In continuing our fall preview, and after highlighting the 25 best films we’ve already seen, today brings a look at the unknown. We’ve narrowed down 30 works 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 our final preview: the festival premieres we’re most looking forward to.
30. Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi; Nov. 3)
While their most recent superhero feature, Spider-Man: Homecoming, had more personality than a standard outing for Marvel, it still couldn’t quite shake the cookie-cutter feeling that plagues the rest of the spandex-laden cinematic universe. Hopefully that notion won’t carry though in Taika Waitit’s Thor threequel. Any film starring Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum is reason enough to anticipate, doubly so when the New Zealand director is also involved. – Jordan R.
29. American Made (Doug Liman; Sept. 29)
Though The Mummy proved to be far from the cinematic-universe-starter that Universal hoped, they are staying in the Tom Cruise business. The action star has reteamed with his Edge of Tomorrow (aka Live Die Repeat) director Doug Liman for American Made, which finds Cruise playing Barry Seal, a TWA pilot who smuggled drugs, got busted, and was recruited by the CIA in the process. It sounds relatively grounded, at least in Cruise terms, and judging from early reactions, it’s said to mostly deliver. In a telling comment on Cruise’s current career, it’s already starting to be released in international territories. – Jordan R.
28. Molly’s Game (Aaron Sorkin; Nov. 22)
There are only a few writers in Hollywood who one can recognize within a single scene. Aaron Sorkin certainly falls under that category, and after winning Oscars and Emmys for his work, ranging from The Social Network to The West Wing, he’s making his directorial debut. Molly’s Game stars Jessica Chastain and is adapted from Molly Bloom’s own memoir about her time running high-stakes poker for a wealth of celebrities and powerful businessmen. If we had to be truthful, we’re probably most interested in Michael Cera’s involvement, who is having a banner year stealing scenes in Twin Peaks, Lemon, and Person to Person. – Jordan R.
27. mother! (Darren Aronofsky; Sept. 15)
I’m not entirely sure what to expect from Darren Aronofsky’s new film, and I think that’s exactly the way he wants it. “It’s a cruise missile shooting into a wall, this film,” the director told Vulture. “I want audiences to be prepared for that and prepped that it’s a very intense ride.” With its cryptic trailers and release date landing so soon after a festival premiere, hopefully the mystery will be left intact and the adventure proves a disturbing, worthwhile one. – Jordan R.
26. The Disaster Artist (James Franco; Dec. 1)
Filmmaker, actor, and underwear designer Tommy Wiseau became something of a cult phenomenon when he released his baffling 2003 film The Room. A poorly made, bizarrely acted melodrama, The Room would go on to achieve midnight movie status — the type of so-bad-it’s-good film that grows through word of mouth via the incredulous viewers who happen to witness it. Now the story of how Wiseau made The Room is a film itself in The Disaster Artist, with Franco playing the director, adopting the filmmaker’s trademark accent and aloofness to eerie perfection. – Chris E.
25. Brad’s Status (Mike White; Sept. 15)
Already having quite a summer with his writing duties on Beatriz at Dinner (not to mention a script credit on The Emoji Movie), Mike White is back with Brad’s Status, his first directorial feature in a decade. Starring Ben Stiller, it follows his character going through a mid-life crisis of sorts while also trying to help his son get into college. The trailer employed the mix of humorous drama that has defined White’s career, and hopefully it’ll be an early fall highlight. – Jordan R.
24. Wonder Wheel (Woody Allen; Dec. 1)
Woody Allen has released a film annually, like clockwork, for nearly three decades, but Wonder Wheel marks the first time one of his works has premiered after the summer season since 2007’s Cassandra’s Dream. The movie, which will premiere as the Closing Night selection of this year’s New York Film Festival, takes place in ‘50s Coney Island and focuses on a couple (James Belushi and Kate Winslet) whose lives are complicated by the return of their daughter (Juno Temple). All of this is, intriguingly, told through the viewpoint of a lifeguard (Justin Timberlake), and may very well be among Allen’s most daring and bracing efforts of recent times. – Ryan S.
23. Coco (Lee Unkrich; Nov. 22)
While it’s not the first Pixar movie this year — we don’t blame you if you had to Google what the other one was — Coco is certainly the most promising. Marking the return of Toy Story 3 direct Lee Unkrich, who has co-directed with Adrian Molina, a story artist behind Monsters University, their latest follows a boy’s journey between two worlds. The marketing thus far doesn’t quite have the pull of Pixar’s best films, but hopefully this journey is as magical as Unkrich’s last outing. – Jordan R.
22. All the Money in the World (Ridley Scott; Dec. 8)
After spending the last few years in space, Ridley Scott is getting grounded again with a new drama, which he only begun shooting this year and will be ready for release by December. The true story follows Mark Wahlberg’s character as a former CIA agent who teams with the mother (Michelle Williams) of a kidnapped boy to save her kid. The abducted child is the grandson of an oil tycoon (Kevin Spacey) who is more focused on keeping his empire. “I just consumed it. I knew about the kidnapping, but this story was very, very provocative… Gail Getty was an exceptional character, and there are many facets of the man Getty that make him a really great study,” Scott said to EW in reference to David Scarpa’s Black List script. – Jordan R.
21. Woodshock (Laura Mulleavy and Kate Mulleavy; Sept. 22)
As Tom Ford has proven, major players in the world of fashion design can yield great results in the medium of cinema. The latest to test this theory are Kate Mulleavy and Laura Mulleavy, founders of the label Rodarte. Their debut film, backed by A24, is Woodshock and it’s arriving early in the fall. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Joe Cole, and Pilou Asbæk, it looks to be a gorgeously-rendered drama which borders on the experimental with a variety of dream-like shots. The story follows Dunst’s character as she recovers from a loss and we experience her fractured reality as she copes with drugs. – Jordan R.
20. Suburbicon (George Clooney; Oct. 27)
In terms of sheer star wattage, nothing this fall tops Suburbicon. Directed by George Clooney, written by Joel and Ethan Coen, and starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac, the dark comedy depicts unrest in 1950s America. While the previews thus far have sold a satire with more pizazz than Clooney’s last directorial offering, he doesn’t exactly have the best batting average behind the camera. With that said, we’ll take what we can get from the Coens until their Netflix series next year, so check back soon for our review from Venice. – Jordan R.
19. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve; Oct. 6)
We nearly put Duncan Jones’ Blade Runner-inspired Mute in this spot, but considering Netflix has been, well, mute, regarding its release as of late, Denis Villeneuve’s actual Blade Runner sequel deserves a mention. We’re still not sold that this is a property worth revisiting, story-wise, but with the director’s slick approach and Roger Deakins having a gigantic budget and this sci-fi world as his cinematographic playground, it will, at the very least, be a sight to behold. – Jordan R.
18. Wormwood (Errol Morris; TBD)
After the quaint documentary The B-Side, Errol Morris’ next project is far more ambitious. Although technically not classified as a film, the six-part series remains to be seen how Netflix will pitch it, so we’ll give it a mention here. Described as “a twisting, evolving story of one man’s sixty-year quest to identify the circumstances of his father’s mysterious death, “Peter Sarsgaard leads Wormwood, which combines Morris’ documentary approach with narrative. – Jordan R.
17. The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro; Dec. 8)
Despite the love thrown his way daily on Twitter, it’s been around a decade since Guillermo del Toro has made a flat-out great film. With that said, potential is high for The Shape of Water, an other-worldly romance set against the backdrop of the Cold War, and starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Lauren Lee Smith, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer. The director’s bread and butter is mixing the fantastical with a real-world setting and all the pieces are in place here for a knock-out. – Jordan R.
16. Thelma (Joachim Trier, Nov. 10)
With films like Oslo, August 31st and Louder Than Bombs, Joachim Trier has built a modest but steady oeuvre over the past decade, and with Thelma, his fourth movie, he seems to be branching out into more fantastical, but presumably no less dramatically focused, subject matter. The film follows a young student (Elli Harboe) who discovers that she has mystical and fearsome powers at the same time that she falls in love with another woman. Tackling themes of religion along the way, the movie will hopefully surprise and thrill in equal measure. – Ryan S.
15. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson; Dec. 15)
Kathleen Kennedy has led Lucasfilm with an iron fist since George Lucas retired. Most recently, she hired Ron Howard to replace Phil Lord and Christopher Miller on the Han Solo film. The “Star Wars Story” standalone films were sold to the public as more experimental, auteur-driven projects than their Episode counterparts. That hasn’t proved to be the case; rather in big-budget Hollywood filmmaking, this is the era of producer auteurs. However, hopefully Rian Johnson brings some of his directorial personality to The Last Jedi, which picks up where J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens leaves off. After the fun rehashing of previous Star Wars plots in Awakens, it’s really up to Johnson and Kennedy to bring something new to the table in this eighth episode. We already know that this is Carrie Fisher’s last go-around as General Leia and we can predict Luke Skywalker’s journey is deciding if the Jedi should go the route of integration, with a worldview that’s less black and white and gnostic. Also, the porgs look cute. – Josh E.
14. The 15:17 to Paris (Clint Eastwood; TBD)
Although it just started shooting, word is circulating that Clint Eastwood’s workmanlike approach will continue with The 15:17 to Paris and the thriller will be completed in time for a release this December, if Warner Bros. would like to debut in time for awards season. Following his last film, Sully — which surprised with an effective structure and clear-eyed direction — his newest is another depiction of heroism, capturing the events when three Americans foiled an ISIS terrorist plot on a train. Perhaps most interesting is Eastwood’s choice to cast the actual soldiers — Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone — as themselves, an experiment in realism I greatly look forward to witnessing. – Jordan R.
13. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig; Nov. 10)
Greta Gerwig makes her solo directorial debut this fall with Lady Bird. This movie follows a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) who is escaping her family and her small town for the finer concrete pastures of New York City. Gerwig has recently risen to prominence in the North American independent film scene by working as a co-writer and co-director to such names as Noah Baumbach and Joe Swanberg, respectively. Her trademark verbal dynamism and comedy of body language and dance has elevated the films of others for the past decade. Lady Bird will be all hers. – Willow M.
12. Downsizing (Alexander Payne; Dec. 22)
Alexander Payne has made a distinct name for himself with his slightly larger-than-life characters living out relatable journeys. For his next film, he’s upping his scope by capturing smaller-than-life characters in what will still hopefully have some relatable fiber. Downsizing, led by Matt Damon, takes place in a future where humans have the ability to downsize themselves, and in doing so, require much less resources. Damon’s down-and-out character decides to do this with his wife so they can make their money go further, but problems when arise when they aren’t on the same page. Also starring Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jason Sudeikis, it’s the sort of concept that may be better on the script than on screen, but we trust Payne to make something special out of it. – Jordan R.
11. The Snowman (Tomas Alfredson; Oct. 20)
After Let the Right One In led to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tomas Alfredson could have easily continued down a trajectory that saw him take on more prestigious awards season fare. Thankfully, he seems to be defiantly bypassing that entirely with The Snowman, which looks to be a shlocky, rancorous crime drama. Starring Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson as their characters uncover clues leading them to a serial killer, hopefully Alfredson’s distinctive formal style is on full display for this grim-looking procedural. – Jordan R.
10. The Post (Steven Spielberg; Dec. 22)
Steven Spielberg is set to wow the diaspora of Obama-era elites with his upcoming film, The Post. Though originally titled The Pentagon Papers, the title was shortened, assumedly to speak to the condition of facts and real news in the age of Trump. The story follows Washington Post journalist Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and the Post’s first female publisher, Kay Graham (Meryl Streep), in exposing the public to the Pentagon Papers, which revealed the bill of goods the Nixon administration sold to the American public to fuel the Vietnam War. After his last prestige drama — the sturdy, noble Bridge of Spies — we imagine a similar mindset is in store for The Post, which also brings a guarantee that Streep and Trump will go for a second round this awards season. – Josh E.
9. A Futile and Stupid Gesture (David Wain; TBD)
Yes, we’re anticipating a David Wain film more than the next Star Wars. After delivering one of the funniest, most tear-inducing parodies of all-time with They Came Together, he gave us two Wet Hot American Summer TV seasons, and now he’s finally back to feature films with this look at the early days of National Lampoon. Led by Will Forte and also starring Domhnall Gleeson, Thomas Lennon, Joel McHale, Matt Walsh, Paul Scheer, and many more, Wain certainly knows this history well and we’re immensely curious about his portrayal of Bill Murray, John Belushi, Christopher Guest, Chevy Chase, Ivan Reitman, Gilda Radner, Lorne Michaels, and more. Wain recently revealed he’s in the final stages of finishing the project, which may have a more dramatic bent than initially expected. – Jordan R.
8. Roman Israel, Esq. (Dan Gilroy; Nov. 3)
After crafting one of the best directorial debuts of its respective year, Nightcrawler writer-director Dan Gilroy is back with a Denzel Washington-led crime drama. Described as “a character study in the vein of Paul Newman’s 1982 classic The Verdict,” the Robert Elswit-shot film captures Washington’s character as he finds disturbing happenings in his law firm and takes action into his own hands. Hopefully it keeps intact the burning intensity and comedic touches of his debut film, and will likely get a festival debut at AFI Fest. – Jordan R.
7. Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman; Sept. 22)
In a year full of minions, emojis, talking cars, and bossy babies, to say we’re looking for something a bit more compelling in the animated field is an understatement. Thankfully, a promising feature looks to be arriving this fall in the form of Loving Vincent, a Vincent Van Gogh biopic that’s also the first fully oil-painted feature film. 125 painters worked over six years, resulting in 65,000 painted frames, and Saoirse Ronan, Aidan Turner, Douglass Booth, Chris O’Dowd, and Helen McCrory are in its voice cast, with Clint Mansell on scoring duties. – Jordan R.
6. Brawl in Cell Block 99 (S. Craig Zahler; Oct. 6)
A horror western that also found room to carve out characters with depth and personality, Bone Tomahak was among the best debuts of the past few years. Thankfully it took little time for director S. Craig Zahler to return for his follow-up. Led by Vince Vaughn as an inmate who must deal with the deadly arena of prison, we’ll leave you with TIFF programmer Peter Kuplowsky’s thoughts: “I think the film escalates to an absolutely deranged climax that’s kind of reminiscent of The Story of Riki-Oh but for the first hour it is more of a sober crime drama.” – Jordan R.
5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh; Nov. 10)
In Bruges writer-director Martin McDonagh makes a welcomed return to cinema for the first time since 2012’s Seven Psychopaths with his latest darkly comedic yarn, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. After law enforcement fails to catch her daughter’s killer, Mildred (Frances McDormand) rents billboard space to execute a smear campaign on the local police chief, played by Woody Harrelson. Judging by the trailer, the plot feels overwhelming in its contemporary relevance, and with such an enticing cast, which includes Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish, John Hawkes, and Caleb Landry Jones — not to mention McDonagh regulars Sam Rockwell and Zeljko Ivanek — it’s an unabashed must-see for us. – Tony H.
4. Mosaic (Steven Soderbergh; TBD)
Technically television, but perhaps something of an entirely new stripe. This years-in-the-offing experiment, a murder mystery led by Sharon Stone, embraces something along the lines of a choose-your-own-adventure form you’d probably loved in your younger years — but Soderbergh hates the term, so don’t throw it around too freely — now experienced through apps instead of paperback books. (There’s said to be a six-episode HBO series, with additional footage, coming along soon after.) Logan Lucky made clear that the man’s not lost his touch for air-tight studio filmmaking; Mosaic sounds like confirmation that the experimental bent we haven’t seen in some time is about to come back in a major way. I love his new film, but I know where my bread is truly buttered, so: yes. – Nick N.
3. Last Flag Flying (Richard Linklater; Nov. 3)
Richard Linklater is the king of sequels, full stop. After finishing his Before trilogy and Boyhood, he most recently crafted a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused in the form of Everybody Wants Some!! The director’s next project is Last Flying Flag, and he brings J. Quinton Johnson from the aforementioned project, along with Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne for this sequel to Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail. The story follows a trio of friends introduced in the 1973 film, now on a trip up the Eastern seaboard to bury Doc’s (Carell) son, who was killed early in the Iraq war. The film opens up the 55th New York Film Festival on September 28th and the programmers write, “Linklater gives us a rich rendering of friendship, a grand mosaic of common life in the USA during the Bush era, and a striking meditation on the passage of time and the nature of truth.” – Josh E.
2. Ex Libris – New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman; Sept. 13)
Age is no obstacle for veteran documentarian Frederick Wiseman, who continues to shoot his fly-on-the-wall documentaries with an almost unmatched prolificness. Following recent documents of Queens’ Jackson Heights, London’s National Gallery, and California’s University of Berkeley (all clock in at over three hours long), he now primes his lens on one of New York City’s most valuable institutions: the New York Public Library. What was surely countless minutes of footage is thriftily compiled into a still-dense 200 minute runtime that slowly makes clears its themes, as clips of events and various banal aspects within the library illuminate the homogeneity of diverse cultures and value of this public space. Ex Libris premieres at Venice before opening in limited release just a few weeks later. – Jason O.
1. Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project (Dec. 25)
Despite the lack of an official title (its current placeholder is Phantom Thread), rumors surrounding the latest work from writer-director (and, for the first time, cinematographer) Paul Thomas Anderson continue to swirl. A February press release initially described it as “the life behind the curtain of an uncompromising dressmaker commissioned by royalty and high society.” However, according to a recent tweet from Vulture senior editor Kyle Buchanan, the picture, which is set in the ‘50s London couture world, is described by insiders as “an art-house Fifty Shades of Grey.” Take from that what you will. Sadly, it was also announced that the untitled project is the final performance from star Daniel Day-Lewis, who hasn’t appeared onscreen since his Oscar-winning turn in Lincoln, rendering the film all the more enticing a ticket for fans when it finally hits theaters this December. – Tony H.
Battle of the Sexes (9/22), Stronger (9/22), The Mountain Between Us (10/6), Breathe (10/13), The Foreigner (10/13), Goodbye Christopher Robin (10/13), Marshall (10/13), Only the Brave (10/20),
Professor Marston & The Wonder Women (01/27), The Man Who Invented Christmas (11/3), Wonder (11/17), Coco (11/22), Darkest Hour (11/22), Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (12/15), The Greatest Showman (12/25), One of Us (TBD)
What films this fall are you most looking forward to?