Summer is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean cinema is slowing down. If anything, it’s going to get even busier. The fall and holiday movie seasons are always pretty busy with numerous Oscar bait films, big budget sequels, and standalone projects all on the way to offer some unique and, hopefully, fun opportunities of escapism and artistic merit for everyone to embrace. Seeing how this summer movie season proved to be a bit underwhelming with a focus on blockbuster sequels rather than original content I took a sneak peek at what’s still to come for the last four months of 2019 to see what’s next and I’ve gotta say even with more sequels on the way I’m really excited. So today I thought I’d share my finding and explore the Top 10 Anticipated Films of Fall 2019.
For this list I didn’t just focus on films I personally can’t wait to see although that doesn’t mean I don’t want to experience these films. Instead, as with my Summer of 2019 list, this is more about shining a light on ten movies that audiences in general can’t wait to see. These films have had hype around them, both good and bad, making them potential must-see flicks when they hit the big screen.
The films considered for this list include any movie from the weekend after Labor Day through the end of 2019. These are considered the Fall and Holiday movie seasons and for the sake of today’s list I decided to combine them into one fall season.
Obviously, there are a lot of films coming out that might be anticipated but didn’t quite make this list. So, I ask your opinion. What fall and/or holiday movie release of 2019 are you most excited to see? Let me know in the comments below.
10. “The Irishman” (Sept. 27)
Over the past few years Netflix has made great strides in legitimizing itself as an Oscar contender with Alfonso Cuaron even winning the Best Director Oscar for his Netflix released “Roma” earlier this year. In September Netflix will see possibly the biggest name to date release a film under the banner as Martin Scorsese will debut “The Irishman” on September 27. While it will be shown on some big screens, “The Irishman” will be a mostly Netflix-based release and is one of the services most ambitious products to date. In addition to being a potential award season contender, “The Irishman” serves as the return of beloved actor Joe Pesci and will utilize state of the art de-aging effects to make the actors look younger. On top of that, it will serve as the ninth film pairing Scorsese with Robert De Niro, is rumored to feature a cameo role from another Scorsese staple Leonardo DiCaprio, and it’s the first time Scorsese is directing the great Al Pacino. And that’s all before you know the story is based on a real-life mob hitman and cost over $200 million to bring to life. There’s a lot riding on this picture and many are anxiously waiting to see if the final result is worth the time, money and star power.
9. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, (Nov. 22)
Mr. Fred Rogers is a certified television icon who literally helped shape the childhood of generations of children teaching them lessons of love, hope, and even loss over his time on public access TV. In the past couple years his legacy has become a popular subject of film with the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” becoming a big success in 2018. Now a feature film based on an Esquire interview with Mr. Rogers will bring his legacy to the big screen again, this time with Tom Hanks bringing Rogers to life. Just the fact that it’s a movie about Mr. Rogers in a time where society probably needs a bit of optimism is enough to make this a popular selection this fall, but the potential for perfection from such an iconic and equally beloved figure like Tom Hanks to do the man justice is just so hard to pass up. While there’s also plenty of potential for schmaltz a Mr. Rogers movie might just be what the world needs right now to remind us of a man who fought through the dark to shine some light into the world. We’ll know for sure just how worthy the feature is after critics get their first look at the project during the Toronto International Film Festival next month.
8. “Terminator: Dark Fate” (Nov. 1)
At this point it’s easy to wonder why we need another “Terminator” movie but there’s a lot to be intrigued about with this newest entry. Feeding off the recent trend of producing “true sequels” to beloved films, “Dark Fate” will act as the true sequel to “Terminator 2” with the other three post-“T2” movies considered to be in alternate timelines. While the trailers haven’t exactly offered a lot to excite and the addition of a female hero terminator might seem like a bit of pandering, having Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong back on board as Sarah and John Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to play an aged T-800 provides enough nostalgia that fans are cautiously optimistic about the film’s potential. Having James Cameron back on board to produce and help write the story and “Deadpool” director Tim Miller on hand to direct also doesn’t hurt. It’s hard to believe “Dark Fate” will reach the same level of quality or even success as the first two “Terminator” films, but here’s hoping it will at least right the wrongs done to the franchise by inferior installments. We’ll have to wait and see if it can truly live up to its promise this November.
7. “Ad Astra” (Sept. 20)
When doing research for this list I was actually a little surprised at just how hyped up this movie has become. After taking time off to produce films and perform in Netflix or arthouse features, Brad Pitt returned to the forefront of cinema in 2019 as one half of the leading pair in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. But “Ad Astra” will be by far his most mainstream feature in the last five years other than his literal blink and you’ll miss it cameo in “Deadpool 2”. By far the most original film on this list, “Ad Astra” will see Pitt going to space to stop an experiment that threatens the entire solar system. It’s said to be incorporating effects meant to produce hyper realistic depictions of space travel making it potentially a groundbreaking visual spectacle. Most of all though Disney has a lot riding on this film as it’s by far the biggest release on the schedule for their recently obtained Fox banner. The investment has yet to pay off in terms of big screen releases and “Ad Astra”, which carries a relatively minor $87.5 million reported production budget, could be their first success since purchasing the company. We’ll see if “Ad Astra” can reach the stars when it hits big screens on September 20, a little under a month after it debuts in Venice on August 29.
6. “Doctor Sleep” (Nov. 8)
While I already spoke about “true sequels” as a trend, another big trend recently has been producing sequels to films decades old. These haven’t always been bad ideas. “Blade Runner 2049”, “Mad Max Fury Road” and “Super Troopers 2” are prime examples of how this can work. It appears even a classic like “The Shining” isn’t off limits, but it’s worth noting that Stephen King didn’t even publish the sequel, “Doctor Sleep”, until 2013 leading to a cinematic followup to one of the greatest horror movies in history entering development. Written and directed by Mike Flanagan, “Doctor Sleep” will serve as more of a pseudo-sequel than a direct follow up to the Stanley Kubrick film being said to exist in “the same cinematic universe” in an attempt reconcile differences between “The Shining” book and movie. It’s an interesting approach that kind of finds a middle ground between giving audiences what they want and giving King, who famously hated the Kubrick version of “The Shining”, what he wants. We’ll have to wait a few months to see the final product as “Doctor Sleep” will hit the big screen on November 8.
5. “Joker” (Oct. 4)
While the DC Extended Universe might not be as well established as Warner Bros. hoped it would be by now, it finally seems to have found its footing with the success of “Wonder Woman”, “Aquaman” and Shazam!”. But in October of 2019 DC and WB will divert from their DCEU to focus on a more villainous icon of DC’s comic book world, the Joker. Movies based on villains aren’t exactly a new idea. In 2018 “Venom” showed that a villain/anti-hero can earn a following while “Avengers: Infinity War” was essentially a Thanos story. But this is the Joker, DC’s most iconic villain and possibly the most iconic comic book bad guy ever conceived. Making a film based primarily on him without Batman as a main figure is certainly quite the risk, but it’s one that could pay off in spades. Joaquin Phoenix will star in this feature which will see his character, Arthur Fleck, evolve from failed stand-up comedian to iconic criminal promising a complex story that could explore the deeper elements of the Joker’s insanity and villainy. While we’ve seen many interpretations of the Joker on the big and small screen, it could and should be fun to explore what makes the Clown Prince of Crime really tick. “Joker” will premier in Venice at the end of August before it hits the big screen months later to kick off October.
4. “Frozen 2” (Nov. 22)
You’d think the sequel to the highest grossing animated film of all time would be higher on this list, but surprisingly the hype seems to be much lower than you’d expect for this long-awaited Disney follow-up. Yes, people are still going to turn out in droves to see what this film has to offer and it will probably be one of the year’s most profitable pictures, but the excitement for the sequel has really been stretched over the last six years and as we get closer to the release there seems to be more of a “finally” kind of mentality than genuine hype. Regardless “Frozen 2” promises to be one of this fall’s biggest releases and the fact that the plot is being held close to the chest at Disney means we’re going to have to actually SEE this film to fully understand the newest adventure of Elsa, Anna, Olaf and Kristoff. Although many would argue that “Frozen” has over saturated the market with shorts, merchandise and still-catchy music, the original film also solidified itself as a quintessential animated feature for Generation Z so we can expect throngs of pre-teens and even young teens, not to mention the Disney faithful, to turn out to see what the second installment has to offer on November 22.
3. “Zombieland: Double Tap” (Oct. 18)
Possibly one of the most anticipated late arrival sequels of the decade, “Zombieland: Double Tap” is the absolute definition of a product of high demand. Ten years after the original “Zombieland” hit theaters and became a cult classic, the sequel will bring back all four original leads now more experienced and grown and, in some ways, even more highly regarded than they were in 2009 to continue the adventures of Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock through zombie-infested America. In a time where the zombie craze seems to be dying out (no pun intended) “Zombieland: Double Tap” has managed to revitalize interest in the genre without even hitting the big screen yet. It’s incredibly rare in an era where moviegoers are demanding original content over remakes and sequels that an obscure film like “Zombieland” would buck that trend and actually have people BEGGING for a second entry. After spending so many years in development hell there’s sure to be heavy expectations when the final product is finally released on October 18, just in time for Halloween.
2. “It: Chapter Two” (Sept. 6)
The first major fall release gets the runner-up spot today as the second and final “It” movie will hit theaters in just a couple of weeks. The first film from 2017 (itself a remake of the television miniseries of the same name based on the Stephen King novel) was actually very good and the followup has been one of the most anticipated features of 2019. “It: Chapter Two”, will focus on the second half of Stephen King’s story by showing us a grown-up Losers Club returning to Derry to face off against Pennywise once more. The same writer and director are behind this sequel which is planned to be the second and final installment creating a duology of potential modern horror classics. The first movie cemented itself as the highest grossing R-rated horror film of all time and was considered by many to be THE greatest horror movie of that year and one of the best films of 2017 overall. Those are some big shoes for the sequel to fill, but with a familiar team, some very talented actors to play the adult Losers Club, and a dedicated fanbase behind it look for “It: Chapter Two” to up the ante and kick off the fall in style on September 6.
1. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (Dec. 20)
The spectacular thing about the “Star Wars” franchise is that regardless of quality it continues to persevere. Despite “Solo’s” subpar success and the toxic fan backlash of “The Last Jedi”, we all know “The Rise of Skywalker” is going to be a huge success…domestically at least. The final film in the nine-episode “Skywalker” story arc that includes the original trilogy, prequel trilogy and the two newer films released over the last four years, “The Rise of Skywalker” will truly be the end of a era for one of cinema’s most successful and cherished franchises. J.J. Abrams returned to direct and co-write this installment with newer series icons and even some classic characters coming together to bring the arc to an epic close. While it may or may not prove to meet the success of another Disney property, “Avengers: Endgame”, and has an often opinionated fanbase to impress, “The Rise of Skywalker” offers finality in years-long story that has transformed cinema forever. I know I personally can’t wait to see how the Skywalker legacy comes to a close on December 20.