Fall is approaching, and with it comes a ton of new movies. These 12 — OK, she actually mentions 32 — have caught critic Moira Macdonald’s eye.
After this endless Seattle summer (who knew?), it’s finally time to think about fall, which will bring sweater weather and a LOT of new movies. Me, I’m treading water until we get to the Christmas release of Paul Thomas Anderson’s untitled new movie, which may or may not be Daniel Day-Lewis’ last, and in which the actor may or may not be playing fashion genius Charles James. (PTA is so very secretive. But seriously, this movie seems like it’s being made in my dreams.) But until then, here are a dozen upcoming films that’ve caught my interest, and possibly yours too:
“mother!” (Sept. 15)
How great would it be to see Michelle Pfeiffer, whose incomparable Catwoman in “Batman Returns” turns 25 years old this year (how can that be?), have a glorious comeback? This stylish-looking horror flick from Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan,” “Requiem for a Dream”) might do it: Pfeiffer plays a mysterious stranger who shows up with her husband (Ed Harris) at the exquisite home of lovebirds Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. The eerie trailer features some elegantly curated blood and a lot of screaming. Should be fun! (Pfeiffer pfans, take note: She’ll also turn up in Kenneth Branagh’s remake of “Murder on the Orient Express,” out Nov. 10.)
“Battle of the Sexes” (Sept. 22)
Academy Award winner Emma Stone chose for her “La La Land” follow-up this based-on-a-true-story-that-you-couldn’t-make-up tale: the spectacle of the Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs tennis match in 1973, billed as — but of course — “The Battle of the Sexes.” “Little Miss Sunshine” directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris helm the comedy; the rest of the cast includes Steve Carell (Riggs), Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman and Alan Cumming.
“Victoria & Abdul” (Sept. 29)
Every fall season has at least one genteel-looking costume epic — and this one, based on a biography of the same name by Shrabani Basu, has a better pedigree than most. Stephen Frears (“The Queen,” “Florence Foster Jenkins”) directs this tale set late in the life and reign of Queen Victoria (a perfectly cast Judi Dench) in which she develops a close friendship with her Indian servant, Abdul (Ali Fazal).
“The Mountain Between Us” (Oct. 6)
“Idris Elba and Kate Winslet stranded on a mountain” sounds a bit like fan fiction, but it’s an accurate description of this action thriller’s plot, in which two strangers charter a small plane only to have it crash in a remote mountain region. Just watching the trailer had me determined to Never Leave The House Again — which is how the best action thrillers should make us feel, right? Hany Abu-Assad directs; it’s based on a novel by Charles Martin.
“Blade Runner 2049” (Oct. 6)
Red-hot director Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival,” “Sicario,” “Prisoners,” “Incendies”) takes on a film with more than one word in a title, and it’s a long-awaited one: a sequel taking place 30 years after the events of the first “Blade Runner,” with Ryan Gosling as an LAPD officer seeking for the long-missing Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). The great cinematographer Roger Deakins (“Skyfall,” “Sicario,” “Prisoners,” and many of the Coen brothers’ films) is behind the camera, so it’ll surely look sharp.
“Marshall” (Oct. 13)
Not a biopic, but a courtroom drama in which the young Thurgood Marshall — who would later become the first black Supreme Court Justice of the United States — takes on a 1941 case of sexual assault and attempted murder. Chadwick Boseman, so good as James Brown in “Get On Up” (and soon to be seen in the title role of “Black Panther” next year), plays Marshall, and the supporting cast looks pretty great too: Dan “Matthew Crawley” Stevens, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson, James Cromwell, and Jussie Smollett (as writer Langston Hughes).
“Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” (Oct. 27)
If you saw “Wonder Woman” this summer (and if you didn’t, what are you waiting for?), you might be wondering where this character came from. Enter this movie, a sort of origin story for an origin story. Luke Evans (recently seen hamming it up as Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast”) plays Dr. William Moulton Marston, author of the “Wonder Woman” comics; Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote are the other two corners of the polygamous triangle in which he lived.
“Suburbicon” (Oct. 27)
Set in what looks like the “Mad Men” era, this dark crime comedy is written by the Coen brothers (which makes me wonder what they could have done with an episode of “Mad Men,” but I digress) and directed by George Clooney. Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac star. Clooney’s efforts as a director have been uneven (thumbs up for “Good Night, and Good Luck” and “The Ides of March”; thumbs down for “Leatherheads” and “The Monuments Men”), but this one looks promising.
“Roman Israel, Esq.” (Nov. 3)
Denzel Washington memorably played a fighting-on-the-side-of-right lawyer in 1993’s “Philadelphia”; now he’s playing another in Dan Gilroy’s legal drama, described as being in the vein of the Paul Newman drama “The Verdict.” Washington’s just off an electric turn in “Fences”; Gilroy, too, is hot after 2014’s “Nightcrawler.” Also starring: Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejago (“Selma”).
“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (Nov. 3)
Lots of buzz out of the Cannes Film Festival for this rather terrifying-looking psychological thriller from Yorgos Lanthimos, whose last film was the offbeat comedy “The Lobster.” In this one — winner of the screenwriting award at Cannes — Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman play a husband and wife whose life is deeply affected by . . . . well, just watch the trailer. Between this and “mother!,” none of us will be getting any sleep this fall.
“Coco” (Nov. 22)
Pixar’s latest, directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), takes place on the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), when 12-year-old Miguel finds himself whisked to the Land of the Dead — whose fantastical look is inspired by Victorian-era architecture and the work of Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada. The voice cast includes Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Edward James Olmos, and young Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel.
“Darkest Hour” (Nov. 22)
This looks like a straight-up, handsome work of Oscar bait from Joe Wright (“Atonement,” “Anna Karenina”), with Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill in an England on the brink of World War II. Also on hand: Kristin Scott Thomas (as Churchill’s wife Clementine), Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, and the always-lovely costumes of Jacqueline Durran (“Beauty and the Beast”).
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And, a few more . . .
Superhero alert: “Justice League” takes flight Nov. 17; “Thor: Ragnarok” rumbles on Nov. 3. Colin Firth returns in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” on Sept. 22 (but wait, wasn’t he dead?); other sequel action includes “A Bad Moms’ Christmas” (Nov. 3), “Daddy’s Home 2” (Nov. 10), and Tyler Perry’s “Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” (Oct. 20).
On the books-to-movies front, Jo Nesbo’s detective thriller “The Snowman” comes to the screen, with Michael Fassbender as Harry Hole (Oct. 20). Julia Roberts and Jacob Tremblay (“Room”) star in “Wonder” (Nov. 17), based on R.J. Palacio’s book about a child with facial deformities. Stephen King’s scary-clown epic “It” arrives Sept. 8, Vince Flynn’s “American Assassin” comes to multiplexes Sept. 15, and “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” about the life of “Winnie the Pooh” author A.A. Milne, opens Oct. 13.
Need a little action? Tom Cruise reteams with director Doug Liman (“Edge of Tomorrow”) for “American Made” (Sept. 29). Jackie Chan — in his 60s, and still kicking — teams with Pierce Brosnan in “The Foreigner” (Oct. 13). Gerard Butler saves the world from, I think, rogue climate-controlling satellites in “Geostorm” (Oct. 20), and in Eli Roth’s new film, Bruce Willis plays a father with a “Death Wish” (Nov. 22).
Actors always worth a look: Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba in Aaron Sorkin’s “Molly’s Game,” about a woman who runs a high-stakes poker ring (Nov. 22); Saoirse Ronan in Greta Gerwig’s solo directing debut, “Lady Bird” (Nov. 10) and in the animated art-world drama “Loving Vincent” (Oct. 6); Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne as former Vietnam comrades in Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying” (Nov. 3); Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Peter Dinklage in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Nov. 10), a dark comedy from Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges”).
And remember that fall brings many film festivals! A few to mark on your calendar:
Seattle Shorts Film Festival: Sept. 9-10
Port Townsend Film Festival: Sept. 15-17
Local Sightings (festival of made-in-the-Northwest films, celebrating its 20th anniversary at Northwest Film Forum): Sept. 22-30
Tacoma Film Festival: Oct. 5-17
Tasveer South Asian Film Festival: Oct. 6-12
TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival: Oct. 12-22
Seattle Polish Film Festival (25th anniversary): coming in October, dates TBD