It’s starting to look a lot like Before Times. The movies this fall are packed with popcorn entertainment, Oscar hopefuls (with some overlap between the two), and fun movies for the whole family during the holidays. (Release dates are for theaters unless otherwise noted.)
Baits: Expect Lots of Awards Season Love for Cate Blanchett in Writer-Director Todd Field’s TAR (Oct. 7), about a world-renowned classical conductor/composer. Lydia Tár is fictional, but Oscar loves a true story. Until (October 14) is the story of Grandma Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler) as she seeks justice for the lynching of her son, Emmett. She says (November 18) stars Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as New York Times journalists who denounced Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator.
Movies based on reality also include The Fabelmans (23 Nov)—Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama, starring Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as “his” parents—and Blond(in theaters September 16; Netflix September 28), starring Ana de Armas as a fictional Marilyn Monroe, from the novel by Joyce Carol Oates.
Oscar also loves movies about movies. Empire of Light (December 9), written and directed by SamMendes, is a romantic drama set in an old cinema in 1980s England, starring Olivia Colman and Colin Firth. The Earth‘sDamien Chazelle returns to Tinseltown with Babylon (December 25), a drama set during Hollywood’s transition to “talkies”; Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt and Tobey Maguire star.
Comedies: The success of 2019 Knives out seems to have kick-started a revival of detective comedies. In See how they work (September 16), Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan team up to investigate the murder of Adrien Brody in 1950s London.David O. Russell’s amsterdam (October 7) gives us Margot Robbie, Christian Bale and John David Washington as friends racing to solve a murder they’ve been wrongfully accused of. Finally, there is Glass Onion (Nov. TBA theaters; Netflix Dec. 23), another star-studded case from Daniel Craig’s Records Knives out hero Benoît Blanc.
Exotic travel gets darkly funny in The menu (November 18), a dark horror-comedy about a couple (Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) who sign up for a destination dining experience concocted by an enigmatic chef (Ralph Fiennes). The funny is more of the anti-rom-com type in ticket to paradise (October 21), starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts as exes who bicker to sabotage their daughter’s wedding.
The cult comedy is getting its due this fall. Bizarre: The Story of Al Yankovic (Roku November 7) sends biopics, starring Daniel Radcliffe in the semi-fictional life story of the polka-playing pop parodist. And perennial holiday A Christmas story gets a 1970s sequel in A Christmas Story Christmas (HBO Max Nov. 17); Peter Billingsley returns as an adult Ralphie giving his own children a special Christmas.
Stock: James Cameron returns to Pandora in the highly anticipated Avatar: The Way of the Water (December 16), but most importantly, the rules of black power fall into action. Gina Prince-Bythewood directs Viola Davis as The female king (September 16), a historical epic about all-female warriors defending a 19th-century African kingdom. Dwayne Johnson is DC Comics black adam (October 21), who got her powers from the Egyptian gods in ancient times. And in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 11), the rulers of the fictional African nation face the consequences of the death of their king, T’Challa.
Scary stuff: The psychological suspense flows from don’t worry darling (September 23), in which Florence Pugh’s stay with husband Harry Styles in an experimental utopian community in the 1950s has sinister undertones. Halloween ends (Halls/Peacock Oct. 14), the 13th installment in the long-running slasher franchise, once again pits Jamie Lee Curtis against hockey fan Michael Myers. In Hocus Pocus 2 (Disney+ September 30), Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are up to no good again as the Sanderson Witch Sisters.
Family rate: Disney’s offerings include strange world (November 23), an animated sci-fi adventure about a family of human explorers on an alien planet, and Pinocchio (Disney+ September 8), starring Tom Hanks as Geppetto in the latest live-action reboot of an animated classic. Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro (Theatres Nov. TBA; Netflix Dec. 9) is definitely not a Disney movie; the stop-motion animated reimagining is set in 1930s Fascist Italy, for a “darker” take on the traditional tale.
More children’s tales told: Matilda the musical by Roald Dahl (in theaters December 9; Netflix December 25) stars Emma Thompson as Miss Trunchbull. And in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (December 21), Antonio Banderas returns to voice the swashbuckling cat – now in its ninth life.