Fall Arts Preview 2019: Film

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Joaquin Phoenix in Joker

It’s fall, and that can only mean one thing: Halloween horrors. And yet, curiously, there is an almost complete lack of schlocky cash-grabs stocking the autumnal release calendar — the biggest release is the black-and-white, critically acclaimed, thinking person’s horror Lighthouse. Go figure. Beyond scares, there’s the usual awards-ready fare, including a number of biopics putting actors in the nomination express lane: Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland, Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers, and Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman, to name a few. There’s even talk of Adam Sandler being good in something — strange, we know.

If you’re seeking popcorn entertainment, there’s Brad Pitt being blasted into outer space in Ad Astra, Joaquin Phoenix painting on a smile in Joker, and Arnie reuniting with Linda Hamilton for another Terminator. But, ultimately, the next few months — much like most of 2019 — belong to Disney. Frozen II is here to worm its songs into your brain, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will tie up the latest trilogy, and in Jojo Rabbit, a young boy plays with his imaginary friend Hitler. Wait, what?

Downton Abbey — Rejoice, Downton fans, because everyone’s favorite upstairs-downstairs drama is back, offering 122 minutes of Dame Maggie Smith serving upper class burns and witty asides as the delectable dowager Countess. Apparently there’s a plot about King George V and Queen Mary coming to visit, sending the Crawleys and their servants into quite the (restrained and English) tizz, but we’re too excited about more of Violet’s withering looks to care. (9/20)

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Ad Astra — The latest entry in the somewhat niche category of “Oscar-baiting films about space exploration” — think Gravity, The Martian, and First Man — stars Brad Pitt as an astronaut who blasts off from Earth to find his long-lost father (Tommy Lee Jones), whose extraterrestrial experiments threaten the entire solar system. This starry drama — which also features Ruth Negga, Donald Sutherland, and Liv Tyler — has been getting strong praise from critics, with some calling it a career-best performance from Pitt. (9/20)

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Rambo: Last Blood — What could be better than watching Sylvester Stallone mumble his way through the fifth entry in the Rambo film series? Quite a lot, we’d wager. (9/20)

Between Two Ferns: The Movie — Zach Galifianakis obliterates the fourth wall (but hopefully not his two ferns) in this Netflix film, which sees him take his awkwardly hilarious Funny Or Die talk show on the road. Expect cameos galore as Galifianakis tries to restore his reputation through a series of high-profile interviews — one of which ends in the almost-death of Matthew McConaughey. Alright, alright, alright. (9/20)

Judy — Renée Zellweger transforms into one of entertainment’s true legends, Judy Garland. Based on the musical End of the Rainbow, about Garland’s run of sell-out concerts in London in 1969, the film chronicles her struggles with drug addictions, bad press, and the strained relationships with those around her, as she hopes the shows will restore her fallen star. Robert Goold’s film is apparently just fine, but critics are lauding Zellweger’s performance, saying it’s less a physical and vocal transformation — as has become du jour in biopics — and more an utter embodiment of the film’s titular Judy. (9/27)

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Abominable — You know what doesn’t sound abominable? This Dreamworks animated film about a teenage girl who discovers a Yeti on the roof of her Shanghai apartment block and embarks on a quest into the Himalayas to take him home. Reviews suggest it’s a warm, fun, if formulaic adventure. (9/27)

The Laundromat — Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, and Sharon Stone star in a Stephen Soderbergh-directed comedy-drama based on the Panama Papers, as Streep’s character investigates a fake insurance policy and ends up uncovering a global scandal. It sounds great on — ahem — paper, but early reviews suggest that Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns have crafted a messy, half-funny episodic film that somewhat squanders its strong cast and source material. (9/27)

Zeroville — If you’re not familiar with Steve Erickson’s 2007 novel Zeroville, watch the trailer for James Franco’s film adaptation. We say that because, with zero context, it is the trippiest, weirdest three minutes of film preview in a long time. With context, this film — long delayed thanks to a lack of distributor — is about a young seminarian who comes to Hollywood in 1969 at a pivotal time for the movie industry, only to embark on a dreamlike journey that leads to the discovery that there is a secret movie hidden, frame by frame, in every film ever made. Actually, even with context it’s still trippy. Franco directs, and stars alongside Megan Fox, Seth Rogan, and Jacki Weaver. (9/27)

Joker — There is strong debate over which actor’s take on DC Comics villain The Joker is the best: Jack Nicholson in 1989’s Batman, Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning turn in 2008’s The Dark Knight, or Mark Hamill’s voicework in multiple animated efforts. Well, now there could be a new addition to the list (no, Jared Leto, not you). Early reviews are glowing for this Todd Phillips-directed origin story, which puts Joaquin Phoenix behind the Joker’s terrifying smile as a failed stand-up comic who turns to a life of crime. A dark psychological thriller that tackles mental illness and its effects, one reviewer branded Joker scarier than many horror movies released this year. Shazam! this is not. (10/4)

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Dolemite Is My Name — Eddie Murphy’s comeback officially begins in this critically lauded turn as Rudy Ray Moore, the comedian best known for his character Dolemite, the kung-fu fighting pimp who starred in 1975 blaxploitation film Dolemite and its sequels. Murphy charts Moore’s rise from floundering stand-up to film producer, and stars alongside Keegan-Michael Key, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Wesley Snipes, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, and Snoop Dogg. (10/4)

Pain and Glory — Writer-director Pedro Almodóvar draws on his own experiences for a story about a director struggling with a creative crisis as one of his early films is remastered and re-released. Antonio Banderas stars as the director, who narrates various scenes from his life — his childhood in the ’60s, his first love in Madrid, discovering cinema — to the lead actor of the remastered film, with whom he hasn’t spoken in 30 years. Penelope Cruz, Raúl Arévalo, and Asier Etxeandia also star. Early reviews are glowing, and Banderas took home Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival, so expect Pain and Glory to reappear during awards season. (10/4)

Lucy in the Sky — Natalie Portman stars as astronaut Lucy Cola, who returns to Earth after a lengthy mission only to find her life much smaller on the ground than in space, and her connection to reality slowly unraveling. An affair with another astronaut (Jon Hamm) doesn’t help matters — especially when he ditches her for a younger cadet. (10/4)

Gemini Man — You’ve likely already seen the trailer for this Will Smith-starring sci-fi, which has been heavily promoted for several months. Smith is Henry Brogan, a government assassin marked for death, only to discover that his would-be killer is a younger clone of himself, named Junior (a digitally de-aged Smith). Gemini Man has sat in development hell for 20 years, with various actors and directors attached, so let’s hope director Ang Lee’s final product has been worth the wait. (10/11)

The Addams Family — No Anjelica Huston, no Raúl Juliá, no Christopher Lloyd, and no Christina Ricci, means no interest from us in this animated offering by MGM and Sausage Party directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan. (10/11)

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot — After losing the legal rights to their names over a film reboot of Bluntman and Chronic, Jay and Silent Bob travel across the United States in an attempt to prevent it from being made. If any of that makes sense, you’re likely already hyped about Kevin Smith’s newest comedy, which features dozens of cameos and guest stars including Chris Hemsworth, Ben Affleck, and Nicholas Cage. (10/15)

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil — Angelina Jolie commanded every square-inch of screen in 2014’s Maleficent, which was an otherwise humdrum but visually resplendent alternate take on the Sleeping Beauty villain’s backstory. Jolie’s incredible performance helped the original overcome its shortcomings, but can lightning strike twice? Michelle Pfeiffer and Chiwetel Ejiofor join to help improve the odds, as Jolie’s fairy queen faces off against Pfeiffer’s human monarch, Queen Ingrith, who is determined to separate humans and fairies forever. (10/18)

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Zombieland: Double Tap — Ten years after horror-comedy Zombieland opened to critical and commercial success, the gang reunites for a sequel. Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Bill Murray all return, as do director Ruben Fleischer and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. A rift in the makeshift family causes Little Rock (Breslin) to leave with a strange man, forcing the others to head out and find her — and face new zombies and survivors along the way. (10/18)

Jojo Rabbit — If you haven’t heard about Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi’s newest film, let Vox sum it up for us: “a coming-of-age story about a boy and his best friend Hitler.” You probably have a lot of questions. Based on the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, Jojo Rabbit is a black comedy about a young boy during the Second World War. A member of the Hitler Youth, he discovers that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic, and struggles to accept her normality given everything he’s been taught. Cue imaginary friend Hitler (Waititi), a bumbling version of the Nazi leader, who helps him process his ideological beliefs. Reviews are polarized — though mostly positive — with some comparing Jojo Rabbit to 1997’s Oscar-winning Life is Beautiful, which was similarly criticized for using Nazi atrocities as a backdrop for comedy. Oh, and fun fact, since Disney acquired production company Fox Searchlight, the Hitler-starring Jojo Rabbit is now technically a Disney movie. (10/18)

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The Lighthouse — Scary movie season kicks off with one of the most acclaimed horror films in recent memory. Robert Eggers’ black-and-white film about two lighthouse keepers who slowly lose their sanity and become threatened by their worst nightmares has been showered with praise by critics, including Eggers direction and story, as well as Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson’s performances. If you’re looking to get suitably spooked, mark your calendars for this one. (10/18)

Black and Blue — Police body cams and the violence they capture (or sometimes don’t) are topics du jour, and they come to a head in Deon Taylor’s thriller. Naomie Harris (Moonlight, Skyfall, Spectre) is a New Orleans police rookie who captures a drug dealer’s murder on her body cam — the only problem is that her partner and a squad of corrupt officers killed him. She’s forced to flee in order to save the footage, getting help from a stranger (Tyrese Gibson) as police officers and a local gang hunt her down. (10/25)

Countdown — A nurse downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when someone will die. This is a horror movie, so it naturally it tells her that she has three days left, and she must find a way to escape death while a mysterious figure haunts her. An allegory for smartphone addiction and the way apps and screens have taken over our lives, or a lazy, updated version of The Ring? You decide. (10/25)

The Last Full Measure — In this true-life tale, Sebastian Stan is a Pentagon investigator who agrees to help Vietnam veterans convince Congress to award the Medal of Honor to to Air Force Pararescueman William Pitsenberger, who sacrificed his own life to save and evacuate other soldiers during an ambush. Christopher Plummer, Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, and Bradley Whitford also star. (10/25)

Terminator: Dark Fate — James Cameron returns to save his sci-fi franchise, which Hollywood successfully drove into the ground over the course of three sequels. Relegating those later films to “alternate timelines,” producer Cameron and director Tim Miller are offering a true sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day — which not only holds up as a great action film, but remains a technical marvel some 28 years after its release. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the original Terminator, as does Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, and they team up to save a young woman targeted for termination by a new, advanced Terminator prototype (Gabriel Luna). Terminator is perhaps even more relevant in today’s AI-powered and increasingly automated world, but frankly we’re just looking forward to watching Hamilton kick some ass again. (11/1)

The Irishman — Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, directed by Martin Scorsese. Need we say more? Oh, we do? Okay, well, Netflix is branding this film as an “epic saga of organized crime in post-war America,” based on the story of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a mob hitman who worked for the Buffalino crime family. De Niro stars as Sheeran, recounting his various exploits as a hustler and hitman, and his role in the infamous disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa. Harvey Keitel, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, and Ray Romano also star, and the screenplay is by Steven Zaillan, of Schindler’s List and Gangs of New York fame. (11/1)

Harriet — Cynthia Erivo is poised to win her first Academy Award in this starring turn as abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and went on to rescue dozens of other slaves through the Underground Railroad network. Tubman is an American icon and critics are lauding Erivo’s portrayal, as well as John Toll’s lush cinematography. If that critical consensus is maintained upon wider release, expect Harriet to reap rewards come Oscar season. Janelle Monae and Leslie Odom Jr. also star. (11/1)

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Motherless Brooklyn — Edward Norton directs Edward Norton in a film written and produced by Edward Norton. Narcissism aside, Norton has adapted Jonathan Lethem’s award-winning novel about a private investigator with Tourette syndrome in ’50s New York who tries to solve the mystery of his mentor’s murder. Bruce Willis, Bobby Cannavale, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Cherry Jone, Alec Baldwin, and Willem Dafoe are just some of the stars filling this crime film, which critics suggest is a solid — if slow — tale of murder and corruption in NYC. (11/1)

Waves — Writer-director Trey Edward Shults’ story of a suburban African-American family navigating loss, love, forgiveness, and their domineering but well-intentioned patriarch has left critics scrambling to find enough adjectives to convey its emotional impact. Starring Sterling K. Brown, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Lucas Hedges, this could be a powerful escape from fall blockbusters and period dramas — and seemingly no less deserving come awards season. (11/1)

Doctor Sleep — Forty years after suffering through his father’s rampage in The Shining, Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) is a man struggling with alcoholism and the trauma of what took place at the Overlook Hotel. After a girl who shares his mysterious powers — known as “the shining” — seeks him out, they team up to battle the True Knot, a cult that feeds on children with psychic abilities. Based on Stephen King’s 2009 novel, Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) has adapted Doctor Sleep to allow it to fit in the same “universe” as Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film — as well as recreating and directly referencing several key scenes in flashbacks. (11/8)

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Midway — A large ensemble cast, bucketloads of CGI, and more explosions than you can shake a stick at? No, it’s not a Michael Bay film, but rather a Rolan Emmerich affair — not that either director is known for subtle filmmaking. Emmerich has recruited Luke Evans, Patrick Wilson, Aaron Eckhart, Mandy Moore, Darren Criss, Nick Jonas, Woody Harrelson, and more for a film about the Battle of Midway, a decisive, post-Pearl Harbor naval battle in 1942 that turned the tide of war between the U.S. and Japan. (11/8)

Honey Boy — Critics have been sweet on Alma Har’el’s film ever since it was shown at Sundance back in January. Shi LaBeouf turned rehab into redemption by tackling his own demons and writing a semi-autobiographical drama based on his childhood and relationship with his father, as he took his first steps into acting and celebrity life. LaBeouf plays the father, while Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges star as young and grown-up versions of Otis, a young actor navigating stardom and ultimately crashing into rehab and recovery. (11/8)

Last Christmas — Now that she no longer needs to be Mother of Dragons, Emilia Clarke is turning her hand to a holiday themed rom-com. Emma Thompson co-authored the script and Paul Feig directs, as Kate (Clarke), an elf at a Christmas store who hates her life, bumps into the dashing Tom (Henry Golding), who helps give her new perspectives. Spoiler alert: Don’t venture into the comments if you watch the trailer — many believe they’ve already sussed out the inevitable “twist” in this tale. (11/8)

Charlie’s Angels — It’s been 16 years since the Angels last graced our screens, which in Hollywood terms means it’s long overdue for a comeback. Enter Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska, and Naomi Scott as the new trio, supported by three Bosleys: Elizabeth Banks, Djimon Hounsou, and Patrick Stewart. Banks wrote, directed, and produced this film, which isn’t a reboot or a remake, but rather a continuation of the original TV series and the early 2000s films. (11/15)

The Good Liar — A con artist (Ian McKellen) meets a wealthy widow (Helen Mirren) on a dating website, as part of one final job to secure the biggest payday of his life. From there, things start to unravel as his past catches up with him, her grandson (Russell Tovey) grows suspicious, and he starts to develop feelings for his mark. Writer-director Bill Condon is no stranger to crafting a compelling tale, having scripted Chicago, Dreamgirls, and the McKellen-starring Gods and Monsters, and Jeffrey Hatcher’s eponymous novel is a good launching point for a gripping drama. (11/15)

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The Report — Daniel Jones is not a household name, but the former U.S. Senate investigator led the investigation into the CIA’s use of torture post-9/11, which ultimately produced what became known as “The Torture Report,” a 6,700-page report into the brutal, immoral, and ineffective techniques used to try and extract information. Adam Driver stars as Jones, leading a starry cast including Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Morrison, Maura Tierney, and Michael C. Hall. If gripping docudramas are your thing, critics say Scott Z. Burns’ film is a must-see. (11/15)

Mickey and the Bear — A headstrong teen must choose between caring for her addict, veteran father and keeping their house afloat, or taking an opportunity that would allow her to forge her own future. Writer-director Annabelle Attanasio’s feature debut tackles the opioid crisis, PTSD, and the increasing burden on young carers to forego their own lives for those around them — and it’s received unanimous praise from critics, particularly for star Camila Morrone. (11/15)

Frozen II — Six years after “Let It Go” conquered the world, Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven are back to try and earn Disney another billion dollars at the box office and billions more in merchandise sales. Songwriting husband-and-wife duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez return, as do writer-director Jennifer Lee and director Chris Buck, so expect more heart-tugging, toe-tapping comedy-drama as sisters Elsa and Anna venture north to find the source of Elsa’s powers. Oh, and Josh Gad promises the songs are “even catchier,” so get ready to hum them for the next six years. (11/22)

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — Just hand Tom Hanks the Oscar for Best Actor now and get it over and done with. Hanks is Fred Rogers, beloved host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Matthew Rhys is the cynical journalist assigned to profile him for Esquire magazine. Presumably he, the audience, critics, and Academy voters will all be charmed by Hanks’ portrayal of a man who spent thirty years giving children a space to learn, grow, feel, and make sense of the world. (11/22)

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21 Bridges — Chadwick Boseman is an NYPD detective thrust into the search for a pair of cop killers, who ends up discovering a massive and unexpected conspiracy. The film’s name alludes to 21 bridges that connect Manhattan to the mainland, all of which are closed as Boseman’s detective hunts down the killers — and, presumably, the truth. Otherwise commuters are going to be pissed. (11/22)

Knives Out — Talk about an ensemble cast. Star Wars and Looper director Rian Johnson has assembled quite the group of actors for his black comedy murder-mystery. Just some of the names involved: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, and Christopher Plummer. Craig is a master detective (with a Southern accent, no less) brought in to investigate the murder of a wealthy author (Plummer) amidst a gathering of his extended family. Critics are raving about Knives Out, calling it a welcome upending of murder-mystery tropes that makes the most of its ensemble. And you get to hear Captain America say “eat shit” repeatedly, so there’s that. (11/29)

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Queen & Slim — Writer Lena Waithe and director Melina Matsoukas offer a first date from hell and a powerful, modern spin on Bonnie and Clyde and Thelma & Louise. Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) and Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) are pulled over by a white police officer at the end of a forgettable date, but the situation quickly escalates and Slim shoots the officer in self-defense. Captured on the officer’s dash cam, the incident goes viral after the pair flee the scene, finding themselves on the run and unwitting representatives for a nation struggling with entrenched racial tensions and dealing with grief, pain, and fear. Pose star Indya Moore, Chloë Sevigny, and Flea also star. (11/29)

The Aeronauts — December starts with some period adventure, as a daredevil balloon pilot (Felicity Jones) and a meteorologist (Eddie Redmayne) try to fly higher than any human has before, ultimately finding themselves in a fight for survival as they leave the world they know far below. Based on a true story, critics are praising Jones’ performance and the beautifully rendered 19th century London vistas. (12/6)

Portrait of a Lady on Fire — A French period drama with a lesbian narrative? We’re interested. Set at the end of the 18th century, Marianne is a painter summoned to create a portrait of a young woman, intended to be displayed to elicit marriage proposals. The woman rejects her fate and refuses to be painted, forcing Marianne to go undercover as her maid — only to then fall in love with her. Céline Sciamma’s film looks wonderful and has received rave reviews, with particular praise towards its two leads, Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel. (12/6)

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Jumanji: The Next Level — After 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle transpired to be not awful — and earned almost $1 billion — a sequel was inevitable. This time around, the hapless teens who got sucked into a Jumanji video game in the first film return once more to save their friend, and are joined by two grandfathers (Danny DeVito and Donald Glover) who have no idea what’s going on. It looks like harmless blockbuster fun, even if we’re worlds away from the charming, Robin Williams’-starring 1995 original. (12/13)

Black Christmas — The second remake of the 1974 slasher film, focused on sorority girls being stalked and killed as their college quietens down for the holidays. Except these women aren’t going to wait around to get murdered — they’re actively hunting down the killer as they unravel the mysteries and dark underside of Hawthorne College. It’ll likely be terrible, but production company Blumhouse has also given us Get Out, Paranormal Activity, and Insidious, so there’s some hope. (12/13)

A Hidden Life — Franz Jägerstätter was a farmer and devout Catholic who refused to take the Hitler oath and fight for the Nazis during World War II — an act of rebellion in a regime that brutally punished any form of dissent. Filmmaker Terrence Malick brings Jägerstätter’s story to the screen, and in its review Variety noted that his tale of “demagogues, and the way certain evangelicals have once again sold out their core values for political advantage, feels stunningly relevant.” (12/13)

Uncut Gems — Filmmaking brothers Josh and Benny Safdie have managed something so incredible, so unbelievable, that it may tear apart the very fabric of our reality: they have crafted a film that could put Adam Sandler in the running for an Oscar. Sandler stars as a charismatic New York City jeweler who makes a series of high-stakes bets in pursuit of the windfall of a lifetime, all while balancing his business, family, and encroaching adversaries. Critics are raving about Sandler, with the Guardian calling it a “towering performance from the often tiresome actor.” If that’s not a backhanded compliment, we don’t know what is. (12/13)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — The biggest film of the fall season — and one of surprisingly few blockbusters — J.J. Abrams returns to direct, produce, and co-write this conclusion to the epic trilogy of films that started four years ago. With the Resistance shattered and the First Order prepared to turn them into dust, its all hands on deck as Disney tries to wring as much money as possible from this galaxy far, far away. Will Rey triumph over Kylo Ren? Will Finn and Poe finally admit their sexual tension and get it on? Will the whole thing just feel like Return of the Jedi 2.0? One thing’s for sure, Carrie Fisher will appear via unused footage from the first two films, so get ready to sob into your popcorn. (12/20)

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Cats — Arguably the second-most anticipated film this fall, after Star Wars, if only because we’re all itching to know if this adaptation of the Broadway musical is as big of a car crash as the trailer — and subsequent social media reaction — led us to believe. However, ignoring the creepy human-cat hybrid CGI, there’s a lot of talent bringing this tale (or tail) to life. Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables) is behind the camera and helped craft the screenplay, and the cast is stocked with A-list actors, including Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Idris Elba, and Jennifer Hudson, who will belt out “Memory” in a way only Jennifer Hudson can. And given everyone else will be in a different screening watching Star Wars, if you secretly end up loving Cats, no one need ever know. (12/20)

Bombshell — The 90-second teaser trailer for Bombshell, about the downfall of Fox News founder Roger Ailes after various employees and anchors accused him of sexual harassment, is one of the most electrifying, exciting, and engrossing previews in recent memory — and there’s only one line of dialogue. Nicole Kidman is Gretchen Karlson, Charlize Theron is Megyn Kelly (in an astonishingly good transformation), and Margot Robbie is fictional character Kayla Pospisil, three of the 20 women who reported Ailes’ harassment. John Lithgow steps into Ailes’ shoes, and the cast also includes Connie Britton, Kate McKinnon, and Allison Janney. We can’t wait. In fact, we’re going to watch the trailer again. (12/20)

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Superintelligence — Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone are that rare married couple who really love working together. Superintelligence marks their fourth cinematic collaboration with Falcone at the helm and McCarthy in the lead role. Carol Peters thinks she’s losing her mind when her microwave and phone start talking back to her — only to learn she’s been selected for study by a superintelligence, one with ultimately nefarious goals that only she can stop. It sounds ludicrous, and will likely be mediocre, but McCarthy’s charm always carries her through these action comedies, regardless of the film’s overall quality. (12/20)

Little Women — The last time Greta Gerwig directed Saoirse Ronan we were gifted the delightful Lady Bird. This time around it’s an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s iconic novel, about the four March sisters navigating their way into adulthood. Ronan is Jo, Emma Watson is Meg, Florence Pugh is Amy, and Eliza Scanlen is Beth, with Timothée Chalamet as Jo’s potential suitor Theodore and Laura Dern and Meryl Streep as Marmee March and Aunt March, respectively. Gerwig has decided to focus on the March sisters as young women, and her film will jump through time as it focuses on themes more than narrative — we’ll find out how successful that is in December. Fun fact: while Little Women has been branded an example of the “All-American girl,” the sisters are portrayed by Irish, English, and Australian actresses. (12/27)

1917 — Sam Mendes (Skyfall, American Beauty) wrote and directed this film, set during the Great War and based on a story told by his grandfather. Two young soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), are given a near-impossible task: save a battalion of 1,600 soldiers from marching into a trap by delivering a message through the battlefields of the war. And the cruel twist? One of those 1,600 men is Blake’s brother. Mendes’ film apparently won’t shy from showing the horror and brutality of trench warfare — and the toll it took on the men who bravely fought, and died, for their countries. (12/27)

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Clemency — Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard), a death row worker, has spent years overseeing the executions of inmates. But as she prepares for another convict’s death, she’s forced to deal with the emotional and psychological demons her job has created. A mature, deeply impactful film, critics also say it’s one of Woodard’s best performances — and one surely putting her in the running to finally win an Oscar. (12/27)

Just Mercy — Coincidental timing, as this drama also deals with death row inmates, specifically the case of Walter McMillan, who successfully appealed his conviction with the help of a young defense attorney. Michael B. Jordan is the lawyer in question, Bryan Stevenson, with Jamie Foxx starring as McMillan, who spent six years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. Brie Larson co-stars, as a colleague of Stevenson’s at the Equal Justice Initiative. (12/27)

Read more:

Fall Arts Preview 2019: Music – Pop, Rock, Folk, Blues, Jazz

Fall Arts Preview 2019: Stage

Fall Arts Preview 2019: Dance

Fall Arts Preview 2019: Museums & Galleries

Fall Arts Preview 2019: Classical & Choral

Fall Arts Preview 2019: Above & Beyond

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