Fall Movie Preview

Fall Movie Preview

With the summer movie season halfway over, it’s time to look ahead. The temperature won’t move much through September and October, but the tone of movies will as the season moves away from the blockbusters and raunchy comedies to more dramas and serious fare with Oscar contenders competing for audience attention. A quick look reveals one trend toward horror films — not the usual stuff, but more psychological horror stories, with some major players. There are also some murder mysteries, romantic comedies and some period dramas that will certainly bring award nominations.

September kicks off strongly with comedy and not one, but three bio-dramas. Coming up Sept. 8 is a romantic comedy starring Reese Witherspoon playing a woman separated from her husband who takes in three college guys as boarders. The cast of “Home Again” also includes Candice Bergen as her mother, Lake Bell and Michael Sheen. This is written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Sheyer— the daughter of the queen of the romantic comedies, Nancy Meyers. Expect the same look and tone.

“Stronger” stars Jake Gyllenhaal as one of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing who must fight back after losing both his legs. “Molly’s Game” chronicles an Olympic hopeful, Molly Bloom, who ran a successful high stakes poker game, which brought her the attention of the FBI. It stars Jessica Chastain in the title role along with Idris Elba and Kevin Costner. This movie also marks Aaron Sorkin’s debut as a director; he co-wrote the script with Bloom, based on her autobiography.

And just for fun, it’s “The Battle of the Sexes,” which brings the much hyped tennis match that took place at the Astrodome in 1973 between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs to the big screen. Emma Stone plays King and Steve Carell plays Riggs in what looks to be a revealing look at a publicity stunt that had a lot riding on it, including a big step for women’s rights.

Just as Helen Mirren and Cate Blanchett have twice played Elizabeth I in different films, now Judi Dench will return to the role of Queen Victoria in “Victoria and Abdul.” Remembering “Mrs. Brown,” (1997) starring Dench as the recently widowed Queen who is brought out of her grief by John Brown (Billy Connolly), a stable man at Balmoral, now she’s back as the much older Victoria who befriends a page in her service, Abdul, played by Ali Fazal. Directed by Stephen Frears, this is bound to bring award nominations of all kinds for Dench. Opening Sept. 22.

One of the most anticipated movies of the early fall season is “Blade Runner 2049,” with Ryan Gosling playing Officer K and Harrison Ford returning as Rick Deckard, who has been missing for 30 years when this opens. Ridley Scott was set to direct his sequel but backed out and left Denis Villenueve in charge, and he’s under pressure from the legion of “Blade Runner” fans to get this right. Robin Wright also stars, and rumor is that long unanswered questions left hanging in the original film released in 1982 will finally be answered. Opening Oct. 6

“Mother!” Is the latest film from Darren Aronofsky, and there is not much known about it except it sports a great cast led by Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer. The very preliminary information says only that a couple leading tranquil lives is interrupted by uninvited guests. It’s referenced as a horror film, and now you know about as much as I do. This looks interesting. Opening Oct. 13.

A spooky murder mystery is wrapped up in “The Snowman,” with Michael Fassbinder as a detective trying to solve the murder of a woman whose scarf was left tied around the neck of a weird looking snowman. Rebecca Ferguson also stars. I have chills already. Coming Oct. 20.

Right on its heels is another horror film with another impressive cast, “The Killing of the Sacred Deer,” with Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell playing a surgeon who gets sucked into a disturbed teen’s dysfunctional family. Again, not a lot of information, but Colin Farrell looks almost unrecognizable with a full beard. Coming Nov. 3.

One that is sure to please arrives Nov. 3 when a lavish remake of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974) pulls into town. Kenneth Branagh takes a crack at the mustachioed detective, Hercule Poirot, who tries to solve the mystery of a man murdered on the famous train. The snowbound conditions heighten the tension in this magnificent who-done-it with a cast that includes Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp and a ton of other familiar names.

 “Suburbicon” is another one of those mysteries wrapped in a conundrum because of the little information being released about it. All that is known is a family and a community are rocked by a home invasion. It stars Julianne Moore, Matt Damon and Oscar Isaac. Here’s where it gets interesting: It’s directed by George Clooney, who also wrote the script with production partner Grant Heslov and a pair of brothers named Ethan and Joel Coen. So I’m thinking a kind of absurd drama with comic overtones? We’ll see on Nov. 3.

Finally there are some comic book superheroes creeping into this lineup: Thor returns in “Thor: Ragnarok” with Chris Hemsworth as the hammer wielding super hero. Turning up the excitement for this one is Cate Blanchett as the super villain, Hela, who is out to destroy Thor’s home world, the planet Asgard. Tom Hiddleston returns as the wicked Loki. World destruction never seemed so intriguing as with an Oscar winning, drama-heavy actress playing the bad guy, er … gal. Arriving Nov. 3.

And then there’s the highly anticipated “Justice League,” which brings together Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck) and the star of this summer season, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Other DC Comic superheroes are making their debut as well with one confirmed — Jason Momoa is the new Aquaman. Let’s just hope these guys have as great a sense of humor as the Avengers do. Coming Nov. 17.

That is just a taste of what cinematic fare is blowing in on cooler breezes. Now if we can just get through the summer. As lackluster as it has been, it can’t get much worse. So far with only weeks to go, there is only one movie at the top, and that’s “Wonder Woman.” Way to go, lady.