It's Oscar season: 25 movies to look forward to in fall 2019
Most people call this "Oscar season," but I prefer to call it "spend all my money at the multiplex season." There are just so many movies coming out that you're not going to want to miss, from new adaptations of classic Stephen King stories, to Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird follow-up, to the impending Robert Pattinsonsance (that's a term, right?).
Thankfully, with the launch of Regal's Unlimited Movies subscription plan, as well as AMC's well-loved Stubs A-List loyalty program, the Cinemark Movie Club, and the Alamo Drafthouse Season Pass, there are plenty of ways to get your movie fix without completely breaking the bank.
Also note: Several of the big fall festival movies are still awaiting trailers or release dates, and this list will be updated as they become available. Otherwise, without further ado, here are the 25 movies I'm most looking forward to watching between now and the end of the year.
1. It: Chapter Two (Andrés Muschietti, Sept. 1)
It's happening again. Twenty-seven years after Bill, Bev, Ben, Mike, Eddie, Stan, and Richie defeated Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the events of It (2017), the Losers Club is summoned once again to face off against the otherworldly entity that lives in the sewers of Derry, Maine. Based on Stephen King's decades-spanning novel, and wisely tackled on screen in two halves, It: Chapter Two will see James McAvoy stepping in as the adult version of Bill Denbrough, while Jessica Chastain will play the grown Beverly Marsh. But while childhood imagination and faith allowed the Losers to beat Pennywise the first time around, adulthood comes with its own monsters.
2. The Goldfinch (John Crowley, Sept. 13)
Another massive book to be adapted for screen this fall, The Goldfinch doesn't share It's advantage of being managed in two parts. But at two-and-a-half hours long, this adaptation of Donna Tartt's 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel doesn't look apt to leave anything out. Ansel Elgort plays Theo, a young boy who is orphaned after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Theo, though, has a secret — that in the wreckage of the attack, he stole a small painting of a bird (me, whispering to date while watching The Goldfinch when "The Goldfinch" first appears on the screen: That's the Goldfinch). As Theo's life twists and turns through crime, addiction, and friendships with oddball characters, the painting remains a sort of guiding light through the turmoil.
3. Joker (Todd Phillips, Oct. 4)
Stepping into the shoes of Heath Ledger's inimitable performance of the Joker in The Dark Knight is an intimidating task, but one actor Joaquin Phoenix seems to do with ease, at least judging by the trailer for this origin story about Gotham's most troubling villain. Joker is not technically a part of the DC Extended Universe (which includes Wonder Woman and Aquaman, among others) and is intended to stand alone, Den of Geek reports. While that means, on the one hand, that you can go into the movie without having seen any of the other 10,000 comic book movies to precede it, it also means Warner Bros. was fine taking the film's R rating, making Joker the first DC movie inaccessible in theaters to anyone unaccompanied under the age of 17. Could Phoenix's Joker be even darker than Ledger's, then? We'll see.
4. Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, Oct. 11)
The winner of the prestigious Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Parasite is the latest thriller from Korea's genre master Bong Joon-ho (Okja; The Host). Described by the director as "a comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains," the movie follows an impoverished but wily family who decide to con their way into the service of the vastly richer Park family. With Bong's signature, sharp nose for satire on full display (he also directed the class warfare film Snowpiercer, which is being adapted into a TBS show expected next year) and with healthy doses of his dark sense of humor, Parasite is getting a U.S. release courtesy of Neon after the movie premieres stateside at the New York Film Festival. It also has one of my favorite movie posters of the year.
5. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, Oct. 18)
I've been on the Robert Pattinson bandwagon since his fantastic performances in The Lost City of Z and High Life, but his biggest fans will point you back as far as 2012's Cosmopolis as proof that he can't be boxed in as a sullen teen vampire. This fall, Pattinson appears in three films (The King; Waiting for the Barbarians), the first being this turn as a grizzled lighthouse keeper opposite Willem Dafoe. Shot on black-and-white 35mm film in an intentionally antiquated 1.19:1 aspect ratio, The Lighthouse is director Robert Eggers' follow-up to The Witch (2015), and seems to tap into the same spooky vein of New England folklore. Having premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this spring, The Lighthouse boasts an encouraging 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes ahead of a stateside release just in time for Halloween.
6. Zombieland: Double Tap (Ruben Fleischer, Oct. 18)
Better late than never! A decade after the release of the 2009 horror-comedy Zombieland at last comes the highly-anticipated sequel Zombieland: Double Tap. Evidently set a decade after the events in the initial film (although you wouldn't know it from looking at the ageless Jesse Eisenberg in the trailer), Double Tap returns to the continued adventures of apocalypse survivors Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Eisenberg), and Wichita (Emma Stone), who are on a quest to recover Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) after she takes off with her hippie beau. There are new friends to be made, new zombies to kill, and new Twinkies to be consumed — so buckle up, nut up, or shut up.
7. Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, Oct. 18)
Can Nazi jokes still be funny in 2019? Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi is going to put that question to the test in his Third Reich satire Jojo Rabbit, in which he also stars as, uh, Adolf Hitler. Young Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) is mocked by his friends in the Hitler Youth for being a wimp, with his only companion being his imaginary friend: the Führer himself (Waititi). You can only imagine what happens when Jojo subsequently learns that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic.
8. Harriet (Kasi Lemmons, Nov. 1)
I was wowed by the trailer for Harriet when it came out earlier this summer, and the Harriet Tubman biopic remains high on my list of most anticipated films of the year. Directed by Kasi Lemmons (whose 1997 debut, Eve's Bayou, remains essential viewing), Harriet stars Cynthia Erivo as the abolitionist who saved dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad. Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monáe are also set to star.
9. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, in theaters Nov. 1, on Netflix Nov. 27)
Put a bunch of living legends in a movie together, add a dash of reverse-aging digital technology, and poof! You've got Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. The film marks Scorsese's return to the world of gangsters after his 2016 film about Christian missionaries in Japan, and stars Robert De Niro as hitman Frank Sheeran, Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa, and Joe Pesci as the boss of the Bufalino crime family. The film is told in recollection, which is where digitally shaving three decades off of De Niro comes in handy. But it didn't come cheap — The Irishman reportedly cost around $140 million to make, making it close to Scorsese's most expensive movie ever, Indiewire reports.
10. Doctor Sleep (Mike Flanagan, Nov. 8)
The second Stephen King adaptation of the fall is likewise a sequel, with 2019's Doctor Sleep seeking to explore what happens after the events at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. Little Danny Torrance is now all grown up (Ewan McGregor), and struggles with alcoholism and his psychic powers known as "the shining." A young girl named Abra Stone, who also has the shining, seeks Dan out in order to help fend off Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who feeds off of children who have the gift. Director Mike Flanagan has said Doctor Sleep will take place in the same "cinematic universe" as Stanley Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of The Shining, which was famously despised by King himself.
11. Charlie's Angels (Elizabeth Banks, Nov. 15)
I didn't realize how badly I needed Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska to star together in a Charlie's Angels sequel, but here we are. While confusingly sharing the same name as the 2000 movie starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu in the roles of hyper-capable private detectives, the 2019 movie finds multiple teams of Angels (led by multiple Bosleys) competing around the world before a major case demands their attention. Elizabeth Banks, who is directing the film, also stars as Susan Bosley. Another killer trio of women — Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus, and Ariana Grande — collaborated on the film's title song.
12. Ford v. Ferrari (James Mangold, Nov, 15)
The year is 1966, and the Ford Motor Company intends to do the impossible: beat Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race in France. With the beef against Ferrari personal, Henry Ford II turns to automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to get the job done. Based on a true story, Ford v. Ferrari is director James Mangold's (Walk the Line) look at the thrilling '66 race against time, machine, and man.
13. Frozen 2 (Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, Nov. 22)
It's been six whole years since the release of Disney's mega-hit Frozen, but if you've been to a four-year-old's birthday party lately, you're well aware that the love for the Princesses Elsa and Anna has not paled among the pre-K crowd. Coming as a relief to parents everywhere, Frozen 2 drops later this year and will follow Elsa, Anna, and their friends northward on an adventure to save Arendelle. While Disney has been pretty tight-lipped on saying much more about Frozen 2, you can rest assured that Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell will be returning to voice the sisters. And yes, in all likelihood there will be a new earworm that you won't be able to let go for the next six years.
14. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, Nov. 22)
I'm already ugly crying at this big-hearted movie about a skeptical journalist (Matthew Rhys) sent to profile Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks). Based on a true story (you can read the Esquire article that served as inspiration here), A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood follows up last year's wildly popular documentary about Mr. Rogers, Won't You Be My Neighbor. While a dramatic screenplay could easily sink into being saccharine, I trust director Marielle Heller, whose 2018 forgery comedy Can You Ever Forgive Me? was one of my favorites of last year.
15. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, Dec. 6)
A potential contender for the Best Foreign Language award at the Oscars, this French film earned rave reviews when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. The year is 1770, and Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) refuses to have her wedding portrait painted on the grounds that she does not want to be married. Her mother, the countess, decides to hire the painter Marianne (Noémie Merlant) to study Héloïse in secret in order to complete the necessary portrait. The film took home the Best Screenplay award at Cannes, and is being released stateside by Neon and Hulu.
16. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (J.J. Abrams, Dec. 20)
After a holiday season with no new Star Wars films, we at last return to our regular programming with the final installment in the sequel trilogy that began back in 2015 with The Force Awakens. The Rise of Skywalker will follow the events in 2017's The Last Jedi, with J.J. Abrams returning to direct the trilogy he began four years ago. Daisy Ridley will likewise return as Rey, the last known Jedi, and Adam Driver will reprise his role as the villain Kylo Ren. A more complete trailer is also expected sometime this fall.
17. Cats (Tom Hooper, Dec. 20)
Look, I was disturbed by that freaky trailer too. But you know what they say about curiosity and the cat; I just can't help myself, I have to know what Tom Hooper has done with this adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway classic. Starring Taylor Swift, James Corden, Dame Judi Dench, and something called "digital fur technology," Cats could be a mess or a blast. Then again, who said those were mutually exclusive?
18. Little Women (Greta Gerwig, Dec. 25)
Greta Gerwig came thiiiis close to winning Best Picture for her incredible directorial debut Lady Bird, and her sophomore feature, an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, already looks to be another major contender. The ensemble cast features Saoirse Ronan as Jo, Emma Watson as Meg, Florence Pugh as Amy, and Eliza Scanlen as Beth, with Timothée Chalamet playing Laurie, Laura Dern as Marmee March, and Meryl Streep as Aunt March. The film is reportedly mainly focused on the events after Meg, Jo, and Amy have left home, but with Little Women evidently not premiering at any of the fall festivals, critics' reactions to this adaptation will have to wait until just before its release this winter.
19. 1917 (Sam Mendes, Dec. 25)
Director Sam Mendes' grandfather was the inspiration for this World War I drama, which roughly tells the story of how Alfred Mendes became one of two British runners tasked with delivering a message to halt an advance that would have seen 1,600 troops walk straight into an ambush. In the fictionalized screenplay, the runners are named Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman); the job requires crossing straight through enemy territory; and Blake's own brother is among the troops set on a deadly collision course with the enemy. Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch are also set to star in Mendes' first film since 2015's Spectre.
20. Dolemite Is My Name (Craig Brewer, 2019 date TBD)
Eddie Murphy plays the late Rudy Ray Moore in this biopic about the creation of the blaxploitation character Dolemite in the 1970s. Down on his luck, Moore wants to see his name in lights on the theater marquee and decides the only way to accomplish his goal is by making his own movie. Dolemite Is My Name is being described as Murphy's "comeback bid," and will co-star Wesley Snipes and Keegan-Michael Key. We'll have a better sense of how the film is going to go over after it premieres at the Toronto Film Festival in September; until then, the trailer looks hilarious and encouraging. A Netflix release is expected later this year.
21. The Laundromat (Steven Soderbergh, 2019 date TBD)
— TIFF (@TIFF_NET) July 23, 2019
Meryl Streep! Gary Oldman! Antonio Banderas! This drama about the 2016 Panama Papers scandal has a killer cast, with Streep playing a widow who inadvertently is drawn into the shady dealings of a law firm run by Jürgen Mossack (Oldman) and Ramón Fonseca (Banderas). Based on Jake Bernstein's book Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite, Soderbergh's second film of the year will premiere at the Venice Film Festival later this month, with a Netflix release to follow.
22. Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019 date TBD)
Everyone loves messy drama — if you say you don't, you're lying. And "messy drama" is what Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story is made of. Adam Driver is an experimental theater director named Charlie, who is in the process of divorcing his muse, Nicole (Scarlett Johansson). You see where this is going: Their "amicable" breakup and custody negotiations over their young son break down and battle ensues. New York Film Festival director Kent Jones told Indiewire the film "is a heartbreaker, it's very funny, and it has an emotional complexity that's worthy of [Swedish director Ingmar] Bergman." The dueling trailers released by Netflix are already making me cry.
23. The King (David Michôd, 2019 date TBD)
If you aren't content with just one Timothée Chalamet awards contender this fall, then you're in luck. The King is Australian director David Michôd's adaptation of the Shakespeare plays about Henry IV and Henry V; Chalamet will play the latter monarch, whose wild boyhood comes to an end when he's abruptly saddled with the responsibilities of leadership following his father's death. The film is also the second appearance by Robert Pattinson in his three fall roles (he'll be the Dauphin of Viennois), with Ben Mendelsohn as King Henry IV and Lily-Rose Depp as the French princess Catherine. If you're a little rusty on your Shakespeare, this is the play with the St. Crispin's Day Speech, which has the famous line, "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers." Listen for it from Chalamet.
24. First Cow (Kelly Reichardt, 2019 date TBD)
In FIRST COW, Kelly Reichardt constructs an interrogation of foundational Americana that recalls her earlier triumph OLD JOY in its sensitive depiction of male friendship, yet is driven by a mounting suspense all its own. #NYFF pic.twitter.com/yE9DyD0Ci6
— New York Film Festival (@TheNYFF) August 6, 2019
Kelly Reichardt is one of my favorite working American filmmakers, and I couldn't be more delighted by the title of her forthcoming film. The follow-up to 2016's Certain Women (if you haven't seen it, fix that now), First Cow is set in Oregon Territory in the 1820s, and charts the adventures of a cook named Cookie Figowitz (John Magaro) and his friend (Orion Lee) who "collaborate on a successful business, although its longevity is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a nearby wealthy landowner's prized milking cow," according to the intriguing synopsis. The film is reportedly based loosely on part of Jonathan Raymond's novel The Half Life (Raymond co-wrote the screenplay with Reichardt). First Cow will premiere at the New York Film Festival this fall; a release date from distributor A24 is likely to be announced shortly afterward.
25. The Personal History of David Copperfield (Armando Iannucci, 2019 date TBD)
— BFI (@BFI) July 16, 2019
Armando Iannucci is moving from the Soviet Union of 2017's The Death of Stalin to England for his newest film, which is, at least in name, an adaptation of David Copperfield. The Veep creator and satirist, though, is likely to have a whole lot of fun with the Charles Dickens classic, which he has adapted with longtime collaborator Simon Blackwell. Dev Patel will play Copperfield, with Tilda Swinton joining as his great-aunt Betsey Trotwood. The Personal History is due to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, with a release date and trailer likely shortly to follow.