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The 30 best upcoming movies to see this fall

From a new James Bond thriller to the big return of Bryan Cranston, we’ve got you covered as cool season hits

Terrible movie season is over, which means the good stuff is right about the corner. Here’s your guide to the most wonderful time of the year, as autumn offers up its crop of fall movies. It’s time to locate your brain, as Hollywood takes on the drug wars (Sicario), the birth of gay pride (Stonewall), crusading journalists (Spotlight) and the Cold War (Bridge of Spies). And sure, there’s also the new James Bond and a new Katniss film, the conclusion of The Hunger Games saga. One can’t live on high fiber alone.

RECOMMENDED: See more of the best upcoming movies

Upcoming movies: September

Goodnight Mommy

From Austria, a nation known for springing some frighteningly great filmmakers on the world (emphasis on frightening) comes a domestic thriller that’s already stunned audiences at several festivals. The setting is your typical spooky house surrounded by a rural nowhere. The characters are a pair of nine-year-old twin brothers starting to get stir crazy. And the guest? Their mother, returned home from surgery, her head in bandages, and perhaps not who she claims to be. Sept 11

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Sleeping With Other People

These days, a good romantic comedy can be hard to find. Fortunately, Bachelorette writer-director Leslye Headland is here to fill the void. The story of two attractive thirtysomethings (Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie) who reunite at a sex-addicts meeting a decade after swapping virginities, Sleeping with Other People is exactly the kind of rom-com you know and love, only dirtier. Sept 11

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Black Mass

Remember Johnny Depp? He used to be an actor. Well, it’s looking like he’s back in a big way with this gangster epic, in which the artist formerly known as Jack Sparrow transforms into Boston’s notoriously violent criminal turned informant. All signs point to Depp’s best performance since he played an undercover cop in 1997’s Donnie Brasco. Sept 16

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Even though this 3-D survival film sounds like the perfect July popcorn-muncher, we’re not going to complain about it being a little late. Two expeditions head to the top of the world, one of them led by Jake Gyllenhaal, the other by Jason Clarke. If you’ve heard anything about the real-life 1996 summit attempts on which the script is based, you’ll know things don’t go swimmingly. Sept 18

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Director Denis Villeneuve can do moody thrillers (Prisoners), moody psychodramas involving doppelgangers (Enemy) and moody family mysteries (Incendies). We’ve got a pretty good idea that this sumptuous spin on the Mexican–American drug wars—starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and the effortlessly watchable Benicio Del Toro—is going to be tense, action-heavy and a little moody. Sept 18

The Keeping Room

Combining the feminist fire of Mad Max: Fury Road with the gritty Western thrills of Unforgiven, this muscular indie stars Brit Marling and Hailee Steinfeld as Southern sisters fighting to survive the dying days of the Civil War. When two rogue Union soldiers come a-knockin’, it’s up to the girls and their longtime slave (Muna Otaru) to fend for themselves. Sept 25

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If it takes a movie to get folks to learn about NYC’s 1969 Stonewall Riots—the Greenwich Village showdown that’s become ground zero for gay rights—then so be it. And if it takes Roland Emmerich, the director best known for Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and explosions that would scare Michael Bay, to get that film made, then we salute you, Roland. Sept 25

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The Walk

On the fog-shrouded morning of August 7, 1974, high-wire artist Philippe Petit stepped out into the space between the Twin Towers, dancing for 45 minutes before being apprehended. This real-life tale was recounted in 2008’s ghostly documentary Man on Wire. Now it’s become a drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and will open this year’s edition of the New York Film Festival. Sept 30

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Upcoming movies: October


Redramatized for an audience that never knew 1990’s The Krays or Spandau Ballet, the real-life London gangster saga of Ronnie and Reggie Kray gets a more substantial outing, this time courtesy of Mad Max: Fury Road’s Tom Hardy, playing both siblings in a double role. Bonus: There’s no Bane mask or post-apocalyptic head cage to obscure this actor’s amazing chops. Oct 2

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Julianne Moore now has her Oscar, for last year’s extraordinary Alzheimer’s drama Still Alice. But here’s a reminder that virtually every time out of the gate, Moore is capable of compelling work. This drama—based on a 2007 documentary—concerns cancer-stricken New Jersey cop Laurel Hester and her public fight to transfer her pension benefits to her female partner (played by Ellen Page). Oct 2

The Martian

It’s Gravity on the red planet with this one-man sci-fi thriller based on the popular (but, to be fair, kind of awful) best-seller. When his colleagues on the Ares 3 spacecraft are forced to make an emergency takeoff, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left behind to fend for himself.  Will space captain Jessica Chastain turn around and come back for him before his food runs out? Ridley Scott directs—which, in the wake of Prometheus and Exodus: Gods and Kings, isn’t the draw it once was. But Damon should add some heft to the thin air. Oct 2

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In 2010, Iran’s government banned Jafar Panahi from making films. Galvanized by his sentence, Panahi has defiantly produced three stone-cold masterpieces in a row. (So that didn’t work then.) Taxi, in which the director plays himself as a Tehran Uber driver, is every bit as self-reflexive and humane as we’ve come to expect from this unstoppable artist. Oct 2

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Imagine Birdman without the training wheels and you’ll have a good idea of how it feels to watch Sebastian Schipper’s one-take wonder. The story of a young Spanish expat (Laia Costa) who gets swept up with the wrong group of guys in a Berlin nightclub, the bravura drama needs only a single, unbroken shot to chronicle the time before and after a daring predawn bank heist. Good luck catching your breath. Oct 9

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Steve Jobs

If the Oscars were determined by early buzz alone, Danny Boyle’s biopic about the visionary former Apple CEO would be your next Best Picture winner. Aaron Sorkin’s script promises to cut just as sharply as The Social Network, and the trailers suggest that Michael Fassbender convincingly embodies history’s most famous collector of black turtlenecks. Oct 9

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The Assassin

More than seven years in the making, the first martial-arts movie from Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien (Millennium Mambo) is hardly your typical slice-and-dice spectacle. A gorgeous ninth-century epic about a general’s daughter (Shu Qi) who’s kidnapped and raised as a silent killer, the film keeps the action to a minimum, focusing instead on the stillness deep within its haunted heroine. Oct 16

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Crimson Peak

Horror maestro Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) returns to familiar territory with a Gothic ghost story about a haunted mansion, its mysterious heir (Tom Hiddleston) and his new bride (the great Mia Wasikowska). Using CGI scares to pervert classic influences like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, this lush spine tingler could take Del Toro to all-new heights. Oct 16

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Bridge of Spies

Steven Spielberg has gradually become one of pop culture’s most significant interpreters of American history. For his first film since 2012’s Lincoln, the Beard dramatizes a true Cold War tale about a Brooklyn lawyer (Tom Hanks, natch) who was asked to negotiate the release of a U.S. pilot shot down over the Soviet Union. Your dad may have found his new favorite movie. Oct 16

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“Oscar nominee Brie Larson.” It rolls right off the tongue—and soon it might even be true. The Short Term 12 actor is front and center like never before in this claustrophobic family drama, adapted by Frank director Lenny Abrahamson from the Emma Donoghue novel of the same name. Playing a woman who’s held captive with her young son in a single room for five years, Larson could be the talk of the fall season so long as anyone can stomach the harrowing movie around her. Oct 16


Early feminist crusaders come to life in this London-set drama starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and (in what might just be an exhortatory cameo) Meryl Streep as the inspiring Emmeline Pankhurst. There’s no denying the sincerity here, and screenwriter Abi Morgan (The Invisible Woman, The Iron Lady) knows how to enliven British history with emotional flair. Oct 23

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Our Brand Is Crisis

It’s impossible to predict what the prolific David Gordon Greene (All the Real Girls, Pineapple Express) will do next, so the fact that he’s teed up a star-studded political comedy about the 2002 Bolivian election isn’t surprising. Based off Rachel Boynton’s 2005 documentary—and featuring a cast that includes Sandra Bullock, Anthony Mackie, Zoe Kazan and many more—the film explores a curious episode in which James Carville was hired to sway a political race that took the famous Southerner a little farther south than he was used to. Oct 30

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Upcoming movies: November

Out 1

The revival event of the season is BAMcinématek’s booking of Jacques Rivette’s 13-hour 1971 epic, never theatrically released anywhere in the world until now. Don’t let that running time panic you. First, take of a taste of Rivette’s equally absorbing Celine and Julie Go Boating (which lasts a much more manageable three hours), get hooked on the director’s way with puzzle narratives, and head to Brooklyn for a marathon screening. Nov 4

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Daniel Craig has rejuvenated the movies’ most iconic spy, and Sam Mendes’s Skyfall (2012) gave him an action epic worthy of his take on the character. So it’s a big deal that they’re reuniting for another installment, and the prospect of Christoph Waltz playing the villainous Blofeld—purring cat or no—makes this the fall blockbuster to beat. Nov 6

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Already awards buzz is deafening for this newspaper-room drama about the Boston Globe’s courageous investigation of child abuse within the Catholic Archdiocese. Among the actors bound for attention: Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Mad Men’s John Slattery and a post-Birdman Michael Keaton, re-energized for the long term. Nov 6


Take us anywhere, Bryan Cranston. We’ve missed you so much since Breaking Bad, we’d watch you rearrange your sock drawer if you wore the Walter White hat. This drama promises to be a lot more interesting than that: It’s about Dalton Trumbo, the blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter who was still able to make a mark with classics like Exodus, Spartacus and Roman Holiday. Nov 6

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A worthy winner at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Camilla Nielsson’s documentary follows the 2013 constitution-writing process of Zimbabwe, where opposing political factions clash, lawyers angle for celebrity and threatened dictator Robert Mugabe watches over it all, only half-amused. This is history in the making and a moving testament to the unlikely value of compromise. Nov 18

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2

From humble origins in Suzanne Collins’s dystopian young-adult novels, Katniss Everdeen has risen to become one of the 21st century’s most beloved movie icons, a kick-ass heroine for the ages. And it’s thanks in large part to star Jennifer Lawrence, who may be getting a bit too old for the role, but still exudes authority and class as the savior of a bloodthirsty future society. The last film will offer few surprises for fans of the books, but newbies will be hoping for more of Elizabeth Banks’s lovably weird Effie Trinket. Nov 20

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Far From Heaven’s Todd Haynes directing Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in a luminous 16mm adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel about two women falling in love in 1950s New York? It almost sounds too good to be true, but Mara’s Cannes prize for Best Actress suggests that it’s very real, and very good. This year, Christmas comes a month early. Nov 20


Unfortunately not the biopic about the great American rock band of the same name (which we continue to await with arms wide open), this year’s Thanksgiving crowd-pleaser might be the next best thing. Essentially Rocky: The Next Generation, the seventh installment of Sylvester Stallone’s iconic franchise finds the Philly legend passing the torch to young Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of his greatest rival. Nov 25

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The Night Before

This could be the Christmas movie that Jewish kids have been waiting for their whole lives. In fact, that might have been Seth Rogen’s actual pitch for this sacrilegiously lewd comedy about three childhood friends (Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie) who reunite every Xmas for a night on the town. Honestly, we were in the bag from the moment the trailer kicked off with the boys playing Kanye’s “Runaway” on the F.A.O. Schwarz floor piano. Nov 25

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