Do you smell the scent of buttered popcorn and pumpkin spice in the air? That means fall movie season is officially upon us.
Both theaters and streaming services will be flush with flashy titles that are aiming to awe audiences with outlandish spectacle, shocking twists, Oscar-worthy drama, side-splitting comedy, or an intoxicating mix of all this and more!
Whether you’re raring to trek to the cinemas with friends or cuddle up on the couch, we’ve got the must-sees of the season and where to watch them.
1. If you’re in the holiday spirit: Halloween Kills
Co-writers Danny McBride and David Gordon Green (who also helms) reunite for this direct sequel to 2018’s Halloween. Plus, the classic scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis, returns once more as the tormented but resilient Laurie Strode. Teaming with her daughter (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter (Andi Matichak), this Final Girl braces for a definitive and grisly showdown with the iconic slasher.
How to watch: Halloween Kills opens in theaters and is available on Peacock Oct. 15.
2. If you’re tired of waiting (for spice): Dune
This ambitious adaptation of Frank Herbert’s adored sci-fi novel has been delayed by the pandemic for so long that it made last year’s Fall Movie Preview. The time for director Denis Villeneuve’s daring interpretation has finally come. Not only does it have a big budget, jaw-dropping special effects, and potential for a sequel, but also a cast exploding with stars, including Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.
How to watch: Dune opens in select theaters (2D, 3D, and IMAX) and on HBO Max Oct. 22.
3. If you’re craving whimsy: The French Dispatch
From Rushmore to The Royal Tenenbaums to The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson has unfurled darling worlds people with oddball characters. Full with familiar faces (like Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, and Timothée Chalamet), his latest adventure whisks audiences around the globe by bringing to life the travelogues from the titular (and fictional) magazine. Bursting with the color, wry humor, and the twee quirks that are Anderson’s signature, The French Dispatch promises to be a jaunty gem.
How to watch: The French Dispatch opens in theaters Oct. 22.
4. If you’re shooting for badass: The Harder They Fall
When a merciless outlaw breaks free from his bonds, he and his posse set out for a showdown against a vengeance-seeking cowboy. The premise of this film might sound familiar, but you’ve never seen a Western quite like this. Co-writer/director Jeymes Samuel brings swaggering style and outrageous star power, boasting an ensemble that includes Idris Elba, Regina King, Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, LaKeith Stanfield, and Delroy Lindo. This west is sure to get wild.
How to watch: The Harder They Fall opens in select theaters Oct. 22 and on Netflix Nov. 3.
5. If you’re yearning to (time) travel: Last Night in Soho
Writer/director Edgar Wright has given audiences the goofy pleasures of Shawn of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Baby Driver. But this time he’s ditching jokes and hijinks to dive into a swanky and swinging thriller. Thomasin McKenzie stars as an aspiring fashion designer who miraculously tumbles back into 1960s London, where she swiftly becomes enchanted by a sultry singer (Anya Taylor-Joy). What begins as a sexy escapade slips into a murder mystery that she must solve before times run out.
How to watch: Last Night in Soho opens in theaters Oct. 29.
6. If you want a blockbuster with prestige cred: Eternals
Earlier this year, writer/director Chloé Zhao won two Academy Awards for her intimate yet rousing drama, Nomadland. Now, she’s bringing her acclaimed style and skill for drama to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a new team of superheroes. Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Ma Dong-seok, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie bring fresh star power to the epic adventure of the Eternals, an immortal alien race dedicated to saving mankind from the vicious Deviants.
How to watch: Eternals opens in theaters Nov. 5.
7. If you’d follow Tom Hanks to the end of the world: Finch
We didn’t know “dystopian dad movie” was something we wanted. Then director Miguel Sapochnik teamed America’s dad up with an adorable dog and a charming robot in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Now, all we want to do is ride shotgun on this dangerous — yet seemingly heartwarming — road trip. Well, that and to give that good boy many belly rubs.
How to watch: Finch premieres on Apple TV+ Nov. 5.
8. If you’re a Broadway baby: Tick, Tick…Boom!
Hamilton creator/star Lin-Manuel Miranda directs the Broadway musical adaptation/biopic about Jonathan Larson, who created the Broadway smash hit Rent. Dear Evan Hansen book-writer Steven Levenson wrote the adapted screenplay. Andrew Garfield, who trod the boards of the Great White Way in Death of a Salesman and Angels in America, takes the lead as a wannabe composer who is on the brink of his make-it-or-break-it moment. Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús, Mj Rodriguez, Bradley Whitford, and Vanessa Hudgens co-star.
9. If you want a head start on Oscar season: The Power of the Dog
Riding through a range of prestigious film festivals, Jane Campion’s period-drama has wrangled critical acclaim with every step. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as a charismatic but cruel rancher, who relishes any chance to bully his genteel brother (Jesse Plemons), newly minted sister-in-law (Kirsten Dunst), and her sensitive son (Kodi Smit-McPhee). As she did with The Piano‘s rustic setting, Campion brews a heady blend of chills, sexual tension, and shrewd laughs, so much so that calling it a “drama” feels woefully insufficient.
How to watch: The Power of the Dog opens in select theaters Nov. 17 and on Netflix Dec. 1.
10. If you’re hankering for slow-burn horror: The Feast
This brilliant Welsh movie has been gathering raves through the film festival circuit for its uniquely eerie brand of terror. Director Lee Haven Jones invites audiences to a posh dinner party, where a politician and his socialite wife are so caught up in the details that they overlook an uninvited guest — to disastrous results. Tapping into folk horror traditions, The Feast delivers chills, thrills, and a generous portion of blood. Be warned: this one is for those with strong stomachs.
How to watch: The Feast opens in theaters and on digital/VOD Nov. 19.
11. Because you ain’t afraid of no ghosts: Ghostbusters: Afterlife
The fourth film in this spirited franchise is leaving New York City and the Ghostbusters’ landmark firehouse behind to scare up a new chapter, which has more of a Stranger Things vibe (and not just because it co-stars Finn Wolfhard). In a remote, decaying farmhouse in Oklahoma, the grandchildren of the late Egon Spengler uncover his paranormal investigator past, then go on a spooky adventure of their own. Director Jason Reitman follows in the footsteps of his father Ivan Reitman, who helmed the 1984 original. Along for the ride, he’s brought some old friends, including Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts.
How to watch: Ghostbusters: Afterlife opens in theaters Nov. 19.
12. If you love a gamble: House of Gucci
Despite casting heavy hitters like Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, and Adam Driver, director Ridley Scott is taking some wild risks with this film. First, he plunks wild card Jared Leto into a blob of prosthetic make-up for the role of an elderly rapscallion. Then, he urges Lady Gaga toward camp in her ferocious femme fatale role. Based on an outrageous true-crime case that involved obscene wealth, intense glamor, ravenous greed, and murder, this drama could be gripping or outrageously over the top. Either way, we’re sold.
How to watch: House of Gucci opens in theaters Nov. 24.
13. If you pray for the outrageously irreverent: Benedetta
From Paul Verhoeven, the director of Starship Troopers and Showgirls, comes a religious biopic that’s not remotely fit for Sunday School. The beatific Virginie Efira stars as Benedetta Carlini, a 16th-century Italian nun, who reportedly performed miracles between trysts with her lesbian lover, Sister Bartolemea (Daphne Patakia). Ever the provocateur, Verhoeven leans into the romance and illicit sex within these convent walls. Yet beyond these scintillating — and surprisingly sweet — scenes, he has slyly created a joltingly hilarious satire about faith and abuse of power.
How to watch: Benedetta opens in theaters and On Demand Dec. 3.
14. If you think love is a savage thing: Wolf
Imagine Romeo & Juliet, but instead of the star-crossed lovers coming from warring families, they’re kept apart because he’s a wolf and she’s a wildcat. At least, that’s what they think. In Nathalie Biancheri’s snarling romance, George MacKay and Lily-Rose Depp star as young lovers who believe they’re animals trapped in human form. They meet at a clinic that claims it can cure them, but what if that’s not what they truly want?
How to watch: Wolf opens in theaters Dec. 3.
15. If you’re prepared to laugh at the abyss: Don’t Look Up
Writer/director Adam McKay, who broke down the 2007 financial crisis with the star-stuffed comedy The Big Short, is back with a new pet issue and another ultra-famous ensemble. Imagine — if you will — the future of Earth itself is at risk, and the people in power are resolutely committing to ignoring the fast-approaching threat. Seemingly satirizing the climate change crisis, this dark comedy follows two astronomers (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence), who try to spread the word that a potentially world-shattering comet is headed our way. Joining these Oscar-winning A-listers are Timothée Chalamet, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Ariana Grande, Himesh Patel, and many, many more.
How to watch: Don’t Look Up opens in select theaters Dec. 10 and on Netflix Dec. 24.
16. If you swoon for song: West Side Story
Closing out a year of musical hits and misses (from In The Heights to Dear Evan Hansen) is Steven Spielberg’s glossy re-imagining of the classic 1957 Broadway musical, West Side Story. Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler star as two New York City teens who fall in love across gang lines. Loyalties will be tested. Blood will be shed. And, of course, there will be dancing in the streets.
How to watch: West Side Story opens in theaters Dec. 10.
17. If you demand a dark thrill ride: Nightmare Alley
For his much-anticipated follow-up to his Oscar-winning monster-romance The Shape of Water, writer/director Guillermo del Toro has adapted William Lindsay Gresham’s noir novel, Nightmare Alley. Bradley Cooper stars as a conniving carny always on the lookout for an easy mark. But he meets his match in a ravishing and brilliant psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett in full femme fatale mode). Expect lurid deception, twisted turns, and an all-star cast dripping in the decadent colors and deranged settings that only del Toro dare dream up.
How to watch: Nightmare Alley opens in theaters Dec. 17.
18. If you’re wishing for something Strange: Spider-Man No Way Home
Doctor Stephen Strange returns from oblivion, and he’s mixing up some magic for plucky Peter Parker. Director Jon Watts has delivered two sensational Spidey adventures within the MCU (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-man: Far From Home). His third looks like it could be full of dimension-bending action, quirky comedy, and wild cameos. Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, and Zendaya star in a superhero movie fit for the whole family to thrill over.
How to watch: Spider-Man No Way Home opens in theaters Dec. 17
19. If you need a terrific tearjerker: A Journal for Jordan
Following much acclaim for Fences, Denzel Washington returns to the director’s chair with a true story of love, family, and sacrifice. Michael B. Jordan stars as Army First Sergeant Charles Monroe King, a charismatic soldier who served overseas in the Iraq War and kept a journal of life lessons intended for his young son, Jordan. Washington brings that journal to life, rapturously recounting the romance between King and fiance Dana Canedy (played by newcomer Chanté Adams). Be warned: you’ll want to bring tissues with you for this one.
How to watch: A Journal For Jordan opens in theaters this Christmas.
20. If you choose the red pill: The Matrix Resurrections
The action sci-fi franchise that raised the bar and blew our minds is back with a long-awaited fourth feature film. Director Lana Wachowski reunites with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss with a mysterious new adventure set twenty years after Neo and Trinity last battled against tyrannical AI that imprisoned humanity in a banal simulation. But these heroic lovers don’t remember each other? Whoa.
How to watch: The Matrix Resurrections opens in theaters and on HBO Max Dec. 22.
21. If you’re still pining for Tyrion Lannister: Cyrano
Peter Dinklage is back as a hopeless romantic in a musical adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac. The Game of Thrones star teams with Haley Bennett, reprising the roles of the besotted poet and his beloved Roxanne, which they first played in Erica Schmidt’s daring 2018 stage musical. Helmed by Joe Wright, the director of such rapturous adaptions as Pride & Prejudice and Anna Karenina, this period romance not only promises swoons and songs but also bold performances and scads of sumptuous style.
How to watch: Cyrano opens in select theaters Dec. 31.