10 movies you absolutely, positively must see this fall (from 'It 2' to 'Joker')


2019’s fall movie lineup ranges from horror (“It: Chapter Two”) to supervillains (“Joker”), and we can hardly wait.

This fall, Hollywood’s sending in the clowns. And throwing in a couple of Will Smiths – in the same movie! – plus Brad Pitt in space. But don’t forget Jimmy Hoffa and Adolf Hitler, or Jennifer Lopez’s Robin Hood-esque girl gang of scheming strippers. 

As the leaves turn, a cornucopia of new films are hitting theaters. In the run-up to Halloween, there are plenty of scares to be had, and “It: Chapter Two” could rival its original, the highest-grossing horror film ever. Creepy Pennywise is joined in theaters by another face-painted oddball, Joaquin Phoenix’s reimagined “Joker.” The latter film is part of a fresh slate of festival flicks that could be contenders this awards season, including Pitt on a mission to the stars with “Ad Astra” and J.Lo’s A-list crew living up to the name “Hustlers.” 

Do you want some happy returns? We’ve got plenty of those, too, with a timely new reboot of “The Addams Family,” “Downton Abbey” moving from the small screen to the cinema, and gangland icons Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci back in the underworld for Netflix’s “The Irishman.” 

Here are the 10 films out this September and October that you absolutely, positively must see (release dates are subject to change):

Ranked: The best horror movies this year (including ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’)

Best movies of 2019 (so far): ‘Booksmart,’ ‘Us’ are at the top of the class

‘It: Chapter Two’ (Sept. 6)

Stars: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader

Director: Andy Muschietti

The skinny:The sequel to the hit Stephen King adaptation brings the Losers Club back to Derry, 27 years later, to take on the evil clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). Some of the heroes’ lives have changed, though the group’s resident foul-mouthed jester Richie Tozier (Hader) is still the same guy. “There are a lot of repressed feelings for Richie. Like a lot of people who are kind of funny, you’re hiding other things,” says Hader, who notes that he resembles King in the movie and in real life. “I had a guy come up to me and say, ‘Hey, did you write ‘The Stand’?’ And I said, ‘That’s Stephen King, he’s twice my age.’ It just makes me feel really bad.”

‘Hustlers’ (Sept. 13)

Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu and Cardi B

Director: Lorene Scafaria

The skinny: Based on a 2015 magazine article, the crime drama centers on former strip club employees – headed by veteran dancer Ramona (Lopez) and single mom Destiny (Wu) – who pull scams on their rich Wall Street clients. Scafaria’s aim was “to paint an authentic portrait of a world that hasn’t been seen from a certain perspective,” says the filmmaker, who always thought Lopez was her ideal Ramona. “There was no second choice.” Lopez proved key in getting others interested, like Wu. “I just felt she and Jennifer would have this sisterly relationship with each other,” Scafaria adds. “You become a matchmaker in a way.”

‘Ad Astra’ (Sept. 20)

Stars: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones and Ruth Negga

Director: James Gray

The skinny: With shades of “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the classic Joseph Conrad novella “Heart of Darkness,” the sci-fi drama stars Pitt as an astronaut tasked to find his missing father (Jones), who’s possibly involved with an existential threat to Earth. “You want a mix of the personal and the large scale,” says Gray, who chose a “steely and square-jawed” guy like Pitt “to show the vulnerability behind a classic iconic figure.” Gray researched the dangers of cosmic ray bursts as well as the “absence” of everything in space. “You take away sound, you take away light, you take away a character’s ability to survive out in the open, and all of a sudden that becomes very scary.”

‘Downton Abbey’ (Sept. 20) 

Stars: Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville

Director: Michael Engler

The skinny: It’s been four years since the British historical drama ended but long enough “to really miss it and feel really nostalgic,” says Dockery, who reprises her role as Lady Mary. Set in 1927, the “Downton” movie centers on the upper-crust Crawley family and their servants preparing for a royal visit from King George and Queen Mary. “Of course, it comes with a lot of stress. It’s very entertaining seeing all of that.” Lady Mary is now in charge of the estate, an evolution from the reluctant teen with a “rebel heart” that Dockery played when the show began: “She’s really so invested in Downton and very passionate about keeping it going.”

‘Joker’ (Oct. 4)

Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz

Director: Todd Phillips

The skinny: Phillips always liked the villainous Joker’s “predilection for mayhem,” and he sees the new film – and a clown-for-hire’s tragic “descent into madness” – as a way to make a 1970s-era character study out of a comic book movie. His star also just happens to be the “ultimate get,” Phillips says. “My goal wasn’t to take Joaquin Phoenix and put him in the comic book universe. My goal was to take comic books (universe) and put it in the Joaquin Phoenix universe.” There’s “a darkness that (previous) actors probably had to live in” to play the Joker, and “Joaquin was aware of that,” Phillips adds. “I would say he’s unusually comfortable in that space.”

‘The Addams Family’ (Oct. 11)

Stars: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron and Chloe Grace Moretz

Directors: Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan

The skinny: The creepy, kooky and altogether ooky clan from the 1960s TV show and ‘90s movies is reintroduced in a new animated film that delves into their unusual origins and finds them moving to New Jersey – where they freak out their new neighbors. In this “immigrant story,” the Addamses are “the epitome of ultra-inclusivity and accepting diversity,” Tiernan says. The voice actors were asked to give each character a distinctive accent, so Isaac lends a Latino lilt to patriarch Gomez Addams and, as wife Morticia, Theron has “this mid-Atlantic kind of Katharine Hepburn-y accent where you just don’t quite know where it’s from.”

‘Gemini Man’ (Oct. 11) 

Stars: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Clive Owen

Director: Ang Lee

The skinny: The sci-fi action thriller stars Smith in dual roles as 50-year-old government assassin Henry Brogan, who is in the twilight of his career, and as the 23-year-old clone Junior sent to kill him. “I’m not that young anymore, so that really hit me,” Lee says about the film’s thought-provoking premise. Instead of de-aging Smith in post-production, Lee says Junior was created via Smith’s motion-capture performance, with a personality that’s a mix of his “Bad Boys” and “Six Degrees of Separation” characters, Smith’s own military dad and “his true younger self that only he knows.” 

‘Jojo Rabbit’ (Oct. 18)

Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell and Roman Griffin Davis

Director: Taika Waititi

The skinny: The “anti-hate satire” centers on Jojo (Davis), a 10-year-old boy recruited into a Nazi youth camp during World War II who discovers that his mother (Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Jojo is bullied by peers but confides in his imaginary friend, a very goofy Hitler (Waititi). “We went out to a lot of actors to play the role of Hitler but their agents were all too scared to even ask them, so Fox Searchlight encouraged me to do it,” the director says. “By far, the most difficult aspect of the role was having to see myself in the mirror as Hitler. As one can imagine, I really don’t like the guy and I felt like he had eaten me.”

‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ (Oct. 18)

Stars: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning and Michelle Pfeiffer

Director: Joachim Ronning

The skinny: The sequel to Disney’s 2014 live-action reimagining of “Sleeping Beauty” continues the mother-daughter relationship between winged fairy Maleficent (Jolie) and Aurora (Fanning). A rift occurs, though, when Aurora gets engaged to Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) and Maleficent tiptoes a bit back to the dark side when she squares off with Phillip’s villainous mom, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). “Aurora is basically moving out. That’s something I and a lot of parents can relate to,” says Ronning, adding that Pfeiffer is one of the few people who can “hold their own” against Jolie, “especially when she puts on the horns.”

‘The Irishman’ (fall) 

Stars: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci

Director: Martin Scorsese

The skinny: The Netflix crime drama teams two gangster-movie icons for the first time: Scorsese and Pacino, who plays union leader Jimmy Hoffa. “We got close a few times and then it didn’t quite happen,” the director says. “He and Bob and I needed to work together.” With De Niro (as hitman Frank Sheeran) and Pesci (as mob boss Russell Bufalino), Scorsese wanted to capture the same magic they had on “Raging Bull.” “We came at it from a different point in our lives, from a different perspective, and that means we explored new tones and nuances, new values. It’s possible that it’s the summation of what we started almost 40 years ago.” 

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  • Angelina Jolie reprises her role as the title winged fairy - and one-time villainess - in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.1 of 40
  • Richie Tozier (Bill Hader, front) and the rest of the Losers Club (James Ransone, Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Jay Ryan and Isaiah Mustafa) face Pennywise as adults in It: Chapter Two.2 of 40
  • Rebecca Romijn leads a cult of well-to-do devil worshippers who eye a pizza-delivery girl as their next sacrifice in Satanic Panic.3 of 40
  • James Franco (right, with Jacki Weaver) plays an architecture student who moves to L.A. with filmmaking dreams in Zeroville.4 of 40
  • Bruce Dern and Lexy Kolker star in the sci-fi film Freaks.5 of 40
  • Nicole Kidman and Ansel Elgort star in The Goldfinch.6 of 40
  • Katie Stevens plays a young woman who faces the terror of an all-too-real haunted house on Halloween in Haunt.7 of 40
  • Ramona (Jennifer Lopez, left) and Destiny (Constance Wu) are former strip-club employees who make ends meet in criminal fashion in Hustlers.8 of 40
  • Sasheer Zamata (right) stars as a struggling comedian whose vacation plans are ruined by her brother (Tone Bell) and his girlfriend (DeWanda Wise) showing up in The Weekend.9 of 40
  • Otis Firefly (Bill Moseley, left), Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie) and Winslow Foxworth Coltrane (Richard Brake) are up to no good in Rob Zombie's horror film 3 From Hell.10 of 40
  • Brad Pitt plays an astronaut who ventures into space to find his dad and save the world in the sci-fi film Ad Astra.11 of 40
  • Seann William Scott plays a new dad with serial-killer tendencies and a revenge streak in the horror thriller Bloodline.12 of 40
  • Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery, center) readies for a royal visit alongside Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) and Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) in Downton Abbey.13 of 40
  • Sylvester Stallone returns as Vietnam vet/action hero John Rambo one final time in Rambo: Last Blood.14 of 40
  • Laurence Fishburne (left) and Nicolas Cage star as drug traffickers in Running with the Devil.15 of 40
  • Roy Cohn, seen here testifying in Washington on at the hearing on the McCarthy-Army officials controversy, is the subject of the documentary Where's My Roy Cohn?16 of 40
  • Yi (Chloe Bennet), Peng (Albert Tsai),  and Everest the Yeti Abominable.17 of 40
  • Bokeem Woodbine (left), Boyd Holbrook and Michael C. Hall in In the Shadow of the Moon.18 of 40
  • Bruce Willis stars in 10 Minutes Gone, about a safecracker who wakes up with a traumatic head injury after a heist gone wrong.19 of 40
  • Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Thomas Edison in 'The Current War, a historical drama centering on the electric rivalry between Edison and George Westinghouse.20 of 40
  • Clown-for-hire and failed stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) goes down a tragic path of pure mayhem in Joker.21 of 40
  • Natalie Portman (with Jon Hamm) stars as an astronaut dealing with life back on Earth in Lucy in the Sky.22 of 40
  • Stephen Lang stars in Rogue Warfare, about an elite group of soldiers fighting an underground terrorist network.23 of 40
  • Nat Wolff (left) and Jai Courtney star in the drama Semper Fi.24 of 40
  • Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaac, left) and Morticia Addams (Charlize Theron) move their brood to New Jersey in the animated The Addams Family.25 of 40
  • Heather DeVan returns as the possessed Sarah Winbourne in the horror film Along Came the Devil II.26 of 40
  • Movie magic turned Will Smith into a 23-year-old again in Ang Lee's sci-fi action film Gemini Man.27 of 40
  • Crispin Glover stars as a psychotic hitman out for revenge on a safecracker and his family in the crime drama Lucky Day.28 of 40
  • Gary Oldman (with Emily Mortimer) stars as a struggling captain who takes his family on a boat and finds evil on the high seas in the horror film Mary.29 of 40
  • Bong Joon-Ho's Parasite won the Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.30 of 40
  • Kevin Smith (left) and Jason Mewes reprise their slacker characters in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.31 of 40
  • Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis, left) has an imaginary friend, a very goofy Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), in Jojo Rabbit.32 of 40
  • Maleficent (Angelina Jolie, left)  and her associate Diaval (Sam Riley) meet her future in-laws King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.33 of 40
  • Uzo Aduba stars as a single mom who fights for fellow parents like herself who can't afford private schools that get their kids off the streets in Miss Virginia.34 of 40
  • Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg, left) and Wichita (Emma Stone) welcome Madison (Zoey Deutch) to their undead-busting crew in the horror-comedy sequel Zombieland: Double Tap.35 of 40
  • Naomie Harris stars as a rookie cop who captures the death of a young dealer on her body cam in Black and Blue.36 of 40
  • Alexander Skarsgard (center) plays a sadistic sergeant who directs his men to kill civilians in Afghanistan in the military drama The Kill Team.37 of 40
  • Eddie Murphy (left), Keegan-Michael Key and Wesley Snipes star in Dolemite Is My Name.38 of 40
  • Al Pacino (right) stars as Jimmy Hoffa in Martin Scorsese's Netflix gangster drama The Irishman.39 of 40
  • Meryl Streep plays a widow whose dream vacation gets embroiled in criminal intrigue in director Steven Soderbergh's The Laundromat.40 of 40

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