2019 fall movie preview: Hottest films hitting theaters this season originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com
Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. While you may be mourning the loss of pool days and vacations, you can look forward to plenty of highly anticipated movies coming to theaters this fall.
Movie studios are releasing blockbusters, biopics and films with awards buzz throughout the season. In a special edition of “Popcorn With Peter Travers,” the Rolling Stone film critic previews some of the upcoming movies with the most chatter.
THE BLOCKBUSTERS“It: Chapter 2” Release date: September 6
The 2017 adaptation of Steven King’s novel made waves when it opened two years ago. This sequel is set 27 years later when the children from Derry in the first movie are all grown up.
James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader square off against Pennywise the clown. And Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise is “scarier than it ever was before,” Travers says.
“Joker” Release date: October 4
We’re all familiar with the Joker from the “Batman” franchise. But this iteration of “Joker” stands alone, without ever mentioning Batman.
Joaquin Phoenix embodies the villain as a failed stand-up comedian who takes lessons from television host Murray Franklin, played by Robert De Niro.
“Maybe it’s just the part that brings out the best in actors, but Joaquin Phoenix, as we know, is one of the best we have,” Travers said.
“Abominable” Release date: September 27
This animated film tells the story of a little girl who befriends the Yeti and wants to take him back to Mount Everest. The animations of an adorable child and her behemoth furry friend make this one “irresistible,” Travers said.
“Frozen 2” Release date: November 22
Elsa and Anna are ready to "let it go" again. This time, the beloved Disney characters are back in action to search for the source of Queen Elsa’s icy superpower.
The second film in the franchise is again voiced by stars like Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell and Josh Gad.
“Gemini Man” Release date: October 11
It’s Will Smith versus Will Smith in this film about a hitman pursuing a younger version of himself. “Gemini Man” is directed by acclaimed director and screenwriter Ang Lee, and leverages technology to tell the story.
“They use that de-aging process so Will Smith can basically be fighting himself back in the years he played the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,’” Travers said.
“Zombieland 2”Release date: October 18
Superstars Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin and Woody Harrelson are back after almost 10 years to fight more zombies. The "Zombieland" writers and director returned for this sequel.
“They’re back fighting zombies, and I’ll be back cheering them on,” Travers said.
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” Release date: October 18
It’s diva versus diva in this live-action movie about one of Disney’s favorite villains. Angelina Jolie reprises her role as the fierce Maleficent who is feuding with another queen, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.
“Two divas. Again, irresistible,” Travers said.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” Release date: November 1
Arnold Schwarzenegger said he’d “be back” and now he is. He returns as the Terminator in the franchise’s sixth movie. But this is the first time since “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” that he and Linda Hamilton have shared the screen in the series.
“Who doesn’t want to see Arnold and Linda Hamilton return to the parts that basically made them in the movies?” Travers said.
“Dark Fate” is a sequel to the second “Terminator” film, extending those storylines into contemporary times.
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”Release date: December 20
The Skywalker saga is coming to a close. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is coming to theaters this December so that fans can spend the holidays with Kylo Ren and Rey.
Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley star in the ninth Skywalker film. Travers predicts that this movie could make the most out of all this season’s blockbusters because the characters and story are so widely beloved.
“It’s like the days of Darth Vader. It’s like the days when we would see these movies and these characters would become part of our consciousness,” Travers said.
OSCARS BUZZ MOVIES
“The Irishman” Release date: November 27
“The Irishman” is a gangster epic following the Bufalino crime family and Jimmy Hoffa over multiple decades. The film’s strong lineup in front of, and behind the camera, already make it an Oscars favorite: Robert De Niro stars, flanked by Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, and Martin Scorsese directs.
Making this film likely cost a lot of money, with some reports saying it cost much as $200 million.
“Ford v. Ferrari” Release date: November 15
Even if you aren’t a car buff, don’t let this title scare you away. “Ford v. Ferrari,” tells the story of automotive designer Carroll Shelby and British racecar driver Ken Miles, played by Matt Damon and Christian Bale respectively, who team up to build a powerful Ford car.
“This is the kind of movie, you know, based on the fact that the Academy really loves with two just spectacular actors. So it’s more than promising,” Travers said.
“Marriage Story” Release date: December 6
“Marriage Story” follows a theatre director and actress as they fall in love, get married, get divorced, and then fight for the custody of their child. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson give outstanding performances in the leading roles.
“It sounds like something we saw back in Kramer v. Kramer, but you cannot believe what performances like this do to transform it,” Travers said.
“Clemency” Release date: December 27
Alfre Woodard plays a death row prison warden who supervises lethal injections in “Clemency.” This unrelenting job tests Woodard's spirit until she can’t take it anymore.
“When you watch [Woodard's] face, when you watch her do this and see what a career she has had and uses it to get inside a character, you’ll just be astonished by her,” Travers said.
“Little Women” Release date: December 25
Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel gets its eighth film adaptation this Christmas. The film again tells the story of the four Laurence sisters’ coming-of-age.
This version was written and directed by Greta Gerwig of “Ladybird” acclaim. Saoirse Ronan, who starred in “Ladybird,” plays the leading Laurence sister, Jo. Meryl Streep’s supporting role as Aunt March is highly anticipated, and Laura Dern plays the beloved Marmee.
Even though we’ve seen this story told time and time again, Gerwig’s comes from the perspective of a current “world of feminism and women standing up for themselves,” Travers said.
“1917”Release date: December 25
This war epic transports audiences to a suicide mission in 1917, the bloodiest year of World War I.
With Sam Mendes directing and Steven Spielberg as a producer, Travers said this is “a formidable competitor for the best picture Oscar.”
“TOTALLY ORIGINAL FILMS”
“Jojo Rabbit” Release date: October 18
The story of a German boy during World War II who imagines his best friend is Adolf Hitler might sound off-color and potentially offensive, but Travers predicts it could be funny and charming with director Taika Waititi at the helm.
“It’s going to do more than offend people. It’s going to illuminate something,” Travers said.
“Motherless Brooklyn” Release date: November 1
“Motherless Brooklyn” has been Edward Norton’s passion project for more than a decade. Norton himself plays a detective with Tourette syndrome. Travers said the film is completely unique.
“Everything that happens is something I’ve never seen before," he said.
“Ad Astra” Release date: September 20
Brad Pitt takes off as an astronaut in this James Gray-directed film. His character goes to outer space in search of his flyboy father, played by Tommy Lee Jones.
Gray said he set out to make the most realistic vision of being in space ever done in a movie.
“Uncut Gems” Release date: December 13
Adam Sandler portrays a gambling New York City jeweler in this crime comedy-drama. The charismatic character must balance wealth and family while looking out for his adversaries.
Brothers Josh and Bennie Safdie, who Travers called “little young versions of Martin Scorsese,” directed the film.
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”Release date: November 22
Could the nicest guy on television actually be that nice in real life? That’s what journalist Lloyd Vogel sets to find out when he reports a tell-all story on Mr. Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
Tom Hanks stars as the beloved Fred Rogers -- a nice guy playing the ultimate mister nice guy. And Emmy winner Matthew Rhys stars as the Esquire journalist.
“The contrast of Mr. Rogers and who he is and this guy going after him will make for a really interesting combination,” Travers said.
“Judy” Release date: September 27
Renee Zellweger portrays the classic movie star, Judy Garland, as her star is dimming. “Judy” highlights the final year of Garland’s life in 1969.
Travers calls Zellweger’s performance, “incredibly moving.”
“A lot of people have played Judy Garland. I think she plays her in a way that nobody has even tried yet,” Travers said.
“Harriet” Release date: November 1
Tony winner Cynthia Erivo stars as slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
The film has been in the works for years with various stars rumored to play the lead. Erivo’s casting was controversial because she’s British and some argued an African-American woman should play Tubman.
“Look, if somebody is talented and they can do it, I’m all for it,” Travers said.
“Bombshell” Release date: December 20
This biopic highlights when Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson took down Roger Ailes at Fox News.
Charlize Theron plays Kelly, and Nicole Kidman transforms into Carlson.
“Just Mercy”Release date: December 25
Powerhouses Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx co-star in this true story of a black man wrongly accused of murder. Jordan plays attorney Bryan Stevenson, and Jamie Foxx is Walter McMillian, a man imprisoned for murder.
“Sparks fly between those two” actors, Travers said.
“Pain and Glory” Release date: October 4
In "Pain and Glory," director Pedro Almodovar directs a movie about himself, played by Antonio Banderas.
“Put Antonio Banderas really high on the list of the best actor contenders,” Travers said.
WILL THESE WORK? At least three films hitting the silver screen this fall still have to prove themselves, Peter Travers said.
“Rambo: Last Blood,” the fifth of the franchise, again stars Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo. But Travers said another “Rambo” movie seems more like a “marketing ploy” than anything else.
Another “Charlie’s Angels” reboot seems iffy to Travers, too. And the film adaptation of “Cats,” whose trailer revealing stars as CGI felines left some viewers unsettled, could flop.
Watch the fall movie preview with Peter Travers in the video above.The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of ABC News.