Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (Photo: Warner & DC)
Summer’s over (go here for the highlights and low points of the 2019 movie season), the holiday season is still in the distance, and we have only the fall films to give us cinematic comfort. But fret not! While Hollywood tends to save its big guns for year-end accolades and dollars, the upcoming two-month stretch has its share of potential hits, including ones featuring Brad Pitt, Emma Stone, and a certain Batman villain who seems to be getting more work these days than Sylvester Stallone (but don’t worry, Sly’s also on the schedule).
Here, then, is a snapshot of the 22 titles scheduled to hit town in September and October.
SEPTEMBER 6: An unhealthy young woman (Jillian Bell) pushes herself in ways she never expected in Brittany Runs a Marathon … The second part of the motion picture event based on the Stephen King novel, It: Chapter Two finds the now grown-up members of the Losers Club (including ones played by Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader) returning to their hometown to again confront the demonic clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård).
SEPTEMBER 13: Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Goldfinch stars Nicole Kidman and Sarah Paulson in a drama about the path taken by a young man (Baby Driver’s Ansel Elgort) years after his mother was killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art … Inspired by a New York Magazine article, Hustlers (not to be confused with the summer flop The Hustle) stars Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez as strippers who lead other strip-club dancers in a scheme to bilk Wall Street sleazebags out of their fortunes.
SEPTEMBER 20: An astronaut (Brad Pitt) journeys across the solar system in an attempt to find his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) in the sci-fi spectacle Ad Astra … Downton Abbey is the latest hit TV series to make it to the movies, with most of the regular cast (including Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern) on hand for this yarn in which the English estate prepares for the arrival of visiting royalty … The fifth film in the 37-year-old franchise, Rambo: Last Blood suffered plenty of false starts (and even a former declaration from star Sylvester Stallone that he would never play the role again) before finally coming into shape as a South-of-the-border romp in which ex-Vietnam vet John Rambo goes after the Mexicans who kidnapped his niece.
SEPTEMBER 27: A young girl (voiced by Chloe Bennet) who encounters a lost Yeti in Shanghai decides to help him reunite with his family in the animated feature Abominable … The beauty and power of Earth’s waters are examined in the documentary Aquarela … Tracie Bennett may have played Judy Garland in the West End and Broadway productions of End of the Rainbow, but the film adaptation, simply titled Judy, finds Renée Zellweger cast as the beloved entertainer who heads to London for what would be the final year of her life.
OCTOBER 4: Joker is an origin story that shows how a stand-up comedian named Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) endures enough cruelty from those around him (including a talk-show host played by Robert De Niro) to eventually snap and transform into Gotham City’s greatest villain … After returning from a successful space mission, an astronaut (Natalie Portman) starts to lose her grip on reality in Lucy in the Sky.
OCTOBER 11: The creepy, kooky and altogether ooky members of The Addams Family return in an animated feature in which Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaac), Morticia (Charlize Theron) and the rest of the clan move to New Jersey … Two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi) directs Will Smith in Gemini Man, a futuristic flick in which a seasoned assassin discovers that he’s being hunted by his own clone.
OCTOBER 18: After getting along fabulously for a few years, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and her goddaughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) find themselves on opposite sides of a major war in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, the sequel to the 2014 smash Maleficent … The 2009 hit Zombieland receives a belated follow-up in Zombieland: Double Tap, which brings back Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin as the feisty slayers of the undead and also makes room for Bill Murray even though he died in the original (well, it is a zombie movie).
OCTOBER 25: After witnessing corrupt cops commit a murder, a rookie officer (Naomie Harris) finds herself on the run in Black and Blue … After a nurse (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app that informs her she will die in three days, she does her best to make sure that doesn’t happen in the horror flick Countdown.
LIMITED (No Local Date Set): Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) squares off against Nikolai Tesla (Nicholas Hoult) and his partner George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) as each faction tries to bring light to the U.S. in The Current War … After successfully helming Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi now serves up Jojo Rabbit, a WWII tale in which a German boy (Roman Griffin Davis) learns that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is harboring a Jewish girl (Leave No Trace’s Thomasin McKenzie) and decides to share this information with his imaginary best friend, an imbecilic Adolf Hitler (Waititi) … Ever since its Cannes debut, the buzz has been building for The Lighthouse, which finds writer-director Robert Eggers (The Witch) overseeing a horror yarn about two men (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) manning a lighthouse on an isolated New England island … Following 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses and 2005’s The Devil’s Rejects comes 3 from Hell, the latest Rob Zombie splatter flick featuring the depraved characters of Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie).