At long last, the final blockbusters that were supposed to arrive in 2020 are hitting re-opened movie theaters. This will be the last time to see Daniel Craig as James Bond—but the first time to glimpse Angelina Jolie as the Marvel immortal Thena in Eternals, which sees Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It remains to be seen how the Delta variant will affect in-person moviegoing this fall; the movies below represent a mix of streaming, theatrical-only and hybrid release models. But however you get your movie fix this fall, there’s no question the circumstances of the past 18 months have yielded quite a bounty.
Here are the most notable films hitting theaters and streaming platforms this fall.
Cinderella (Sept. 3)
The centuries-old fairy tale gets a modern retelling as a jukebox musical on Amazon Prime, with the pop star Camila Cabello donning the glass slipper. This version of Ella isn’t just trying to land a prince, but a successful career as a dressmaker. Billy Porter plays the Fairy Godmother, while fairy-tale icon Idina Menzel plays the villainous stepmother.
Shang-Chi & The Legend of the Ten Rings (Sept. 3)
The kung-fu master Shang-Chi was introduced by Marvel Comics in the 1970s; he springs to life in the form of Kim’s Convenience star Simu Liu. In this film, Shang-Chi finds himself unable to escape the long shadow of his family and its connection to the powerful crime organization the Ten Rings, which kidnapped Tony Stark in Iron Man.
The Card Counter (Sept. 10)
Oscar Isaac plays William Tell, a genius poker player trying to outrun the trauma he absorbed as a military interrogator. But a chance at revenge against a former nemesis (Willem Dafoe) threatens to derail his new life. Taxi Driver and Raging Bull screenwriter Paul Schrader directs.
Blue Bayou (Sept. 17)
Filmmaker Justin Chon’s previous film, Gook, received critical acclaim for its rendering of two Korean-American brothers confronted with violence and bigotry during the Rodney King riots. In Blue Bayou, he stars as Antonio LeBlanc, a Korean adoptee who has planted roots in Louisiana and built a family but learns he is soon to be deported.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Sept. 17)
In the ‘70 and ‘80s, the televangelist couple Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker built a commercial empire devoted to Christianity through singing, puppetry and even a theme park—only for their success to collapse under a series of scandals. Jessica Chastain is nearly unrecognizable as the title character in prosthetics and heavy makeup; Andrew Garfield plays Bakker.
Dear Evan Hansen (Sept. 24)
Ben Platt could hardly have won more accolades for portraying the anxious teenage protagonist of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway. In 2017, he became the youngest solo recipient of the Tony for best lead actor in a musical. He reprises his role in the film adaptation, which traces the awkward high schooler Hansen as a small lie he tells quickly balloons out of his control.
The Many Saints of Newark (Oct. 1)
Tony Soprano, one of the greatest characters in TV history, gets an origin story in this prequel to The Sopranos on HBO Max. In the 1970s, a teenage Tony grows up in the wartorn Newark, where his uncle Dickie Moltisanti vies for power and shows him the ropes. Michael Gandolfini steps into his father James’ iconic role.
The Harder They Fall (In select theaters Oct. 22, on Netflix Nov. 3)
A quarter of all cowboys during America’s peak era of westward expansion were Black—but their history has mostly been ignored by Hollywood. The Harder They Fall, on Netflix, is one of several projects now attempting to reintegrate the Black cowboy back into Western lore, with Regina King, Idris Elba and Jonathan Majors donning stirrups and pistols.
No Time to Die (Oct. 8)
Daniel Craig will play James Bond for the fifth and final time in this film, which is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and includes screenwriting from Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The franchise adds some intriguing new faces—Ana de Armas, who previously partnered with Craig in Knives Out—and Rami Malek, who plays the menacing villain Safin.
The Last Duel (Oct. 15)
Ridley Scott sent Matt Damon to space in The Martian; now, he places him in a suit of armor in 14th century France. When his character’s wife (Jodie Comer) accuses his best friend (Adam Driver) of rape, he agrees to a trial by combat to the death. The film is based on a real sequence of events.
Dune (Oct. 22)
Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune has long been considered a masterpiece of science fiction. But creating a successful movie adaptation has proved elusive, even to masters like Alejandro Jodorowsky and David Lynch. Now, Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) takes up the challenge, with this adaptation that covers about half of Herbert’s first book. Timothée Chalamet plays the young hero, Paul, caught up in the midst of a cosmic war.
The French Dispatch, (Oct. 22)
In his much-anticipated 10th feature, writer-director Wes Anderson brings to life three unique stories from the final issue of the film’s titular New Yorker-inspired magazine, an American weekly published in the fictional 20th-century French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé. The ensemble dramedy, Anderson’s first true anthology film, is star-studded as ever, with notable newcomers Chalamet and Elisabeth Moss joining returning regulars like Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton.
Last Night in Soho (Oct. 29)
In this psychological thriller, a restless young woman (Thomasin McKenzie) finds that when she falls asleep, she can transport herself into the body of a 1960s pop idol (The Queen’s Gambit’s Anya Taylor-Joy). But her initially glamorous reveries soon turn disturbing.
Eternals (Nov. 5)
Chloé Zhao, coming off a Best Director win at the Oscars for Nomadland, brings her delicate and precise filmmaking touch to Marvel to tell the story of a group of peaceful immortals who are forced to come out of hiding to protect the earth. The star-studded cast includes Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington and Salma Hayek.
Spencer (Nov. 5)
Pablo Larrain created an artful, lonely portrait of Jaqueline Kennedy in 2016’s Jackie. Now he takes on the interior life of Princess Diana. Kristen Stewart is the latest actor to play Diana, Princess of Wales (Elizabeth Debicki portrays her in the upcoming installment of The Crown). The film takes place during the Christmas holidays in 1991, when she decides to end her marriage with Prince Charles.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Nov. 11)
Jason Reitman takes the proton pack from his Ghostbusters director dad Ivan, helming the franchise’s next chapter. It stars Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard, Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd and some familiar phantom-fighting faces.
Red Notice (Nov. 12)
Three of Hollywood’s biggest action stars—Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds—team up for this heist film on Netflix. The Rock plays an FBI powerhouse; Gadot plays an art thief; Reynolds plays a con artist.
The Power of the Dog (In select theaters Nov. 17, on Netflix Dec. 1)
In her first movie in more than a decade, decorated New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion directs Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst in an ominous, gorgeously saturated Western set in 1920s Montana.
King Richard (Nov. 19)
This film isn’t Shakespearean: it tells the story of Richard Williams, whose relentless motivation and pressure on his daughters Venus and Serena helped guide them from Compton, Calif. to tennis superstardom. Will Smith stars as the titular Richard.
Tick, Tick…BOOM! (In select theaters Nov. 12, on Netflix Nov. 19)
Before Jonathan Larson was immortalized in the musical theater canon through Rent, he wrote Tick, Tick…Boom!, an autobiographical musical about a neurotic, struggling theater composer. Lin-Manuel Miranda, a self-professed megafan of Larson’s, directed this Netflix film adaptation, which features Andrew Garfield (in the lead role) and Vanessa Hudgens.
Top Gun: Maverick (Nov. 19)
A quarter-century after Tom Cruise’s Maverick took to the skies, he returns to the cockpit—stunts and all, naturally. By now, the student has become the teacher; his wards include the progeny (played by Miles Teller) of his late BFF, Goose.
Encanto (Nov. 24)
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hugely productive year continues: he composed the songs in this animated Disney musical, which is set in the mountains in Colombia. Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz) is the only non-magical person in her sprawling family—but soon finds she may be the only one able to protect them from evil forces.
House of Gucci (Nov. 24)
Lady Gaga takes aim for her second acting Oscar nomination with her portrayal of the charismatic, conniving former Gucci adviser Patrizia Reggiani, who, in real life, was convicted of arranging the assassination of her ex-husband and former head of the Gucci fashion house, Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver). The film’s high fashion, murder intrigue and star power (with director Ridley Scott and a cast that also includes Jared Leto) should make it an awards season force in early 2022.
More fall culture recommendations:
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