As the summer comes to a close, an exciting fall movie season lies ahead of us. As always, the fall and winter are oftentimes the best times for films for adults – serious-minded and (hopefully) thoughtful films that usually do well come awards season. Of course, things change each year – there’s a surprising number of big-budget event films this fall – but these are among my most anticipated films of the next few months.
Special Note: Although they were released (relatively) early in the year, adults should not overlook First Reformed, You Were Never Really Here and BlacKkKlansman, the year’s three finest releases so far. If the kids are away and you’re seeking a powerful cinematic experience, look no further than this trio.
The Old Man and the Gun (rated PG-13, opening September 28)
Screen legend Robert Redford recently announced his retirement from acting, which means this September’s The Old Man and the Gun will serve as his final onscreen performance. And what a moving picture this looks to be. Dallas-based director David Lowery (who previously directed Redford in 2016’s Pete’s Dragon) brings us a true story of a charming, aging bank robber (Redford) on the run from the authorities in Texas. If the trailer is any indication, Redford looks to have a romance with Sissy Spacek along the way, too. Casey Affleck (who was so great in Lowery’s A Ghost Story and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints), Danny Glover and Tom Waits co-star in what I suspect will be one of my favorite films of the year.
First Man (rated PG-13, opening October 12)
Already receiving rave reviews from its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Damien Chazelle’s First Man is the rousing story of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969, in which Armstrong became the first person to step foot on the moon. Chazelle, the youngest Best Director Oscar winner in history (for his extraordinary musical La La Land), reunites with Gosling for what looks like this generation’s Apollo 13 (1995) or The Right Stuff (1983) – a space epic for the ages. Co-starring Claire Foy (as Armstrong’s wife, Janet), Kyle Chandler, Ciaran Hinds, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Patrick Fugit and Shea Whigham (so, essentially, most of the great working character actors), First Man appears to have an urgency and intensity that will put us right alongside its heroic astronauts.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (not yet rated, opening November 16)
Because this is a Netflix film, it’s hard to know what, if anything, this movie will be rated. However, because it’s the latest film by Joel and Ethan Coen, it’s also absolutely essential viewing. This western anthology film was originally developed as a Netflix series, but the Coens surprised us all by announcing at the last minute that it’s instead a 132-minute film. Comprised of six standalone stories set in the American West, the film stars Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, Zoe Kazan, James Franco, Tom Waits and many others. Many of the Coens’ greatest films are full of western elements (True Grit, No Country for Old Men, O Brother Where Art Thou?), and seeing as this is their first film since 2016’s Hail Caesar!, I look forward to The Ballad of Buster Scruggs with great anticipation.
Mary Poppins Returns (rated PG, opening December 21)
We still have a few months until this film hits cinemas, but if there’s any actress charming and sophisticated enough to revive the character of Mary Poppins, surely it’s Emily Blunt. Rob Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns is a sequel, not a remake, of the classic 1964 original starring Julie Andrews. Blunt was the best part of Marshall’s underwhelming film adaptation of Into the Woods, where she first showed off her wonderful singing abilities. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Emily Mortimer and Colin Firth join her in surely one of the most impressive casts of the fall. Disney has been rather cynically rebooting their entire catalogue of classics over the last few years, but this is one I am very much looking forward to seeing.
Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.