This year has been a pretty rough one for movie lovers. Even during what’s supposed to be the most exciting time of year—Summer Blockbuster Season—the truly exciting movies were few and far between. But now that the kids are heading back to school and our favorite jeans are coming out of their summer hibernation, it’s time for the studios to bring out their most powerful films of the year. It’s time for things to get good—or at least I really, truly hope so.
So now, as we prepare for this year’s Award Season, let’s take a look at what’s hitting theaters in September and October.
As always, before we begin, just a quick note about release dates. Films are listed by week, generally using Friday as the standard release date. Some, however, will open earlier in the week (especially around holiday weekends), while others will open in limited release, gradually making their way to wider and wider markets. So release dates in your area may vary. Please check your local listings for exact dates.
And now...on to the preview!
Labor Day weekend isn’t a big movie-going holiday—like Christmas or Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July. Instead, we get a smorgasbord of smaller movies that you probably won’t hear much about—like spy thriller Unlocked, starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Douglas, and an ensemble of other stars. Also this week, Dolores tells the story of Dolores Huerta, who started the country’s first farm workers’ union and fought for gender equality in the 1950s. And Viceroy’s House follows British India’s transition to independence with the final Viceroy of India (played by Hugh Bonneville).
Kristin’s Pick: This weekend doesn’t really have any stand-out releases—so I’m going to recommend that you take advantage of the last holiday weekend of summer by spending some time outside instead of inside a theater.
If you aren’t already afraid of clowns, you may be after seeing this week’s reimagining of Stephen King’s It, starring Bill Skarsgård as the murderous clown Pennywise.
For something a little lighter, there’s Home Again, the story of a single mom (played by Reese Witherspoon), whose life is turned upside-down when she takes in three young men.
Also this week, Charlie Sheen and Whoopi Goldberg find themselves trapped in an elevator in the World Trade Center’s North Tower in 9/11. And a small-town priest meets a charming young woman in The Good Catholic.
Kristin’s Pick: I still remember having nightmares after watching the original It miniseries—so I look forward to seeing if the remake can live up to the scares of the original.
Some of the fall’s biggest film festivals take place in September, which means that now’s the time when the year’s most talked-about movies (and performances) start making their way to theaters. First up this year is Darren Aronofsky’s dark thriller Mother!, starring Javier Bardem and award season favorite Jennifer Lawrence as a married couple whose lives are shaken when a bunch of mysterious guests arrive at their new house.
Also this week, Ben Stiller plays a dad on a road trip to visit colleges with his son in the comedy Brad’s Status. Nicholas Hoult stars as reclusive author J. D. Salinger in the biopic Rebel in the Rye. And a formerly blind woman faces challenges in her marriage after regaining her sight in All I See Is You.
Kristin’s Pick: When Darren Aronofsky releases a new film, you never know whether you’ll get Black Swan or The Fountain. But I’m hopeful for Mother!.
If you’re looking for a little action, you should have no problem finding it this week. First, Matthew Vaughn returns for Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the follow-up to 2015’s action-packed graphic novel thriller Kingsman: The Secret Service. For kids (or kids at heart), there’s the animated comic action of the teenage warriors in The LEGO Ninjago Movie. And, for horror buffs, there’s the social media cautionary tale, Friend Request, which shows how unfriending someone can result in all kinds of evil.
Also this week, Emma Stone and Steve Carell star as tennis champs Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in Battle of the Sexes. Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria befriends a young Indian clerk (played by Ali Fazal) in Stephen Frears’s Victoria and Abdul. Danny Pudi sets out to win over the love of his life in The Tiger Hunter. And Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the story of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman in Stronger.
Kristin’s Pick: This week is absolutely loaded with options (so loaded, in fact, that I didn’t list them all)—and many of them seem promising, too. But I’m looking forward to Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
Earlier this month, we saw the remake of Stephen King’s 1990 miniseries, It. This week offers another remake from 1990, Flatliners, the story of five medical students in a search for answers about the afterlife.
Meanwhile, Tom Cruise teams up with director Doug Liman for American Made, which tells the story of a pilot who worked for the CIA while also running drugs in the ‘80s.
Also this week, John Carroll Lynch directs Harry Dean Stanton in Lucky, and Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton tells the story of a surfing icon.
Kristin’s Pick: None of this week’s releases really catch my eye—but I’ll give my pick to Flatliners, since I’m intrigued to see what The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev does with it.
This week’s options are about as diverse as they come. First up, Denis Villeneuve directs Blade Runner 2049, starring Ryan Gosling as a young blade runner who makes a discovery that causes him to track down a former blade runner (played by Harrison Ford).
Meanwhile, little girls and Bronies will be racing out to see My Little Pony: The Movie, which follows the ponies of Ponyville on a quest to save all of Equestria.
Also this week, Rooney Mara stars as a young woman confronting the secrets of her past in Una. And director Sean Baker’s The Florida Project explores the carefree life of a lovable six-year-old during one summer in Florida.
Kristin’s Pick: Though I’m not a huge Blade Runner fan, I’ll admit that I’m interested to see where Villeneuve will take this one.
This week seems to promise some interesting performances by a trio of likable actors.
Up first, Michael Fassbender stars as a detective searching for serial killer after the first snowfall of the year in The Snowman, based on the novel by Jo Nesbø.
Next, Jackie Chan stars in what sounds like a Liam Neeson-style action movie about a London businessman who’s out for revenge after his teenage daughter is taken. But instead of Taken, this one’s called The Foreigner.
And, finally, in Marshall, Chadwick Boseman stars as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who’s working his way through an important case.
Kristin’s Pick: This week’s pick is a tough one—because I’m looking forward to all three for different reasons. But I’m hoping for a stellar performance from Boseman in Marshall.
Fall is a great time for literary adaptations—and, this week, in director Hany Abu-Assad’s adaptation of Charles Martin’s The Mountain Between Us, Kate Winslet and Idris Elba play two strangers who are forced to work together to survive the journey through the wilderness after their plane crashes in the snowy mountains.
In another adaptation, director Todd Haynes adapts Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck, which follows the story of both a Midwestern boy and a girl from New York from 50 years ago, who both embark on the same quest.
And in this week’s third adaptation, Same Kind of Different as Me, Greg Kinnear is an art dealer who attempts to save his marriage by befriending a homeless man (Djimon Hounsou) after his wife (Renée Zellweger) sees him in a dream.
Or, for something completely different, there’s disaster movie Geostorm, which follows the battle to save Earth after the satellites designed to control the planet’s climate begin to attack.
Kristin’s Pick: This week offers some intriguing options—but while I was as taken by Todd Haynes’s Carol as others were, I’m still intrigued by Wonderstruck.
The last week of October wouldn’t be complete without a scary movie—and this week, the Saw franchise returns with Jigsaw, which follows the investigation into a series of grisly murders that seem to point to the man known as Jigsaw, who’s been dead for years.
Kristin’s Pick: I don’t have a whole lot of options for this week—and since I’ve never been a fan of the Saw movies, I’ll recommend going back and seeing one of last week’s movies instead.
And there you have it: the movies of the first two months of Award Season. But things are just beginning to pick up for this exciting time of year—so be sure to come back for Part 2 of this year’s fall preview, where we’ll take a look at the biggest holiday and award releases.