Courtesy of 20th Century Studios
“Amsterdam” (October 7, in theaters)
David O. Russell directs his first film since 2015’s “Joy,” and this time gets behind the camera sans his beloved mused Jennifer Lawrence. Still, he’s rounded up quite the cast for this 1930s-set conspiracy caper. Here goes: Christian Bale (whom Russell directed to an Oscar win for 2011’s “The Fighter”), Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Zoe Saldaña, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough (the MVP in any movie these days), Rami Malek, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alessandro Nivola, and Robert De Niro. Oh, and Taylor Swift, presumably to make some kind of musical appearance.
From “Silver Linings Playbook” to “I Heart Huckabees,” Russell is an obviously skilled director of such variegated ensembles — though apparently not skilled enough to secure an Oscar, because he’s never personally won one, even as his actors (often infamously clashing with the man and his, uh, exacting approach) have. Bale and Washington play wounded soldiers who befriend a nurse (Robbie) while on leave in Amsterdam and soon become embroiled in a murder plot.
“Amsterdam” notably pairs Russell with three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and while there’s no getting in Chivo’s way, the trailer already promises Russell’s trademark cascading zooms — but this time filtered in 1930s old-timey sepia. —RL
“TÁR” (October 7, in theaters)
“In the Bedroom” (2001) and “Little Children” (2006) established Todd Field as one of the most exciting American filmmakers of his generation, only for him to immediately disappear from the scene altogether. Now, after the almost Malickian absence that followed the release of his first two features, Field is back with his third: An 158-minute original drama starring Cate Blanchett as a renowned conductor and composer whose life begins to crumble as it crescendos towards a pivotal concert.
Details about “TÁR” are few and far between at the moment — though the film’s cryptic teaser suggests that we’re in for something characteristically hyper-literate and intense — but the promise of Field picking up where he left off is enough to make this one of the fall’s most anticipated premieres. That Blanchett, in what sounds like another major role, will be supported by the likes of Nina Hoss and “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” star Noémie Merlant only adds to the sense that we should be in for something special. —DE
“Triangle of Sadness” (October 7, in theaters)
Each of its three chapters, which bob into each other like dinghies that’ve been hastily tied to the same dock during a hurricane, offer ample opportunity for director Ruben Östlund to poke fun at the empty promise of financial equality in a world where even the bodies we’re born into command different economic value. The film’s title might allude to the wrinkle of skin between your eyebrows, but that pyramidal geometry more pressingly refers to Östlund’s fascination with social hierarchies — and the glee he takes in flipping them upside down, as if that alone might be enough to see them in a new light.
It starts, as all movies should, in the world of high-end male modeling. A muted and dangerously almost-smart Derek Zoolander type who Harris Dickinson plays to perfection, the 25-year-old Carl is reaching the geriatric stage of his career, and the anxiety over his economic future is starting to make his eight-pack look two abs short. A merciful society would simply euthanize Carl rather than make him suffer the slow indignity of losing Instagram followers — and spare us the unpleasantness of having to look upon this hideous creature for another 145 minutes — but the fashion industry is not so kind. Instead, Carl finds himself without a seat at his supermodel girlfriend Yaya’s latest runway show (she’s played by Charlbi Dean), and then haggling with her, exhaustingly, over the dinner bill later that night. Things will soon get worse. —DE
“Decision to Leave” (October 14, in theaters)
Here’s a sentence I never expected to write: The most romantic movie of the year (so far) is a police procedural. Then again, I wasn’t aware that “Oldboy” director Park Chan-wook — whose operatic revenge melodramas have given way to a series of ravishingly baroque Hitchcockian love stories about the various “perversities” that might bind two wayward souls together — was making a detective thriller. In that case, the heart-stirring potential of the Korean auteur’s new detective saga would have been as obvious as the identity of its killer.
It’s a good thing, then, that “Decision to Leave” isn’t a whodunnit — as you’ll be able to discern from the pathetic effort its protagonist makes to solve his latest case. In fact, Park’s funny, playful, and increasingly poignant crime thriller is less interested in what Hae-joon (Park Hae-il) knows about his suspect than in how he feels about her. —DE
“Halloween Ends” (October 14, in theaters and streaming on Peacock)
Danny McBride and David Gordon Green gave the “Halloween” franchise a much needed shot of adrenaline with their 2018 reboot, which ignored all previous sequels and acted as a direct follow-up to John Carpenter’s original film. Their clever approach and clear passion for the material created a winning formula for reviving tired slasher franchises, and their sequel “Halloween Kills” survived a pandemic delay to become a minor box office hit. But, as the upcoming threequel’s title clearly understands, all good things must come to an end.
“Halloween Ends” sees Jamie Lee Curtis returning for one last showdown with Michael Myers, with Carpenter on board as the film’s composer and executive producer. While any horror sequel promising to be the final entry in a franchise approaching its fifth decade of relevance should be taken with a massive heaping of salt, there is an undeniable sense of finality to “Halloween Ends.” The film serves as the final entry in Green’s trilogy and may well be the last time fans get to see Curtis and Carpenter working on a “Halloween” film, so it will likely be must-see viewing for slasher fans come October. —CZ
“Rosaline” (October 14, streaming on Hulu)
We’re positively giddy over this one. Not only is the talent — both above and below the line — thrilling, what with “Yes God Yes” filmmaker Karen Maine taking on her second feature, all-star screenwriters Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter handling adaptation duties, and Kaitlyn Dever taking on the top role, but “Rosaline” also boasts a heck of a compelling plotline. Picture this: you’re young, you’re in love, everything is wonderful, and then a dazzling young lady named Juliet sets her eyes on your paramour. Did we mention your boyfriend’s name is Romeo?
Based on Rebecca Serle’s novel “When You Were Mine,” which was (of course) based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Maine’s second feature tackles one of our most beloved love stories, and then turns her attention to Romeo’s jilted ex, Rosaline (Dever). While Serle’s novel was set in contemporary times, Maine’s film appears to be going back in time to a more traditional time setting, while still honing in on the great idea at the story’s center: Romeo and Juliet, told through the eyes of Rosaline. —KE
“Till” (October 14, in theaters; October 28, theatrical expansion)
In 2019, Chinonye Chukwu had everyone paying attention with the riveting drama “Clemency,” which featured a powerful performance from Alfre Woodard as the tireless warden of a death row prison. While “Clemency” was fictional but drawn from reality, Chukwu takes on a one of the greatest injustices in American history with “Till.”
The historical drama chronicles the life of Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and her lifelong quest for justice after the 1955 lynching of her 14-year-old son. The film stars relative newcomer Danielle Deadwyler (“The Harder They Fall”) as Mamie, in a performance that could certainly catapult her onto the awards circuit. Whoopi Goldberg, Frankie Faison, Haley Bennett, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Jalyn Hall also star. —JD
JoJo Whilden / Netflix
“The Good Nurse” (October 19, in select theaters; October 26, streaming on Netflix)
Danish director and “Another Round” screenwriter directs his first feature since 2015’s Oscar-nominated “A War” with “The Good Nurse,” also marking his English-language debut. The film is adapted from the 2013 book by Charles Graeber, whose confidential informant Amy Loughren cracked the case on American serial killer and nurse Charles Cullen, who killed as many as 300 patients between 1988 and 2003 in New Jersey via intravenous drug overdoses. Eddie Redmayne plays Cullen, with Jessica Chastain taking on the role of Loughren with a cast that also includes football player turned actor Nnamdi Asomugha, Noah Emmerich, and Kim Dickens.
Cullen is still serving a life sentence as law enforcement continues to identify his many victims. Surprisingly, aside from a direct-to-TV movie, a documentary for British TV, and a smattering of podcast episodes, his horrifying killing spree has yet to get the big screen treatment. Loughren, a nurse, connected the dots in 2003 after tracking Cullen’s records of obtaining drugs and his ties to myriad patient deaths.
“The Good Nurse” marks Jessica Chastain’s first big-screen (kinda, as this is a Netflix release after all) role since she won her Best Actress Oscar for another true story, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” She wowed on HBO’s Ingmar Bergman miniseries remake “Scenes from a Marriage” but didn’t end up with a Primetime Emmy nomination alongside her nominated co-star Oscar Isaac. —RL
“Aftersun” (October 21, in theaters)
Let this be a valuable lesson to anyone who finds themselves on the Croisette in the future: In a year boasting new work from the likes of Claire Denis, Cristian Mungiu, and the Dardenne brothers, the single most resonant film at Cannes this year was a quiet two-hander from a first-time director that came from one of the festival smallest sidebars.
To remember her father (a distant, haunting Paul Mescal), the heroine of Charlotte Wells’ oblique but heart-stoppingly tender “Aftersun” has a few minutes of miniDV footage from a Turkish vacation she took with him in the late ’90s when she was 11. What that can’t tell her about the most precious man she’s ever lost, she’ll have to fill in for herself, even as her dad remains frustratingly out of reach. A a stunning debut that develops with all the patience and poignancy of a Polaroid, “Aftersun” is a brilliant film about the elusiveness of memory, and one of the only new movies this fall we can already guarantee you won’t soon forget. —DE
HBO Documentary Films
“All That Breathes” (October 21, in theaters)
Often more than 10 times worse than in any other city on Earth, the air in Delhi is so toxic and inhospitable to life itself that birds regularly fall from the sky like feathered rain. The creatures have done their best to compensate for other symptoms of pollution — one species began singing to each other at a higher pitch in order to pierce through the industrial noise, while another started using discarded cigarette butts as parasite repellent — but there’s no substitute or silver lining for the absence of breathable oxygen.
If the people of Delhi are naturally confronted with the same crisis, they are even less equipped to live with it. Unlike the city’s teeming wildlife, the human population is rendered helpless by its ability (or its need) to assign blame. As a disembodied voice puts it towards the end of Shaunak Sen’s “All That Breathes,” a vital and transfixing work of urban ecology about two Muslim brothers who share an uncommonly holistic perspective of the world around them: “You don’t care for things because they share the same country, religion, or politics. Life is kinship. We’re all a community of air.” In Delhi, every part of that community — from the flies in the gutter puddles to the black kites that swim through the skies above without struggles — is choking to death as one. —DE
Searchlight Pictures, exclusive to IndieWire
“The Banshees of Inisherin” (October 21, in theaters)
On both the stage and screen, nobody does nasty black comedies like Martin McDonagh. The British-Irish writer-director’s first feature since he won an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” finds him re-teaming with “In Bruges” stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in a bizarre two-hander about two pals, Colm (Gleeson) and Padraic (Farrell) on a small island off the coast of Ireland. Or, at least, they used to be two pals until Gleeson’s character suddenly ends their friendship for mysterious reasons.
The small-town community gets engrossed in this outrageous drama and its many turns, including a declaration by Colm that he’ll start mutilating himself each time Padraic reaches out — which feels like a throwback to McDonagh’s great “A Behanding in Spokane,” and a promising indication of the zany, disturbing twists that this playful filmmaker has in store as he once again turns empathy into a grand ironic joke. —EK
“Black Adam” (October 21, in theaters)
Bad news for fans of the current hierarchy of power in the DC Universe: it’s about to change.
“Black Adam” stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the eponymous villain who, as the actor loves to remind us, is powerful enough to kill Superman if he wanted to. (Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be one of his priorities right now). The character was originally supposed to be introduced as the villain in “Shazam!” before The Rock intervened and insisted that his first comic book role was an event worthy of a standalone film.
Jaume Collet-Serra directs the origin story, which sees Black Adam emerge from his tomb 5,000 years after he was given the powers of the Egyptian gods. The world will never be the same once he’s released on the world, as Black Adam has the powers of the strongest heroes without a strict moral code to weigh him down. The only thing standing in his way is the Justice Society of America, a group of superheroes led by Pierce Brosnan’s Dr. Fate, who may be the only people (super-powered or not) who can stop the gigantic mass of pure muscle that’s hurtling through the sky. —CZ
“Descendent” (October 21, in select theaters and streaming on Netflix)
How best should we remember the dead? The critical African American history retold in Margaret Brown’s imperative film, “Descendant,” an unblinking investigation combining local stories with “Erin Brockovich” flair, seeks to answer that question. Because for the many Black folks living in Africatown, Alabama, where the last slave ship made landfall, remembering is what they do best.
See, in 1860, long after the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves was signed in 1808, two wealthy white men from Mobile, Alabama made a bet. Despite the law, they believe they could sail to Africa, capture Africans, and bring them back as slaves without anyone finding out. Within months they returned with 100 captive Black people. The two men burned and sank the ship, named the Clotilda, erasing all traces of the grave crime they committed. —RD
“Wendell and Wild” (October 21, in select theaters; October 28, streaming on Netflix)
Can’t wait for more Jordan Peele after “Nope”? You won’t have long to wait: not only has he co-written the screenplay for stop-motion maestro Henry Selick’s first film in 13 years, he’s voicing one of the leads in this “Key & Peele” reunion with Keegan-Michael Key. Key is Wendell and Peele is Wild and they’re demons who need the assistance of young Kat Elliott (teenage “This Is Us” actress Lyric Ross) to make their way to the Land of the Living. Angela Bassett, James Hong, and Ving Rhames lend their voices as well.
It sounds exactly like the kind of Gothic fantasy for kids that powered Selick to global renown with “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Coraline.” Selick had originally intended for this story to be a book, written with Clay McLeod Chapman, but he has such an eye for textural, immersive beauty it’s hard to imagine it any way but as a movie. “Wendell and Wild” is also a big score for Netflix, which will debut the film at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. —CB
“My Policeman” (October 21, in theaters; November 4, streaming on Prime Video)
Based on Bethan Roberts’ 2012 novel of the same name, “My Policeman” follows three young people caught up in the tortuous constraints of 1950s social conventions. Set in Brighton in 1957, Harry Styles plays a gay policeman married to schoolteacher Marion (Emma Corrin), who falls in love with museum curator Patrick (David Dawson).
Their intertwined tragic love story spans decades, with Linus Roach, Gina McKee, and Rupert Everett playing the lovers in their old age. Celebrated British theater director Michael Grandage steers the emotional drama, and all eyes will be on Styles to see if he can deliver the performance the material requires. —JD
“Ticket to Paradise” (October 21, in theaters)
After years spent bemoaning the lack of big studio romantic comedies, it seems the tide is finally turning. While streamers have continued to prove the genre’s worth to an audience (just look at Netflix, which has steadily become the home for a series of YA rom-coms so vast that even this writer struggles to keep up with them), traditional Hollywood is starting to get hip to the fact that people love love, they love funny, and they love funny love stories.
Over the summer, long-time rom-com queen Sandra Bullock returned with the hit “The Lost City,” and later this season, another one of our most cherished rom-com leading ladies will test out her own return to the genre that made her. Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman herself!) and George Clooney star in “Ticket to Paradise,” playing a long-divorced couple suddenly forced to work together when their daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) elopes with a dude they barely know. Romance seems likely to abound (Billie Lourd appears as the daughter’s best friend, who also gets caught up in a love story), while hijinks and wacky situations seem all but assured. Will it be enough to bring the bickering exes back together? We’re already buying our tickets, because we’re dying to know. —KE
“Armageddon Time” (October 28, in theaters)
Only James Gray would saddle a modest self-portrait about his memories of sixth grade with a title that makes it sound more like “Apocalypse Now” than any other film ever has (a reference to candidate Reagan’s nuclear hawkishness, “Armageddon Time” borrows its name from a 1979 Willie Williams reggae jam famously covered by The Clash). Likewise, only James Gray would render that self-portrait into such a powerful story of post-war assimilation that a family outing to see “Private Benjamin” might resonate with the same cosmic scale as a trip to Neptune.
Pivoting away from the biggest production of his career with a melancholy return to the kind of small-scale New York stories (à la “The Yards” and “Little Odessa”) that first put him on the map, Gray revisits his childhood years and all of their related ghosts with a burnished memoir that hears echoes of 19th European pogroms reverberating through the Trump family — 100 years later and some 4,000 miles away — in much the same way as “Ad Astra” found an Applebee’s on the Moon. —DE