The fall movie season means studios and stars are getting serious.
Sure, there will be tentpoles and the Disney/Marvel movies that invade cineplexes every two months. However, given the accessibility of streaming services coupled with the randomness of what people actually see in theaters, this season is going to be full of movies that take a risk.
This is where the fun comes in.
Not only will you see the spectacles (like the long awaited "Blade Runner" sequel), you'll see stuff like "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" in November, starring Frances McDormand; director Darren Aronofsky's crazy thriller "mother!," out this weekend; and "The Killing of a Sacred Deer," a horror-show from the director of "The Lobster."
Here are some movies you can't miss in the next few months.
Editor's note: Some films' release dates may be subject to change. Check theaters for listings.
Friday, Sept. 15
Players: Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris; directed by Darren Aronofsky.
Plot: Aronofsky ("Requiem for a Dream," "Black Swan") returns to his suspense roots for this flick about a couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive. Not to be confused with the 1996 Tracy Bonham song.
Prediction: Audiences will love or hate this. Don't be one of those people who thinks that because J. Law is in it that this will be some family treat. It's probably going to be absurd, gruesome and weird. Naturally, I'll be there.
Also in theaters: Michael Keaton and Dylan O'Brien star in the latest "Bourne Identity" ripoff, "American Assassin"; Ben Stiller gets mushy in Mike White's new comedy/drama, "Brad's Status."
"Kingsman: The Golden Circle"
Players: Starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Julianne Moore, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry and Jeff Bridges; directed by Matthew Vaughn.
Plot: In this sequel, the Kingsman team up with some Americans. Blah blah blah, you really don't care. You're gonna see this for stuff blowing up.
Prediction: The action might be impressive, but this movie is nearly two-and-a-half hours long. Woof.
"The LEGO Ninjago Movie"
Players: Featuring the voices of Olivia Munn, Justin Theroux and Jackie Chan.
Plot: Young ninjas defend their island home while attending high school. Bummer, but there's probably a lesson somewhere in here about LEGOs being super-cool and friendly. Groans.
Prediction: The LEGO movies are two-for-two so far. You're gonna have fun here, then you can buy all that merch for your kids.
Also in theaters: "Friend Request," a horror film about a popular girl accepting a strange Facebook request, lol; Jake Gyllenhaal goes for an Oscar in the new drama "Stronger."
Players: Starring Tom Cruise; directed by Doug Liman.
Plot: Cruise plays Barry Seal, the Baton Rouge-born drug runner who became a government informant in the 1970s and ’80s.
Prediction: After back-to-back flops, it's good to see Cruise in something that looks marginally entertaining. Cruise can still exude that charisma that's hard to resist, even if his accent here is forced.
"Battle of the Sexes"
Players: Starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell.
Plot: Stone stars as Billie Jean King, and Carell stars as Bobby Riggs in this movie about the real-life 1973 tennis match between the two.
Prediction: From the team behind "Little Miss Sunshine," expect this one to be a crowd-pleaser and dark horse awards candidate.
Also in theaters: Remember that terrible 1990s movie "Flatliners" with Kiefer Sutherland? They're rebooting it. God help us all.
"Blade Runner 2049"
Players: Starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright and Jared Leto; directed by Denis Villeneuve.
Plot: Gosling is a young blade runner who discovers a long-kept secret that leads him back to Rick Deckard. Cue the synth solo.
Prediction: This looks brilliant. Everything from the score to Roger Deakins' cinematography ... I can't wait for this. Watch this flop hard, though, just like the original.
Also in theaters: "My Little Pony: The Movie" will make you depressed because it'll be No. 1 at the box office; "The Florida Project" is a new buzzy indie drama, starring Willem Dafoe and directed by Sean Baker ("Tangerine").
Players: Starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson and Val Kilmer.
Plot: Fassbender stars as a detective who investigates the disappearance of a woman.
Prediction: Fassbender needs a good movie like now. I was skeptical of this, but with Kilmer in a supporting role (he's underrated, seriously) and direction from Tomas Alfredson ("Let the Right One In"), this could be a good little thriller.
Players: Starring Chadwick Boseman, Sterling K. Brown, Josh Gad and Kate Hudson.
Plot: This biopic centers on a young Thurgood Marshall as he battles through a court case.
Prediction: Previously, Boseman starred as Jackie Robinson in "42" and James Brown in "Get On Up." How many biopics does he have to do?
Also in theaters: Jackie Chan decides he's not too old for this action s***, stars in a "Taken" ripoff in "The Foreigner"; Blumhouse releases another cheap horror film, "Happy Death Day," that'll probably make $50 million.
Players: Starring Gerard Butler, Ed Harris and Andy Garcia; directed by Dean Devlin.
Plot: Did you think movies like "Armageddon" and "The Day After Tomorrow" weren't dumb enough? You're in luck. Butler (of "300" fame) stars as a scientist (totally believable) in this disaster flick where satellites that control the weather go kaputt.
Prediction: Every once in awhile, you'll see the trailer for something that looks so godawful you think, "This will be hilarious." This is that movie.
Also in theaters: Todd Haynes directs the children's mystery "Wonderstruck"; Kate Winslet and Idris Elba are two strangers who survive a plane crash (and probably fall in love) in "The Mountain Between Us."
Players: Starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac; directed by George Clooney.
Plot: Damon stars as the friendly neighborhood dad whose house is invaded by criminals in this mystery written by Clooney, Grant Heslov and the Coen Brothers.
Prediction: Your enjoyment level will depend on how much you can tolerate the combination of Clooney, Damon and the Coen Brothers striving to be cute and morbid at the same time. At the least, it will be an intriguing mess.
Also in theaters: The villain from "Saw" goes under the microscope in "Jigsaw"; Miles Teller stars in the military drama "Thank You for Your Service," and each ticket comes with a koozie, the new Three Doors Down CD and an Army recruitment book. Not really.
Players: Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins.
Plot: Finally, Thor gets a good movie (fingers crossed). Taika Waititi ("What We Do in the Shadows") directs this chapter in the Marvel universe where Thor has to fight for survival against Hela (Blanchett).
Prediction: I want to hate Marvel movies, but this looks like the most fun Marvel movie ever. Hulk vs. Thor with Goldblum commentating? Who won't see this?
"The Killing of a Sacred Deer"
Players: Starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman.
Plot: A charismatic surgeon (Farrell) has to rethink parts of his life when a young boy he cares for becomes evil.
Prediction: Expect a ruthless, disturbing film from Yorgos Lanthimos, who knows the power of silence and absurdity, as witnessed by his breakout, "The Lobster."
Also in theaters: Get some box wine and see "A Bad Moms Christmas"; Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne star in Richard Linklater's new comedy-drama "Last Flag Flying."
"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Players: Starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage and Sam Rockwell.
Plot: A mother challenges local authorities to solve her daughter's murder in this new dark comedy from writer-director Martin McDonagh ("In Bruges").
Prediction: This is the one movie this season I can't wait to see. I'm expecting a profane dark trip with excellent performances and a top-notch script.
Also in theaters: Will Ferrell continues to slide into laziness in "Daddy's Home 2."
Players: Starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Henry Cavill, Ray Fisher, Jesse Eisenberg and J.K. Simmons
Plot: Batman calls on his superfriends (Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash) to face an enemy that wants to destroy Earth.
Prediction: If you like the DC Comics franchise movie world, you'll like this. If you don't, this probably won't change your mind. I secretly hope this will be good, but I don't expect it to be anything more than a mess.
Also in theaters: Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay star in the tear-jerker "Wonder."