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Fall’s Must-See Movies: ‘Joker,’ Cardi B’s Team of Stripper-Robbers, and a Wacky Hitler Comedy
There are so, so many exciting films coming out this fall. Here are the best of the bunch, from an Oscar-worthy divorce saga to the reunion of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro.
It’s been quite the mixed bag at the movies this summer. With few notable exceptions—namely John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood—the studios largely disappointed, feeding us unimaginative dreck like Men in Black: International, Hobbs & Shaw, Aladdin, and that godforsaken X-Men movie with the girl from Game of Thrones. The indie side, however, proved much more promising, with the achingly poetic Last Black Man in San Francisco, high-octane hilarity of Booksmart, and heartbreaking family drama The Farewell buried amidst the blockbuster behemoths.
And, now that the cinema purgatory that is August is behind us, and awards season has officially kicked off with the Venice Film Festival, it’s time to rejoice in all the anticipated movie offerings in store this fall season.
IT: CHAPTER TWO (Sept. 6)
At two hours and 50 minutes (!), this sequel to the 2017 horror-remake hit is pretty long for a good ol’ frightfest, although the killer clown flick’s new blood—Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader—should inject some Acting into the grim proceedings.
THE GOLDFINCH (Sept. 13)
This adaptation of Donna Tartt’s bestselling novel comes from director John Crowley, the man behind the wonderful 2015 film Brooklyn. For the unfamiliar, it concerns a young man who lost his mother in a terrorist bombing at the Met in New York City, and is struggling to pick up the pieces. The film stars Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) in the title role, along with Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, Sarah Paulson, and rising star Ashleigh Cummings.
HUSTLERS (Sept. 13)
Constance Wu, J. Lo and Cardi B in a crime comedy about a group of NYC strippers who hustle their wealthy clientele out of money at the height of the financial crisis? I mean, what more could you ask for? And, with supporting turns by Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, and the almighty Lizzo, along with writer/director Lorene Scafaria (The Meddler) at the helm, this should be a ride well worth taking.
AD ASTRA (Sept. 20)
Though I was not nearly as high as some critics were on this ponderous, glacial-paced space odyssey about an astronaut tasked with traveling to Neptune to find his marooned father and prevent the end of the world, it does come from the gifted filmmaker James Gray (The Lost City of Z) and features a charismatic star turn from the ageless wonder that is William Bradley Pitt. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a delightfully random cameo from one of your favorite Orange Is the New Black gals.
JUDY (Sept. 27)
I am very much here for a Renee Zellweger comeback (Empire Records forever), and, judging by the buzz that she’s getting for her turn in this Netflix-released Judy Garland film chronicling the final, chaotic year of her life, it looks to finally be upon us. Maybe she’ll even start dating Bradley Cooper again. Remember that?
THE REPORT (Sept. 27)
Written and directed by longtime Steven Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns (Contagion), this political drama tells the story of Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones (Adam Driver), who was tasked with leading the Senate investigation into CIA torture in the wake of 9/11. It’s a stark film that pulls no punches, capturing in vivid detail the horrors that were inflicted on terror suspects by our government, and features an all-star cast including Jon Hamm, Matthew Rhys, Michael C. Hall, and a fantastic Annette Bening as Dianne Feinstein.
LUCY IN THE SKY (Oct. 4)
Marking the feature directorial debut of Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley and produced by Reese Witherspoon, this drama is based on the bizarre tale of astronaut Lisa Nowak, who drove from Houston to Orlando in an adult diaper (allegedly) to attempt to kidnap the other woman (a U.S. Air Force captain) seeing the astronaut she was having an affair with. I’m not sure why this needed to be made into a movie, but hey, it stars Natalie Portman in the lead role and features Jon Hamm as her obsession, so what the hell.
THE JOKER (Oct. 4)
Yes, I had the pleasure—displeasure?—of attending the first screening of Joker, director Todd Phillips’ (The Hangover movies) DC supervillain origin story, and it is far and away the darkest version of the character yet. Yes, the discourse around the film is already nauseating, but there’s one thing few will be able to deny: Joaquin Phoenix is mesmerizing as Arthur Fleck, a clown/failed stand-up comic who sinks deeper and deeper into insanity.
PAIN AND GLORY (Oct. 4)
The recent output of Spanish filmmaking legend Pedro Almodovar has been hit-or-miss, but he’s thankfully reunited with his favorite leading man, Antonio Banderas, for this personal saga of an aging director reflecting on his past, and what exactly made him the man—and artist—he is today. Banderas’ quietly devastating turn won him the Best Actor award at Cannes, and is garnering considerable Oscar buzz.
PARASITE (Oct. 11)
This, the latest from South Korean visionary filmmaker Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer) is, without question, my most anticipated movie of 2019. It follows the members of a poor rural family who begin to slowly infiltrate the lives of the wealthy Parks clan—with wild results. Parasite took home the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes, and has earned raves on the festival circuit. (And yes, I’m aware that it’s leaked online, but given that this is Bong, you should really hold out for the theatrical experience.)
GEMINI MAN (Oct. 11)
Yes, this film has been in development hell for over 20 years, and yes, it stars Will Smith as a pair of assassins—an aging one and the younger clone of himself—dueling it out, and yes, it was shot at a frame rate of 120 fps, but this sci-fi thriller does have the great Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) at the helm, who’s always worth giving the benefit of the doubt.
JOJO RABBIT (Oct. 18)
It’s great to see filmmaker Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) back in black-comedy territory with this hilarious-looking satire about a young German boy who after realizing his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomas McKenzie) in the family’s attic is forced to confront his Nazism—in the form of an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler (Waititi), who torments him. The film also features Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, and Game of Thrones’ Alfie Allen.
TELL ME WHO I AM (Oct. 18)
Little is known about this under-the-radar Netflix documentary, which just made its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, but this tale of a man who loses his memory after a motorcycle accident only to gain it back with the help of his twin brother, has garnered comparisons to last year’s haunting Three Identical Strangers.
THE LIGHTHOUSE (Oct. 18)
Filmmaker Robert Eggers’ hotly anticipated follow-up to 2015’s The Witch is this black-and-white suspenser, featuring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as a pair of 19th-century lighthouse keepers who, tortured by solitude, begin to lose their minds and target one another. The film received glowing reviews when it debuted at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
THE IRISHMAN (Nov. 1)
A lot has been made of The Irishman’s lengthy running time (210 minutes!), the CGI smoothing to de-age its actors, and the fact that the Netflix release will only receive a three-week run in theaters. But look, this is a Martin Scorsese mob movie (about hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran of the Bufalino crime family) we’re talking about, with him directing Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for the first time since 1995’s Casino, so it should mostly be cause for celebration.
HARRIET (Nov. 1)
Though she hasn’t yet made it onto the $20 bill—owing to the delay tactics of the Trump administration, naturally—the great Harriet Tubman will finally be given the full biopic treatment here, with Cynthia Erivo (Widows) portraying the fearless slave-turned-abolitionist who led many black folks to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Directed by Kasi Lemmons, who helmed the criminally underrated Eve’s Bayou, the historical drama also stars Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr., Taylor Swift paramour Joe Alwyn, and multihyphenate Janelle Monae.
THE KING (Nov. 1)
Directed by David Michod (Animal Kingdom), this dark historical drama weaves together a number of Shakespearean plays to tell the story of Hal (Timothee Chalamet), a drunken buffoon of a prince who rises to become the war hero King Henry V. Chalamet, one of the most gifted actors of his generation, is an absolutely dynamo here, capturing his young royal’s startling transformation with aplomb, and Robert Pattinson is an absolute delight as his goofy, child-slaughtering nemesis, the Dauphin of France.
WAVES (Nov. 1)
As you can already see, between The Irishman, Harriet, and The King, Nov. 1 is going to be a very busy weekend for movies. And you can add to the mix this moving drama from filmmaker Trey Edward Shults (It Comes at Night) about a suburban black family in South Florida who are torn apart by tragedy. The film, which received raves following its Telluride premiere, features Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Lucas Hedges, Euphoria’s Alexa Demie, Renee Elise Golberry, and Sterling K. Brown.
MARRIAGE STORY (Nov. 6)
Without question the best film I saw at the Venice Film Festival—and one of the best films I’ve seen all year—is Noah Baumbach’s latest, which, unlike his pitch-perfect The Squid and the Whale, examines the trials of divorce from the perspective of the couple, played with honesty and ferocity by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. While some may feel the film tips too heavily in the guy’s favor, it’s a gripping portrait of the hell that is modern-day divorce nonetheless, and also boasts a scene-stealing turn from Laura Dern as Johansson’s no-bullshit divorce attorney.
FORD v FERRARI (Nov. 15)
I’m not really one for car-racing movies but I’ll watch anything with Christian Bale, who here stars as Ken Miles, a WWII veteran and race car driver who teamed up with automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) of Ford to create a car that could beat the speedy Ferrari. The film is directed by James Mangold, the man behind the brilliant superhero drama Logan, and also features Outlander’s Caitriona Balfe, Jon Bernthal, and Tracy Letts.
CHARLIE’S ANGELS (Nov. 15)
There’s no Destiny’s Child theme, no Cameron D, Lucy Liu or my girl Drew, and no oiled-up Justin Theroux, but the latest reboot of the all-female spy comedy does have Patrick Stewart as Bosley and Kristen Stewart sporting a bunch of killer looks—and kicking plenty of ass—which is really worth the price of admission alone.
A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD (Nov. 22)
Come on, it’s Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers! Directed by Marielle Heller, the woman behind Can You Ever Forgive Me?! And… Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers! We’re all going to need a little nostalgic cheer come November, with the presidential election race in full swing, so why not take a trip to the ol’ neighborhood.
THE RHYTHM SECTION (Nov. 22)
It’s got Blake Lively as a globetrotting spy-assassin. After her delicious turn in A Simple Favor, one of the very best films of last year, I am so in (also, Jude Law!).
KNIVES OUT (Nov. 27)
I was not nearly as high on The Last Jedi as many critics, so it’s nice to see filmmaker Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) return to whodunit territory with this cheeky-looking black comedy about a detective brought in to investigate how a wealthy patriarch wound up dead, and who at the family gathering killed him. The murder-mystery boasts an all-star cast, including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, and Lakeith Stanfield.
QUEEN & SLIM (Nov. 27)
Melina Matsoukas is one of the finest music video directors on the planet (see: “We Found Love,” “Formation”) and a gifted helmer of television, with episodes of Insecure and Master of None under her belt. Here, she makes her feature directorial debut with this Lena Waithe-scripted modern-day spin on Bonnie & Clyde, with Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith in the lead roles. The film also stars Chloe Sevigny, Flea, and Pose’s Indya Moore, and features music by the masterful Devonte Hynes.