Per usual, there are a lot of things to be excited for this fall at the movies. I'd like to state up front that when I say "fall" in terms of movie-going seasons that "fall" will be defined as beginning next week, the first weekend of September, through to the end of the year. This actually makes it more difficult to narrow down my most anticipated releases into a short ten as there are releases the first three weeks of September that I've been looking forward to the majority of the year, but I’ll hold off on those until I actually get to the list. Furthermore, I want to provide some context for this list by stating that the ten movies I’ve picked are the ten movies I would want to see most if I could only see ten more movies for the remainder of the year; if I were only allowed to enter a theater ten more times in 2019 these are the ten I would pick to see on those visits. Sure, there are things like Terminator: Dark Fate, Zombieland: Double Tap, the new Jumanji film and Frozen II that I’m excited for and interested to see for one reason or another, but if I don’t know that any of those would necessarily make the cut if it were an absolute scenario such as the one I'm putting myself in for the sake of widdling down the release schedule to the ten titles I'm actually most anticipating. What I do want to do first though, is go through some of the movies that aren’t going to make my list, but that I think deserve to be highlighted as they have a lot of promise and one can only hope they turn out to be as fantastic as they look.

Some of these certainly lie right outside the top ten while others-such as Charlie's Angels, Jexi, 1917 and Doctor Sleep-that feel important largely for their big names and widespread reputations are ones I will see due solely for the weight they carry in said release schedule rather than out of any genuine enthusiasm. Like I said, I'll see all of those and am curious about the reactions most will garner, but if I wanted to highlight films I'm genuinely excited to screen that might not be as much in the mainstream conversations I would have to include such titles as James Mangold's (Walk the Line, Logan) Ford v Ferrari starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon, Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird follow-up with her adaptation of Little Women, Taika Waititi's (Thor: Ragnarok) Nazi satire Jojo Rabbit, Noah Hawley's Lucy in the Sky starring Natalie Portman, Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Reboot and new Terrance Malick by way of A Hidden Life all of which I'm equally intrigued by for a variety of different reasons. There are of course, fairly big releases like Paul Feig's Last Christmas starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Goulding as well as Marielle Heller's Fred Rogers biopic starring Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, that I'm plenty excited to see as well. And there are plenty others of course-this isn't even touching any of the major Netflix or Disney+ releases that are coming, but there just isn't enough space in the world for everything that sounds promising this fall and so, here are the ten films I absolutely can't wait to watch:

10. Bombshell - Starring Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson and Margot Robbie as a fictional associate producer at Fox News, Bombshell follows the recent real-life events involving Roger Ailes (John Lithgow), the man who created "the most powerful and controversial media empire of all time" and the explosive story of the women who brought down the infamous man who created it. Ailes was ousted from Fox after allegations of sexual harassment from numerous women, including Kelly and Carlson. Rounding out the A-list cast are Allison Janney, Alice Eve, Mark Duplass, Malcolm McDowell, Connie Britton and Kate McKinnon with the film being under the helm of veteran director Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents, Game Change) from a screenplay by Charles Randolph (The Big Short). (12/20)

9. The Goldfinch - Based on Donna Tartt's novel, 13-year-old New Yorker Theo Decker's life is turned upside-down when his mother is killed in a terrorist attack at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Confused in the rubble of the tragedy, he steals a priceless piece of art known as "The Goldfinch". While I haven't read Tartt's novel nor do I know how or why this film will run two and a half hours, what I do know is that this is director John Crowley's follow-up to his lovely 2015 film, Brooklyn, which served as one of my favorite films of that year and for that reason alone I can't wait to see what the filmmaker does with his follow-up. The film stars Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Oakes Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright and was shot by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins. (9/13)

8. Knives Out - While I certainly wasn't the biggest fan of writer/director Rian Johnson's entry in the Star Wars universe I have admittedly been a fan of everything else he's done including Brick, The Brothers Bloom and Looper and so the fact he has decided to follow-up what some might consider the pinnacle of his career and others the lowest point with an original "whodunnit" of sorts one is inclined to hope for the best. Also, that cast! Johnson's latest is headed up by Daniel Craig, but also features the likes of Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Katherine Langford, Lakeith Stanfield, Jaeden Martell and Christopher Plummer. Knives Out chronicles the events around the untimely death of renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey who is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday. The inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. From Harlan's dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan's...murder? (11/27)

7. Dolemite Is My Name - Eddie Murphy has rarely appeared on screen in the last decade, but he’s back in director Craig Brewer's (Hustle & Flow) new biopic about Rudy Ray Moore, as the legendary comedian and actor will portray the comedy and rap pioneer who proved naysayers wrong when his hilarious, obscene, kung-fu fighting alter ego, Dolemite, became a 1970s Blaxploitation phenomenon. Dolemite will make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month before landing in theaters in limited release on 10/4 and then on Netflix on 10/25. Dolemite Is My Name also stars Tituss Burgess, Craig Robinson, Mike Epps, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Keegan-Michael Key, Snoop Dogg and Wesley Snipes.

6. Ad Astra - Brad Pitt has been eager to work with director James Gray for some time as he was originally scheduled to star in The Lost City of Z, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Gray, who wrote this original screenplay with Ethan Ross (Fringe), has seemed to craft nothing short of a fascinating mystery/sci-fi film that isn't so much going to be lenient on the "fiction" part, but instead more grounded in its approach to discussing extraterrestrial life forms. In the film, Pitt plays an astronaut who travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet; ultimately uncovering secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the universe. This sort of thing is right up my alley. I love when movies really go for it in the vein of something like 2001, The Tree of Life, or Interstellar and it seems as if this film might fit really well into that line-up. Ad Astra also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland, John Ortiz and Kimberly Elise. (9/20)

5. Honey Boy - From a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf and based on his own experiences, award-winning filmmaker Alma Har'el (LoveTrue) brings to life a young actor's stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father through cinema and dreams. Fictionalizing his childhood's ascent to stardom, and subsequent adult crash-landing into rehab and recovery, Har'el casts Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges as Otis Lort, the LaBeouf stand-in. LaBeouf takes on the daring and therapeutic challenge of playing a version of his own father, an ex-rodeo clown and a felon who seems to have pressed his child into early stardom. Artist and musician FKA twigs makes her feature-film debut, playing neighbor and kindred spirit to the younger Otis in their garden-court motel home. Har'el's feature narrative debut is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between filmmaker and subject, exploring art as medicine and imagination as hope. (11/8)

4. The Irishman - Martin Scorsese directs Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel in a crime drama that chronicles a mob hitman as he recalls his possible involvement in the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa. That's really all that needs to be said about this film or what will otherwise become known as the most expensive original Netflix movie to date (it carries a $160 million price tag). Based on Charles Brandt's 2003 novel, I Heard You Paint Houses, the film chronicles the meeting of De Niro's Frank Sheeran and Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) and is based on interviews Brandt had with Sheeran over the course of five years detailing how he handled more than twenty-five hits for the mob, and for his friend Hoffa. Much has also been made of that rather hefty price tag, a majority of which was attributed to the de-aging process applied to the three screen legends mentioned thus far, given this is a story that spans decades. It's difficult to even see where this technology comes in as far as the footage in the trailer is concerned save for the final, revealing shot that puts an emphasis on De Niro's face, but regardless of where the money went expect The Irishman to be a major awards contender for Netflix this year as it is set to premiere as the opening night film at the New York Film Festival on September 27th. The film also stars Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Jack Huston, Kathrine Narducci and Jesse Plemons. In theaters on 11/1 and Netflix 11/27.

3. It: Chapter Two - The success of the first half of director Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King's IT afforded him the luxury of an A-list ensemble and plenty of time to develop and shoot this sequel we kind of already knew was happening even before that first film blew all expectations out of the water; going on to score the largest opening weekend for an R-rated movie ever, then continuing to perform week after week ultimately taking in over $700 million worldwide. Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader lead the cast of IT: Chapter Two as the sequel picks up with the characters from the first film as adults twenty-seven years later. Furthermore, the film will chronicle "the losers" first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise in that same span of time as the group return to Derry, Maine after a devastating phone call brings them together again. In speaking with Entertainment Weekly Pennywise himself, Bill Skarsgård, stated that, "The arc of the first movie is that he, for the first time, experiences fear himself,” which could certainly mean the character might go in one of two drastically different directions, but it seems rather than sulk back into the darkness from which he came Pennywise will be seeking revenge as Skarsgård reiterated that this encounter with fear, "fuels hatred and anger towards the kids, who are now adults, so I think there might be an even more vicious Pennywise.” So, yeah...despite early mixed reactions I'm still pumped for this thing. (9/6)

2. Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker - After 2017's The Last Jedi both the level of excitement and expectations were severely tempered for this last installment, the otherwise monumental finale of the Skywalker saga. As already stated, I was not a fan of Rian Johnson's middle chapter in what is seemingly the third and final trilogy in the main series of Star Wars films as it almost irreverently disregarded everything writer/director J.J. Abrams set-up in The Force Awakens. Director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm director Kathleen Kennedy have been quite mum on story, character and plot details, but the revelation this doesn't pick up immediately after the events of TLJ is interesting and it is clear our core group of heroes are on a singular mission in The Rise of Skywalker. Speaking of characters, the cast will include new generation cast members such as Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Billie Lourd, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Lupita Nyong'o as well as newcomers Keri Russell, Richard E. Grant and Naomi Ackie who will play a character named Jannah. Fans will also be introduced to BB-8's new friend, Dio, a smaller droid that has a distinctively cool design while legacy cast members returning include Carrie Fisher in her last on-screen role, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels and Lando Calrissian himself...Billy Dee Williams. Here's to hoping that lowered expectations lead to greater reward. (12/20)

1. Joker - Despite his films typically receiving more negative press than unanimous praise, I've been a fan of director Todd Phillips since he knocked me out with a double dose of Frat Pack greatness in 2003 and 2004 with Old School and Starky & Hutch before going on to become better known for his Hangover trilogy. While that trilogy may have become more and more mediocre over the course of three films in terms of story, they vastly improved Phillips' cinematic eye while the filmmaker's subversive take on the material at least led to interesting outlets. And while the character of the Joker arguably will suffer more than he might prosper from an origin story, with a screenplay by Phillips and Scott Silver (The Fighter) along with a cast that features the likes of Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro it's hard to argue one isn't at least intrigued by the promise if not excited by the idea. This appears to essentially be a seventies-set New York crime drama and feels visceral in a way that transcends the legacy of the character making it feel that Joker, like The Dark Knight, will simply be a strong genre film that just so happens to also feature characters inspired by comic books. This is easily my most anticipated film of the year and it will be hard to forgive all those seeing it early on the film festival circuit as us general movie-goers have to wait another month until it hits local cinemas. (10/4)

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