As summer cools down, we’re entering perhaps the best time of year for cinephiles, with a variety of festivals — some of which will hold premieres of our most-anticipated 2018 features — gearing up. As we do each year, after highlighting the best films offered thus far, we’ve set out to provide a comprehensive preview of the fall titles that should be on your radar.
We’re doing things slightly different this year, combining both the best films we’ve already seen (with full reviews where available) and the films with (mostly) confirmed release dates that are coming over the next four months and have us intrigued. While some won’t show up until late December, a good amount will first premiere over the next few weeks at various film festivals, so check back for our reviews.
See our list below, and return soon for the second part of our preview: the festival premieres with no release dates and/or U.S. distribution we’re most looking forward to.
Bisbee ’17 (Robert Greene; Sept. 5)
Here is a story that makes Faulkner’s adage about the past not being past seem horribly valid. A hundred years ago, both the Arizona mining town of Bisbee and America itself were wracked with controversy over pointless war, hatred toward immigrants, and rampant inequality and injustice. Today, only the wars are different. In 1917, over a thousand miners protesting for better wages and working conditions were rounded up by authorities in Bisbee, with the help of two thousand deputized townspeople. At the behest of the company which essentially owned the town, the strikers were crowded onto a train and exiled to New Mexico, threatened with death if they ever returned. Most of them were immigrants, most of whom came from Mexico. In 2017, the residents of Bisbee, now long past its days as a mining town, observe the centennial of the deportation with a reenactment of it. Robert Greene and his crew were there to film it. – Dan S. (full review)
I Am Not a Witch (Rungano Nyoni; Sept. 7)
Recalling the polemics of Ousmane Sembène, Rungano Nyoni’s Zambian film I Am Not a Witch is an impressively crafted comedy of manners turned tragedy. The film centers around the accusation that an 8-year old girl, Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) is engaging in witchcraft solely because people in the town say so, and because the girl refuses to confirm or deny whether she’s a witch. – John F. (full review)
Five Fingers for Marseilles (Michael Matthews; Sept. 7)
Director Michael Matthews and writer Sean Drummond were drawn to the landscapes of South Africa’s Eastern Cape while traveling their homeland, especially the echoes of classic cinematic western environments. Learning about how its current towns arose — from the ashes of Apartheid-era cities mimicking European capitals by name — only cemented the comparison, each a product of the locals taking control once their oppressors left after their government changed hands and the train lines shutdown. This new frontier became the pair’s setting, their story gelling after seven years of research and development to do right by the inhabitants’ history and struggles. Sprinkle in a bit of legend and lore to create an antihero hidden beneath rage and Five Fingers for Marseilles was born. – Jared M. (full review)
Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross; Sept. 14)
Structurally, Hale County This Morning, This Evening does not do much to distinguish itself from other contemporary vérité documentaries which focus on quotidian details within a certain milieu. But even so, it still finds value in the unique incidents it captures. Send a hundred different filmmakers to a hundred different places, and even if their work is aesthetically identical, they’ll each document at least a few unique moments that will make each piece worth it. Beyond that, director RaMell Ross demonstrates a talent for framing a scene in a striking manner, such as shooting a trash fire so that the rays of the sun shine through the smoke. – Dan S. (full review)
Mandy (Panos Cosmatos; Sept. 14)
In an era of dime-a-dozen Nicolas Cage movies, you may think you know what you’re getting when sitting down for his latest feature. Rest assured, nothing could prepare you for the experience of Mandy. I’m not even referring to the gory and gleeful shocks–of which the back half has many–but rather Panos Cosmatos’ intoxicating, singular version, which mixes beauty and batshit insanity for an LSD-fueled descent into darkness like no other. – Jordan R. (full review)
The Land of Steady Habits (Nicole Holofcener; Sept. 14)
Nicole Holofcener is known for her character-driven stories and snappy, melancholic dialogue, which for her five previous films have all been (mostly) driven by women. However, the lead of her upcoming film The Land of Steady Habits, premiering at TIFF and quickly landing on Netflix, is Anders Hill, played by the always-great Ben Mendelsohn. He plays a retired man who decides to quit his life of “steady habits” in Connecticut, leaving his wife Helene (Edie Falco) in the process. – Stephen H.
The Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard; Sept. 21)
Jacques Audiard’s Palme d’Or win for Dheepan has given him the clout to recruit his finest ensemble yet for The Sisters Brothers, his English-language debut that’s a neo-noir western, an adaptation of the novel by the same name from Patrick DeWitt. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, Riz Ahmed, and John C. Reilly, the story follows two brothers (Phoenix and Reilly) who hunt down a gold prospector (Gyllenhaal) in 1850s Oregon. With the makings of a stranger tale than his last few films, hopefully Audiard steps up his scope in a big way here. – Jordan R.
Colette (Wash Westmoreland; Sept. 21)
Keira Knightley returns to the genre that she has become synonymous with: the period piece. In Colette, she finds another tenacious character in a corset in the true story of the famous French author. Trying to balance her newfound success, her exploration of her sexuality, and a marriage to her dominating husband Willy (Dominic West) Colette must find her voice in order to save her career, and herself. Following praise at Sundance, it’ll arrrive in theaters this September. – Stephen H.
Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. (Stephen Loveridge; Sept. 28)
Long before “Galang” and “Paper Planes,” and prior to her Oscar nomination and universal fame, there was a time M.I.A. was Mathangi Arulpragasam, the daughter of Tamil refugees who fled conflict-stricken Sri Lanka to settle in 1980s England. More an account of her origins than a stylized tour documentary, Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. draws from over 700 hours of footage M.I.A. personally recorded at different stages of her career to offer an intimate pre- and-post-stardom bio-doc that feels just as magnetic as the artist it brings and dissects on screen. – Leonardo G. (full review)
The Old Man & the Gun (David Lowery; Sept. 28)
At 81 years of age, Robert Redford is truly one of the last great movie stars we have left, in a career that spans five decades and countless iconic films. Back in 2016, he announced his upcoming role in David Lowery’s crime drama throwback is set to be his last one before retirement. In the film, Redford plays Forrest Tucker, a bank robber who begins another string of heists. His two co-stars are Casey Affleck as the detective trying to hunt him down, and Sissy Spacek as his kind-hearted love interest. Sporting a nostalgic tone in its trailer, Lowery’s A Ghost Story follow-up promises to be a final return to form for one of Hollywood’s greatest stars. – Stephen H.
Hold the Dark (Jeremy Saulnier; Sept. 28)
Green Room and Blue Ruin director Jeremy Saulnier is stepping away from colors for his next film and getting bleak(er) and bloodier for Hold the Dark, starring Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgard, Riley Keough, and James Badge Dale. The adventure thriller is based on William Giraldi’s novel, which follows a wolf expert (Wright) who comes to Alaska to investigate disappearing children with the prime suspect being — you guessed it — wolves. Keough plays the mother of a son who died, while her husband (Skarsgard) goes wild when he returns from Iraq, and is being tracked by a detective (Dale). Promising to be another dark, brutal thriller, the Macon Blair-scripted film will hit Netflix following a TIFF premiere. – Jordan R.
Climax (Gaspar Noé; Sept./Oct. TBD)
Gaspar Noé has probably never been likened to Lazarus before – or any other saint, for that matter – but he’s fully earned himself the comparison with Climax, which constitutes a miraculous comeback after the nadir that was Love. It has all the in-your-face trademarks of the Noé brand, but here they’re packaged in a compact, expertly crafted horror flick that transcends its puerility to achieve something altogether sublime. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)
Private Life (Tamara Jenkins; Oct. 5)
Over a decade since her remarkably observed and authentically acted The Savages, writer-director Tamara Jenkins makes her long-awaited return to Sundance and feature filmmaking with Private Life, a generous, graceful, full-hearted drama about the complexities of desiring a child when your physiology denies you at every turn. Lest one thinks this is a somber look at such an intimate journey, Jenkins imbues an immense amount of humor and relatability without ever hitting a false note. – Jordan R. (full review)
A Star is Born (Bradley Cooper; Oct. 5)
On its fourth iteration, it’s becoming almost tradition that each new generation must have its own version of the A Star Is Born story, although someone in the 90s clearly missed the boat. The first version starred Janet Gaynor, while musical legends Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand took on remakes of the film during their respective heydays. Now, it’s another musical icon’s turn to take on the story with Lady Gaga making her leading role feature film debut alongside Bradley Cooper, who will be making his directorial debut. The film follows Cooper’s washed up country singer Jackson Maine as he falls in love with the struggling singer Aly, played by Gaga. While it at first seemed like a possible commercial bid only, the film is set to debut at the Venice Film Festival and then play at the Toronto Film Festival, hinting at a likely critical success as well. – Stephen H.
22 July (Paul Greengrass; Oct. 10)
After one film this year about the 2011 Norway attacks, in which right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 in the worst attack in the country since the Second World War, I’m not sure we need another. However, Paul Greengrass has proven to be adept at capturing harrowing real-life tragedies in the past, and after a fairly quiet production for Netflix, his dramatization will show at Venice and TIFF before landing on the service. – Jordan R.
First Man (Damien Chazelle; Oct. 12)
After La La Land, Damien Chazelle’s celebrated ode to classical musicals and Los Angeles (where Chazelle snatched up the Academy Award for Best Director) it seemed hard to imagine where the emerging director would go next. The sky’s the limit, after all, a saying it seemed Chazelle took to heart with his upcoming movie First Man, telling the story of Neil Armstrong as he became the first man to walk on the moon. Ryan Gosling, who co-starred in La La Land, is taking on the iconic role of Armstrong, while The Crown star Claire Foy will play his wife Janet. – Stephen H.
Beautiful Boy (Felix Van Groeningen; Oct. 12)
After a stellar breakthrough year with Call Me by Your Name, Lady Bird, and Hostiles, culminating in an Oscar nomination, Timothée Chalamet is back this fall with Beautiful Boy, the English-language debut from Felix Van Groeningen, who also earned an Academy Award nod, for The Broken Circle Breakdown. Based on David Sheff’s biographical book “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction,” the film tells the story of a son (Chalamet) struggling with methamphetamine addiction as his father (Steve Carell) watches over him. Produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B, behind some of the greatest films of the last few years with Moonlight, The Lost City of Z, and more, it’s set to debut at TIFF before landing in theaters. – Jordan R.
Apostle (Gareth Evans; Oct. 12)
After the blistering, single-location action film The Raid and its sprawling, epic sequel, director Gareth Evans appears to be branching out with his next film. Apostle stars Dan Stevens as a man trying to rescue his sister after she’s kidnapped by a religious cult. Although the film has been described as an action/thriller, the synopsis suggests it won’t be as relentless as Evans’ previous works. But with the likes of Stevens (who already proved himself to be a great action star in The Guest) attached, along with what appears to be a much larger scale and budget, Apostle should be one of the more exciting genre titles to look forward this fall when it lands on Netflix. – C.J. P.
Bad Times at the El Royale (Drew Goddard; Oct. 12)
It’s been too long since Drew Goddard’s inventive debut The Cabin in the Woods, but thankfully the director is returning this year. Bad Times At The El Royale follows a group of shady characters–played by Chris Hemsworth Jeff Bridges, Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, and more–as they descend on a rundown hotel in a 1960s California. Even after getting a peek at the trailer, which looks to owe some debt to Identity, things are kept mysterious and if it’s anything like this last film, that’s exactly how we want it. – Jordan R.
The Kindergarten Teacher (Sara Colangelo; Oct. 12)
A remake of the Israeli film of the same name, Sara Colangelo’s The Kindergarten Teacher pulls no punches. It leans full-tilt into its disturbing premise: a veteran kindergarten teacher becomes obsessed with a young student who has a gift for poetry. Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as the titular teacher and is the perfect actress for something like this. – Dan M. (full review)
Serenity (Steven Knight; Oct. 19)
Following up his directorial vehicle Locke, Steven Knight is back with Serenity, which reteams Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway and looks to be a delightful B-movie diversion from the usual self-serious awards fare this time of year. The film centers around McConaughey’s Baker Dill, a fishing boat captain who lives and works on the peaceful Plymouth Island. Things go awry for Dill when his ex-wife Karen (played by Anne Hathaway) resurfaces and pleads for protection from her abusive now-husband (played by Jason Clarke). – Jordan R.
Wildlife (Paul Dano; Oct. 19)
“I feel like I need to wake up, but I don’t know what from… or to,” Carey Mulligan’s Jeanette declares to her teenage son Joe (Ed Oxenbould) in Wildlife, Paul Dano’s remarkably assured, thematically rich directorial debut. The haze Jeanette finds herself in is due to her husband Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) having abandoned them to fight a wildfire close to the Canadian border. The absence of a patriarchal figure in their family, who have recently relocated to small-town Montana, leads to Jeanette discovering newfound, untidy emotional independence and her son is there to witness the protracted, quietly devastating unraveling of a marriage. – Jordan R. (full review)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller; Oct. 19)
It’s been a long tradition to see great comedic presences break out of their comfort zones with a major dramatic role (Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple, Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, Monique in Precious, to name a few.) Melissa McCarthy will be following in their footsteps this fall in Marielle Heller’s follow-up to The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?. The film follows the bizarre real life story of Lee Israel, a down on her luck writer who begins forging letters from famous Hollywood stars and selling them with the help of her conniving friend Jack, played by Richard E. Grant. – Stephen H.
The Guilty (Gustav Möller; Oct. 19)
The Guilty is an exhilarating, minimalist thriller that effectively sinks its hooks in, despite its bland, melodramatic title. In the vein of Locke and My Dinner with Andre, it isn’t exactly a one-man show fronted by Jakob Cedergren, but works as well as it does thanks to director Gustav Möller’s taut editing, voice cast, and sound effects that create a haunting scene halfway through the film without a drop of onscreen blood. – John F. (full review)
Halloween (David Gordon Green; Oct. 19)
After ten films (including a reboot and sequel that didn’t do so well with audiences), Halloween is back yet again, but this time there’s a lot more to be excited about. Rather than acknowledge the entire series, this version will ignore everything but Carpenter’s original classic, acting as a direct sequel. That means Jamie Lee Curtis will be back as Laurie Strode, along with Carpenter himself as the film’s composer. Directing duties will be handled by David Gordon Green, working with a script written by himself and Danny McBride (!), an interesting choice that really could go either way given their lack of experience with horror. With Jason Blum producing, Carpenter’s involvement, and the team of Green/McBride at the helm, consider this to be one of 2018’s true wild cards. – C.J. P.
Mid90s (Jonah Hill; Oct. 19)
A24 is following up last year’s Lady Bird, a period piece about a young person growing up written and directed by a famous actor, with another movie of the same kind. Mid 90’s is the directorial debut of Jonah Hill, who crafted this story about a young man (played by Sunny Suljic) who begins hanging out with a group of skateboard punks, all while having to deal with a volatile brother (Lucas Hedges, who’s having quite the year with three movies coming out this fall) and his overworked mom played by Katherine Waterston. – Stephen H.
Life and Nothing More (Antonio Méndez Esparza; Oct. 24)
Antonio Méndez Esparza’s sophomore feature is a social realist triumph, and one of the year’s true hidden gems (it came and went quickly during the fall festival circuit, where only a handful of critics caught it). Taking place in northern Florida, it follows single mother Regina (Regina Williams, one of the year’s best performances) as she tries to hold down a job at a diner, deal with her rebellious teenage son, and raise her four-year-old daughter while trying to stay afloat. Esparza directs with a simple approach, keeping the camera locked down and providing brief impressions of his characters’ lives to evoke the daily struggle of their existence (the editing, using elliptical cuts to emphasize the way characters inhabit spaces over temporal concerns, is phenomenal). – C.J. Prince
Monrovia, Indiana (Frederick Wiseman; Oct. 26)
Perhaps the greatest living filmmaker, in the sense of the breadth of the human experience he’s captured on film, Frederick Wiseman, at 88, is continuing his prolific search of new subjects and places. With his latest, Monrovia, Indiana, he’s keying in on small-town America and we look forward to seeing it through his eyes. Clocking in at a mere 143 minutes, it’ll premiere at Venice and NYFF before landing in theaters this October. – Jordan R.
Shirkers (Sandi Tan; Oct. 26)
Shirkers was the name of the script Sandi Tan wrote in the early ‘90s. A cinema-obsessed 18-year-old living in famously strict Singapore, Tan was inspired by the likes of Jim Jarmusch, the French New Wave, and the Coen Brothers to concoct a tale about a teenage girl who goes road trip (in a country which takes 40 minutes to cross) to “collect” friends while assassinating people she likes (with finger guns). Now, Shirkers is the documentary Tan has made about her youth dream project – how she and friends put it together, and how it fell apart. – Dan S. (full review)
Burning (Lee Chang-dong; Oct. 26)
Whoever it was that said a film should be expanded from a short story, not condensed from a long one, certainly had Lee Chang-dong’s ear. For his latest film the South Korean director behind such celebrated work as Poetry and Oasis has taken a short from Haruki Murakami and built on it, stretching and fleshing it out into a two-and-a-half-hour-long film. Not bad. – Rory O. (full review)
The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles; Nov. 2)
After being mentioned on our yearly preview for the last few years, Orson Welles’ long, long-anticipated film The Other Side of the Wind has now been completed thanks to Netflix, and will world premiere at Venice. Starring John Huston, Bob Random, Peter Bogdanovich, Susan Strasberg and Oja Kodar, the meta satire follows a director who returns to Hollywood after being exiled in Europe and plots his comeback movie. We can think of no bigger cinematic event in 2018, and are pleased Netflix will be giving this a theatrical release. – Jordan R.
Boy Erased (Joel Edgerton; Nov. 2)
Garrard Conley’s best-selling memoir Boy Erased is getting the feature film treatment. From actor-director Joel Edgerton, who last impressed with his thriller The Gift, comes the story of Conley’s harrowing upbringing in a gay conversion therapy, which he is placed in by his pastor father and Southern belle mother. Lady Bird and Manchester by the Sea star Lucas Hedges will be playing Conley, while Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman will be assuming the roles of his parents. In addition to being one of this fall’s few films dealing with LGBT themes, it also has quite the diverse cast, including pop star Troye Sivan, Cherry Jones, and acclaimed director Xavier Dolan, who will be stepping in front of the camera for the first time in a few years. – Stephen H.
Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino; Nov. 2)
While the initial idea of remaking a film as iconic as Suspiria sounds like blasphemy, there are simply too many enticing factors to not be interested. First, there’s director Luca Guadagnino coming off of his immaculate romance Call Me by Your Name. Then, there’s the all-female cast of Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Lutz Ebersdorf, Jessica Harper and Chloë Grace Moretz. And, lastly, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke will provide the score. Despite seemingly being rejected by TIFF and NYFF, we’ll get reactions from Venice soon before a fall release. – Leonard P.
Bodied (Joseph Kahn; Nov. 2)
This writer will admit that he joked to a friend recently about music video director Joseph Kahn’s slow feature film output over the last 13 years as almost making him the new Terrence Malick. While don’t take that as anything more than a goof, each of his three features do represent a very specific point in time that’s bound to be dated within a short period. His first feature Torque arrived in the middle of the Neal Moritz renaissance and was Kahn’s stealth attempt to smuggle a parody of The Fast and The Furious beer commercial aesthetic within an actual Fast and Furious knock-off. The second, Detention, came at the dawn of social media dominance, as obnoxious and scatterbrained a millennial anthem one could hope for. – Ethan V. (full review)
Peterloo (Mike Leigh; Nov. 9)
Following Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh’s new drama Peterloo captures the massacre in which the British government faced off against 60,000 during a protest in which 15 died with more having numerous injuries. Starring Rory Kinnear, Maxine Peake, Pearce Quigley, Philip Jackson, Karl Johnson, Tim McInnerny, and David Moorst, it’ll be curious to see how Leigh captures such a specific event and the scope he brings. – Jordan R.
Outlaw King (David Mackenzie; Nov. 9)
Following the one-two punch of his prison drama Starred Up and the Best Pictured-nominated neo-western Hell or High Water, director David Mackenzie is back this year with the period tale Outlaw King. Starring Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Florence Pugh, the film will open Toronto International Film Festival before arriving on Netflix in November. Shot by Barry Ackroyd, frequent Paul Greengrass cinematographer as well as the DP behind The Hurt Locker, the first trailer sells an epic rendering of Robert the Bruce’s story in medieval Scotland, which clocks in at the hefty budget of $120 million. = Jordan R.
Infinite Football (Corneliu Porumboiu; Nov. 9)
In Romania at the end of the 1980’s–the autumn years of the Ceausescu regime–Adrian Porumboiu worked as a professional referee for the national football league (or however it was referred to at the time). His son Corneliu (born in 1975) would grow up to become a significant filmmaker in the so-called Romanian New Wave of the mid ’00s. In 2014, Corneliu made a movie about his dad called The Second Game in which he narrated over a full 90-minute match that his father had refereed. Through the ever-politicized veil of sport the director was able to talk about the realities of those times. He returns to the beautiful game in 2018 with Infinite Football, a contemporary portrait of a man who suffered a bad injury before his career—at least in his eyes–had the chance to take off. – Rory O. (full review)
Widows (Steve McQueen; Nov. 16)
Five years after his critically acclaimed drama 12 Years A Slave won the Oscar for Best Picture, director Steve McQueen returns to the big screen with perhaps the most impressive cast of the fall season. Widows, which tells the story of four women who must continue on with their husbands lives of crime after they are murdered, stars Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, Carrie Coon, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, and Robert DuVall. With a cast like that and a script penned by Gone Girl and Sharp Objects novelist Gillian Flynn (based on the 1983 ITV series of the same name), expect Widows to be a hit both at the box office and critics lists. – Stephen H.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel and Ethan Coen; Nov. 16)
Nowadways, it isn’t uncommon to hear television creators or fans refer to television shows as “five-hour movies” or “13-hour movies” or even “18-hour movies” (we’re looking at you, David Lynch.) But in this case, the opposite has occurred, with what was intended as a Netflix miniseries has now been edited down to movie form and will get a theatrical release. It’s a peculiar jump, but one expects nothing less from the Coen brothers. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs finds the No Country for Old Men and True Grit directors back in western mode with a cast that includes James Franco, Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson, and Tim Blake Nelson in the titular role. – Stephen H.
Girl (Lukas Dhont; Nov. 16)
In the same way that keeping your top five movies on-hand can save a not-insignificant amount of time and brainpower over the course of one’s life, it’s just as useful to have an answer ready for questions such as: what makes you like movies so much, or even why are movies important? In such moments I tend to take the Ebert line that film, at its best, is an empathy machine, a way of experiencing someone else’s reality for a short while, to see how it might feel to walk in another person’s shoes. Like a widowed housewife in 1950s New England, say; or an elderly couple visiting their kids in Tokyo; or, in the case of this excellent naturalistic debut from Lukas Dhont, a 16-year-old transgender girl awaiting the operation that will complete — in her eyes — her physical transition. – Rory O. (full review)
Creed II (Steven Caple Jr.; Nov. 21)
One of the few franchise rejuvenation that had its intended effect, Creed was the rare blockbuster that embodied the spirit of the original while opening up the story in worthwhile directions. While director Ryan Coogler won’t be back for the follow-up, due to his busy schedule reteaming with his star Michael B. Jordan on Black Panther, another promising up-and-coming director has taken the reigns. Steven Caple Jr., helmer of the Sundance hit The Land, directs Creed II, the eighth film in the franchise,w which features the return of Jordan and Sylvester Stallone, and Tessa Thompson, as well as Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward, and Wood Harris. In the follow-up, Creed will go against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren, who also returns. – Jordan R.
Green Book (Peter Farrelly; Nov. 21)
Responsible for some of the most iconic comedies of the 1990s with Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary, Peter Farrelly is now breaking into the field of drama with his solo directorial effort Green Book. Playing like a reverse Driving Miss Daisy, it follows Viggo Mortensen’s character as an Italian-American bouncer from the Bronx who works as a driver for Mahershala Ali’s character, a famous pianist on tour. With the Eastern Promises star sporting quite an accent, it looks to be an uplifting, powerful film from Farrelly, and should certainly make for a surprise this fall when it arrives following its TIFF premiere. – Jordan R.
The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos; Nov. 23)
Director Yorgos Lanthimos is undoubtedly one of the most distinct voices working in cinema today, from his astounding debut Dogtooth to his break-out hit The Lobster. As The Killing of a Sacred Deer defiantly proved, what makes Lanthimos distinct and exciting for some can be isolating and difficult for others. A period drama detailing the rivalry between two women, Abigail Masham (Emma Stone) and Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) for Queen Anne’s (Olivia Colman) affection, The Favourite looks to combine the absurdist nature of Lanthimos work with a more accessible feel. – Stephen H.
Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda; Nov. 23)
With Like Father Like Son (2013), Our Little Sister (2015), and After the Storm (2016) all premiering one after the other at the Cannes film festival and The Third Murder getting a berth last autumn in Venice, it seemed as if Hirokazu Kore-eda, now well settled into this mature career groove, was making great films with every other effort. So does Shoplifters — which has the director once again competing for the Palme d’Or — adhere to this pattern? It would seem so. After the peculiar courtroom detours of Murder, Kore-eda returns to familiar ground — and returns to form — with Shoplifters, yet another story of unusual family setups and one that, once again, ponders questions of what exactly constitutes normal or even healthy choices when raising a child. – Rory O. (full review)
Happy as Lazzaro (Alice Rohrwacher; Nov. 30)
The films of Alice Rohrwacher have always been rich with the sensory magic of growing up, but that atmosphere has, up to this point, been enhanced with the knowledge that puberty was approaching, just out of sight, with all the subtlety of a B52 bomber. With her newest, Lazarro Felice, she has largely forgone that period of adolescence, while somehow not forgoing that sense of everyday magic. What emerges is not simply a next step in her oeuvre and creative growth but a fully formed expression of her virtuosic talents. – Rory O. (full review)
At Eternity’s Gate (Julian Schnabel; Nov. TBD)
After the ambitious animation Loving Vincent finally arrived last fall, another cinematic portrait of Vincent van Gogh will be coming this fall. Julian Schnabel’s new film explores the last few days of the life of the artist, as played by Willem Dafoe, following some career-best work in The Florida Project last year. With Oscar Isaac as Gauguin, Rupert Friend as Theo, Mathieu Amalric as Dr. Gachet, Emmanuelle Seigner as Madame Ginoux, and Mads Mikkelsen as The Priest (!), it’ll bow at Venice before a high-profile Closing Night slot at NYFF, then a November release. – Leonard P.
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins; Nov. 30)
While the films that won Best Picture for a director can be compelling, it’s often just as fascinating to see how they use their new clout to take on something perhaps more daring next. That’s looking to be the case for Barry Jenkins, who adapts the intricately-woven, fiery writings of James Baldwin with an adaptation of his 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk. Set to world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, followed by a release this fall by Annapurna, the films tells the story of Tish, a newly engaged woman living in Harlem who attempts to prove her fiancée’s innocence. Also starring Kiki Layne, Stephan James, Teyonah Parris, Regina King, and Colman Domingo, this promises to be one of the fall’s major films. – Jordan R.
Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell; Dec. 7)
David Robert Mitchell is a nostalgic. His debut feature, The Myth of the American Sleepover, paid tribute to such teenage dramas as American Graffiti and the work of John Hughes. Its follow-up, the terrific It Follows, ranks amongst the smartest and most effective specimens in John Carpenter’s vast and variegated suburban horror legacy. Mitchell has now tried his hand at an L.A. noir with Under the Silver Lake, which owes as big a debt to The Long Goodbye, Mulholland Drive, and Inherent Vice (to mention but three of the most conspicuous referents) as it does Thomas Pynchon’s labyrinthine, paranoia-laden narratives. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)
Cheney (Adam McKay; Dec. 14)
Adam McKay’s 2015 film The Big Short debuted late in the awards season with only a premiere at AFI Fest. His follow-up film about the 46th Vice President of the United States seems to be following suit, with no festival bow planned yet. But with popular, politically relevant story like Cheney’s, and with the cast assembled (Christian Bale was Cheney, Amy Adams as his wife Lynne, Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld, and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush) expect Cheney to be a major part of the conversation in 2018. – Stephen H.
Welcome to Marwen (Robert Zemeckis; Dec. 21)
One of the few directors who is able to still wrangle a decent-sized budget for Hollywood studio fare that doesn’t involve capes or anything of the ilk, Robert Zemeckis’ formally inventive films are still ones to marvel at. Following his return to live-action with the trio of Flight, The Walk, and Allied, his next project looks is a mix of that realm and a healthy dose of motion capture. Welcome to Marwen, another remake of a documentary from the director, is based on the 2010 film Marwencol, and after a wild first trailer, a second one shifted tones to an entirely inspirational one, perhaps fitting for its new December holiday release date. The story follows Steve Carell’s character in the true story of a man who was beaten into a coma, leaving memory loss, he then constructs a fantastical World War II-era world of dolls that fight the Nazis, sharing parallel to his real world. – Jordan R.
Cold War (Paweł Pawlikowski; Dec. 21)
What a deft, lean storyteller this Paweł Pawlikowski has become. The five-year gap between his latest film, teasingly titled Cold War and given a berth in competition at Cannes, and Ida (which premiered in Toronto in 2013 and spent almost two years on the festival circuit) must have felt like an age. Indeed, if there’s one thing we’re never asked to endure in the Polish-born filmmaker’s work, it’s that very nuisance: time. The days and years never drag in his world; instead they seem to skip like a needle across the grooves of a battered record. Cold War depicts a sweeping romance (apparently loosely based on his parents’ relationship, a battered record indeed) that takes us through four countries and almost a decade-and-a-half. It’s 84 minutes long. – Rory O. (full review)
Holmes & Watson (Etan Cohen; Dec. 21)
We aren’t getting a Step Brothers 2, so this reunion between Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly will have to suffice. Taking on the classic Arthur Conan Doyle characters, Tropic Thunder writer Etan Cohen follows up his disappointing directorial debut Get Hard with something that will hopefully be a bit more endearing–or just downright silly. Also starring Lauren Lapkus, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald, Rebecca Hall, Ralph Fiennes, and Hugh Laurie, it promises to be good counter-programming to the fairly dull-looking blockbuster hopefuls arriving around the same time. – Jordan R.
Destroyer (Karyn Kusama; Dec. 25)
After experiencing a career resurgence last year with The Beguiled, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and HBO’s Big Little Lies, Nicole Kidman continues her renaissance with Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer. Much has been kept hush about the upcoming film from The Invitation director, but what we do know is that Kidman plays a tortured LAPD detective who must return to her work when a gang leader she had previously investigated returns, tackling many demons along the way. “We’ve all loved bank robbery stories as a place to start, because they almost never go well,” Kusama recently told Vanity Fair. “There’s a kind of particular American madness to thinking you’ll be the one who gets away clean. We were really focusing on characters who weren’t criminal masterminds, but fringe dwellers of American society. Yet they still hold out the hope that they’d beat the system.” – Stephen H.
Roma (Alfonso Cuaron; Dec. TBD)
Following up his epic space drama Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón is getting grounded with new feature ROMA. Set to play at Telluride, Venice, TIFF, and NYFF, the drama is set in Mexico City in the early ’70s as we follow a middle-class family, and specifically its nanny and housekeeper (Yalitza Aparicio). We recently got the first trailer, showing off the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, shot by Cuarón himself, and thankfully this one will also hit theaters despite being a Netflix release. – Jordan R.
Ad Astra (James Gray; Dec. TBD)
The biggest question mark of the fall 2018 season is if James Gray’s space epic will actually see a release by the end of the year. Skipping the early fall festivals presumably due to some more work being done with the visual effects, it’s been said that 20th Century Fox will give it a qualifying run before its official January 11, 2019 bow. Gray’s The Lost City of Z follow-up stars Brad Pitt as an astronaut who embarks on a mission through the solar system to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones), who had left 20 years prior on a search for extra-terrestrial life on Neptune. Gray has said he aims to capture “the most realistic depiction of space travel that’s been put in a movie,” and we couldn’t be more excited. – Jordan R.
Honorable Mentions: Museo (9/14), Hal (9/14), Science Fair (9/14), Lizzie (9/14), The Predator (9/14), Fahrenheit 11/9 (9/21), The Happy Prince (10/5), The Hate U Give (10/19), Galveston (10/19), Dovlatov (10/26), A Private War (11/2), Distant Constellation (11/2), The Front Runner (11/7), Overlord (11/9), The New Romantic (11/9), Anna and the Apocalypse (11/30), Mirai (11/30), Capernaum (12/4), Piercing (12/7), Mary Queen of Scots (12/7), and On the Basis of Sex (12/25)
What are you most looking forward to this fall?