Fall movie preview: Here comes the flood of Oscar-bait titles
This fall at the multiplex, Bradley Cooper becomes a director, Jamie Lee Curtis revisits her slasher-movie past, Queen’s Freddie Mercury gets the biopic treatment, Tiffany Haddish schools Kevin Hart and Neil Armstrong goes back to the moon.
The fall season usually means a flood of Oscar-bait titles and so-called grown-up films, but we’ll also have more from Marvel comics (“Venom”), animated fare (the return of “Wreck-It Ralph”), comedies (“Second Act,” “Johnny English Strikes Again”) and even a western (“The Sisters Brothers”).
Here’s a sneak peek at nearly 50 new films heading our way in the next three months.
Sept. 14: Matthew McConaughey spent months in Northeast Ohio last year shooting “White Boy Rick.” The based-on-a-true-story tale charts the life of Ricky Wershe (Richie Merritt) who, as a teenager, became an FBI informant and later a drug trafficker. McConaughey plays his father, and Cleveland stands in for Detroit.
Writer-director Shane Black, who actually appeared in the original “Predator” alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987, is back to reboot the bloody action-adventure about attacking aliens who are expert huntera.
And 19th century ax murderer Lizzie Borden (Chloe Sevigny) finds a friend (Kristen Stewart) in “Lizzie.”
Sept. 21: Dan Fogelman, the creative force behind NBC’s “This Is Us” (which returns Sept. 25), shifts to the big screen with “Life Itself.” Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde lead an ensemble cast in a story about a young New York couple and their extended families, spanning continents and lifetimes.
In “Colette,” Keira Knightly plays French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, the woman behind the controversial Claudine novels.
Warlocks and witches are unleashed in “The House With a Clock in its Walls,” starring Cate Blanchett and Jack Black. It’s from director Eli Roth, who has made several blood-soaked horror films (“Hostel,” “Cabin Fever”). But this one is billed as a PG-rated, family-friendly fantasy.
And in “The Sisters Brothers,” John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix portray assassins on the trail of a gold prospector in 1850s Oregon.
Sept. 28: Comedy cut-ups Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart team up in “Night School,” the story of adults taking classes to earn their GEDs. It’s directed by Malcolm D. Lee, who worked with Haddish on last year’s smash hit, “Girls Trip.’
The animated adventure “Smallfoot” takes us to the icy north, where a community of Yetis discovers a new creature: humans. With the voices of Zendaya, Channing Tatum and James Corden.
Oct. 5: The fourth time is the charm. Bradley Cooper stars in and directed this fourth version of “A Star Is Born.” He plays Jackson Maine, a famous but troubled singer who discovers and mentors the talented but shy Ally (Lady Gaga). Her star rises, his drops and, well, you know, a tragic love story ensues.
The terrific Tom Hardy (“The Revenant,” “Dunkirk”) stars in “Venom.” Hardy’s Eddie Brock acquires the powers of an alien symbiote, and is forced to unleash his vicious alter ego in order to save his life.
Oct. 12: The story of astronaut Neil Armstrong and his remarkable accomplishments in space are explored in “First Man,” with Ryan Gosling playing the Ohio native who landed on the moon in 1969. Gosling reteams with director Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”), and the strong cast also features Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler and Jason Clarke.
Robert Redford has said “The Old Man & the Gun” will be his farewell to acting. It is based on the true story of serial bank robber Forrest Tucker, who kept up his larcenous ways well into his 70s.
A confluence of weird, dark and desperate characters find themselves at a rundown Lake Tahoe hotel for one crazy night in “Bad Times at the El Royale.” Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm and Jeff Bridges star.
Oct. 19: There have been so many “Halloween”s (not to mention “Nightmare on Elm Street”s, “Friday the 13th”s, etc.) that it’s hard to believe the original with Jamie Lee Curtis debuted in 1978. That makes the new “Halloween” a tidy, 40-year cycle for Curtis, who returns as Laurie Strode to battle Michael Myers in a “final confrontation.” Don’t believe the “final” part…
Race, cops and class collide when a young black woman witnesses the shooting of her best friend in “The Hate U Give.”
Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel in an adaptation of the author’s memoir “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Oct. 26: Paratroopers discover a secret Nazi lab in the World War II horror-thriller “Overlord.”
A sub captain (Gerard Butler) and Navy SEALs take on a deadly mission in “Hunter Killer.”
Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean!) returns as an inept secret agent in the comedy “Johnny English Strikes Again.”
Also in October: Monsters and ghouls terrorize two boys in “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” … Jonah Hill wrote and directed “Mid90s,” a comedy-drama about teen skaters … Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet star in “Beautiful Boy,” a drama about a family coping with addiction … Another family-in-crisis film, “What They Had,” deals with a daughter (Hilary Swank) returning home to help her ailing mother … “The Oath” leans on dark humor to explore modern political tribalism.
Nov. 2: Queen and Freddie Mercury are celebrated in the biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” (“will you do the Fandango?”).
Tyler Perry wrote and directed “Nobody’s Fool,” about the clash of diametrically opposed sisters played by Tiffany Haddish and Tika Sumpter (not be confused with the Paul Newman movie with the same title from 1994).
Clara (Mackenzie Foy) discovers a world populated by gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice in “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.”
A teenager (Lucas Hedges) must choose between gay conversion therapy or being shunned by his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) in “Boy Erased.”
Nov. 9: “Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot. But the Grinch … ” You know the rest. The beloved Dr. Seuss classic (so good on TV in the 1960s and so forgettable with Jim Carrey as the green grouch) gets an animated update with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the Christmas-hater in “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.”
Lisbeth Salander, from the late Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” book series, returns to the screen. She’s been played by Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara and now it’s Claire Foy (“The Crown”) as the outcast-hacker who takes on cyber criminals and government baddies. This one is based the post-Larsson novel “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” by David Lagercrantz.
Nov. 16: The ever-busy Carrie Coon, who became a mother earlier this year, is part of the ensemble in Steve McQueen’s “Widows.” The drama, about four women struggling to overcome their dead husbands’ criminal activities, features Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez and Liam Neeson.
Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne take on three foster children in “Instant Family.”
And Eddie Redmayne returns in his second outing as magizoologist Newt Scamander to try and upend the evil plots of Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) in J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.”
Nov. 21: This is the classic day-before Thanksgiving release spot and it’s overloaded this year. Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone are reunited in the “Rocky” offshoot “Creed II.” Adonis Creed takes on Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) from “Rocky IV.”
Likable but clumsy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) returns in “Ralph Breaks the Internet” (aka “Wreck-it Ralph 2”).
The rise and fall of former senator Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman), whose presidential hopes went down in flames, is chronicled in “The Front Runner.”
The 1960s-set “Green Book” teams Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali as a driver and musician confronting racism in the American South.
And, yes, yet another “Robin Hood” is headed our way. I’ve liked various Robins over the years, and I especially enjoyed Ridley Scott’s rendition in 2010 with Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. It was also a big, fat bomb. Perhaps studio heads think anything that sounds vaguely medieval and “Game of Thrones”-ish is worth a shot.
Also in November: Things are not quite right at a Berlin dance academy in “Suspiria” (a remake of Dario Argento’s supernatural horror flick from 1977) … Jennifer Lopez plays a woman who reinvents herself on Madison Avenue in the romantic comedy “Second Act” … The 1819 massacre in Manchester, England, is revisited in “Peterloo” … An ambitious servant (Emma Stone) rises to prominence in Queen Anne’s court in “The Favourite” … And the final years of Vincent Van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) are explored in “At Eternity’s Gate.”
Clint O’Connor is an Akron Beacon Journal writer.