10 movies you absolutely must see this fall, from the new 'Halloween' to 'A Star Is Born'
Move over, summer blockbusters! These 10 films are topping our must-see list this fall. USA TODAY
This fall, the local movie theater is the only place you’ll see the first man on the moon, nasty aliens, a classic horror villain and Lady Gaga hanging out together.
September and October begins the usual slate of Oscar bait (we see you going for that gold dude, Melissa McCarthy and Bradley Cooper!) that you can time to leaves hitting the ground. Plus, there are a few scary flicks providing Halloween chills (welcome back, Jamie Lee Curtis!) to match the increasingly cold air.
Here are the 10 films, from a bonkers Nicolas Cage action movie to a Black Lives Matter drama, that you're absolutely going to want to see in the next two months.
'Mandy' (Sept. 14)
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache
Director: Panos Cosmatos
The skinny: In the horror fantasy, Cage stars as a lumberjack named Red who carves a bloody path of vengeance – wielding one seriously epic axe – against the evil forces of a cult leader (Roache) to avenge the murdered love of his life (Riseborough). Instead of just being a creepy revenge tale, “there’s a powerful love story here,” Cage promises. “It’s got depth to it, and pain and transformation and metamorphosis. What makes it work, if I may be so bold, is that Everyman. We can all go on this odyssey and explode if we're put under that kind of pressure and that kind of loss. Anyone can become that.”
'The Predator' (Sept. 14)
Stars: Sterling K. Brown, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn
Director: Shane Black
The skinny: More than 30 years after the first movie, the alien hunters return to Earth to plague humanity, and the premise here is “enough of these things have happened and with sufficient frequency that we've actually started paying attention," Black says. "There's even a fledgling scientific group whose purpose is to watch the skies in anticipation of the next incursion.” As for the Predators themselves, the filmmaker is sticking with the traits that worked before, from the same insectile face to the chittering noise they make when on the prowl. “Those are the staples that people are happy to see come back."
'The Old Man & the Gun' (Sept. 28)
Stars: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek
Director: David Lowery
The skinny: Based on a New Yorker article, the film follows real-life gentleman criminal Forrest Tucker (Redford) – newly broken out of San Quentin and in his 70s – who sets about robbing banks with his over-the-hill crew, being pursued by a dogged cop (Affleck) but still finding time to court a new love (Spacek). A lot of Forrest’s personality came from the way Redford “comports himself,” Lowery says of the acting legend's final lead film role. “I wanted the role to be one where he could lean into it and do all the things that he does best. And that includes just being a cool customer.”
'A Star Is Born' (Oct. 5)
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott
Director: Bradley Cooper
The skinny: Cooper always has loved music, but he admits “my throat closed up” when his pop icon co-star told him they’d need to sing everything live in this love story about hard-living country rocker Jackson Maine (Cooper) and Ally (Gaga), the up-and-comer he takes under his wing. “I wasn’t a singer at the time, but she was right,” the actor/director says. Singing live, “your whole body (feels) vulnerable because you’re sending vibrations through your vocal cords.” Cooper adds he “spent about a year in my basement” writing original songs with Willie Nelson’s son Lukas. “Every time a character sings a line, it has to do with where they’re at in that moment.”
'Venom' (Oct. 5)
Stars: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed
Director: Ruben Fleischer
The skinny: “An American Werewolf in London” was an influence for the body horror faced by journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), who becomes the unwitting host for an alien symbiote that turns him into a snarling, fearsome antihero. “In the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing, he's the real Hyde,” Fleischer says. “He'll rip somebody's head off and eat their brains. There’s this forbidden-fruit quality of this guy who will just do whatever he wants.” But there’s also a funny side to this menacing figure, including a “silly tongue always dangling out of his mouth that kind of undercuts the ferociousness of the jaws.”
'Beautiful Boy' (Oct. 12)
Stars: Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, Maura Tierney
Director: Felix Van Groeningen
The skinny: The emotional drama centers on a dad (Carell) who watches as his beloved son (Chalamet) struggles through meth addiction. Trickiest for Carell was “playing a father who is imperfect," he says. “You want a film in a lot of ways to portray the ideal, like what everyone would hope they would do given a certain situation." Instead, “when faced with the knowledge of his son's addiction, (he has) his ego hurt because 'What did I do to make my son this way?' when it's really not about him or that. That was part of the challenge, trying to respond in normal and honest ways.”
'First Man' (Oct. 12)
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler
Director: Damien Chazelle
The skinny: In the drama focusing on the hard road to Neil Armstrong's historic lunar jaunt in 1969, Gosling unleashes a whole repertoire of “subtle yet so pronounced” body language to reflect the real Armstrong, who was famously a quiet, withdrawn guy, Chazelle says. Much of the movie is about this “grandiose, noisy, chaotic world of the space program and the mission to the moon, but at the center of this whole maelstrom of emotions and spectacle, you have a real introvert. Ryan's able to make you feel the stuff that he's internalizing – you see it creep out in his face and in his words.”
'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' (Oct. 19)
Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Jane Curtin
Director: Marielle Heller
The skinny: McCarthy has a definite soft spot for Lee Israel, the real-life figure she plays who turned to forging the letters of dead celebrities in the 1990s when her own writing career was flailing. She was “on the surface so unsociable, so caustic, so someone that kind of walks through the world unseen. Yet as you get to know her, you just realize what a fascinating life,” McCarthy says. “She admitted that she did the wrong thing, but she was like, 'I still think it's my best work.' The writer in her couldn't let that go and unapologetically held true to that.”
'Halloween' (Oct. 19)
Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Will Patton
Director: David Gordon Green
The skinny: Forty years after Michael Myers terrorized babysitter Laurie Strode (Curtis), he’s back – and she has a bunch of weapons waiting for him. But Green wanted to be “honest and truthful” about those affected by such an event. “Can you imagine being Laurie Strode’s daughter and she brings you into your first-grade classroom, looks at the teacher and says, ‘What’s your exit strategy?’ ” Curtis says. “She was on alert always, and the authorities stepped in and said, ‘This is no life for a child.’ That’s the focus and energy Laurie now has: Prepare for him as he is preparing for me.”
'The Hate U Give' (Oct. 19)
Stars: Amandla Stenberg, Russell Hornsby, Issa Rae
Director: George Tillman Jr.
The skinny: In the timely adaptation of Angie Thomas’ 2017 book, Starr (Stenberg) is a teen from a black neighborhood who goes to a very white school. She’s able to keep those worlds separate until she witnesses a cop gun down her unarmed childhood friend, becoming an activist in a community torn apart by racial divides. “We're kind of like shouting into the void,” she says of the current culture reflected in the film. “I feel like now's a really important time to speak, and I think we got that part. It's also a really important time to listen.”
The first trailer for "A Star Is Born" is out and it stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.