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Fall movie preview: Awards bait, prestige dramas and reboots coming to theatres soon

If you’re reading this, congratulations – you survived the summer movie season, with all its needlessly giant sharks, towering infernos, and oh-so-many sicarios. Fortunately, the fall movie season offers redemption for the patient moviegoer: four months of awards bait, prestige dramas, and films divorced of any cross-platform synergy. (Well, there are still a few of those movies, too.) To help you forget about the cruel, cruel summer, The Globe and Mail presents its guide to the films that hope to keep you warm this fall. (Release dates subject to change.)

Oscar Bait

Prestige pics engineered to attract Academy consideration

The Wife

After playing the Toronto International Film Festival nearly a year ago, it seemed that Bjorn Runge’s drama was heading for immediate Academy Awards success. Yet Sony Pictures Classics decided to hold it back from a crowded 2017 field, paving the way for star Glenn Close to dominate this year’s awards race. After a brief hiccup when it was rescheduled for this summer, it’s now been moved to the more Oscar-friendly space of late September. If there’s any justice in this world, Close won’t be forgotten in the release-date shuffle, as her performance as a betrayed woman is one to savour for seasons to come. (Sept. 21)

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A Star Is Born

For those keeping track, this will be the fourth iteration for this property, following versions in 1937 (starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March), 1954 (Judy Garland and James Mason) and 1976 (Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson). An update starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, and helmed by Cooper in his directorial debut, may have once seemed a skeptical proposition, but the hype is building steadily, and the trailer delivers goosebumps time and again. (Oct. 5)

First Man

For his follow-up to La La Land, director Damien Chazelle is exploring territory both familiar (Ryan Gosling again stars) and extraterrestrial, with this biopic about Neil Armstrong and NASA’s journey to the Moon. Claire Foy and a mission control’s worth of character actors (Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Shea Whigham) co-star as Chazelle aims for another Oscar statuette – this time, minus any envelope mix-ups. (Oct. 12)

Widows

A heist film may not seem like an immediate Oscars contender, but this Chicago-set thriller comes courtesy of Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and boasts the most stacked cast of the year: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, and Cynthia Erivo as the titular widows whose husbands perish in a failed caper, plus Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry as the men in and out of their lives. (Nov. 16)

If Beale Street Could Talk

Speaking of Oscars mix-ups, the 2019 ceremony may very well be a rematch between Chazelle and Barry Jenkins, who follows up (eventual) best picture winner Moonlight with this adaptation of a James Baldwin novel. Starring Canadian Stephan James as a man falsely imprisoned and KiKi Layne as the pregnant fiancée desperate to clear his name, this 1970s-set drama will make its world premiere at TIFF next week. (Nov. 30)

Mature Audiences Only

Mainstream movies aimed at adults

White Boy Rick

Is now the time for the second (or maybe third) era of the McConnaissance? The star of White Boy Rick is certainly hoping so, with Matthew McConaughey playing the patriarch of a down-on-their-luck 1980s Detroit family whose youngest member (newcomer Richie Merrit) becomes an undercover informant for the FBI. (Sept. 14)

The Sisters Brothers

John C. Reilly is one of those character actors whose every move seems calculated to draw intrigue. He’s worked with Martin Scorsese and Robert Altman, but also with the alt-comedy team of Tim and Eric. And now he’s partnered with a similarly curious and restless artist, French director Jacques Audiard (Dheepan, A Prophet), to produce and co-star in The Sisters Brothers. An adaptation of Canadian author Patrick deWitt’s 2011 novel, the dark comedy follows a pair of assassin brothers (Joaquin Phoenix plays Reilly’s sibling) who are hired to kill a prospector (Jake Gllyenhaal) in 1850s Oregon. Riz Ahmed co-stars, so it’s an automatic yes. (Sept. 28)

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Bad Times at the El Royale

Motel-set thrillers have an iffy reputation – for every Psycho, there’s an Identity. Or 1408. Okay, maybe John Cusack just has a bad eye for these things. But Bad Times at the El Royale is Cusack-free, instead boasting Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson and Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. More importantly, it’s from writer-director Drew Goddard, whose The Cabin in the Woods is the gold standard for cheeky, deconstructed genre fare. (Oct. 5)

Bohemian Rhapsody

The road to a Freddie Mercury biopic has been rocky, to say the least, with decades of go-nowhere development, dream casting (Sacha Baron Cohen) that’s evaporated, and a director (Bryan Singer) who abruptly left the film mid-production. But with an assist from Dexter Fletcher (Singer will retain sole credit), audiences will finally get the story of the Queen frontman, starring Mr. Robot lead Rami Malek. We’re already readying our headline puns – don’t stop us now. (Nov. 2)

Overlord

Once rumoured to be another Cloverfield spin-off, this J.J. Abrams-produced horror film is allegedly a completely unrelated entity, and a gonzo-looking one at that. Following Allied troops during the Second World War who stumble onto a Nazi experiment not meant for human eyes, the thriller looks like a delightfully gross cross between Inglourious Basterds and House of 1000 Corpses. (Nov. 9)

Hmm, Sounds Familiar

Reboots, remakes, and revisits

The Predator

There are five Predator films so far – well, three if you exclude the Alien vs. Predator franchise, which you should – so what’s a sixth, really? This latest update comes with easily the highest pedigree, though, thanks to writer-director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys), who also had a small part in the very first film. The new version pits the extraterrestrial hunter against a typically Black-ian troupe of one-liner-happy military types. Oh, and adorable Canadian Jacob Tremblay somehow fits into the equation. Watch out, Jacob! (Sept. 14)

Venom

In its desperation to milk whatever ancillary rights it has for the Spider-Man franchise, Sony is giving the web-slinger’s bewilderingly popular nemesis Venom his own franchise. Whether Peter Parker himself pops up is an unanswered question, so audiences will have to be content with Tom Hardy adopting one of his trademark quirky voices to play Noo Yawker Eddie Brock, a journalist who becomes attached to the evil – or in this case, antihero-ish – alien symbiote of the title. (Oct. 5)

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The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Rooney Mara is gone, as are Daniel Craig and director David Fincher. But the Lisbeth Salander franchise is still kicking hornets' nests and getting stuck in spider webs with this sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Claire Foy, also starring of First Man, steps into the starring role as the avenging hacker Salander, while horror expert Fede Alvarez (2013′s Evil Dead remake, 2016′s sleeper hit Don’t Breathe) takes over for Fincher and Sverrir Gudnason takes over for Craig as crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist. (Nov. 9)

Robin Hood

Lionsgate is aiming to start a new prince-of-thieves franchise with this gritty and bizarrely fashion-forward reboot (despite the story allegedly taking place during the late-12th-century reign of Richard I, everyone in the film sports machine-stitched clothing). Taron Egerton brings his Kingsman attitude to the title role, while Jamie Foxx plays mentor Little John, and professional bad guy Ben Mendelsohn takes the law into his own hands as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Surely the studio is hoping everyone forgot that Ridley Scott came out with a Robin reboot only eight years ago starring Russell Crowe, and that when Warner Bros. tried a similar edgy update with King Arthur last year, few showed up to pull that sword from its stone. (Nov. 21)

Creed II

Against so many odds, Ryan Coogler’s 2015 film Creed turned out to be the perfect way to resuscitate the Rocky franchise. But just as Sylvester Stallone’s fighter kept on fighting for seven Balboa-centric films, the studio powers that be will not let Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis walk away from the ring. Stallone himself was set to take up directing duties for this sequel, until he decided that co-starring and writing the film was enough, with TV director Steven Caple Jr. now behind the camera. (Nov. 21)

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