We're in the home stretch. The final quarter of the year brings with it some mega blockbusters, Oscar hopefuls and indie darlings. As part of our fall movie preview, here are the 36 movies we're most excited for in the coming months.
Warner Bros./New Line
"It: Chapter Two" - Sept. 6 (New Line)
Andy Muschietti's first "It" film brought in $700.3 million worldwide on the back of a terrifying performance from Bill Skarsgård as the monster clown Pennywise. And the excitement of that film spurred the new film's A-list cast, including Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader as grown-up members of The Losers Club. The sequel, though, clocks in at two hours and 49 minutes.
"Hustlers" - Sept. 13 (STX Entertainment)
Look at those money moves. The impressive cast of pop star royalty behind “Hustlers,” including Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B and Lizzo, helps bring some hip hop attitude and style to the true story of a group of strip club dancers who swindled their clientele of often corrupt Wall Street brokers. Lorene Scafaria’s (“Seeking a Friend For the End of the World”) film is inspired by a New Yorker magazine article by Jessica Pressler, and the finished product is like if “Ocean’s 8” met “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart also star in the film.
20th Century Fox
"Ad Astra" - Sept. 20 (20th Century Fox)
Director James Gray's sumptuous, slow-burn character dramas have always found an audience with critics and cinephiles. His latest puts him into the sci-fi realm and pairs him with a cast that includes Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler and Donald Sutherland. The sweeping space scenes look impressive, but the film has been pushed back several times as a result of the Disney-Fox merger.
"Rambo: Last Blood" - Sept. 20 (Lionsgate)
Can Sylvester Stallone tap into the same nostalgia with "Rambo: Last Blood" that he did with the "Creed" movies? The early looks at "Last Blood" have been hyper-violent and show Stallone in something of a "Home Alone" scenario as he fights off waves of intruders to his property looking to exact revenge from his past.
Jaap Buitendijk / Focus Features
"Downton Abbey" - Sept. 20 (Focus Features)
The feature film for "Downton Abbey" takes place 18 months after the ending of the original series, which concluded on New Year's Eve 1926. Now in 1927, the family is expecting a visit from the King and Queen, and the family needs to bring back their retired butler Carson (Jim Carter) to help with the arrangements.
"Judy" - Sept. 27 (Roadside Attractions)
Renée Zellweger looks spot-on as Judy Garland in this biopic that follows the legendary star during the winter of 1968 as she arrives in London for a series of sold-out concerts. Rupert Goold directed the film that's based on a Garland stage play called "End of the Rainbow" by Peter Quilter.
"Joker" - Oct. 4 (Warner Bros.)
Todd Phillips' "Joker" still feels like something of an enigma. Rather than your typical superhero origin story, the backstory of the famed Batman villain stars Joaquin Phoenix as part of a larger character drama as he struggles with his career as a comedian and seeks acceptance in society. Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, Marc Maron, Shea Whigham and Brian Tyree Henry also star in the film that nods to Martin Scorsese cult favorites like "The King of Comedy."
"Lucy in the Sky" - Oct. 4 (Fox Searchlight)
After demonstrating prolific work on "Legion" and "Fargo," Noah Hawley is making his feature debut with "Lucy in the Sky," which stars Natalie Portman as an astronaut who starts to lose touch with reality after visiting outer space. Hawley's story is loosely inspired by the criminal activity of Lisa Nowak, an astronaut who was charged with the attempted kidnapping of a U.S. Air Force captain. Jon Hamm, Dan Stevens, Zazie Beetz, Nick Offerman, Ellen Burstyn and Tig Notaro also star in the drama.
Sony Pictures Classics
"Pain and Glory" - Oct. 4 (Sony Classics)
"Pain and Glory" might be among the most personal films for Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar and a career highlight that's earning Oscar buzz for star Antonio Banderas. Banderas stars as a film director reflecting on his life choices, flashing back to his life as a young man and his relationship with his mother, played by Penélope Cruz, who owns the film in its early moments.
"Gemini Man" - Oct. 11 (Paramount)
Will Smith is an assassin facing off against a younger version of himself in Ang Lee's thriller "Gemini Man." But the star of the film is really the advanced CGI technology in which Smith also plays the de-aged version of himself. The filmmakers accomplished the feat in a different manner than the de-aging used on Samuel L. Jackson for "Captain Marvel," crafting an entire digital character based on a Will Smith that looks just like the Fresh Prince.
"Parasite" - Oct. 11 (Neon)
"Snowpiercer" and "Okja" director Bong Joon-ho's latest film, "Parasite," is a return to his native Korean language and a tantalizing drama that plays on the class divide between rich and poor. A poor family of conmen pose as expert tutors and servants and swindle their way into cushy jobs with an eccentric and gullible rich family. But the film naturally has a devilish twist that helped win him the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" - Oct. 18 (Disney)
In a strong year for Disney's live-action remakes, "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" goes beyond the original "Sleeping Beauty" story as Angelina Jolie returns for a new take on the villain. In the film directed by Joachim Rønning, Maleficent starts a battle after forbidding Aurora (Elle Fanning) from marrying a young prince. This time, Maleficent's war effort is helped by another race of dark, winged beasts led by Chiwetel Ejiofor.
"Zombieland: Double Tap" - Oct. 18 (Sony)
Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin and director Ruben Fleischer are back in for more screwball gun-slinging and zombie attacks in a sequel to the 2009 comedy "Zombieland." The cast, particularly Stone, has exploded in stardom since the original's release, so a sequel now seems like a no-brainer. The trailers suggest they're willing to toy with more surprise cameos and wordplay along the way.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
"Jojo Rabbit" - Oct. 18 (Fox Searchlight)
In between "Thor" movies, Taika Waititi's new comedy is an "anti-hate satire" in which Waititi plays a cartoonish version of Adolf Hitler who exists as an imaginary friend in the mind of a little German boy during World War II. It's an absurd premise, and the film's first teaser is a colorful romp featuring Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen and Stephen Merchant.
"The Lighthouse" - Oct. 18 (A24)
Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are unshaven, unkempt and unhinged lighthouse keepers living at the tail end of the 19th century. Their performances anchor an insane psychodrama from director Robert Eggers, making his follow-up to the horror film "The Witch." And it's all shot in an anxiety inducing black and white and old-fashioned, nearly-square aspect ratio.
Warner Bros. Pictures
"Motherless Brooklyn" - Nov. 1 (Warner Bros.)
For his first directorial effort in nearly two decades, actor Edward Norton adapts and also stars in the acclaimed Jonathan Lethem novel. Relocating the neo-noir narrative to the 1950s in New York City, he plays a private detective with Tourette's Syndrome who finds himself ensnared in a citywide conspiracy at the hands of a master builder played by Alec Baldwin. The film also features a score by Daniel Pemberton, orchestration by Wynton Marsalis and an original song by Thom Yorke.
Kerry Brown for Skydance/Paramount
"Terminator: Dark Fate" - Nov. 1 (Paramount)
There have been several "Terminator" sequels since James Cameron's classic "T2: Judgment Day," but "Dark Fate" is the first one that brings Cameron back into the fold and aims to complete the story established in the original films. It's not just Arnold Schwarzenegger who's back, but also the original Sarah and John Connor, Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong, who are fighting the war for humanity. "Deadpool" director Tim Miller should be more than equipped to make this an action spectacle.
"Harriet" - Nov. 1 (Focus Features)
Cynthia Erivo stars as legendary freedom fighter Harriet Tubman in this biopic from director Kasi Lemmons ("Eve's Bayou"). The historical drama also stars Janelle Monáe, Joe Alwyn and Leslie Odom Jr.
"The Irishman" - Nov. 1 (Netflix)
Martin Scorsese's eagerly awaited "The Irishman" will get a limited theatrical release in November just ahead of its streaming debut on Netflix. It's a massive gangster throwback to Scorsese's heyday of "Goodfellas" and "Casino," bringing back Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel and even Joe Pesci out of retirement. It even pairs Al Pacino with Scorsese for what is incredibly the first time. But much of the film hinges on de-aging technology that makes De Niro and Pacino look decades younger in a saga about the man who claims he killed union boss Jimmy Hoffa.
"Marriage Story" - Nov. 6 (Netflix)
Noah Baumbach's "Marriage Story," starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, launched ahead of its Venice Film Festival premiere with two hers-and-his teaser trailers
. The film looks at divorce through two separate perspectives and the love story that leads up to the deteriorating relationship.
"Doctor Sleep" - Nov. 8 (Warner Bros.)
The second Stephen King sequel this fall, "Doctor Sleep" is the follow-up to "The Shining" and stars Ewan McGregor as an adult Danny Torrance. He now comes face to face with a young girl with more incredible "shine" powers than he's ever seen. The horror film from Mike Flanagan has a hard R rating and strongly evokes Stanley Kubrick's horror classic.
"Charlie's Angels" - Nov. 15 (Sony)
Can a reboot of a 2000s action franchise based on a 1970s spy TV show work? If you have the colorful direction and story of Elizabeth Banks and a whole lot of "wigs, toys, clothes" and exploding peppermints, it just might. Kristen Stewart looks like she's having a ball alongside Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska. And the glitzy single from the dream team of Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey to go along with the film is a nice touch.
20th Century Fox
"Ford v. Ferrari" - Nov. 15 (Fox)
The American muscle and A-list talent on display in James Mangold's "Ford v. Ferrari" is the kind of slick biopic that doesn't get made often enough. Christian Bale and Matt Damon lead the cast of the story of how Ford enlisted a top car designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) and hot-shot driver Ken Miles (Bale) to beat Ferrari in the legendary 24 hour Le Mans race in 1966.
Lacey Terrell/Sony Pictures
"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" - Nov. 22 (Sony)
How do you make a movie about one of the nicest guys ever enter the entertainment business? Get the nicest guy in Hollywood. It's almost magical seeing Tom Hanks step into the shoes (and cardigan) of Fred Rogers for "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," which filmed on some of the original sets where "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" was produced for so many years. "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" director Marielle Heller focuses on a moment in Rogers' life where he managed to warm the heart of a cynical journalist writing a profile of the legendary children's host.
"Frozen 2" - Nov. 22 (Disney)
It's been six years since "Frozen" became a modern Disney classic and a new merchandising empire. So there's a lot riding on "Frozen II," which goes beyond the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and finds Elsa leaving the kingdom of Arendelle to discover the source of her enormous power. The first trailer looked inspiring, but the question is whether the film can deliver another soaring anthem on par with the original's Oscar-winning "Let it Go."
"Dark Waters" - Nov. 22 (Focus Features)
From director Todd Haynes ("Carol"), Mark Ruffalo stars in this environmental drama inspired by the true story of an attorney who took on the massive chemical company DuPont after connecting it to a series of unexplained deaths. It's based on a New York Times Magazine article called “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” and it also co-stars Anne Hathaway, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper and Bill Pullman.
"Knives Out" - Nov. 27 (Lionsgate)
After conquering galaxies with "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," Rian Johnson took on this star-studded murder mystery as his ambitious pet project. Daniel Craig stars as a detective with a rich Southern drawl who investigates a wealthy, eccentric and backstabbing family for the murder of the family's patriarch. The twisty, comedic film that also stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Katherine Langford, Lakieth Stanfield and Christopher Plummer.
"Queen & Slim" - Nov. 27 (Universal)
"Queen & Slim" is more than the story of the "black Bonnie & Clyde." Director Melina Matsoukas's debut film, with a script by Lena Waithe, is a timely American odyssey about a mismatched couple who see the country and all its colors. The two are on the run for the killing of a police officer during a traffic stop gone wrong. But it also is meant to be a universal story of being black in America as seen through the eyes of stars Daniel Kaluuya and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith.
"The Aeronauts" / Amazon Studios
"The Aeronauts" - Dec. 6 (Amazon)
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones go sky high in the visually impressive period drama from Tom Harper. Set in 1862, the film pairs a sheepish scientist (Redmayne) and a wealthy widow (Jones) as they attempt to soar to unprecedented heights in a hot air balloon. The film boasts some stunning aerial cinematography and also includes supporting performances from Himesh Patel and Tom Courtenay.
"Jumanji: The Next Level" - Dec. 13 (Sony)
"Jumanji: The Next Level" mixes up the fun of the last film by having the video game avatars played by Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan jumble the human counterparts they're portraying. The twist allows the original cast to return without rehashing the same jokes and performances. And this time they're joined by Danny DeVito, Danny Glover and Awkwafina as they brave an arid desert and snowy mountain in the world's most dangerous game.
"A Hidden Life" - Dec. 13 (Fox Searchlight)
At its premiere in Cannes, "A Hidden Life" earned Terrence Malick his best reviews since 2011's "The Tree of Life." The World War II-era drama is just as spiritual and freeform as all his recent movies. But this one is based on the true story of an Austrian farmer named Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), a conscientious objector who refused to fight for the Nazis. The nearly three-hour saga chronicles his love story with his wife, played by Valerie Pachner.
"Cats" - Dec. 20 (Universal)
The trailer for "Cats" broke the internet
when it was released, with online viewers launching countless memes and parodies at the sight of digital cats with the faces and bodies of Taylor Swift, James Corden, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen and Judi Dench. Love it or hate it, Tom Hooper's big-screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage hit has created enormous buzz, and we're purring at the chance to finally see it.
Walt Disney Studios
"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" - Dec. 20 (Disney)
"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" marks the conclusion to the Skywalker saga and perhaps the set-up for what fans can expect from future big-screen trilogies from both the "Game of Thrones" showrunners and Rian Johnson. J.J. Abrams, back on board after directing "The Force Awakens," has already revealed that Emperor Palpatine is still threatening the galaxy. And he's teased that there's "more to the story
" of Rey's parentage than Kylo Ren previously let on.
"Bombshell" - Dec. 20 (Lionsgate)
Director Jay Roach's look at the downfall of Fox News' Roger Ailes is told from the perspective of the women who accused him of sexual harassment. Margot Robbie stars as a fictional news producer at the cable news giant, while Charlize Theron plays Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman is Gretchen Carlson and John Lithgow is Ailes. The script is by "The Big Short" writer Charles Randolph.
"Little Women" - Dec. 25 (Sony)
There have been numerous film adaptations of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel, but the cast that director Greta Gerwig has assembled for her follow-up to "Lady Bird" is like the "Avengers" of awards season. Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep star in the story that's been updated to play on new gender norms, with a modern sensibility.
"1917" - Dec. 25 (Universal)
Not unlike "Dunkirk" from two years ago, "1917" tells the story of a heroic British military effort against the worst odds, but now the action has been relocated to World War I. Director Sam Mendes has assembled a cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden, Colin Firth, Andrew Scott and George MacKay for this tense war epic.