for Megyn Kelly (!!!); and Margot Robbie is a composite of every poor young blonde employee who had to endure being pawed, bullied and/or made complicit regarding the feeding of Ailes’ appetites. Before you start yelling “wait, this is directed by the guy who made Austin Powers?”, remember that Jay Roach also did Game Change, that surprisingly strong HBO drama about Sarah Palin starring Julianne Moore.

Universal Pictures

‘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.

Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS:  THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Lucasfilm Ltd

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ (Dec. 20)

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.

JAKE GILES NETTER

‘Just Mercy’ (Dec. 25)

Michael B. Jordan takes one potential step closer to becoming “Oscar nominee Michael B. Jordan” with this true-life tale of lawyer/social activist Bryan Stevenson, who ensures that Alabama’s courts keeps up the “…and justice for all” part. Naturally, he comes up against a case involving an innocent man convicted of murder that will test both his resolve and our nation’s legal system. Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) directs the adaptation of Stevenson’s memoirs. Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. costar.

Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Eliza Scanlen and Florence Pugh in Columbia Pictures’ LITTLE WOMEN.

Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Eliza Scanlen and Florence Pugh in Columbia Pictures’ LITTLE WOMEN. Photo: Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures

‘Little Women’ (Dec. 25)

Yes, the Louisa May Alcott novel about the March sisters — Meg, Amy, Jo and Beth, for those playing along at home — has been turned into a movie almost half a dozen times over the last 80-plus years. And yes, the fact that Greta Gerwig is following up her stunning directorial debut Lady Bird by putting her own stamp on this literary classic is indeed a reason to celebrate. Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Midsommar‘s Florence Pugh and Sharp Objects’ breakout star Eliza Scanlen are the plucky, resilient and rebellious young heroines; Timothée Chalamet is a dashing (and dancing) Theodore Laurence; and hell, let’s throw in Laura Dern and Meryl Streep for some extra firepower as well. You do not have to be a bookworm to feel like this is a Christmas present worth unwrapping.

Francois Duhamel / Universal Pic

‘1917’ (Dec. 25)

World War I was a living hell, one that senselessly turned young men from several continents into cannon fodder (we’ve seen Paths of Glory several times, so we totally know what’s up). Which is why, when the military brass discovers that a planned mission will inadvertently send troops into an ambush, they have to stop the senseless slaughter. Two soldiers (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) must slip past enemy lines and inform the battalion to stay put. Should they fail, hundreds will die, include the brother of one of the messengers. Director Sam Mendes has supposedly choreographed a single-shot siege scene that is mind-blowing. Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth show up to make things extra Britishy, while Richard Madden drops by to add extra handsomeness.

Paul Sarkis/Neon Pictures

‘Clemency’ (Dec. 27)

A capital-punishment story that doubles as a devastating character study, writer-director Chinonye Chukwu’s award-winning drama watches as a veteran prison warden (Alfre Woodard) and a death-row prisoner (an incredible Aldis Hodge) both deal with his upcoming date of execution. You expect this to turn into a typical social-issue handwringer — instead, the movie keeps skewing more towards how ending a person’s life takes a moral toll on all of those involved. And without saying too much, there’s a nearly five-minute unbroken shot of Woodard’s face near the end that will absolutely leave you shattered.

THE LAUNDROMAT

Claudette Barius/Netflix

‘The Laundromat’ (Fall 2019)

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.

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