Fall 2019 Movie Preview for Theater Lovers

Below is a list of movies opening in the U.S. from September to December, organized chronologically by release date. I include many movie trailers.

Among the movies of interest to theater lovers: Finn Wittrock (Death of A Salesman, Glass Menagerie) portrays Judy Garland’s fifth husband in “Judy,” a movie about her that is based on a Broadway play. Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr.  (Tony winners for The Color Purple and Hamilton, respectively) star in “Harriet,” about Harriet Tubman. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tracy Letts has adapted a novel for the screen. And, Heaven help us, both Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen (as Gus The Theater Cat) appear in Cats, the movie version of the Broadway musical. McKellen also stars in a movie with Dame Helen Mirren.

 

(Below, an asterisk is placed next to names of movie cast members that theatergoers can claim as legitimate stage artists now or at least originally. For example, Willem Dafoe, a familiar face on screen who is appearing  in two high-profile movies this Fall, is a founding member of the experimental theater company The Wooster Group.)

SEPTEMBER

September 2

Untouchable

Hulu
Directed by: Ursula McFarlane
Cast: Rosanna Arquette, Ronan Farrow, Paz de la Huerta

A documentary about Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement.

September 6

It: Chapter 2

Directed by: Andrés Muschietti
Cast: Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Bill Skarsgard

Twenty-seven years after the Losers Club’s terrifying encounter with Derry’s most notorious clown, they receive a phone call that brings them all back together again.

Also:
Blink of an Eye
Ms. Purple

 

September 13

 

The Goldfinch

Directed by: John Crowley
Cast:  Ansel Elgort, Finn Wolfhard, Nicole Kidman, Ashleigh Cummings, *Jeffrey Wright, Aneurin Bernard, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson

Based on Donna Tart’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2014 novel from 2014 about one of the only survivors of a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as he struggles to let go of his one connection to that day: a painting of a tiny bird, otherwise known as The Goldfinch.

Haunt

Directed by: Scott Beck and Bryan Woods
Cast:  Katie Stevens, Will Brittain, Lauryn Alisa McClain

On Halloween, a group of friends discover a haunted house that claims to create thrills based on real fears.

Hustlers

Directed by: Lorene Scafaria
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, Constance Wu, Lizzo, Keke Palmer, Julia Stiles, Lili Reinhart

Inspired by a 2015 New York Magazine article about a group of strippers stealing from their rich Wall Street clients during the financial crisis.

 

Also (bear in mind it’s Friday the 13th)

September 20

Ad Astra

Directed by: James Gray
Cast: Brad Pitt, Liv Tyler, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga

Astronaut Roy McBride (Pitt) travels to the outer edge of our solar system on a dangerous mission to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones) who disappeared decades earlier, and may hold the key to a secret that threatens our very existence.

Downton Abbey

Directed by: Michael Engler
Cast: *Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Joanna Froggat, Matthew Goode, *Elizabeth McGovern

The TV series made into a movie: It’s 1927, and Downton Abbey is about to receive some very special guests: King George V and Queen Mary.

 

Rambo: Last Blood

Directed by: Adrian Grunberg
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Adriana Barraza, Yvette Monreal

The fifth Rambo installment; this time the daughter of a friend is kidnapped by a Mexican cartel

Between Two Ferns: The Movie

Netflix
Directed by: Scott Aukerman
Cast:  Zach Galifanakis, Lauren Lapkus, Ginger Gonzaga

A movie based on Zach Galifanakis’ cult parody talk show. Galifanakis must hit the road to defend his reputation as the premier celebrity interviewer of our time.

Also:
Corporate Animals
Diego Maradona
Where’s My Roy Cohn?

September 27

Judy

Directed by: Rupert Goold
Cast: Renee Zellweger, Rufus Sewell, Finn Wittrock, Jessie Buckley

The last year of Judy Garland’s life, largely based on Peter Quilter’s play End of the Rainbow, which ran on Broadway in 2012. During a five-week run in London she reflects on her rise to stardom, and fall in love with Mickey Deans (Wittrock) the man who became her fifth husband.

The Report

Directed by: Scott Z. Burns
Cast Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Matthew Rhys, Corey Stoll

Based on a true story, this political thriller follows Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Driver) as he leads an investigation in the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, which engaged in “enhanced interrogation techniques” after 9/11.

Also:
The Day Shall Come
The Death of Dick Long
Extra Ordinary
The Sound of Silence

OCTOBER

October 4

Joker

Directed by: Todd Phillips
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro. Zazie Beetz

The origin story of the Batman villain, who started as a lonely, failed stand-up comedian.

The Woman in the Window

Directed by: Joe Wright
Cast: Amy Adams, *Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Anthony Mackie, Brian Tyree Henry

Adapted by *Tracy Letts from the best-selling novel by A.J. Finn, the movie stars Adams as an agoraphobic child psychologist who spends her days spying on the perfect family next door. But then she witnesses a crime…

Pain and Glory

Directed by: Pedro Almodovar
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz

Banderas won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his role as a film director in the middle of a creative crisis

The Current War

Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, *Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, *Tom Holland, Katherine Waterston

Inventors Thomas Edison (Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Shannon) race to complete rival electrical systems that will change modern life.

Lucy in the Sky

Directed by: Noah Hawley
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Dan Stevens, Zazie Bettz, *Ellen Burstyn

Based on a true story, Portman stars as an astronaut who kidnaps her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend and drives from Houston to Orlando wearing an adult diaper. After a long mission, Lucy returns to Earth only to find her connection with her family — and reality — slipping away.

Also:
Wrinkles the Clown

October 11

Gemini Man

Directed by: Ang Lee
Cast:  Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong

A former government assassin is targeted by his younger, more agile clone, able to predict his every thought and movement.

Parasite

Directed by: Bong Joon-ho
Cast Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam

The first Korean movie to win the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, it is a pitch-black modern fairytale the follows the wealthy Park family, and the much-poorer Kim clan.

Also:
Jexi
The Dead Center
High Strung Free Dance

October 18

The Lighthouse

Directed by: Robert Eggers
Cast Robert Pattinson, *Willem Dafoe

Two New England lighthouse keepers slowly lose their sanity.

Zombieland 2: Double Tap

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Bill Murray, Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, Luke Wilson

Ten years after the original movie, the characters reconnoitre at the White House, and head back on the road, meeting new survivors and enemies on the way.

When he’s not acting in movies, Jesse Eisenberg has been busy writing plays Off-Broadway.

Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil

Directed by: Joachim Ranning
Cast:Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sam Reilly

Set several years after the first movie, Maleficent (Jolie) is living in peace when Aurora (Fanning) and Prince Phillip’s (Harris Dickinson) engagement throws everything into turmoil.

The Addams Family

Directed by: Conrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan
Cast: Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Oscar Isaac, Finn Wolfhard, Snoop Dog, Allison Janney, Bette Midler

In this animated film, the family does battle with a reality show host.

Jojo Rabbit

Directed by: Taika Waititi
Cast Taiki Waititi, Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson

Based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunen, set during World War II in Germany, Griffin Davis is Jojo “Rabbit” Betzler, who discovers that his mother (Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. Jojo must confront his Nazi beliefs, with the help of his imaginary friend, a goofy version of the Fuhrer.

Also: Greener Grass

October 25

Black and Blue

Directed by: Deon Taylor
Cast Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson, Frank Grillo

When rookie police officer Alicia West (Harris) accidentally records corrupt cops committing a crime on her body camera, she turns to her only possible ally, Milo “Mouse” Jackson (Gibson), to help her make sure they face justice.

The Last Full Measure

Directed by: Todd Robinson
Cast Sebastian Stan, *Christopher Plummer, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irvine, Alison Sudol

Based on a true story, Sebastian Stan plays investigator Scott Huffman, who signs on to help Vietnam veterans lobby for their comrade-in-arms to get a Congressional Medal of Honor after he gave his life saving them.

Also:
Countdown
Frankie
The Kill Team
Synonyms

NOVEMBER

November 1

Motherless Brooklyn

Directed by: Edward Norton
Cast Edward Norton, *Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Leslie Mann, Bobby Cannavale, Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Fisher Stevens, *Cherry Jones

Based on Jonathan Lethem’s novel, this detective thriller stars Norton as a private eye with Tourette syndrome, who finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy involving Alec Baldwin.

Harriet

Directed by: Kasi Lemmons
Cast: *Cynthia Erivo, Janelle Monae, Joe Alwyn,*Leslie Odom Jr.

Erivo as Harriet Tubman

Also:
Arctic Dogs
Terminator: Dark Fate
Burden
Waves

November 8

Honeyboy

Directed by Alma Har’el
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe
From a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences, filmmaker Alma Har’el brings to life a young actor’s stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father and deal with his mental health.

Lucas Hedges shooting star of a movie career has been accompanied by several impressive New York stage performances — Yen Off Broadway and The Waverly Gallery on Broadway.

Also:
Doctor Sleep
Last Christmas
Midway
Playing with Fire

November 15

Ford v. Ferrari

Directed by: James Mangold
Cast: Matt Damon, Christian Bale
A British driver named Ken Miles (Christian Bale) and an engineer named Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) to design something to compete against the Europeans

The Good Liar

Directed by Bill Condon
Cast: *Helen Mirren, *Ian McKellen, Nell Williams
Career con artist Roy Courtnay can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish online. As Betty opens her home and life to him, Roy is surprised to find himself caring about her

Also:

Charlie’s Angels
The Lodge

November 22

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Directed by Marielle Heller
Cast: Tom Hanks, Enrico Colantoni, Matthew Rhys
Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod.

Frozen II

Directed by Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Cast: *Jonathan Groff, Kristen Bell, Evan Rachel Wood
Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom

Dark Waters

Directed by Todd Haynes
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Mark Ruffalo, Bill Pullman
A corporate defense attorney takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company that exposes a lengthy history of pollution.

Also:
21 Bridges

November 27 (Thanksgiving)

Knives Out
Queen & Slim

DECEMBER

December 6

The Aeronauts
Brahms: The Boy II
Playmobil: The Movie
Little Joe
Portrait of a Lady on Fire

December 13

Black Christmas
Jumanji: The Next Level
Cunningham
A Hidden Life
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Uncut Gems

December 20

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Cast: Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley, Domhnall Gleeson, Keri Russell, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Billie Lourd, Lupita Nyong’o, Carrie Fisher (!)
Theatergoers note: Adam Driver and Keri Russell were the co-stars of Burn This on Broadway last season.

Bombshell
Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, *John Lithgow, Kate McKinnon, *Alison Janney
The story of Fox News head Roger Ailes’ sexual harassment of his female employees.

Cats
Cast: *James Corden as Bustopher Jones, *Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger, Idris Elba as Macavity, Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella[, *Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre Cat, Taylor Swift as Bombalurina, Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots et al

The movie version of the long-running Broadway musical.

Also:
Superintelligence

December 25 (Christmas)

Little Women
Directed by Greta Gerwig
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern and *Meryl Streep
The eighth feature film adaptation of the 1868 novel by Louisa May Alcott.

Also:
1917
Spies in Disguise
Just Mercy

December 27

Clemency

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Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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