As the weather gets colder, head inside to a cozy movie theater where you can watch the exploits of not one, but two clowns, a friendly sweatered icon and an old action hero with a familiar red bandanna.
Here are 30 movies you need to know about this fall.
‘IT Chapter Two’ (Sept. 6)
The clown’s back in town. The Losers have all grown up and, surprise!, are now played by famous actors. James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader and the guy from the Old Spice commercials are ready to face down existential childhood fears and not even the most malodorous sewer system will stop them. The last movie made over $700 million worldwide so expect “It” 2 to be a hit, too.
‘The Goldfinch’ (Sept. 13)
A movie screaming for awards attention, this adaptation of Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is directed by “Brooklyn” helmer John Crowley. A little boy witnesses his mother’s death during a suicide bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He then grows up to become Ansel Elgort and finds himself in the world of art forgeries. Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, Dennis O’Hare and Sarah Paulson co-star.
‘Hustlers’ (Sept. 13)
Whether or not this movie is any good, we’ll be living off its GIFs for the next ten years. Constance Wu, Cardi B, Keke Palmer and J. Lo star as strippers who turn the tables on their rich jerk clients to get that paper. Lizzo and Usher and the gal who plays Betty on “Riverdale” are in the movie, too, plus it’s even based on a true story. It’s going to be incredible.
‘Monos’ (Sept. 13)
One of the stranger movies of the year, “Monos” is set in a not-quite-reality where a squad of teen guerrilla fighters train in the mountains of an unnamed Latin American country. Their preparations and interpersonal dynamics are surreal, and it’s unclear what they have planned for their American hostage. Dreamlike and terrifying, but also beautiful, this striking film was a success earlier this year at Sundance, and is the fall’s art house project not to miss.
‘Ad Astra’ (Sept. 20)
Brad Pitt is “Sad” Pitt in this journey “to the stars” (check your Latin) from director James Gray. Set in the not-too-distant future, Pitt’s father (Tommy Lee Jones) was an astronaut who disappeared on a deep space mission. Now, some years and a moon colonization later, Pitt is sent to find him, or else all life on Earth could be in jeopardy. The release date of this one was pushed, which either means the studio thinks they have an Oscar contender on their hands or the special effects took longer than they expected.
‘Downton Abbey’ (Sept. 20)
Get your teacups ready, Anglophiles, it’s time to return to Downton Abbey. The world’s classiest soap opera is back, and this time the King and Queen are coming for a visit. Most of the cast from the BBC/PBS sensation are on board, but newcomers include Imelda Staunton, Kate Phillips and Tuppence Middleton, which, believe it or not, is the actress’s name, not the 1920s British aristocrat character she plays.
‘Rambo: Last Blood’ (Sept. 20)
Just how much blood does this guy have in him? The answer is a lot. A lot of blood. Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo, jealous, perhaps, that Rocky lives on in the “Creed” movies, is back one last time to shoot up another village or whatever it is he likes to do. This time he goes to Mexico to battle a drug cartel. We hope he’s collecting miles.
‘Judy’ (Sept. 27)
British theater director Rupert Goold and Renée Zellweger take a big swing with “Judy,” an adaptation of the play “End of the Rainbow.” Rather than a full Judy Garland biopic (as if her life could be contained in just one movie!) this focuses on a series of shows she put on in London months before her death in 1969. If “Judy” succeeds, we’ll have a rich, emotional film worthy of her name. If it fails, we’ll have a camp classic, also worthy of her name. Can’t lose!
‘Joker’ (Oct. 4)
Superhero origin stories are over. Here comes the first supervillain origin story, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the clown prince of crime. Director Todd Phillips says his version of The Joker is based more on movies like “Taxi Driver” than typical tentpole fare. To that end Robert De Niro actually has a supporting role as a mentor to Phoenix’s unsuccessful stand-up comedian. Despite being set in fictional Gotham City, this looks to be an indictment of our current social-political climate. No Cesar Romero’s Joker here.
‘The Current War’ (Oct. 4)
Long put on the shelf thanks to the short circuit at The Weinstein Company, this unusual historical drama about electricity finally gets its chance to shine. With Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison, Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse and Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla, audiences will glow with excitement to learn about the battle of the bulbs. Are you #TeamDirectCurrent or #TeamAlternatingCurrent? Science teachers can’t wait to find out.
‘The Addams Family’ (Oct. 11)
We knew that they were creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky, but did we know they were animated, too? Charles Addams’ macabre New Yorker cartoon characters (which far predate those copycat “Munsters”!) are coming back to the big screen. Oscar Isaac is voicing Gomez, and that ought to be enough of a draw right there. But in case it wasn’t, know that Snoop Dogg is voicing Cousin Itt. We predict shenanigans.
‘Gemini Man’ (Oct. 11)
In development for over 20 years (and with a slew of writers attached, including half of the “Game of Thrones” showrunning duo) Ang Lee and ten thousand computers rendering at the speed of sound present an action film with Will Smith as a government agent vs. Younger Will Smith as a younger government agent. Will it work? Time will tell. Sometimes Lee pulls these things off (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Life of Pi”) and sometimes he doesn’t (“Hulk,” “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.”) The premise kinda-sorta sounds like “Looper” but this time with clones instead of time travel. If this is a hit, it could be a game changer for CGI performances.
‘Jexi’ (Oct. 11)
Remember the movie “Her?” Well, what if it were a goofy comedy starring Adam DeVine? You in? Rose Byrne plays the voice of the A.I. and Michael Peña and Wanda Sykes co-star. That’s about all we know. Something tells me we’ll love this when we watch this on a plane in 2020.
‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ (Oct. 18)
Angelina Jolie is back in the follow-up to the live action dark fantasy loosely based on “Sleeping Beauty.” Elle Fanning, Sam Riley and Juno Temple return, but this time Michelle Pfeiffer co-stars as Queen Ingrith. We predict outrageous gowns, some catty dialogue and an overblown third act with a lot of CGI.
‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ (Oct. 18)
Remember the movie “Zombieland?” With Woody Harrelson? From 10 years ago? It was good, right? Yeah, pretty good. Well, now there’s a sequel. We aren’t quite sure how that happened either, but it happened. Anyway, the gang is back. That’s Jesse Eisenberg (oh, yeah) and Abigail Breslin (oh, wow, haven’t thought about her in awhile) and Emma Stone. Really, that was Emma Stone, before you knew her. Go back and check, we aren’t lying. Anyway, the new one is out this fall.
‘The Lighthouse’ (Oct. 18)
A hit from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, director Robert Eggers (“The VVitch”) offers up another psychological horror film, this time set on a surreal shoreline of the soul. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson play cross-generational lighthouse keepers, away from society with only paranoia and madness as companions. The less you know going into this strange black and white mystery the better.
‘Black and Blue’ (Oct. 25)
Naomie Harris is a rookie New Orleans cop who finds herself tangled in the thin blue line of her police department’s code and the community she wants to protect. When she catches a corrupt officer murdering a drug dealer with her body camera, she finds herself hunted by everyone on both sides of the law. Lots of running and shooting ensues.
‘Motherless Brooklyn’ (Nov. 1)
Edward Norton stars in and directs this long-awaited adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s successful 1999 detective novel. Norton is Lionel Essrog, a private dick with Tourette’s syndrome investigating the murder of his snoop mentor, played by Bruce Willis. Bobby Cannavale, Ethan Suplee, Willem Dafoe, Cherry Jones, Fisher Stevens and Gugu Mbatha-Raw round out a rogue’s gallery of supporting players in what promises to be one of the best New York movies in a while.
‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ (Nov. 1)
He said he’d be back! There have been plenty of “Terminator” movies since the mighty “T2” but none have really stuck. This latest, directed by “Deadpool”’s Tim Miller but closely shepherded by series creator James Cameron, is meant to be a direct follow-up to that 1991 classic. To that end, it’s the first to bring Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong back, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Who knows how it’ll fit in the timeline, but the logic in this series has never made sense, so let’s just enjoy it.
‘Harriet’ (Nov. 1)
Cynthia Erivo stars as the American heroine Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave who later led thirteen escape missions from the antebellum south along the Underground Railroad. Wait, there’s never been a theatrical film about Harriet Tubman till now? No, there’s never been a theatrical film about Harriet Tubman till now. Take your kids out of school one day and bring them to this.
‘Doctor Sleep’ (Nov. 8)
They made a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and we all survived, so let’s not freak out about “Doctor Sleep.” No, we don’t expect this sequel to be as good as Kubrick’s “The Shining,” but maybe it’ll be OK on its own. Ewan McGregor is Danny Torrence, all grown up now and, much like Scatman Crothers in the original, finding other children who have the ability to “shine.” We’re sure bloodshed and mayhem soon follow. Let’s give it the benefit of the doubt.
"Playing with Fire" (Nov. 8)
John Cena stars as the lead, a fearless "Smoke Jumper" firefighter whose life changes when he meets three unruly kids.
‘Last Christmas’ (Nov. 8)
Paul Feig directing a script by Emma Thompson sounds like a Christmas gift made in comedy heaven. Emilia Clarke, formerly the Mother of Dragons, works as a department-store elf and Henry Golding catches her eye. Michelle Yeoh, Patti LuPone and Thompson herself co-star in a film sure to feature many witty walks through London and a George Michael tune or two.
‘Midway’ (Nov. 8)
No one blows things up on film quite like Roland Emmerich, so we’re in decent hands here for this World War II battle simulation. Woody Harrelson is Admiral Chester Nimitz, just one of the many names in this movie that sound vaguely familiar from high school history. There was a 1976 movie called “Midway” that was presented in the short-lived “Sensurround” format. We can only imagine how the creator of “Independence Day” and “2012” will try to top that.
‘Charlie’s Angels’ (Nov. 15)
You can’t keep a good triumvirate of gorgeous detective heroines down! The 1970s television show that was rebooted as a 2000 film has been rebooted once again, and we expect lots of outfit changes, explosions and twists. Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska star, with Elizabeth Banks directing and appearing as Bosley. We hope there’s still a speakerphone.
‘Ford v. Ferrari’ (Nov. 15)
Matt Damon. Christian Bale. Cool jackets. Sleek cars. What, you need a road map? James Mangold (“Logan”) tells the tale of an American automotive engineer and a British racer joining forces to remind that jerk Enzo Ferrari that if it weren’t for them, he’d be speaking Italian right now! Wait, what? Anyway, it all builds to the 1966 race at Le Mans and what looks like the best driving footage since John Frankenheimer’s “Grand Prix.”
‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ (Nov. 22)
Popcorn, check. Soda, check. Who brought the Kleenex? Wait, don’t start the movie! Tom Hanks, the nicest man in Hollywood, stars as Fred Rogers, the nicest man on Earth, in this biographical drama directed by Marielle Heller (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) As soon as we hear that jazzy music and hear the choo-choo train, we’re all gonna be a mess.
‘Frozen 2’ (Nov. 22)
Sick of Disney? Let it go! Don’t try to resist. Elsa and Anna (and Kristoff and Olaf) are back and whatever songs they are going to sing will be trapped in your head for years. “Frozen” was a generational sensation so don’t expect the sequel to be quite as big, but this quest to discover the origin of Elsa’s powers will hopefully be good enough not to muddy the snow of the first one.
‘Queen & Slim’ (Nov. 27)
Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith star as a modern, African American Bonnie & Clyde in this Lena Waithe-penned allegorical thriller. It starts as a simple romance, two people on a date, until a panicky cop pulls them over. Soon it’s a cross-country chase with our new lovers wanted by police and celebrated as near-mythical outlaws.
‘Knives Out’ (Nov. 27)
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” auteur Rian Johnson is back on planet Earth with a whodunit murder mystery. Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Toni Collette and Don Johnson (among others) are members of an extended family that gathers to celebrate their patriarch, Christopher Plummer’s, 85th birthday. (Plummer is actually 89, but he can still pass.) High jinks ensue when he ends up dead and everyone has a motive.