EW's fall movie guide: 22 movies you should see this season

Seija Rankin

Life isn’t the only thing that starts over when it gets crisp in the fall — the changing of the leaves each year signals the beginning of prestige movie season. As the winds of the Academy Awards begin to blow in, so too do each studio’s hopefuls. But fall 2019 brings more than just Oscar bait: EW is previewing 21 titles that will be hitting theaters in November and December, and they range from high-brow biopic to live-action dog movie. Ahead, we’ve broken down everything you could ever wish to see this autumn.

POPCORN FAVORITES

Illustration by EW
Illustration by EW

Terminator: Dark Fate
Go for Sarah Connor saving the world, stay for the tête-à-têtes between Mackenzie Davis and Linda Hamilton. In this installment of the sci-fi franchise, a new Terminator is sent from the future and, well, chaos and ass-kicking ensue, including the fabulous cinematic one-two punch of stars Davis and Hamilton. Original Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger is in this iteration, but you might actually forget that while you’re crushing on the other actors. (Theaters Nov. 1)

Charlie’s Angels
Go for a revisit of your favorite lady spies, stay for the introduction to a phenomenal new cast (including Kristen Stewart). The latest Angels sees the Townsend Agency gone international, and director Elizabeth Banks — who also wrote the script and plays Bosley — called on some BYTs. Newcomer Ella Balinksi is the bona fide action star, Aladdin’s Naomi Scott plays the charming newcomer to the Angels, and Stewart holds it all together with comedic chops you’d never expect. (Theaters Nov. 15)

Lady and the Tramp
Go for the cute dogs falling in love, stay for the… cute dogs falling in love. This is the same classic story we all know and love, redone with live-action pups. It will also play on Disney’s new streaming service, but we know you’ve stopped listening and started picturing how they’re going to do that spaghetti scene. Don’t worry, we’ll have a photo of that. (Disney+ Nov. 12)

Last Christmas
Go for the holiday cheer, stay for many scenes of Henry Golding in an overcoat. A very well-tailored overcoat. The Crazy Rich Asians star plays a bike courier who meets-cute with Emilia Clarke’s curmudgeonly department store elf. Just know that this is more Love, Actually than The Holiday, so be prepared for a bit of an emotional roller coaster. (Theaters Nov. 8)

6 Underground
Go for Michael Bay’s signature explosive scenes, stay for Ryan Reynolds making quippy one-liners. Or maybe it’s the other way around? This is kind of like Deadpool but with vigilantes who cancel their old selves by choice, and it’s streaming so you won’t have to pay for a ticket. (Netflix Dec. 13)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Go to see what all the hype is about (again), stay for the Resistance. Picking up where The Last Jedi left off, this ninth installment of the Skywalker saga will conclude the epic showdown between the Jedi and the Sith. (Theaters Dec. 20)

REAL PEOPLE

Illustration by EW
Illustration by EW

Harriet
Go for the heavily important biopic story, stay to see what may be Cynthia Erivo’s final step toward the EGOT. She won a Tony as the lead actress in The Color Purple, a Grammy for the cast recording album, and a Daytime Emmy for their performance on the Today show. Now she portrays the heroic Harriet Tubman in this tale of the Underground Railroad. (Theaters Nov. 1)

Ford v Ferrari
Go for the fast cars, stay for Christian Bale and Matt Damon’s tête-à-têtes. The decorated actors meet on screen for the first time — take that, Pitt and DiCaprio — in this retelling of a race car driver and a designer who team up to try to beat the infamous Enzo Ferrari. It might seem like a flick for “car people” only, but the dynamic between Bale and Damon is worth sitting through all those racing scenes. (Theaters Nov. 15)

The Report
Go for prestige Adam Driver, stay for a riveting story about a congressional report. Yes, we said a riveting story about a congressional report. Driver plays Dianne Feinstein staffer Daniel Jones, who was tasked with exposing the CIA’s cover-up of torture and met with many (bipartisan) roadblocks, to say it as benignly as possible. (Theaters Nov. 15, Amazon Prime Nov. 29)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Go for Mister Rogers, stay for Tom Hanks and Daniel Tiger. Viewers still reeling from last year’s documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor can rest assured that this won’t tear apart their emotional insides in quite the same way — it’s actually about an Esquire reporter (played by Matthew Rhys) who is forever changed after writing a profile of the beloved children’s show host. (Theaters Nov. 22)

Bombshell
Go for Charlize Theron’s uncanny transformation into Megyn Kelly, stay for a powerful takedown of a bad, bad man. We just marked the second anniversary of first explosive Harvey Weinstein exposés, and it’s easy to forget that Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment claim against then-chairman Roger Ailes (played by John Lithgow), which led to his ultimate downfall. Theron’s onscreen similarities to Kelly are a sight to behold, but don’t sleep on Margot Robbie’s performance as a fictional associate producer at the network (theaters Dec. 20).

Just Mercy
Go for the all-star cast lineup (Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Brie Larson), stay for a real-life superhero tale. MBJ (who also produced the film) plays lawyer Bryan Stevenson, who sidestepped the opportunity for highly lucrative big-name gigs in order to move to Alabama and defend the wrongfully accused. The case at the center of Just Mercy is that of Walter McMillian (Foxx) — the legal team battled years of overt racism to overturn his death penalty sentence. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the inaugural flick under Jordan’s Inclusion Rider policy, which he adopted after Frances McDormand’s 2018 Oscars speech (theaters Dec 25).

AUTEURS

Illustration by EW
Illustration by EW

Marriage Story
Go for Noah Baumbach, stay for prestige Adam Driver. This time he’s playing the estranged husband of Scarlett Johansson in a very Baumbachian portrait of divorce proceedings. Laura Dern plays Johannson’s divorce lawyer and is, well, as wonderful as one would expect. (Theaters Nov. 6, Netflix Dec. 6)

Honey Boy
Go for Shia LaBeouf’s life story, stay for… must we say more? The child-actor-turned-adult-actor has long been the subject of interest given his unique childhood. and Honey Boy is a rough retelling, complete with an attempted reconciliation with his father. (Theaters Nov. 8)

The Irishman
Go for Martin Scorsese, stay because this movie is three and a half hours long and if you don’t stay you’ll lose all bragging rights. Consider this peak Scorsese (read: mobsters in the Tri-State Area) made even better by Joe Pesci’s return to the silver screen after years spent off camera. (Theaters Nov. 1, Netflix Nov. 27)

Dark Waters
Go for Todd Haynes, stay because you forgot how much you’ve missed Spotlight. The director, who helmed 2016’s awards-season darling Carol, this time takes on a chemical company that has been poisoning the residents of a small town. Mark Ruffalo is the corporate lawyer who takes on the case. (Theaters Nov. 22)

Little Women
Go for Greta Gerwig, stay for Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet’s onscreen reunion. The actors transferred their Lady Bird charm into this tale as old as time, and a magnificent cast (Emma Watson! Florence Pugh! Laura Dern!) makes it feel as modern as ever. (Theaters Dec. 25)

AMERICAN CRIME STORIES

Illustration by EW
Illustration by EW

Motherless Brooklyn
Go to witness Edward Norton’s passion project, stay for old-timey New York. The actor stars in and directs this adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s novel of the same name — about a detective with Tourette syndrome who sets out to solve the murder of his mentor — and is joined by Bruce Willis, Leslie Mann, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. (Theaters Nov. 1)

The Good Liar
Go for Helen Mirren, stay for Ian McKellen — they’re a new couple who are probably both conning the crap out of each other, but it’s a lot more exciting than that sounds. (Theaters Nov. 15)

Queen & Slim
Go for Lena Waithe’s feature film screenwriting debut, stay for Melina Matsoukas’ feature directing debut. The powerhouse duo bring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith onto the screen as a couple who go on the run after a police traffic stop goes terrifyingly awry. Police brutality, and the ways in which the black community is forced to confront it, will never stop be compelling — but this film takes on the topic in a wholly surprising way. (Theaters Nov. 27)

Knives Out
Go for Chris Evans doing an a—hole bit, stay for an unbelievably autumnal setting and a house you’ll probably be, ahem, dying to live in. Evans is one member of an absurdly entertaining and dysfunctional family that descends into (hilarious) chaos after their patriarch dies mysteriously and leaves an even more mysterious will. It’s a classic whodunit made all the better by its rich-people-are-crazy high jinks. (Theaters Nov. 27)

Uncut Gems
Go to see the movie that will probably earn Adam Sandler an Oscar nomination. It’s a riveting, high-pulse story of a New York City hustler and also stars Kevin Garnett — we promise that five minutes into the film, that will all make sense and feel so, so right. (Theaters Dec. 13)