By Chip Chandler — Producer
As nights grow shorter and days get colder, what better place to be than inside the movie theater?
As you'll see, the summer blockbuster season now extends all the way through the holidays, but in general, the movies on the release schedule through Christmas are weightier fare. 'Tis awards season, after all, and there's no better time for grownups to enjoy the theater.
Here, then, are the 63 films I think you should keep your eyes on this weekend — from broad comedies to superheroes to gritty dramas. I've picked the 24 I think you absolutely can't miss, plus 39 that you'll want to keep your eyes on. (Remember, though, that release dates are subject to change.)
Documentarian Michael Moore pulls no punches in this excoriation of modern American politics — not just the election of Donald Trump but also the Flint, Mich., water crisis, the debate over guns and more. (Opens Sept. 21)
The Old Man & The Gun
Robert Redford says he'll retire from acting following this film, a true-crime story of bank robber Forrest Tucker, whose skill in robbing banks was equaled by his facility in escaping jail. It's the latest from director David Lowery (A Ghost Story, Pete's Dragon) and will feature costume design by Amarillo native Anell Brodeur. (Opens Sept. 28 in limited release)
A Star Is Born
One of Hollywood's favorite myths is remade for the current age in this film starring and directed and co-written by Bradley Cooper, with Lady Gaga as the aborning star. Early reviews are ecstatic, and there are few movies this season that I'm personally looking forward to more (even as a mega-fan of the definitive 1954 version with Judy Garland). (Opens Oct. 5)
A father (Steve Carell) doesn't know what to do when his beloved son (Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name) struggles with an addiction to meth in a film based on an acclaimed memoir by father and son David and Nic Sheff. The trailer alone is a weeper. (Opens Oct. 12 in limited release)
La La Land director Damien Chazelle goes interstellar with this biopic about Neil Armstrong and the Space Race. Reviews out of the Venice Film Festival are over the moon, some might say, positioning the film for a big awards run. (It already even has a trumped-up controversy dogging it.) (Opens Oct. 12)
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Melissa McCarthy is already winning raves for her portrayal of celebrity biographer Lee Israel, who committed literary forgery in an attempt to jump-start her career. (Opens Oct. 19 in limited release)
The Hate U Give
The sensational YA novel is adapted into a highly anticipated film, with Amandla Stenberg starring as a teenage black girl who witnesses a childhood friend gunned down by a police officer. She's forced to deal with the aftermath in both the inner-city neighborhood where she grew up and the privileged, mostly white private school where she now attends. (Opens Oct. 19)
Actor Jonah Hill goes behind the camera for this intimate look at 1990s skateboarding culture. (Opens Oct. 19 in limited release)
Director Luca Guadagnino's follow-up to Call Me By Your Name takes inspiration from but isn't a strict remake of Dario Argento's seminal 1977 horror film. Personally, I'll follow Guadagnino anywhere now, especially when he has muse Tilda Swinton along for the ride (potentially in two roles here). (Opens Oct. 26 in limited release)
Late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury (played by Rami Malek) is profiled in this anticipated new biopic officially directed by Bryan Singer, though he was fired and replaced before shooting wrapped. (Opens Nov. 2)
A gay teen (Lucas Hedges, Lady Bird) is forced by his minister father (Russell Crowe) to attend a conversion-therapy camp in this film adapted from Garrard Conley's memoir. Nicole Kidman co-stars as his mom, with director Joel Edgerton also on board as the homophobic camp leader. (Opens Nov. 2 in limited release)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
This one's less of a must-see and more of a you're-going-to-see-it-anyway. The Harry Potter prequel franchise continues, shifting the focus to Dumbledore's (Jude Law) attempts to put a stop (with the help of Eddie Redmayne's Newt Scamander) to fascist wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). J.K. Rowling again provides the screenplay, but the film apparently doesn't touch much on her post-Potter revelations that Dumbledore was in love with Grindelwald. (Opens Nov. 16)
Director Steve McQueen's follow-up to the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave is this adaptation of a 1980s British TV series about a group of women forced to pick up where their late, bank-robbing husbands left off. Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo are the titular widows, facing bad guys including Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya and Colin Farrell. Reviews out of the Toronto Film Festival have been out of this world. (Opens Nov. 16)
Ralph Breaks the Internet
The highly anticipated sequel to Wreck-It Ralph finds Ralph and Venelope (John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman) exploring the online world in another appealingly meta adventure. (Opens Nov. 21)
The latest from director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) tells the story of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and her ... complicated relationships with Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail Masham (Emma Stone). It's already a sensation, having just won two top awards at the Venice Film Festival. (Opens Nov. 23 in limited release)
If Beale Street Could Talk
Director Barry Jenkins follows up the Oscar-winning Moonlight with this adaptation of a 1974 James Baldwin novel about a young couple (Stephan James and Kiki Layne) ripped asunder by a false rape accusation. (Opens Nov. 30 in limited release)
Ben Is Back
A suburban mom (Julia Roberts) grapples with her son's (Lucas Hedges) unexpected holiday visit home — fresh out of rehab. (Opens Dec. 7 in limited release)
Mary Queen of Scots
It's a battle royale in this new look at the intense rivalry between Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) and Mary (Saoirse Ronan). Expect fireworks between the Oscar-nominated actresses. (Opens Dec. 7 in limited release)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
While Peter Parker is still the main cinematic Spidey, get to know alternate universe version Miles Morales — and a host of other Spider-types — in this multi-dimensional new animated feature. (Opens Dec. 14)
Mary Poppins Returns
Emily Blunt fills the practically perfect boots of Julie Andrews in this long-awaited sequel, which finds her flying back in to help Jane and Michael Banks deal with adulthood. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke also star. (Opens Dec. 19)
Jason Momoa stars as the underwater monarch who was one of the only two palatable elements of Justice League. I'm moderately intrigued by what they'll come up with here, perhaps despite myself. (Opens Dec. 21)
Welcome to Marwen
Steve Carell stars as a man who builds an elaborate miniature world as a way to cope with the fallout of a violent attack in this film from director Robert Zemeckis, whose films consistently use cutting-edge technology. (Opens Dec. 21)
Director Karyn Kusama's latest finds Nicole Kidman as an LAPD detective still dealing with the trauma of going undercover with a gang. (Opens Dec. 25 in limited release)
On the Basis of Sex
Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) stars as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in this biopic of the notorious future Supreme Court justice. (Opens Dec. 26)
And don't forget
Bel Canto (Sept. 14; limited), an adaptation of Ann Patchett's beloved novel about an opera singer (Julianne Moore) in a hostage crisis in a foreign embassy; The Children Act (Sept. 14; limited), with Emma Thompson as a British judge deciding whether to let a teen boy refuse a blood transfusion; I Think We're Alone Now (Sept. 14; limited), a post-apocalyptic drama with Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning, from director Reed Morano (The Handmaid's Tale); Lizzie (Sept. 14; limited), featuring Chloë Sevigny as ax-murderer Lizzie Borden; A Simple Favor (Sept. 14), with Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) as a mommy blogger who goes gaga when Cool Girl (Blake Lively) brings her into her orbit — then is consumed with the mystery of her disappearance; The House with a Clock in Its Walls (Sept. 21), an adaptation of a popular kids' book with Jack Black and Cate Blanchett as a pair of sorcerers; Love, Gilda (Sept. 21; limited), a documentary on the exuberant life of comedian Gilda Radner; Nappily Ever After (Sept. 21; Netflix), a romantic comedy starring Sanaa Lathan; Quincy (Sept. 21; Netflix), an intimate documentary about the amazing career of the one-and-only Quincy Jones; The Sisters Brothers (Sept. 21; limited), with Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as Wild West killers during the Gold Rush; All About Nina (Sept. 28; limited), starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a lacerating stand-up comic finding romance (with Common!) in a new city; and Night School (Sept 28), with Tiffany Haddish as a GED teacher opposite box-office heavy Kevin Hart in this back-to-school comedy.
The Happy Prince(Oct. 5; limited), director/star Rupert Everett's passion project about Oscar Wilde's latter days; Private Life (Oct. 5; Netflix), with Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn as a couple battling infertility; Venom (Oct. 5), a Spider-Man spinoff with Tom Hardy as a journalist whose body is taken over by an alien symbiote that gives him phenomenal strength and a massive tongue; Bad Times at the El Royale (Oct. 12), director Drew Goddard's enthralling-looking follow-up to The Cabin in the Woods with a cast including Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, Cynthia Erivo and the great Jeff Bridges; Feminists: What Were They Thinking? (Oct. 12; Netflix), a documentary featuring second-wave feminists like Gloria Steinem and Lily Tomlin looking back on the movement; The Kindergarten Teacher (Oct. 12; Netflix), with Maggie Gyllenhaal as an educator who thinks one of her students is extraordinarily gifted; Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (Oct. 12), another dive into the kid-friendly scares of R.L. Stine; The Oath (Oct. 12; limited), writer-director Ike Barinholtz's Thanksgiving dinner from hell, featuring a mandatory loyalty oath to the president; Halloween (Oct. 19), with Jamie Lee Curtis battling Michael Myers again in this new installment from co-writer/director David Gordon Green that essentially does away with every film in the franchise after the original; Serenity (Oct. 19), with Anne Hathaway as a woman seeking her ex-husband's (Matthew McConaughey) help in ridding her of her current spouse (Jason Clarke); and Wildlife (Oct. 19; limited), a drama about the fraying marriage of Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan.
Nobody's Fool (Nov. 2), with Tiffany Haddish as an ex-con who offers to help her sister (Tika Sumpter) take down a catfisher; The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (Nov. 2), Disney's CGI-infused new take on the story told in the classic ballet; The Other Side of the Wind (Nov. 2; Netflix), Orson Welles' long-unfinished final film at long last gets released; Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (Nov. 9), a computer animated version of the beloved tale, with Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character; The Girl in the Spider's Web (Nov. 9), with Claire Foy (The Queen) as Lisbeth Salander; Outlaw King (Nov. 9; Netflix), with Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce in something of a rejoinder to Braveheart; At Eternity's Gate (Nov. 16; limited), with Willem Dafoe as the artist Vincent van Gogh; Creed II (Nov. 21), with Michael B. Jordan facing off against the son of Ivan Drago, who killed his father in a boxing match in Rocky IV; The Front Runner (Nov. 21; limited), director Jason Reitman's look back at the failed presidential candidacy of Gary Hart (played by Hugh Jackman); Green Book (Nov. 21), the story of a black jazz and classical pianist Don Shirley's (Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali) who hires a white driver (Viggo Mortensen) as his chauffeur on a tour of the South; Second Act (Nov. 21), with Jennifer Lopez (returning to the rom-com world) as a retail worker who fakes her way to the top of big business; and Anna and the Apocalypse (Nov. 30; limited), a musical comedy about a zombie invasion.
Under the Silver Lake (Dec. 7; limited), with Andrew Garfield as a warped young man caught up in a neo-noir mystery; Backseat (Dec. 14; limited), director Adam McKay's anticipated examination of the political career of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale); Holmes and Watson (Dec. 21), with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as the world-famous detective and sidekick in the twilight of their career; Roma (TBA), director Alfonso Cuarón's already awards-winning intimate drama; and more to be scheduled soon.