This month's notable theatrical releases
Below, our editors have selected the most interesting films debuting in North American theaters this month, listed in alphabetical order.
Ad Astra Watch trailer(s)
Sci-fi/Adventure/Thriller | September 20 | Directed by James Gray
After originally being cast by James Gray in The Lost City of Z (and eventually replaced by Charlie Hunnam due to a scheduling conflict), Brad Pitt finds himself in space instead of the jungle in the director’s latest. Ad Astra (“To the Stars” in Latin) finds Pitt’s Roy McBride tasked with traveling to the outer edges of the solar system to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones), who might hold the key to a mystery that threatens the planet. Gray has compared the story to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. It might not be quite as good as another film inspired by that text, but early reviews out of its Venice premiere indicate it could be one of the month’s best.
The Day Shall Come Watch trailer(s)
Comedy | September 27 | Directed by Christopher Morris
The first film from English comedian (and frequent Armando Iannucci collaborator) Chris Morris since 2010's excellent Four Lions is another terrorism-related satire written by Morris and Jesse Armstrong (Succession, Peep Show). Filmed in secret, Day focuses on an impoverished and delusional but idealistic preacher (widely praised newcomer Marchánt Davis) in Miami whose financial savior (Anna Kendrick) turns out to be an FBI agent who tricks him into becoming a weapons dealer as part of a sting operation. Based on early reviews from a SXSW premiere, it sounds like fans of the director's previous film (or, say, Veep, which Morris has also directed) will be satisfied.
The Death of Dick Long Watch trailer(s)
Comedy/Drama | September 27 | Directed by Daniel Scheinert
Daniel Scheinert, one-half of the “Daniels” directing team behind Swiss Army Man (otherwise known as “the farting corpse film”), returned to Sundance this year with this story of how buddies Zeke (Michael Abbott Jr.) and Earl (Andre Hyland) try to hide the fact that their friend Dick is dead. Set in Alabama, the film deftly balances humor and heartache to surprising effect.
Diego Maradona Watch trailer(s)
Documetnary/Sports | September 20 | Directed by Asif Kapadia
The recipient of solid reviews at Cannes in May, Diego Maradona is a two-hour-plus profile of the legendary but troubled Argentine soccer star from Asif Kapadia, who previously directed well-received documentaries about Amy Winehouse (Amy) and Formula One driver Ayrton Senna (Senna). The film was made with Maradona's full participation and combines preexisting television footage with never-before-seen tapes from Maradona's private archive. Following this limited theatrical run, the film will air on HBO on October 1st.
Downton Abbey Watch trailer(s)
Drama | September 20 | Directed by Michael Engler
After six seasons on TV, Downton Abbey jumps to the big screen to catch up with the Crawley family and their staff as they prepare for the arrival of the King and Queen of England. TV veteran Michael Engler directs from a script by series creator Julian Fellowes, and 20 original cast members return. Joining the story are Imelda Staunton as Lady Bagshaw, Simon Jones as King George V, and Geraldine James as Queen Mary. Will fans of the show trek to theaters to reconnect with their favorite characters? Does the Dowager Countess get all the best lines?
First Love Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Comedy/Thriller | September 27 | Directed by Takashi Miike
Another fairly well-recieved Cannes entry this year, this zippy, Tarantino-esque bit of pulp fiction comes from prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike. This time, he's made a darkly comedic mob drama set in Tokyo that traces one day in the life of a troubled young boxer who meets the love of his life—though she happens to be caught up in a drug-smuggling scheme that involves a corrupt cop and various organized crime groups, resulting in what amounts to a night-long chase. One of the director's more accessible films, First Love is lively, violent, and funny, according to early reviews.
The Goldfinch Watch trailer(s)
Drama | September 13 | Directed by John Crowley
Will critics fall for director John Crowley’s latest literary adaptation like they did for his last, 2015’s Brooklyn? Well, it definitely has a strong pedigree. Peter Straughan, who adapted Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with Bridget O’Connor, takes on Donna Tart’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about Theo Decker, played by Ansel Elgort and Oakes Fegley, whose mother dies in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where, in the aftermath, Theo takes the painting of the title. The story follows Theo as he grows up in a world of antiques and shady art dealers. Shot by Oscar-winner Roger Deakins, the film’s strong supporting cast includes Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, and Sarah Paulson. Look for reviews to arrive in about a week following the film’s debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Hustlers Watch trailer(s)
Thriller/Comedy/Drama | September 13 | Directed by Lorene Scafaria
Jennifer Lopez is joined by Crazy Rich Asians star Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Julia Stiles, Lili Reinhardt, and rappers Lizzo and Cardi B in this true-crime tale set after the 2007-08 Wall Street financial crisis. Based on Jessica Pressler’s 2015 New York Magazine article and directed by Lorene Scafaria (writer-director of the well-received The Meddler), the film follows its eclectic cast as they play a group of shrewd, business-minded strippers who target their Wall Street clients’ pocketbooks. Look for reviews out of Toronto beginning September 7.
It: Chapter Two Watch trailer(s)
Horror/Thriller | September 6 | Directed by Andres Muschietti
The Losers Club are all grown up in this sequel to the $700 million worldwide grossing It. Once again, Andy Muschietti directs and Bill Skarsgård returns as Pennywise. But we return to Derry, Maine 27 years later, so the kids are now played by James McAvoy (Bill), Jessica Chastain (Beverly), Bill Hader (Richie), Isaiah Mustafa (Mike), Jay Ryan (Ben), James Ransone (Eddie), and Andy Bean (Stanley). The nearly three-hour running time has been an issue in some early responses to the film, but if you enjoyed the first chapter why would you want to miss out on the second (unless you’re waiting for Muschietti’s supercut combing the two films or the director’s cuts of both films).
Judy Watch trailer(s)
Drama | September 27 | Directed by Rupert Goold
Renée Zellweger is Judy Garland! That might be this film’s awards campaign slogan if reviews out of Telluride this weekend are any good. Directed by Rupert Goold (2015’s True Story) from a screenplay by Tom Edge (adapting Peter Quilter’s stage play End of the Rainbow), this biopic focuses on Judy Garland’s five-week, sold-out run in London in the winter of 1968 and her late-in-life romance with Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock). It was a rough time in Garland’s life, and Liza Minnelli, her daughter, has come out against the film. Despite that, this look at one of the most talented and tragic stars of the studio system should entice many to celebrate her life again.
The Laundromat Watch trailer(s)
Drama | September 27 | Directed by Steven Soderbergh
From the looks of the first trailer, director Steven Soderbergh and writer Scott Z. Burns have turned Jake Bernstein’s book Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite into a dark comedy. Narrated by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas as Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, the men at the helm of the Panamanian law firm that aided in global tax evasion, the film follows Meryl Streep’s Ellen Martin as she uncovers millions of files that expose Mossack Fonseca’s involvement with the world’s richest citizens and political leaders. While Soderbergh didn’t shoot this film on an iPhone like his previous Netflix feature, High Flying Bird, he does once again follow the money and investigate a rigged system. (And he apparently liked working with Streep so much that he quickly began filming another project with her in secret.) Look for the first reviews of The Laundromat out of Venice this weekend.
Midnight Traveler Watch trailer(s)
Documentary | September 18 | Directed by Hassan Fazili
After earning excellent reviews (and a Special Jury Award) from its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this year, this documentary from Afghan director Hassan Fazili went on to collect additional awards at festivals around the world. When the Taliban assassinated the main subject of Fazili’s 2015 documentary Peace in Afghanistan and put a price on his head, the director chronicled his family’s journey out of Afghanistan. With his wife and young daughters, Fazili treks across Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Serbia in search of refuge, capturing a visceral and poetic story.
Monos Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Thriller | September 13 | Directed by Alejandro Landes
The latest from from Colombian-Ecuadorian filmmaker Alejandro Landes (Porfirio) takes place in the remote mountains of Latin America, where teenage commandos watch over a prisoner played by Julianne Nicholson. Pushed into the jungle after an ambush, the group and its mission begin to collapse. However, it’s not the story that wowed many critics at Sundance but rather the film’s powerful images and Mica Levi’s vital score. This is filmmaking for the adventurous viewer.
One Cut of the Dead
Foreign/Horror/Comedy | September 13 | Directed by Shin'ichirô Ueda
Would the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominate a zombie comedy for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound and Score or, even better, award it the Oscar for Best Editing? It’s highly unlikely. But that’s what the Japanese Academy did for Shinichiro Ueda’s $27,000 indie movie about a director shooting a low-budget zombie movie in an abandoned warehouse where actual zombies come out to play. See what happens when the cult film plays on a few screens in New York and L.A. beginning on the 13th or at the one-night screening event in nearly 70 additional cities on September 17th.
Where's My Roy Cohn? Watch trailer(s)
Documentary | September 20 | Directed by Matt Tyrnauer
Documentary filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer (Studio 54, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood) directs this look at one the most infamous men of the last century, Joseph McCarthy and Donald Trump attorney Roy Cohn. When it premiered at Sundance, some critics found it a bit too straightforward in its approach to such a well-known subject, but others claimed the subject at its center is so fascinating that a facts-based approach works to highlight his appalling track record.
Two from GKIDS:
Promare Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Animation | September 17 | Directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi
Another Day of Life Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Animation | September 13 | Directed by Damian Nenow and Raúl de la Fuente
This month features two unique animation titles from import specialist GKIDS. Another Day of Life combines animation, interviews and archival footage to chronicle Angola’s 1975 civil war after it achieved independence from Portugal. Based on the book by the journalist Ryszard “Ricardo” Kapuściński, it’s a harrowing look at the chaos of war.
Using a bold animation style, Promare, the first feature film from director Hiroyuki Imaishi and studio Trigger (Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia, Gurren Lagann), captures the epic battle between the Burning Rescue team and Lio Fotia, the leader of a mutant race of flame-wielding beings. Special event screenings though Fathom occur on September 17th and 19th before Promare opens in New York and LA on the 20th.
Bonus pick: Special screening event
Comedy/Drama | September 12
Before it was a one of the decade's most acclaimed television shows, Fleabag was a one-woman stage show performed by series creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She recently revived the theatrical production for a series of sold-out dates in London and New York, and now one of her final performances (from London's West End) will be shown live in cinemas around the world as part of National Theatre Live.
Bonus pick: Streaming on Netflix
Between Two Ferns: The Movie
Comedy | September 20 | Directed by Scott Aukerman
The long-running web series—a low-budget talk-show spoof featuring a clueless Zach Galifianakis interviewing major celebrities—comes to Netflix for a movie produced by Funny or Die and directed by Ferns co-creator and Comedy Bang! Bang! host Scott Aukerman. The mostly improvised, documentary-style film finds Galifianakis (who is likely #1 on the call sheet) dismayed to discover that he is a laughing stock after his talk show is added to Funny or Die. So he heads out on a road trip to restore his reputation by interviewing even more A-listers (whose identities have not been confirmed but are rumored to include David Letterman, Bradley Cooper, Peter Dinklage, Ed Helms, and Keanu Reeves).
What do you think?
Which films are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments section below. For a complete, updated listing of all upcoming film releases by date, including films arriving later in 2019 and in 2020, visit our Movie Calendar.