Thrillers, Dramas, Romances & More: These Fall Movies Will Have You Lining Up at the Box Office

Widows with Viola Davis

The days are getting just a little cooler. The nights are getting a tiny bit longer. You may not be ready to put away the beach passes and suntan lotion just yet but – face it — another summer’s almost gone. But there’s a bright side.

The end of the hot-weather season means the end of the silly-movie season – and the beginning of entertainment for grown-ups. Serious dramas, and smart documentaries. Real-life stories and adult thrillers.

Oh, there are still some popcorn pictures in the mix, calculated crowd-pleasers like the sci-fi remake “The Predator” (September 14), the comic book “Venom” (October 5), and yet another re-done “Halloween” (October 19), with Jamie Lee Curtis back for more.

There are big cartoons (“Smallfoot,” September 28), lush Disney fantasies (“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” November 2) and more Harry Potter spin-offs (“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindenwald,” November 16).

There are even some big-budget originals (“Overlord,” about Nazi-made monsters, coming out November 9).

But here’s what I’m really looking forward to…

“Crazy Rich Asians” proved there’s a need for (and delightful rewards in) diversity in Hollywood. So expect “Bel Canto” to provide even more, as the distinguished Ken Watanabe finds himself in trouble (and in love with Julianne Moore) in a story that unfolds during a Latin-American hostage crisis (September 14)… Destiny plays a big hand in “Life Itself,” an intricately told, multi-generational love story that features Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas and at least one scene guaranteed to leave you sobbing (September 21)… And it started out in 1932 as “What Price Hollywood?” (and was reworked three times since). But every generation, it seems, gets its own “A Star is Born” and here’s ours – a bittersweet love story with Bradley Cooper as a reeling rocker and a certain Gaga as the new Lady in his life. Cooper directs, too, and we’ve got high hopes. (October 5).

A Star Is Born

Matthew McConaughey is a small-time gun dealer who sees his teen son go dangerously undercover in the gritty “White Boy Rick” (September 14)… Miss Borden takes an axe (and a female lover) in “Lizzie,” a revisionist telling starring Chloe Sevigny and Kristen Stewart (September 14)… Expect glorious clothes, and gloriously unfettered passions, in “Colette,” with Keira Knightley playing the French author and sexual revolutionary (September 21)… Robert Redford makes his farewell film appearance in “The Old Man and the Gun,” an appropriately elegiac story of an aging gentleman bankrobber, with the always luminous Sissy Spacek as his late-in-life love (September 28)… Oscar Wilde dies as he lived – beyond his means — in “The Happy Prince,” a passion project from Rupert Everett, who directs and co-stars with Colin Firth (October 10)…

“La La Land” director Damien Chazelle re-unites with Ryan Gosling but drops the song-and-dance for “First Man,” a Neil Armstrong biography (October 12)… Timothee Chalamet is a “Beautiful Boy,” and a serious drug addict, in this tear-stained family drama co-starring Steve Carell (October 12)… Melissa McCarthy plays a frumpy forger in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” but Richard E. Grant is the real delight as her waspish partner in crime (October 19)… An ultra-religious family sends their gay son to a “re-education” camp in “Boy Erased,” starring Nicole Kidman and Joel Edgerton (November 2)… And “Bohemian Rhapsody” tells the furiously flamboyant story of Queen, with Rami Malek as quicksilver singer Freddie Mercury (November 2). And yes, he will, he will rock you.


“Hal “examines the great films and difficult days of Hal Ashby, the difficult director of classics from “The Last Detail” to “Being There” (September 7)… The remarkable Mr. Jones gets his own career retrospective in “Quincy,” directed by daughter Rashida with affection and insight … “Love Gilda” salutes the endearing “Saturday Night Live” star who blazed brightly, and briefly, before being felled by cancer (September 21)…

Michael Moore is back and ready with more rebel-rousing rhetoric in the furiously anti-Trump “Fahrenheit 11/9” (September 21)… Slip past the velvet rope if you dare and see what really happened during the coke-fueled disco daze of “Studio 54” (October 6)… And add a little diva – all right, a lot of diva – to your life with “Maria by Callas,” in which the late opera star gets to have the last word on everything, as well she should (October 27).

Director Paul Feig tries to bounce back from the mega-budgeted misfire of “Ghostbusters” with “A Simple Favor,” a Hitchcockian thriller with spunky Anna Kendrick looking for a missing Blake Lively (September 14)… John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix saddle up as hired killers in “The Sisters Brothers,” a tale of the California Gold Rush (September 21) … Anne Hathaway asks her first husband to maybe help get rid of her second in what sounds like another Hitchcock homage, “Serenity” (October 19)…

Hold on to your seats (and maybe your lunch) when dance student Dakota Johnson enters the creepy-crawly (and ultra-gory) supernatural world of “Suspiria” (October 26)… The usually regal Claire Foy goes dark and takes over the role of our favorite punky Scandinavian sleuth in “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” (November 9) …And when husband Liam Neeson dies, his wife Viola Davis is forced to pick up the pieces of his crooked life in the arty heist movie “Widows,” an empowering change-of-pace from “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen. (November 16).

Widows with Viola Davis

A new film from the whip-smart and tart-tongued Nicole Holofcener is always a treat, so we’re looking forward to “The Land of Steady Habits,” starring Edie Falco and Ben Mendelsohn in mid-life crisis mode (September 14)… The perpetually underrated Mary Elizabeth Winstead gets the starring role as an emotionally troubled comic in “All About Nina” (September 28)… When the police gun down her best friend, a high school student is moved to action in “The Hate U Give” (October 19)… A teenager watches his parents’ marriage dissolve in Paul Dano’s “Wildlife,” starring the ever-watchable Jake Gylenhaal and Carey Mulligan (October 19)… Hilary Swank comes home to face family troubles, including her mother’s worsening Alzheimer’s, in “What They Had,” co-starring Blythe Danner and the always riveting Michael Shannon (October 19)…

Perhaps the longest-delayed film in history, Orson Welles’ “The Other Side of the Wind,” finally gets a release more than 40 years after it first began shooting with John Huston and Peter Bogdanovich (November 2)… Chris Pine is that Scottish national icon Robert the Bruce in “Outlaw King,” a project which re-unites him with David Mackenzie, his director on “Hell or High Water” (November 9)…and “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” delivers the Coen Brothers predictably unpredictable approach to genre, this time the Western, in an anthology featuring six different stories and stars from Liam Neeson and James Franco to Tyne Daly and Zoe Kazan. (November 16.)

Already feeling a little out of breath? Well, try to catch yours – this is just the beginning. When Thanksgiving week arrives, so does the real crush of awards-season hopefuls.