After half a year of delays and more delays, the film industry appears to be cautiously creaking back to life this fall. Many of the blockbusters that were supposed to arrive this summer, from Mulan to No Time to Die, are already or will soon be available; they’ll will be joined by a number of streaming dramas that hope to take advantage of a thinned-out awards race. Meanwhile, movies continue to be pulled from the calendar and postponed, including Black Widow, Wed Anderson’s The French Dispatch and Wonder Woman 1984. Here’s when the most anticipated movies of fall 2020 are set arrive.
Robin’s Wish (Sept. 1 on-demand and digital)
Three months after Robin Williams died by suicide in 2014, doctors discovered that he had been suffering from Lewy body dementia, which causes a sharp decline in thinking and reasoning abilities. This documentary, created alongside his wife Susan Schneider-Williams, explores his final days, and the subsequent search for answers around his passing.
Tenet (Sept. 3 in theaters)
Originally scheduled to hit theaters on July 17, Christopher Nolan’s latest mind-bender faced a series of coronavirus-related delays before debuting internationally on August 26 ahead of a September 3 release in North America. The thriller stars John David Washington as an unnamed C.I.A. agent who embarks on a time-twisting mission to prevent the start of World War III alongside a mysterious new partner (Robert Pattinson). That’s all we’ll say for now, since, as Nolan purists will tell you, the less you know going in, the better.
Mulan (Sept. 4 on Disney+)
In the span of half a year, Mulan has turned from a surefire smash into a nerve-wracking experiment for Disney: will customers pay $30 on top of their Disney+ subscription to stream a war blockbuster that looks tailor-made for the big screen? (The movie will become free for subscribers in December.) Whether Niki Caro’s non-musical remake of the beloved 1998 animated Disney film succeeds in this new environment could set the tone for how movies are released in the coming months. Liu Yifei stars as the titular warrior and is flanked by Donnie Yen and Jet Li.
i’m thinking of ending things (Sept. 4 on Netflix)
With scream queen Toni Collette playing the seemingly unhinged mother of master onscreen sociopath Jesse Plemons, Netflix’s new psychological thriller has all the trappings of a can’t-miss horror hit. Written and directed by Academy Award winner Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), i’m thinking of ending things follows a young woman (Jessie Buckley, literally credited as Young Woman) who begins to have second thoughts about her relationship with her new boyfriend (Plemons) after embarking on a snowy road trip to his parents’ remote farmhouse. Judging by the acclaimed 2016 Iain Reid novel on which it’s based, the metaphysical fright flick suggests a chilling exploration of identity, memory and the fabric of reality itself.
Cuties (Sept. 9 on Netflix)
In August, this low-budget French awards-season hopeful got the worst kind of attention: a widespread cancellation campaign, after Netflix released a promotional poster and trailer that many deemed sexually exploitative of underage girls. Netflix apologized—and many who saw the film at its Sundance Film Festival premiere say that the ad campaign did not reflect the film’s nuanced handling of its young subjects. Well-received upon its release in France, the film follows an 11-year-old Senegalese Muslim girl, growing up in a poor area of Paris, who becomes intrigued by a group of young dancers in her neighborhood.
The Devil All the Time (Sept. 16 on Netflix)
Spanning the 20-some years between World War II and America’s entry into Vietnam, Netflix’s highly-anticipated Midwestern gothic thriller from Antonio Campos, based on Donald Ray Pollock’s 2011 novel of the same name, follows a sprawling cast of characters living in the Bible-thumping southern Ohio town of Knockemstiff and its neighboring backwoods. At the center of it all is young Arvin Russell (Tom Holland), a good Christian boy who begins to suspect the new traveling preacher in town (Robert Pattinson) of sinister motives. A stellar cast also includes Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, Haley Bennett and Mia Wasikowska.
Blackbird (Sept. 18 on-demand and digital)
After deciding to end her battle with ALS on her own terms, terminally ill matriarch Lily (Susan Sarandon) gathers three generations of her family for a farewell weekend in Roger Michell’s (Notting Hill, My Cousin Rachel) remake of the 2014 Danish film Silent Heart. The star-studded tearjerker, which boasts Kate Winslet and Mia Wasikowska as Lily’s daughters and Sam Neill as her husband, premiered to mixed reviews at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, with critics calling it both a “quality enterprise with numerous rewards for adult audiences” and a “lifeless death drama.”
Antebellum (Sept. 18 on-demand)
From the producers of Get Out and Us comes a social thriller about the state of race relations in America, which casts Janelle Monáe in the dual roles of a successful modern-day author and a woman enslaved on a plantation in what appears to be the pre-Civil War South. Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons and Gabourey Sidibe also star in writer-director duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz’s first feature.
Enola Holmes (Sept. 23 on Netflix)
Millie Bobby Brown is one of Netflix’s brightest stars as Eleven in Stranger Things. She partners with the platform again for a starring film role as Sherlock Holmes’ little sister, Enola. Based on the books by Nancy Springer, the movie follows Enola after her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) disappears, her famous brother declines to help, and the young novice decides to take on the case herself.
Agents of Chaos (Sept. 23 on HBO and HBO Max)
The documentarian Alex Gibney has previously burrowed into Silicon Valley, Scientology, and Enron. His newest feature investigates the Russian hacking of the 2016 election. He probes into Russian troll farms and the deep web, and talks to Americans who became caught up in Putin’s plot as well.
Kajillionaire (Sept. 25 in theaters)
Acclaimed independent filmmaker Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know, The Future) paints a captivating portrait of a dysfunctional family of scammers in this heist satire. Evan Rachel Wood stars as Old Dolio, the oddly-named daughter of small-time con artists Theresa (Debra Winger) and Robert (Richard Jenkins) whose life is thrown for a loop by a chance meeting with a kind stranger (Gina Rodriguez).
The Glorias (Sept. 30 on digital and Amazon Prime Video)
Following Rose Byrne’s turn as Gloria Steinem in Hulu’s Emmy-nominated Mrs. America earlier this year, Academy Award winners Alicia Vikander and Julianne Moore take up the mantle of the face of the women’s liberation movement in a new biopic from Julie Taymor (Frida, Across the Universe). Based on Steinem’s own memoir, My Life on the Road, The Glorias follows Steinem from her girlhood in 1940s Ohio through her rise to national fame as a feminist leader—alongside contemporaries like Dorothy Pitman Hughes (Janelle Monáe), Flo Kennedy (Lorraine Toussaint), Bella Abzug (Bette Midler), Dolores Huerta (Monica Sanchez) and Wilma Mankiller (Kimberly Guerrero)— in the ’60s and ’70s, and beyond.
The Boys in the Band (Sept. 30 on Netflix)
The Tony-winning cast of the 2018 revival of Mart Crowley’s landmark play reunites for a Ryan Murphy-produced Netflix adaptation directed by Joe Mantello. Jim Parsons stars as Michael, a boozy screenwriter who invites a group of his closest gay friends (played by Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Tuc Watkins, Michael Benjamin Washington and Robin de Jesús)—along with a hapless hustler (Charlie Carver)—to his apartment for their buddy Harold’s (Zachary Quinto) birthday party in 1968 New York. Things quickly go off the rails when Michael’s straight college roommate (Brian Hutchison) also shows up.
On the Rocks (October 2 in theaters, October 23 Apple TV+)
It’s been 17 years since actor Bill Murray and director Sofia Coppola teamed up for the widely revered Lost in Translation. In their reunion On the Rocks, Murray plays the charming and inquisitive father of Laura (Rashida Jones), who suspects her husband of having an affair.
Once Upon a River (Oct. 2 in virtual cinemas)
The lone man on the river has long loomed large in the American mythos, from Paul Bunyan to Huckleberry Finn to the stories of Ernest Hemingway. This time, in a film based on the novel by Bonnie Jo Campbell, it’s a woman who makes her way downstream: Margo Crane (Kenadi DelaCerna), a Native American teenager who is forced to fend for herself after the death of her father. Wielding a gun and plenty of survival skills, Margo explores the Michigan woods in search of her estranged mother and a place where she belongs.
The Forty-Year-Old Version (Oct. 9 on Netflix)
Writer-director Radha Blank makes her feature debut with a semi-autobigoraphical comedy about a burnt-out New York playwright (played by Blank) who turns to rap to rediscover her voice as she turns 40. “It’s my love letter to NY and its struggling artists as well as the NY artistic institutions that raised me – Hip Hop and Theater,” Blank said of the black-and-white Sundance standout.
Time (Oct. 9 in theaters, Oct. 23 on Amazon Prime Video)
Garrett Bradley won best director for U.S. documentary at Sundance for this film, a damning portrait of the American prison-industrial complex. The film follows a woman’s tireless two-decade fight to free her husband from a 60-year prison sentence.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Oct. 16 on Netflix)
Many have drawn a connection between the social unrest of 2020 and that of 1968, when Vietnam War protesters stormed the streets the summer before a pivotal election. Aaron Sorkin’s latest drama depicts the tension that summer in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention, when police attacked protesters and charged a group of organizers with conspiracy to incite a riot. Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II star.
American Utopia (Oct. 17 on HBO and HBO Max)
David Byrne, the onetime frontman of the Talking Heads, has proved himself time and time again an electric, inimitable live performer with his quavering tenor and skittish dance moves—most recently in his Broadway show American Utopia, a powerhouse concert of new and classic songs. On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Saturday Night Live, he’s proved that his unique act converts well onto the small screen—and now audiences get to take in a recording of the Broadway show in full.
Rebecca (Oct. 21 on Netflix)
Fans of Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel who have dreamed of going to Manderley again are finally getting their wish. The forthcoming Netflix remake sees Lily James take the lead as du Maurier’s unnamed narrator, the new bride of wealthy widower Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer) who can’t seem to shake the feeling that her husband’s late first wife is still present at his eerie English estate. Of course, Ben Wheatley’s (High Rise, Free Fire) take on the gothic thriller has big shoes to fill considering Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 adaptation, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Over the Moon (Oct. 23 on Netflix)
Based on the Chinese legend of the Moon Goddess Chang’e, this family-friendly animated film centers on Fei Fei, a young girl who dreams of going to the moon to reunite with her lost mother. Sandra Oh, John Cho, Ken Jeong and other Asian-American stars serve as voice actors; the late Audrey Wells, who died of cancer in 2018, wrote the script, while Glen Keane, a Disney Animation mainstay, makes his full-length directorial debut.
Those Who Wish Me Dead (Oct. 23 in theaters)
In this adaptation of bestselling author Michael Koryta’s 2014 novel, Angelina Jolie stars as a survival expert tasked with protecting a teenage murder witness from a pair of killers hunting him through the Montana wilderness—all while a raging forest fire wreaks havoc on the landscape. Nicholas Hoult, Jon Bernthal, Tyler Perry, Finn Little and Aidan Gillen also star in the thriller from director Taylor Sheridan (Wind River).
Bad Hair (Oct. 23 on Hulu)
This Sundance horror-comedy from Justin Simien (Dear White People) centers on a demonic weave and finds laughs and scares in the plight of Black women regarding the various pressures and judgments surrounding their hair. The cast includes Elle Lorraine, Lena Waithe, Blair Underwood and Jay Pharoah.
Ammonite (Nov. 13 in theaters)
After famed British fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) reluctantly takes on a new apprentice (Saorise Ronan) to work beside her on the shores of 1840s England, the two begin a passionate love affair that changes both their lives forever. This romantic period drama is the latest from God’s Own Country writer-director Francis Lee.
The Climb (Nov. 13 in theaters)
This buddy comedy was well-reviewed out of the Cannes Film Festival last Spring, with Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com calling it “thrilling and charming in a way that very few comedies ever are.” Michael Angelo Covino directs and stars in the film as Mike, whose bond with his best friend Kyle is put through the ringer due to romantic entanglements.
Happiest Season (Nov. 25 in theaters)
In this holiday rom-com from writer-director Clea DuVall (whom Veep fans know as Marjorie), Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis play girlfriends on the verge of engagement, with conservative parents standing in their way. Mary Steenburgen, Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza co-star.
Mank (TBA on Netflix)
Award-winning director David Fincher (Gone Girl, The Social Network) turns his camera on 1930s Hollywood for a biographical drama about journalist-turned-screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his battle with Orson Welles over screenplay credit for Citizen Kane. Gary Oldman stars as Mankiewicz alongside Tom Burke as Welles, Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies, Lily Collins as Rita Alexander, and Tom Pelphrey as Mank’s brother in the black-and-white Netflix drama.