When Labor Day hits, the popcorn blockbusters of the summer give way (by and large) to more serious fare, much of which carries hopes to elbow its way into awards season. And while, as per usual, there are plenty of sequels, adaptations and remakes on the docket, they’re coming from less expected places: a follow-up to a classic horror story (Doctor Sleep), a Pulitzer-winning novel (The Goldfinch) and a cult favorite zombie flick (Zombieland: Double Tap). Here are the most intriguing films coming to theaters (or your Netflix account) from Labor Day through Thanksgiving.
IT Chapter Two (September 6)
In Stephen King’s lore, Pennywise the Clown emerges from the gutters every 27 years. But in the real world, it only took two years for him to crawl out once again onto the big screen: Bill Skarsgård will return to don face paint and terrorize the Losers’ Club, your favorite group of misfit friends in Derry, ME. The action takes place 27 years after It — so the once-kiddos are played by Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader and James McAvoy, among others.
The Goldfinch (September 13)
Donna Tartt’s novel was a bestseller and a flashpoint in a heated cultural divide after it came out in 2013. Director John Crowley took on the demanding task of condensing this beloved 800-page novel into two-plus hours. Ansel Elgort stars as Theo, whose mother was killed by a bomb at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson and Finn Wolfhard (of Stranger Things) play significant roles.
Hustlers (Sept. 13)
In 2015, New York Magazine published a sorta-kinda Robin Hood story seemingly made for the 21st-century big screen: the tale of a group of strippers who banded together to rob Wall Street millionaires of their gobs of money. Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star in this adaptation, which also features Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo and Cardi B — a former stripper herself.
Downton Abbey (Sept. 20)
The Crawleys are back, and they’re getting ready for some special guests. This film sequel to the cherished TV series will take place in 1927, a couple years after the show’s finale, and hinges on a royal visit from King George V and Queen Mary. Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery are all set to return to their lacy ruffles with more cutting witticisms.
Ad Astra (Sept. 20)
While Brad Pitt has mostly focused on producing in recent years, he made a triumphant return to the big screen in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. In this sci-fi film from Lost City of Z director James Gray, he plays a space engineer who ventures to the outer edges of the solar system to track down his father (Tommy Lee Jones) — who disappeared on a similar mission 20 years before. The film’s release has been delayed several times, partially due to its ambitious special effects: “You want your visual effects to be so good that nobody thinks about them,” Gray told the Hollywood Reporter in February.
Between Two Ferns: The Movie (Sept. 20)
In the mid-aughts, Zach Galifianakis established himself as the worst (fake) celebrity interviewer in the business with “Between Two Ferns,” his cringe comedy web series on “Funny or Die.” In excruciating five-minute increments, his character mumbled passive-agressive insults at his guests, inciting Brad Pitt to (feigning disaffected anger) spit gum in his eye and Bradley Cooper to (feigning exasperated offense) smash a flowerpot over his head. In this follow-up Netflix film, Galifianakis attempts to restore his good reputation — with a series of celebrity interviews that, this time, will surely go off without a hitch.
Judy (Sept. 27)
Most biopics focus on a subject’s initial rise to fame. But Judy starts three decades after Judy Garland’s star turn in The Wizard of Oz — when she is a four-time divorcee with a raspy voice struggling with substance addiction and trying to raise her two young children. Renée Zellweger, who won an Oscar 15 years ago for Cold Mountain, plays the title role.
The Laundromat (Sept. 27)
Steven Soderbergh has recently focused on unsettling and seething stories of injustice in films like Unsane and High Flying Bird. In this Netflix film he turns his attention to the Panama Papers, which exposed widespread corruption through off-shore bank accounts, winning the Pulitzer Prize and leading to the recovery of at least $1.2 billion. Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and Antonio Banderas lead the cast. The film also comes to Netflix on Oct. 18.
Joker (Oct. 4)
The Joker carousel continues: In the past 11 years, the role has been played by Heath Ledger, Jared Leto, Zach Galifianakis and Cameron Monaghan. Now Joaquin Phoenix steps in, anchoring a movie that co-star Marc Maron has described as a “character study of a mentally ill person.” In this timeline, Batman is still a young Bruce Wayne and Phoenix’s character is an aspiring comedian. Robert De Niro makes an appearance as a talk show host — bringing him full circle from 1982’s The King of Comedy, in which he played a mentally ill stand-up obsessed with a talk show host.
Lucy in the Sky (Oct. 4)
Many astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin, have opened up about the depression and existential dread they suffered after returning to earth. This film from Fargo (the TV version) and Legion showrunner Noah Hawley explores that topic, with Natalie Portman playing an astronaut who begins to lose touch with reality once she touches down from a mission; Jon Hamm and Zazie Beetz co-star.
Dolemite is My Name! (Oct. 4)
Eddie Murphy, once one of the nation’s loudest voices, has been awfully quiet recently, appearing in just one film in the last six years. He returns to star in this biopic of Rudy Ray Moore — a comedian and blaxploitation legend whose work influenced rap music. The film arrives on Netflix Oct. 25, and Murphy will host Saturday Night Live in December.
Gemini Man (Oct. 11)
Ang Lee has time and time again proved himself to be on the cutting edge of technology, for better or worse: while critics fawned over the special effects of Life of Pi, they found the frame rate of his 2016 effort, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, distracting. In Gemini Man, he uses CG visual effects to pit Will Smith against a younger version of himself; Smith plays an aging government assassin who finds himself on the run from his own clone that was created 25 years ago.
The King (Oct. 11)
Timothée Chalamet is already a king in the internet’s heart. He dons a more literal crown in this Shakespearean adaptation, playing one of the historical figures that most fascinated the Bard: Henry V. Shakespeare’s works about him navigate a bildungsroman carried out on the highest geopolitical stage: Henry starts his life as an immature prince before evolving into a formidable military leader. After a limited theatrical run, the film will arrive on Netflix Nov. 1.
Parasite (Oct. 11)
This dark comedy from celebrated Okja and Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-ho won the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first Korean film to win that award. It follows two families, one rich and one poor, as they become entwined in each other’s lives to vicious results.
Jojo Rabbit (Oct. 18)
The director Taika Waititi revels in risk-taking, whether in offbeat original horror comedies (What We Do in the Shadows) or multimillion dollar franchises (Thor). But his latest passion project might be his weirdest yet: He plays Adolph Hitler, an imaginary friend to a young German boy during World War II, who discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl. “What better way to insult Hitler than having him portrayed by a Polynesian Jew?”, Waititi wrote of the film on Twitter.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Oct. 18)
In the third decade of her movie career, Angelia Jolie has leaned into major franchises, including Kung Fu Panda, Marvel’s The Eternals (a new superhero film that arrives in 2020) and this Disney series, which zooms in on the Sleeping Beauty villain and turns her into an antihero. This sequel focuses on the mother-daughter relationship between Maleficent and Queen Aurora (Elle Fanning) as they struggle to protect their kingdom.
Zombieland: Double Tap (Oct. 18)
Before Jesse Eisenberg was Mark Zuckerberg or Lex Luthor, and before Emma Stone was Gwen Stacy or Mia Dolan, they were killing zombies together in 2009’s Zombieland. That film followed a ragtag group on a road trip across a zombie wasteland in the Southwest U.S.; the group reconvenes a decade later and moves into the American heartland. Woody Harrelson and Abigail Breslin reprise their roles and Rosario Dawson joins the cast.
Harriet (Nov. 1)
Cynthia Erivo is an Oscar away from an EGOT — and she will get a legitimate chance to compete for an award thanks to this drama, in which she plays Harriet Tubman during her quest to free slaves through the Underground Railroad. “I want to make sure that people get to see this woman as a woman, as a human. She was a superhero, but she was heart first,” Erivo told the New York Times last year. Though the film is not a musical, she is joined by a bevy of musical co-stars: Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monáe and Jennifer Nettles.
The Irishman (Nov. 1)
Scorsese. De Niro. Pacino. Pesci. If the quality of The Irishman matches that of its topline names, then it will be one of the most significant film events in recent memory. The $160-million film pairs director Martin Scorsese with Robert De Niro for the ninth time. De Niro plays the hitman Frank Sheeran, who was rumored to have carried out the infamous mob hit of the Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). The film, which languished in development hell for years due to Scorsese’s ambitions to de-age his stars up to 30 years through CGI. But knowing the pedigree of its creators, it will likely rampage through this awards season like a raging bull. After its premiere at the New York Film Festival in late September, The Irishman will open in New York City and Los Angeles on Nov. 1, expand to additional cities throughout November and begin streaming on Netflix on Nov. 27, just in time for Thanksgiving.
Motherless Brooklyn (Nov. 1)
Edward Norton wrote, directed and stars in this New York City crime drama adapted from Jonathan Lethem’s 1991 novel. He plays a lonely and obsessive detective working to uncover the truth behind the murder of his mentor (Bruce Willis). (Norton and Willis most recently appeared together in a very different movie: Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.) The cast is rounded out by Willem Dafoe, Alec Baldwin and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, among others.
Paradise Hills (Nov. 1)
Emma Roberts has established herself as one of her generation’s premiere scream queens, thanks to her roles in American Horror Story, Scream 4 and Scream Queens itself. She enters another terrifying situation in Paradise Hills, waking up in a facility that professes to create perfect women through strict physical and emotional regimens. But the facility predictably holds dark secrets — she and other prisoners devise an escape. Awkwafina and Eiza Gonzalez also star.
Terminator: Dark Fate (Nov. 1)
The Terminator franchise has proved just as durable as its eponymous robot: this is the sixth installment in the 35-year series. Of course, there’s a new terminator (Gabriel Luna) and a new damsel in distress (Natalia Reyes), and Halt and Catch Fire star Mackenzie Davis is added to the mix. But two very familiar faces — those of the original terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) also return to join in on the fun.
Marriage Story (Nov. 6)
Noah Baumbach excels at writing dysfunctional adults in unhappy relationships, from The Squid and the Whale to The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). He returns to that arid ground in this Netflix film, which stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a crumbling couple. The film comes to Netflix a month later on Dec. 6.
Doctor Sleep (Nov. 8)
Forty years ago, a young Danny Torrance biked down a hotel hallway and encountered the Grady Twins in The Shining, creating one of the most memorable and terrifying scenes in cinematic history. Ewan McGregor plays an adult Danny in this new horror film, which is based on Stephen King’s literary sequel to The Shining. When Danny’s supernatural powers return, he teams up with a psychic girl named Abra to defeat a new villain. The studio and filmmakers have been tight-lipped about who will step into the role of Danny’s father Jack, famously played by Jack Nicholson, who has not appeared in a film in nearly a decade.
Honey Boy (Nov. 8)
Shia LaBeouf’s quasi-autobiographical and surrealist film earned rave reviews at Sundance. Written by LaBeouf and directed by Alma Har’el, it reckons with his relationship with his father (who LaBeouf plays), his early fame and battle with PTSD.
Last Christmas (Nov. 8)
With any luck, Emilia Clarke’s relationship in this film will turn out better than that of her last character (Game of Throne’s Daenerys Targaryen). She stars in this Paul Feig-directed, Emma Thompson-written rom-com opposite Henry Golding, who charmed in Crazy Rich Asians.
Charlie’s Angels (Nov. 15)
Elizabeth Banks takes over at the director’s helm for this new addition to the franchise that began with a late-’70s TV series and lots of feathered hair and continues in the early 2000s with stars Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore. In this one, Kristen Stewart, recent Princess Jasmine Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska play the formidable trio.
The Good Liar (Nov. 15)
It seems highly improbable, but Dame Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen, two legends of English film royalty, have never starred in the same movie. That changes with The Good Liar, in which McKellen plays a con artist who woos Mirren’s character as he tries to take her money.
The Report (Nov. 15)
Adam Driver, fresh off a Tony nomination for Burn This, will get another chance to compete for an Oscar (he was nominated for BlacKkKlansman last year) with The Report, which earned rave reviews after its premiere at Sundance in January. He plays a Senate staffer investigating into the CIA’s use of torture; Annette Bening plays Senator Dianne Feinstein. The film will receive a theatrical release on Nov. 15 before streaming on Amazon Prime on Nov. 29.
Ford v. Ferrari (Nov. 15)
Perennial Oscar contenders Matt Damon and Christian Bale hope to cruise into another awards race thanks to this drama, which explores the rivalry between Ford Motor Company and Enzo Ferrari’s company as they scramble to create the perfect race car in the ‘60s. Damon plays an mild-mannered engineer working for Ford; Bale plays the prickly race car driver manning his car.
Frozen 2 (Nov. 22)
Disney has 1.2 billion reasons to make a sequel to their 2013 animated film: That’s how much, in dollars, the film made worldwide. In this installment, Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven travel north from their home to search for the source of Elsa’s magic. At Comic Con, Kristen Bell, who voices Anna, said that the characters have grown up, adding, “I think the original fans of Frozen, who were little girls and now might not think it’s for them, will be pleasantly surprised.”
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Nov. 22)
Last year saw an outpouring of goodwill surrounding Fred Rogers, the beatific children’s show host, between the 50th anniversary of his show’s premiere and the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor, which became the highest-grossing biographical doc ever. In this new drama inspired by a 1998 Esquire profile, Tom Hanks takes over the host’s the red sweater and genial charm.
21 Bridges (Nov. 22)
Chadwick Boseman trades in the Black Panther suit for an NYPD badge in this action thriller; he plays a detective who demands a total lockdown of Manhattan during a manhunt for a pair of terrifyingly resourceful cop killers.
Queen & Slim (Nov. 27)
Lena Waithe wrote this modern-day Bonnie & Clyde story, which stars Daniel Kaluuya (far removed from the Sunken Place) and Jodie Turner-Smith. They play the eponymous characters, whose first date turns disastrous when a traffic stop leads the death of an aggressive white cop. The pair takes off across the country, becoming wanted enemies to some and folk heroes to others.
Knives Out (Nov. 27)
Director Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) comes back to earth with this whodunnit murder mystery, which unfolds like an Agatha Christie plot. A wealthy crime novelist (Christopher Plummer) is found dead during his 85th birthday party, with his extensive dysfunctional family all present. A detective (Daniel Craig) is brought in to sort through their alibis and potential motives in a beautiful, creaky mansion. The stacked cast includes Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon and Lakeith Stanfield.
The Two Popes (Nov. 27)
Both Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce have experience playing controversial religious leaders (in The Rite and Game of Thrones, respectively). They face off in this Netflix film, which is based on the real-life friction between Pope Benedict (Hopkins) and Cardinal Bergoglio (Pryce), who is now known as Pope Francis. The film lands on Netflix Dec. 20.
Correction, Aug. 7
The original version of this story misstated the budget of The Irishman. Its budget was roughly $160 million, not $200 million.
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