April 12, 2024
Films by Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott; a Meg Ryan rom-com; Taylor Swift on the big screen ... the fall film season has a lot to offer.

Strikes? What strikes?

That could well be a film fan’s reaction from glancing at the robust list of films set to hit theaters and streaming platforms this fall, despite the SAG-AFTRA strikes dominating the headlines these days.

Go ahead and appreciate the upcoming burst of creative output, but don’t be fooled. Many of the releases included here were already in the can, and the strikes’ true impact certainly looms on the horizon — with production shut down on some buzzy, hotly anticipated films and the future still a question mark for the Oscars and the rest of beloved awards season.

Meanwhile, Hollywood honchos, writers and actors remain deadlocked on several key issues.

The strikes will obviously upend some promotional tours where stars — an integral marketing force for films — remain sidelined. So that mostly leaves directors and, in some special cases, actors, to talk about their films.

Some studios view the spotlight on the cast to be an essential selling point for high-profile films, and have repositioned slated fall releases for later dates, including “Dune Part II” (delayed to March 15), and “Kraven the Hunter” (August 2024), among others.

What remains are some Oscar buzzy features, including two keenly awaited epics — Martin Scorese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon.”

In the meantime, there are certainly enough films on tap to get excited about. Here’s a partial rundown. Please note that some films have different theatrical and streaming release dates and, of course, schedules are always subject to change.

Sept. 15

“A Haunting in Venice”: A creepy seance (is there any other kind?) in the romantic Italian city sets the stage for a murder — and lots of suspects — in Kenneth Branagh’s third stab at an Agatha Christie story. Based on the Queen of Mystery’s 1969 novel “Hallowe’en Party,” “Haunting” finds director Branagh donning a goofy mustache again to play Christie’s beloved detective Hercule Poirot. The A-list cast includes Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey and Kyle Allen. (In theaters)

“Dumb Money”: Wall Street hedge funders sweat and squirm in this based-on-a-true story film from Craig Gillespie (“I, Tonya”) about a video poster (Paul Dano) making millions after he and others spill the viral tea about investing in GameStop, the financially unstable mall video game store. Pete Davidson, America Ferrera, Nick Offerman, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley and Seth Rogen star. (Opens in New York and L.A. Sept. 15, S.F. Sept. 22 and Sacramento Sept. 29.)

“Cassandro”: Gael Garcia Bernal suits up as the “‘Liberace of Lucha Libre,” a gay Texan who becomes a worldwide sensation in the macho world of wrestling with his alter ego Cassandro. It’s directed by award-winning documentary-maker Roger Ross Williams and co-stars Raúl Castillo, Roberta Colindrez and Latin trap superstar Bad Bunny. (In theaters Sept. 15, on Amazon Prime Sept. 22)

Also… : Pablo Larraín (“Spencer,” “Neruda,” “Jackie”) turns one of history’s most notorious despots — Chile’s Augusto Pinochet — into a vampire who just wants to die already in Netflix’s “El Conde.”

Sept. 22

“Expend4bles”: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li and others depart while 50 Cent (who’s been bashing his character’s movie poster) and Megan Fox join the veteran action-star cast (Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and so on) in a quest to stop a terrorist from sparking a nuclear war. The key thing here is the film’s R-rating, following “3’s” PG-13 that irked fans. (In theaters)

“It Lives Inside”: A nasty spirit gets conjured up when a teen forsakes her East Indian roots in a PG-13 freakout from Bishal Dutta, making the leap from shorts and TV series to feature films. (In theaters)

Also …: A working class woman reconnects with her estranged wealthy father, to the chagrin of the rest of the family, in Sébastien Marnier’s award-winning thriller “Origin of Evil.” (In theaters; streaming Oct. 10)

Sept. 29

“The Creator”: The dystopian thriller from Gareth Edwards (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) couldn’t be more timely as it fashions a future where humans and AIs are at war. John David Washington stars as a grief-stricken former special forces agent assigned the daunting task of taking out the AI’s special weapon. (In theaters)

“Dicks: The Musical”: In this potty-mouthed musical comedy, two brothers (Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp) try to bring together their at-odds parents (Nathan Lane and Megan Mullally). Bowen Yang plays God (yes, you read that right) and singer Megan Thee Stallion costars. Expect to get your jaw dropped. (In theaters)

“Flora and Son”: In Dublin, a harried single mom (Eve Hewson) takes online guitar lessons from a laid-back L.A. musician (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), which inspires her to collaborate with her troublesome son (Orén Kinlan). Looks to be another charmer from John Carney (“Once,” “Sing Street”). (On Apple TV+)

“Fair Play”: A promotion at a cutthroat hedge fund company tests the boundaries of an against-the-rules relationship between two co-workers (Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich). Chloe Domont’s intense thriller raised eyebrows at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and we can’t wait. (In theaters; streaming on Netflix Oct. 13)

“Saw X”: This time it’s personal for John Kramer (Tobin Bell) aka Jigsaw, the game-playing serial killer at the hub of this durable horror franchise. This outing, set between the events of “Saw” and “Saw II,” finds Kramer seeking vengeance on the medical scammers who did him wrong. (In theaters)

Also …: Cute animated pups gain superpowers while supervillains are hot on their tails in “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie”; an LAPD K-9 cop (Aaron Eckhart) searches for his partner’s killer in “Muzzle”; Rebecca Miller’s “She Came to Me” centers on a successful New York couple (Peter Dinklage and Anne Hathaway) and their existential crisis; Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro plays a tough-guy L.A. detective investigating the murder of a real estate agent whose suspicious husband is played by Justin Timberlake in “Reptile” (also streaming Oct. 6 on Netflix).

Oct. 6

“Foe”: The appearance of a stranger (Aaron Pierre) upends the isolated farm life of Hen (Saoirse Ronan) and Junior (Paul Mescal). Avoid the trailer, which gives away too much about Amazon Studios’ adaptation of Iain Reid’s undefinable novel. (In theaters)

“The Exorcist: Believer”: A dad (Leslie Odom Jr.) consults original “Exorcist” mom (Ellen Burstyn) when his daughter and her best friend get gobsmacked by the devil. David Gordon Green, who knows a thing or two about rebooting horror (the new “Halloween”), directs. (In theaters)

“The Burial”: A New Yorker article about a cash-strapped funeral director’s lawsuit against a massive funeral corporation inspired this courtroom drama starring Tommy Lee Jones and Jamie Foxx. (In theaters; streams Oct. 13 on Amazon Prime)

Oct. 13

“Anatomy of a Fall”: Clues on the suspicious death of a married novelist point to his wife (Sandra Huller), leading to an intense trail that exposes the truth about their relationship. Justine Triet’s courtroom drama has been gobbling up all sorts of awards on the festival circuit, including the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes. (In theaters)

“What Happens Later”: Meg Ryan, once the reigning rom-com queen, is back. She directs, co-writes and stars opposite David Duchovny in a story about . They play ex-lovers stuck together in a snowstorm. (In theaters)

Also …: If you couldn’t score tickets for Taylor Swift’s sold-out Eras tour, or if you did and want to relive the experience, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Concert Film” hits theaters. Reportedly, news of the release prompted producers to move back “The Exorcist” release date by a week (insert your own Swifties vs. the devil joke here).

Oct. 20

“Killers of the Flower Moon”: Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of David Grann’s award-winning book elicited gasps when people saw its running time of 3 hours, 26 minutes. Then it debuted at Cannes, earning Scorsese some of his best reviews yet. It follows a 1920s FBI investigation into murders of Osage Native American tribe members. Stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone are already attracting Oscar chatter, as is the film itself. (In theaters; Apple TV+ streaming release is TBA.)

“Nyad”: For their first narrative feature Oscar winners E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (“Free Solo”) focus on yet another inspirational athlete story, swimmer Diana Nyad (Annette Bening) and her quest to be the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida. Jodie Foster co-stars. (In theaters; streams Nov. 3 on Netflix)

“Pain Hustlers”: The always engaging Emily Blunt plays a increasingly desperate single mom who gets a gig selling pharmaceuticals. Chris Evans and Andy Garcia costar. (In theaters; streams Oct. 27 on Netflix)

Also …: Maryam Keshavarz wrote and directed the “The Persian Version,” a comedy/drama about a Iranian American woman who clashes with her family while caring for her father (in theaters).

Oct. 27

“Priscilla”: Last year was all about “Elvis.” Now it’s Priscilla’s turn. Sofia Coppola’s ninth film as director adapts Priscilla Presley’s memoir “Elvis and Me.” Cailee Spaeny stars, Jacob Elrodi is Elvis. (In theaters)

“Five Nights at Freddy’s”: The track record of video game adaptations is spotty to say the least, but with Blumhouse backing this one, about a night-time security guard tangling with animal robots gone berserk, we expect some creepiness, even with a PG-13 rating. (In theaters and on Peacock)

“The Killer”: David Fincher brings his patented visual style to this graphic novel adaptation in which an assassin (Michael Fassbender) gets embroiled in a global manhunt after a hit goes bad. (In theaters; out on Netflix Nov. 10)

Nov. 3

“Rustin”: Expect a bunch of awards talk about George C. Wolfe’s biopic on Bayard Rustin (Colman Domingo, one of our best actors), the civil rights icon who led the 1963 March on Washington. (In theaters; on Netflix Nov. 17)

“American Fiction”: Will the experimental nature of Percival Everett’s ambitious 2001 novel “Erasure,”  which delves into being Black in the publishing industry amongst a blizzard of other potent issues, transfer to the screen? Writer/director Cord Jefferson thinks so. The cast of Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, Leslie Uggams, Sterling K. Brown couldn’t be finer. (In theaters)

“Fingernails”: Anna (Jesse Buckley) questions whether her love to Ryan (Jeremy Allen White) — determined via a test from The Love Institute — is everlasting. So where do the fingernails figure in? You’ll just have to see Greek filmmaker Christos Nikou’s lightly futuristic relationship drama. (on Apple TV+; limited theatrical release in New York and L.A. Oct. 27.)

Also …: Two sisters (Awkwafina and Sandra Oh) scramble to pay off their mom’s gambling debt via the always reliable game show route in “Quiz Lady” (On Hulu)

Nov. 10

“The Marvels”: If you’re fretting over the lack of superhero representation this fall, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) arrives to save the day, even as she gets sucked into a wormhole where she meets two other superheroes: Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). (In theaters)

“Journey to Bethlehem”: In this faith-based production, the story of Mary (Fiona Palomo) and Joseph (Milo Manheim) gets retold via spectacular musical numbers. Antonio Banderas costars. (In theaters)

Nov. 17

“Next Goal Wins”: Oscar winner Taika Waititi directs this sports biography, adapted from a 2014 documentary of the same name, about soccer coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) and his efforts to lead the ragtag American Samoa team to the World Cup tournament. (In theaters)

“May December”: Todd Haynes directs Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in a romantic drama about an actress (Portman) nosing around in the life of a once-notorious tabloid sensation (Moore) that she’s about to portray in a movie. (In theaters)

“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”: This fifth film in the “Hunger Games” series is a prequel focusing on the academy life of an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) who went on to become the devious president of Panem. (In theaters)

Nov. 22

“Napoleon”: Ridley Scott’s massive achievement focuses on the life and career of the legendary military commander and French emperor and stars Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby. We wouldn’t be surprised to see this become an Oscar magnet. (In IMAX theaters)

“Wish”: Disney celebrates its 100th year with an animated musical built around one of the studio’s favorite concepts: making wishes. The one doing the wishing this time is 17-year-old Asha (Ariana DeBose) who’s hoping to save her kingdom. (In theaters)

“Maestro”: Bradley Cooper directed, co-wrote and stars (with a prosthetic nose that has already drawn controversy) in this a biopic about the complex music man Leonard Bernstein. Carey Mulligan and Matt Bomer co-star as two of his lovers. (In theaters, streams Dec. 20 on Netflix)