Welcome to Fall Movie Preview 2023: Strike Zone.
That’s right. Actors have been on picket lines since July (and writers two months before that). And there’s still no end in sight. It’s not all about money. Actors don’t want to be replaced by artificial intelligence. Neither do writers.
No matter how many movies open in the next four months, their star players will not be available to promote them until a deal is reached and ratified. Think of the hotly awaited “Dune, Part Two” without stars Timoth?e Chalamet and Zendaya available to beat the drum. A nervous Warner Bros recently moved the fantasy epic to March of next year. There’s no telling how many other fall films will run scared and follow suit.
Still, hope springs eternal for those fall blockbusters willing to stand their ground. We still have Chalamet as the candy man in “Wonka,” Jason Momoa returning as Aquaman, and Brie Larson as Captain Marvel herself in “The Marvels.”
Traditionally, fall is the hunting ground for Oscar contenders. Taking on summer’s massive “Barbenheimer” phenom in the rush for Academy gold is Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro hunting oil on Native American ground.
Or Emma Stone going gonzo as a lady Frankenstein in “Poor Things.” Or acting powerhouse Sandra H?ller as a wife on trial for her husband’s murder in “Anatomy of a Fall.”
Oscar’s recent penchant for mining indie films for best picture prizes (“CODA,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once”) may echo in “The Holdovers” with Paul Giamatti as a New England teacher who stays behind at Christmas with students who have no place to go. Or will director George Clooney hit historical paydirt with “The Boys in the Boat” about members of the University of Washington rowing team competing in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany?
Sounds pretty exciting to me. With hundreds of movies to choose from, here are the 30 I’m most excited to see this fall, strike permitting.
“A Haunting in Venice”
What better than an all-star Agatha Christie murder mystery to ease us into a fall movie season? Back for the third time, after “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Death on the Nile, ” is director Kenneth Branagh starring as Belgian master detective Hercule Poirot — he of the epic mustache of such towering tonsorial splendor that it should be eligible for its own awards. Based on Dame Agatha’s lesser known 1969 novel, “Hallowe’en Party,” the film has been transposed from England to the city of canals — Venice — where a seance brings together suspects played by Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, “Yellowstone” scene-stealer Kelly Reilly and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh. Who done it? As always, the fun comes in the guessing.
Based on the true story of a group of amateur “dumb money” investors, led by Paul Dano and Pete Davidson as brothers, this film version of Ben Mezrich’s book “The Antisocial Network” hilariously details the movers behind the Reddit page called “WallStreetBets”, who became billionaires by betting against hedge funders who insisted that GameStop shares would fail. “I, Tonya” director Craig Gillespie, a wizard of mischief, gathers a top cast, including Seth Rogen, America Ferrera, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley and Nick Offerman to add a “Big Short” sting to a tale that proves again that truth is stranger than fiction.
The fight between human creativity and artificial intelligence is as timely as the current strikes by actors and writers now firing up Hollywood. In this sci-fi action epic from director Gareth Edwards (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”), John David Washington stars as a former special forces agent in a life-or-death search for the Creator, an AI architect who takes the form of a cyborg child with the power to destroy mankind as we know it. Scared yet? You ought to be.
Young Irish stars don’t come starrier than Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”) and Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”), who play a couple from rural America dealing with a major problem: an environmental plague that has destroyed most of the planet. In the script by director Garth Davis (“Lion”) and Iain Reid, who wrote the novel on which the film is based, they’re all alone except for a mysterious stranger played by Aaron Pierre, who wants to replace hubby with a robot. Intrigued? That’s the idea.
“The Exorcist: Believer”
Nothing scares off a demon, except the arrival of a Taylor Swift concert film that sent this sequel to “The Exorcist,” scurrying to move up a week to avoid competing with the biggest pop star on the planet. Wise move. There have been five followups to the late William Friedkin’s 1973 horror smash, but director David Gordon Green, who successfully revived the “Halloween” franchise with Jamie Lee Curtis, is pretending this is the first one. Ellen Burstyn is back as Chris MacNeil, the movie star mother of Linda Blair in the original (the buzz is Blair will also make an appearance). Leslie Odom Jr. plays the father of a possessed girl who turns to Chris for help. I’m in. How about you?
“Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Concert Film”
Here’s the concert movie that sent “The Exorcist” running for cover — and it’s already a box-office behemoth, having earned a wowza $26 million in single day presales at AMC theaters, breaking the record previously set by “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” You’re probably not surprised, given the success of Swift’s sold-out live tour. So the movie is a bargain with tickets going for $19.89 plus tax for adults (any resemblance to Taylor’s “1989” album is no coincidence) and $13.13 plus tax for children’s and senior tickets. Swifties received a personal message from their idol on Instagram: “The Eras Tour has been the most meaningful, electric experience of my life so far and I’m overjoyed to tell you that it’ll be coming to the big screen. Eras attire, friendship bracelets, singing and dancing encouraged.” You heard the lady.