Holy cow, this year’s Fall Movie Preview is late—hey, I’m allowed to go on vacation too—it’s also chockful of (potentially) great movies. This fall movie season has got everything from major, major blockbusters, to Oscar hopefuls, to more mid-level films that just hope to score your attention for two hours. This year, I’ve grouped the films by release date, but be advised, those dates are always subject to change. In fact, the only one that won’t change is my first entry, because that film is already in theaters:
(Click on the movie titles to see the trailers, where available)
IT – Those that follow the podcast know that I am not a horror guy. However, Stephen King is a fantastic storyteller and IT is one of his classics, so I’m curious to see it. A monster that appears as a clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) is killing folks in a Maine town and it’s up to a group of outcast kids called the Losers to stop him. Early impressions have been positive and a sequel is lined up with Director Andy Muschietti to tell the second half of the novel when the kids are adults and have to face their nemesis again.
American Assassin – Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton star in Director Michael Cuesta’s adaptation of the bestselling novel of the same name by Vince Flynn. O’Brien plays Mitch Rapp, a young man whose girlfriend was murdered in a terrorist attack. He proceeds to seek revenge and draws the attention of the government. They recruit him and send him to Stan Hurley (Keaton) to train as an assassin. I liked the first trailer a lot, but the second trailer introduced a rogue assassin (Taylor Kitsch), who has possession of a nuke and it came off as very “been there, done that.” I’m hoping I’m wrong and this one is a great, surprising action flick. Trying to remain optimistic.
Mother! – Writer-Director Darren Aronofsky returns with a psychological thriller/horror film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a married couple that is visited by another couple (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) and strange things begin to happen at their house. The story is very mysterious and under tight wraps, but based on the trailers, my theory is that Bardem is the Devil or something similar. We shall see. This film is more in line with Aronofsky’s Academy-Award-Winning Black Swan, which I enjoyed a lot, so I’m looking forward to it.
Battle of the Sexes – Emma Stone and Steve Carell play Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in a dramatization of their famous tennis match in 1973. From the trailer, it looks like the film will delve into the players’ lives, which will really be interesting in Riggs’ case, because he was such a public buffoon. Carell and Stone are great performers and I’m looking forward to watching them square off.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Director Matthew Vaughn returns for the sequel to the 2014 hit, Kingsman: Secret Service. In this adventure, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) return to face a new foe (Julianne Moore), while working with the Kingsman’s American counterparts (Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal, Halle Berry). From the trailers, it looks to be another over the top, fun roller coaster ride. Unfortunately, the marketing department of 20th Century Fox didn’t feel the need to keep the return of Colin Firth a secret, which I feel was a narrative surprise wasted. Here’s hoping his return from the dead isn’t incredibly stupid.
American Made – Tom Cruise stars as Barry Seal in Director Doug Liman’s latest film. Seal was a pilot hired by the CIA—represented in the film by Domhnall Gleeson—to basically create the drug trade with South American drug lords. According to interviews with Cruise, a lot had to be edited out of the story, because the real events are so insane, the audience wouldn’t believe them. It looks great from the trailers and Cruise looks to bounce back from the disappointment that was this summer’s The Mummy.
Blade Runner 2049 – 35 years after the original premiered in theaters, Director Denis Villeneuve brings audiences the long-gestating Blade Runner sequel. Set 30 years after the first film, the story follows a new Blade Runner, Officer K (Ryan Gosling) as he unravels a new mystery that will require him to seek out the long-missing Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the protagonist from the first film. Jared Leto plays the mastermind behind the new replicants, while Ana de Armas, Dave Bautista, and Robin Wright appear in supporting roles. Because of Villeneuve’s involvement, Blade Runner 2049 is one of my most anticipated films of the fall. If not for another film lurking in December, it might be my most anticipated film. Judging from the trailers, it looks absolutely gorgeous, thanks to Director of Photography Roger Deakins. Cannot wait for this one.
The Mountain Between Us – Based on a novel, Kate Winslet and Idris Elba star as strangers that survive a plane crash in the mountains and need to work together to survive the harsh conditions. It looks to be a decent survival thriller, but it could just as easily devolve into schlock. Due to the actors involved, though, I’ll label myself cautiously optimistic on this one.
Goodbye Christopher Robin – Directed by Simon Curtis, this film tells the story of author A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and how he created Winnie the Pooh, whose tales were inspired by Milne’s son, Christopher Robin. It looks like a fine drama with a great cast—Margot Robbie plays Milne’s wife, Daphne—and it wouldn’t surprise me if this film was in the conversation at Oscar time next year. Kelly Macdonald also stars as Christopher Robin’s nanny, Olive.
Marshall – When he’s not playing Marvel’s Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman is usually playing historical figures in his films. First was Jackie Robinson, then James Brown, and now Boseman plays a young Thurgood Marshall—the first African-American Supreme Court Justice—as he tries one of his major cases as a lawyer. The film is directed by Reginald Hudlin and has a great cast including Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, James Cromwell, and Sophia Bush. Boseman has proven himself time and again to be an excellent performer and his involvement should be reason enough to seek this film out.
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) – Writer-Director Noah Baumbach returns with this Netflix original film about a dysfunctional family that comes together in New York for an event celebrating the patriarch (Dustin Hoffman), an artist. Baumbach is a talented filmmaker and the cast he has assembled here is incredible: Adam Sandler (who, when given the right material, can be great), Ben Stiller, Adam Driver, Elizabeth Marvel, Emma Thompson, Judd Hirsch, and Sigourney Weaver. I liked Baumbach’s last film, While We’re Young, very much and I’m looking forward to checking this one out.
The Foreigner – This latest action vehicle starring Jackie Chan will probably be a relatively mindless action film, but the thing that drew me to it was the fact that I first saw the trailer after watching one for Bruce Willis’s remake of Death Wish. While a Death Wish remake really isn’t what we need at this time—angry white guys running around the streets with guns? No thanks.—The Foreigner looked so much more dynamic in comparison. Chan plays a grieving father whose daughter was killed in a terrorist bombing in the U.K. He believes that the government, represented by Pierce Brosnan, has information on the terrorists, but refuses to give it up. So, seeking justice, Chan wages war on Brosnan in order to get the information he needs. The premise is somber, but the action looks great. Also, don’t tell me that these film titles don’t reflect our new reality with Donald Trump as president—Death Wish? The Foreigner? Surrrrre….
The Snowman – Tomas Alfredson directs Michael Fassbender in the adaptation of the International Bestseller by Jo Nesbø. A serial killer is targeting women, dismembering their bodies, and taunting the police. Harry Hole (Fassbender)—wait, is that really his name? Yeesh.—is on the case. The cast is topnotch with Rebecca Ferguson, Chloë Sevigny, James D’Arcy, J.K. Simmons, and Val “Probably the Killer” Kilmer. I’ve never read Nesbø’s novel, but I’m a sucker for thrillers like this, so count me in.
Suburbicon – George Clooney returns to the director’s chair with a screenplay by the Coen Brothers, Clooney, and Grant Heslov. Matt Damon plays a 1950s suburban father pushed to his limits by a home invasion. Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac also star. The film has received a mixed reception out of the Venice International Film Festival, but I thought the trailer looked great and it appears to be a dark comedy that’s right up my alley. Hoping for the best with this one, considering I adore everyone involved.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer – The Lobster Director, Yorgos Lanthimos directs Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman in this psychological thriller that has the same strange aesthetic of The Lobster, but a completely opposite tone. Farrell plays Steven, a surgeon who forms a bond with Martin (Dunkirk’s Barry Keoghan), a teenager his daughter (Raffey Cassidy) knows. However, the boy may not have Steven’s best interests at heart as he slowly reveals a more sinister nature. The film won raves out of the festival circuit and my love of The Lobster made it a must-see before I even saw any of the review blurbs. Alicia Silverstone also stars as Martin’s mother.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women – Luke Evans stars as William Moulton Marston, the doctor who created Wonder Woman. The film explores how Marston’s own lifestyle choices and beliefs informed the character and how his unorthodox relationship with both his wife (Rebecca Hall) and their mistress (Bella Heathcote) was frowned upon in the 1940s and beyond. It looks like it could be an interesting drama and the timing couldn’t be more perfect with the success of Wonder Woman this summer. Angela Robinson directs from her screenplay.
Thor: Ragnarok – When I first heard that the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) was going to appear in the third Thor feature, it kind of felt as though Marvel had run out of tricks with the Thor solo films. Then I saw the trailers. Thor: Ragnarok looks to be one of the most fun—and bizarre—Marvel films yet. Directed by comedic genius Taika Waititi, the story finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) at the mercy of Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Norse Goddess of Death. Thor must make new allies like Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) in order to free Asgard from Hela’s wrath. Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki as does Idris Elba as Heimdall. Jeff Goldblum also appears as the Grandmaster, a being that pits Thor and Hulk against each other in gladiatorial combat, which looks to be a great action set piece.
Last Flag Flying – Based on the novel by Darryl Ponicsan, Director and Co-Writer Richard Linklater delivers a film about friendship, brotherhood, life, and death. Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, and Laurence Fishburne play war buddies who fought together in Vietnam. The three come together thirty years later to help Carell bury his son, a soldier who lost his life in the Iraq War. The trailer is great and it looks to be a poignant, but funny story with an amazing cast. I liked Linklater’s Boyhood from a few years ago, but thought it was definitely overrated. This one, though, looks great.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – The minute I saw this trailer, I knew I had to see this film. Written and directed by In Bruges filmmaker Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards delivers the tale of Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), a mother who is looking for answers from the police in the case of her murdered daughter. Because the investigation has gone nowhere, she takes out three billboards calling out the town’s Chief of Police, William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). The resulting conflict makes Mildred a media sensation and features a cast of oddball characters throughout. The fantastic cast includes Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, and John Hawkes. The trailer made the film out to be a great, dark comedy—i.e. right in McDonagh’s wheelhouse. Hoping it lives up to my high expectations.
Murder on the Orient Express – Kenneth Branagh directs and stars in this adaptation of Agathie Christie’s classic whodunit. The cast Branagh has assembled is an embarrassment of riches including: Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, and Judi Dench. I’ve never read the book and this isn’t the first time the novel has been adapted, so Branagh and his stellar cast will have to bring their A-games to impress a fickle audience. The cast alone is worth the price of admission, so I’ll definitely be taking a ride on this train.
Daddy’s Home 2 – The first Daddy’s Home was mildly funny with one super-hilarious scene that left me crying. That being said, I laughed at the first trailer for this sequel and I think that adding Mel Gibson as Mark Wahlberg’s father and John Lithgow as Will Ferrell’s is an inspired move. I’m hoping this one has a little more bite to it, but audiences will probably end up with more of the same. Hey, a guy can hope, right? The basic premise is that just as Wahlberg and Ferrell clashed in the first film, Gibson and Lithgow will clash in this one, threatening to ruin Christmas for all involved.
Justice League – This is it. Wonder Woman was a smashing success for DC/Warner Brothers, but Justice League is the real make or break film for them. If this one fails to impress, you can expect pretty much everything except Wonder Woman to change. Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) work to assemble the Justice League to protect the Earth from the threat of Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and his master, Darkseid, who will probably not show up in the film. Audiences will be introduced to new heroes Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and you may even see a familiar Kryptonian show up at some point. This film was fraught with behind the scenes drama. Director Zack Snyder stepped aside during post-production to deal with a family tragedy and Joss Whedon filled in on the film’s reshoots. The work that Whedon did was so extensive, he finally received a screenplay credit for the film, so expect the tone of Justice League to try and mirror Wonder Woman more than Batman v. Superman. Will it all pay off for DC/WB? We’ll find out in November. I’ve enjoyed the trailers, but there’s no way to know what’s what anymore with all the work Whedon put in.
Wonder – Human Baby Groot, Jacob Tremblay stars as August “Auggie” Pullman, a boy with a disfigured face who is going into fifth grade and attending a public school for the first time. His parents are played by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. The film is adapted from the novel by R.J. Palacio and is directed by Stephen Chbosky, who previously adapted and directed his own novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The supporting cast is rounded out by Mandy Patinkin as Mr. Tushman, the principal, Daveed Diggs as Mr. Browne, Auggie’s English teacher, and Noah Jupe as Jack, Auggie’s best friend at school. The trailers have made the film look to either be a heartwarming tear-jerker or a schmaltzy mess. I’m hoping for the former.
Mudbound – Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell play World War II veterans returning to Mississippi where they deal with PTSD and racism in the South. Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan, Jonathan Banks, and Jason Clarke also star. The film, directed by Dee Rees, will premiere in both theaters and Netflix and has won raves on the festival circuit. Really looking forward to this period drama.
Coco – Pixar delivers its second film this year in Coco, a movie set during the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead. The story follows an aspiring musician, Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), on an adventure through the Land of the Dead. The film also stars Gael Garcia Bernal as Hector, a trickster and Miguel’s companion through the Land of the Dead; Benjamin Bratt as Ernesto, Miguel’s musical idol, and Edward James Olmos as Chicharron, a friend of Hector’s. The trailers have been beautiful and it looks like Pixar is trying to keep a lid on the story as there’s supposed to be some family mystery involved with Miguel’s quest, but my biggest worry is that this film was already beaten to market a few years ago by The Book of Life. The story isn’t exactly the same, but it’s very close, so close that I was surprised that Disney didn’t end up scrapping this film, so hopefully it will be different enough.
Molly’s Game – Based on a true story, Jessica Chastain plays Molly Bloom, a woman who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became targeted by the FBI. The trailer doesn’t give much of the story away, but I love Chastain and the rest of the cast is just as impressive featuring Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, and others. Also, this film will be the feature directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin, who also wrote the screenplay based on Bloom’s book.
Darkest Hour – Gary Oldman is almost unrecognizable as Winston Churchill in Director Joe Wright’s historical drama. The story focuses on Churchill taking power as Prime Minister of England and then immediately having to face off with Nazi Germany, deciding whether to strike a peace treaty or hold firm and go to war. The cast also features Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Stephen Dillane, and Kristen Scott Thomas, but it looks like this might be Oldman’s strongest bid for an Oscar yet—incredibly, he’s only been nominated once.
The Current War – This film, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, focuses on the fight between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to see whose electrical system would power the United States. As a period drama, it has Oscar bait written all over it, but with these two leads as well as the story they’ll be telling, it kind of has to be a must-see. The rest of the cast is equally good featuring Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, and Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla.
Call Me by Your Name – This film, directed by Luca Guadagnino and adapted from the novel by André Aciman, won raves on the festival circuit and has been hailed as one of the best films of the year. Set in 1983, an American-Italian, Elio (Timothee Chalamet), meets an American student, Oliver (Armie Hammer), who has come to stay with his family to study with Elio’s father, Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg). The two young men strike up a friendship and eventually a romance over a summer that will change them forever. I see this film as this year’s Moonlight, as it has some similar themes and is receiving just as much praise from early screenings.
The Disaster Artist – James Franco directs and stars in a film detailing the making of the notoriously awful film The Room. I’ve seen the one trailer for the film and I’m not totally sure what to make of it. Is it a satire? Is it a straight up re-telling of the events? It has the seal of approval from The Room creator Tommy Wiseau, so it can’t be just making fun of him for 90 minutes, right? Right? Regardless, the cast is incredible and the original film is beyond terrible, so this could be a very interesting one to see.
The Shape of Water – Guillermo del Toro returns to direct and co-write this film set in the early sixties. In a high-security government facility, Elisa (Sally Hawkins) works as a custodian. Elisa is mute and leads a lonely life, but that all changes when she and her co-worker, Zelda (Octavia Spencer), stumble upon a top secret experiment. From the trailers, this looks to be another fairy tale from del Toro, but one that only he could tell. Doug Jones, Michael Shannon, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Richard Jenkins also star. The film has won rave reviews out of early screenings and it is high on my list to see this fall. Del Toro stumbled a bit with his last film, Crimson Peak, but The Shape of Water looks to be del Toro in his element.
All the Money in the World – Not much is known about this upcoming film from Director Ridley Scott, only that it focuses on a left-wing paramilitary group in Italy and its massive kidnapping plot in the 1970s. Also, the cast is absolutely stellar, featuring Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Spacey, Michelle Williams, and Timothy Hutton. No idea if this will even make it out by the end of the year, but despite Scott’s falters on the most recent Alien films, he’s still a director to pay attention to, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for this one.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Of course, this is my most-anticipated film of the fall. I liked The Force Awakens a lot, but felt that the film played it a little too safe. However, I loved all the new characters and am interested to see their new adventures. Enter Writer-Director Rian Johnson, the filmmaker behind Brick and Looper. It’s Johnson’s involvement that has me so excited. He’s a fantastic filmmaker and I can’t wait to see his take on the Star Wars universe. The story, which is tightly under wraps, will focus on Rey (Daisy Ridley) as she trains with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). General Leia (Carrie Fisher) works closely with Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), while Finn (John Boyega) pairs off with Resistance fighter Rose (Kelly Marie Tran). Lurking in the shadows, though, is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Sadly, this will also be the final film for Carrie Fisher, who by all accounts, delivered a great performance in this chapter of the Star Wars saga. December can’t get here soon enough.
The Post – This film happened very quickly after the results of the 2016 Presidential Election. Steven Spielberg directs a screenplay by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. The story focuses on how The Washington Post’s first female publisher, Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) and her editor, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) fought against the U.S. Government to publish the Pentagon Papers. With the involvement of Spielberg, Streep, and Hanks, this film is an absolute powerhouse and the rest of the cast is just as amazing: Alison Brie, Sarah Paulson, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, David Cross, and Bob Odenkirk just to name a few. This will be a must-watch for me.
Downsizing – Writer-Director Alexander Payne is one of our greatest filmmakers. I loved his films Sideways and The Descendants and really enjoyed Nebraska a lot, so when I found out he was doing a sci-fi comedy, I was immediately on board. Scientists have discovered how to shrink human beings down to five inches as a way to help curb overpopulation. Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife, Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to go through with the procedure and the result is a life-changing adventure. Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, and Hong Chau also star. The concept sounds great and with Payne at the helm, I can’t see it being anything but great.
Bright – David Ayer directs a screenplay by Max Landis in a Netflix-exclusive film. Set in a world where high fantasy meets modern day Earth, Will Smith plays a cop partnered up with an Orc (Joel Edgerton). During the course of a routine patrol, the two stumble onto a powerful mystery that could alter their world forever. The trailer looks very cool and it’s probably the most ambitious film Netflix has produced thus far. Noomi Rapace, Ike Barinholtz, and Edgar Ramirez round out the cast. This one has the potential to be very cool or a complete flop. I’m hoping it’s great.
Phantom Thread – Not much is known about Writer-Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film except that it stars Daniel Day-Lewis and is set in the London fashion world of the 1950s. Oh, and word has it that this will be Day-Lewis’ final film performance, so no biggie. Anderson is one the greatest filmmakers working today, so any film of his is a must-see. The fact that it might be Day-Lewis’ final film makes it even more so. And while dates may change on any of these films, this is the one where the actual title may change. Expect more details on this one very late in the year.
The Greatest Showman – I’m not usually a big musical fan. However, I am a big fan of Hugh Jackman, so I’m mildly intrigued by his next project, directed by Michael Gracey. Jackman plays P.T. Barnum and the film tells the story of how he founded Barnum & Bailey Circus. The cast includes Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya. Not sure what my final decision will be—I skipped Les Misérables—but I included it, because this will be one of the big movies at Christmas.
So, there you have it. I will see most of these films this fall and there are others that I didn’t list that I will also see at some point in the next four months. Hopefully you found a couple of films that aren’t blockbusters that you might check out or maybe you just wanted to confirm when Star Wars comes out. If you want even more Fall Movie Preview fun, check out Entertainment Weekly’s preview, which covers everything. Thanks for reading and go to the movies!