For movie lovers, fall is that in-between time — after a summer of superheroes and car chases, but before the heavy, important movies studios release in December to catch the attention of Academy Award voters.
So the fall, from Labor Day to Thanksgiving, is a grab-bag of movie genres. In one weekend in October, a light cartoon like “The Addams Family” will duke it out for box-office dominance with an existential action movie like “Gemini Man” — while the next weekend, two sequels, the Disney fairy tale “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” and the comic horror of “Zombieland: Double Tap,” share a release date.
Here are nine fall movies that show potential to shake up expectations for fall releases (just so you know, dates subject to change):
September 13 • Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer-winning novel, which follows a boy (Oakes Fegley) into manhood (Ansel Elgort), trying to process his mother’s death in a museum bombing, is the sort of drama Oscar voters take in like catnip. The pedigree is there, with director John Crowley (“Brooklyn”) shepherding a cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Wilson and Finn Wolfhard (“Stranger Things”).
September 20 • Brad Pitt, last seen looking ruggedly handsome in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” plays an astronaut sent on a dangerous mission to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones) at the edge of the solar system. Director James Gray (“The Lost City of Z”) isn’t the sort to do frivolous science fiction, and this one seems to have the same serious-minded intensity of “Gravity” or “Interstellar.”
October 4 • There aren’t any superhero movies this fall, but there’s one big supervillain tale: An origin story that explains how Arthur Fleck, an outcast clown, became the scourge of Gotham City. Director Todd Phillips (“The Hangover”) has a supporting cast that includes Robert De Niro, Mark Maron and Zazie Beetz, but all eyes will be fixed on Joaquin Phoenix’s central performance as the murderous clown.
‘Where’s My Roy Cohn?’
October 25 • When Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary profile of the New York lawyer who guided Joe McCarthy and mentored Donald Trump premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, viewers got a laugh when one of the first people interviewed was Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone — on the day he got arrested. Tyrnauer’s dissection of Cohn’s use of power, intimidation and outright nastiness is a roadmap for the politics we’re living through today.
November 8 • While the fall begins with one Stephen King story — “It: Chapter Two,” opening Sept. 6 — this one may have the real fireworks. Ewan McGregor plays Dan Torrence, the adult version of the kid from “The Shining,” who tries to protect a girl (Kyliegh Curran) who has his same powers from a roving cult. Writer-director Mike Flanagan, who made the Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House,” seems to be striking a balance between King’s books and Stanley Kubrick’s movie of “The Shining” (which King hated), and the tension between those extremes could be delicious.
November 15 • OK, so the fall does serve up some lighter fare, like this adaptation of the female-fronted ′70s detective series. Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott (“Aladdin”) and Ella Balinska play the three super-slick operatives in this humor-filled action movie. But the real power is “The Hunger Games” star and “Pitch Perfect 2” director Elizabeth Banks, who’s the director and screenwriter, and plays the Angels’ coordinator, Bosley.
‘Ford vs. Ferrari’
November 15 • Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in this true story, as maverick car designer Carroll Shelby and loose-cannon driver Ken Miles, who set the goal of developing a race car for Ford that can challenge Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in 1966. Director James Mangold (“Walk the Line”) also has Jon Bernthal (as executive Lee Iacocca) and Tracy Letts (as Henry Ford II) in the sprawling cast, in a story about the high cost of winning.
‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
November 22 • One wholesome American icon plays another, as Tom Hanks portrays Fred Rogers. The biographical drama, directed by Marielle Heller (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), shows a fictionalized version of the real-life friendship between Rogers and a cynical journalist (played here by Matthew Rhys), whose perspective on life is changed by meeting the TV legend.
November 22 • It’s taken you six years to get the earworm of “Let It Go” out of your head, and here comes Queen Elsa, her sister Anna, hunky Kristoff and goofy snowman Olaf. The whole gang is back, including directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and voice actors Idina Menzel (Elsa), Kristen Bell (Anna), Jonathan Groff (Kristoff) and Josh Gad (Olaf). Can the magic strike twice? Don’t bet against it.