Chicago - It may still feel like summer in most parts of the country, but fall movie season is officially here! And that means it’s the time of year when spooky season thrillers roll into theaters/onto streaming platforms right alongside films hoping to score big during awards season.
On the Halloween side of things, there’s the long-anticipated sequel "Hocus Pocus 2," along with inventive horror thrillers like "Barbarian," "Speak No Evil" and "Pearl." Meanwhile, the awards-season side offers an eclectic mix of movies featuring potentially Oscar-worthy performances from Regina Hall, Viola Davis, Ana de Armas, Sterling K. Brown, Zac Efron, Florence Pugh and maybe even Harry Styles. There’s also a gay rom-com from Billy Eichner called "Bros", a live-action remake of "Pinocchio" from Disney and the big screen return of some universe-hopping Spider-Men. So read on to learn more about what’s headed your way, cinematically speaking, in September 2022.
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. (in theaters and streaming on Peacock Sept. 2)
Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown in "Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul." Photo by Steve Swisher (Focus Features)Credit: Steve Swisher / © 2021 Pinky Promise LLC
Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown give tour de force performances in this larger-than-life mockumentary about a prosperity-gospel preaching pastor and his wife at a Southern Baptist megachurch in Atlanta. But don’t just expect Christopher Guest-style goofiness (although there’s plenty of that too). Writer/director Adamma Ebo also weaves an unexpected edge of drama into the story, as details about a recent scandal at Wander to Greater Paths church slowly come to light. "If not every tonal shift works, the pure ambition on display is exhilarating," FOX Digital film critic Caroline Siede writes in her glowing Sundance review. "By the time the film has built to one of the best tragi-comic mime-related sequences in cinema history, it’s clear that Ebo has the confidently idiosyncratic voice of a filmmaker to watch."
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Regina Hall’s acclaimed performance in "Support the Girls" — get the app
Spider-Man: No Way Home, The More Fun Stuff Version (back in theaters Sept. 2)
"Spider-Man: Now Way Home." Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures
The highest-grossing film of 2021 is back in theaters with a special "More Fun Stuff Version" that features 11 minutes of new and presumably fun stuff. But the extra footage (and new post-credits scene!) isn’t the only change: This time around Marvel and Sony are more than happy to promote the fact that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield star in the film alongside current Spider-Man Tom Holland. That multiverse-bending meet-up is why FOX Digital film critic Caroline Siede referred to "Spider-Man: No Way Home" as "the ultimate Spider-Man sequel." So if you missed the magic on the big screen the first time around (or just want to experience it again), here’s your chance.
Rated PG-13. 148 minutes. Dir: Jon Watts. Featuring: Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Benedict Wong, J. K. Simmons, Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, Jamie Foxx.
Pinocchio (streaming on Disney+ Sept. 8)
Tom Hanks in "Pinocchio." Photo courtesy of Disney+
Like "Lady and the Tramp" before it, "Pinocchio" is the latest live action Disney remake to go straight to Disney+, bypassing a theatrical release — which is slightly odd for one of the flagship films in the Disney animated canon. Still, there’s no shortage of star power behind this one with Tom Hanks as Geppetto, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jiminy Cricket and Cynthia Erivo as the Blue Fairy, not to mention legendary director Robert Zemeckis ("Back to the Future," "Forrest Gump") at the helm. But will the "Polar Express" director be able to navigate the line between creepy and cute when it comes to bringing a puppet boy to life in a live action world? Let’s wish upon a star. (Oh and if one "Pinocchio" isn’t enough, Guillermo del Toro will also be releasing his own stop-motion take on the whimsical tale on Netflix in December.)
Barbarian (in theaters Sept. 9)
The era of Airbnb horror is here! This new thriller centers on a young woman named Tess (Georgina Campbell) who arrives at her Detroit rental home only to find it double booked with another guest (Bill Skarsgård). With nowhere else to go, she decides to stay the night anyway. But things take a turn for the, well, barbarous when mysterious forces start wreaking havoc on Tess’ evening. "Some stay for a night. Some stay for a week. Some never leave," reads the film’s tag line. And while we’re guessing Tess won’t be leaving a five-star review about her experience, the film itself garnered positive buzz after an early screening at this year’s San-Diego Comic-Con.
Speak No Evil (streaming on Shudder Sept. 15)
Fedja van Huêt and Morten Burian in "Speak No Evil." Photo courtesy of Sundance.
This twisted Danish horror flick made a splash at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where film critic Clint Worthington described it as "bleak and brutal, enough to make you hide behind your couch." The set up is a familiar one: Two families become fast friends on a vacation in Tuscany. But when the free-spirited Dutch family invite the more modest Danes to visit their countryside home a few months later, things quickly start to get weird. For the first half of its runtime, "Speak No Evil" is a dark comedy of manners about social niceties and the fear of confrontation. But when things take a turn, they really take a turn. In other words, this one isn’t for the squeamish.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: The psychological horror of "The Belko Experiment" — get the app
Moonage Daydream (exclusively in IMAX theaters Sept. 16 )
What better way to celebrate David Bowie than with a "feature-length experiential cinematic odyssey" exploring his "creative, musical and spiritual journey" through "sublime, kaleidoscopic, never-before-seen footage" of his performances and music? How about releasing it in IMAX theaters big enough for the Starman himself? Guided by Bowie’s own narration, "Moonage Daydream" is billed as the "first officially sanctioned film on the artist" (Bowie’s estate gave the filmmakers unprecedented access to its massive archives). It’s a passion project for acclaimed documentary director Brett Morgen, and will no doubt be a must-see for any Bowie fan — with a soundtrack that’s best played at maximum volume. Luckily, that arrives on Sept. 16, too.
The Woman King (in theaters Sept. 16 )
Nanisca (Viola Davis) in TriStar Pictures' THE WOMAN KING.
Previously best known for excellent romantic dramas like "Love & Basketball" and "Beyond the Lights," writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood made an exciting pivot into action filmmaking with the 2020 Netflix superhero film "The Old Guard." And now she continues that trend with what looks to be one of the most intriguing films of the fall. "The Woman King" tells the story of the Agojie, a unit of all-female warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey against colonizing forces in the 1800s. With an impressive ensemble led by Viola Davis as a battle-hardened general training a new generation of recruits, "The Woman King" promises to be a whole new type of historical epic.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Gina Prince-Bythewood’s stellar romantic drama "Beyond the Lights" — get the app
See How They Run (in theaters Sept. 16)
Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan in the film SEE HOW THEY RUN. Photo by Parisa Taghizadeh. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved
Between Rian Johnson’s "Knives Out" franchise and Hulu’s addictive series "Only Murders in the Building," murder-mystery comedies are having a bit of a moment. And the latest to join the fun is this delightful-looking comedy about world-weary Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell), eager rookie Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) and a murder backstage at a smash-hit play in 1950s London. The rest of the star-studded cast includes Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson and Shirley Henderson, all presumably having a blast playing various theatrical archetypes. (Not to mention Harris Dickinson portraying real-life legendary actor-director Richard Attenborough.) If you’re looking for an old-fashioned good time at the movies, "See How They Run" could be just the ticket.
Rated PG-13. 98 minutes. Dir: Tom George. Featuring: Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson, Harris Dickinson, Shirley Henderson, Sian Clifford, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Reece Shearsmith, Charlie Cooper.
Pearl (in theaters Sept. 16 )
Mia Goth in "Pearl." Photo by Christopher Moss (A24)
Here’s a supremely rare occurrence: A filmmaker releasing two films set in the same universe in the very same year. Just a few months after writer/director Ti West ruled spring horror with his 1970s-set A24 slasher "X," he’s back with a surprise prequel called "Pearl." This installment follows the origin story of the titular character played by Mia Goth, who grows up yearning for big screen fame but feeling trapped on her family’s isolated farm house in the early 20th century. When her family barn becomes a boarding house during World War I, however, Pearl just might spot a way out. But at what cost? Goth also co-wrote the script for "Pearl," which promises to be a "stunning, technicolor-inspired origin story" of the "iconic" "X" character. And, yes, West has an idea for a third installment in mind too.
Don’t Worry Darling (in theaters Sept. 23)
Harry Styles and Florence Pugh in "Don’t Worry Darling." Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Look, we’re as excited as anyone to see Florence Pugh lead a 1950s psychological thriller directed by Olivia Wilde. But the big story here is about Harry Styles’ leap into major acting roles, which will continue with his starring turn in "My Policeman" next month. In "Don’t Worry Darling," Styles and Pugh play a married couple living in an idyllic community called Victory, an "experimental company town housing the men who work for the top-secret Victory Project and their families." But all isn’t what it seems in this picture-perfect oasis, and when Pugh’s Alice starts trying to figure out what the men of Victory actually do, things take a turn for the sinister. "Don’t Worry Darling" boasts a stellar cast, include Wilde herself as a fellow company wife, as well as Chris Pine as Victory’s cultish CEO. And while Wilde already earned acclaim for her 2019 directorial debut "Booksmart," "Don’t Worry Darling" looks like it’s going to elevate her visual style to a whole new surrealist level.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Olivia Wilde leads the indie romance "Drinking Buddies" — get the app
Catherine Called Birdy (in theaters Sept. 23; streaming on Prime Video Oct. 7)
Andrew Scott and Bella Ramsey in "Catherine Called Birdy." Photo courtesy of Prime Video
Lena Dunham writes and directs this adaptation of the beloved children’s novel "Catherine, Called Birdy." Set in 1290 in the Medieval English village of Stonebridge, the movie follows Lady Catherine a.k.a. Birdy ("Game of Thrones" scene-stealer Bella Ramsey) as she attempts to define her own future. You see, her aristocratic but broke dad Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott) wants to marry her off to a wealthy man in exchange for money and land. But Birdy’s not a prize to be won. So she sets out to scare away her suitors in increasingly ingenious ways — and to show her parents her worth in the process. The trailer for "Catherine Called Birdy" promises a vibe somewhere between Hailee Steinfeld’s "Dickinson" and Greta Gerwig’s "Little Women," so this could be the next Gen Z-friendly historical hit.
A Jazzman’s Blues (streaming on Netflix Sept. 23)
Solea Pfeiffer and Joshua Boone in "A Jazzman’s Blues." Photo by Jace Downs (Netflix)
Tyler Perry’s shift into a more elevated style of melodrama has been a long time coming. The filmmaker/media mogul wrote "A Jazzman’s Blues" as his first-ever screenplay back in 1995, after finding inspiration from a conversation withlegendary playwright August Wilson. Now, 27 years later, the project finally comes to life courtesy of Netflix. Set in 1940s Georgia, "Jazzman" is a "Notebook"-style romance about two star-crossed lovers who are separated by class and familial expectations but manage to reconnect years later. The jazz age story is "soundtracked by juke joint blues" from the deep South. And with a world premiere planned for the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival, it could be an award seasons player for Perry and Netflix. ("A Jazzman’s Blues" will also play in select theaters starting Sept. 16.)
Rated R. 127 minutes. Dir: Tyler Perry. Featuring: Joshua Boone, Amirah Vann, Solea Pfeiffer, Austin Scott, Milauna Jemai Jackson, Brent Antonello, Brad Benedict, Kario Marcel, Lana Young, Ryan Eggold.
Sidney (in theaters and streaming on AppleTV+ Sept. 23)
Sidney Poitier in "Sidney." Photo courtesy of Apple TV+
One of the seismic cultural events of this year was the death of Sidney Poitier, who passed away at age 94 in January. Now "Sidney," a new Oprah Winfrey-produced documentary, promises to take an inspiring deep-dive into the life of the "iconic actor, filmmaker and activist at the center of Hollywood and the Civil Rights Movement." Featuring candid interviews with Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Barbra Streisand, Spike Lee and others who knew Poitier or were shaped by his life and work, "Sidney" looks to be a moving tribute to the Bahamian-American actor, who made history as the first Black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor. "He had big shoulders," Washington notes in the film’s trailer. "But he had to carry a lot of weight."
Blonde (streaming on Netflix Sept. 28)
Ana de Armas in "Blonde." Photo courtesy of Netflix
Already one of the buzziest and most controversial films of the year, "Blonde" will likely be a lightning rod when it finally hits Netflix in late September. Based on a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, "Blonde" reimagines the life of Marilyn Monroe, as played by "Knives Out" star Ana de Armas. And with an NC-17 rating and a nearly three-hour runtime, writer/director Andrew Dominik ("Killing Them Softly," "The Assassination of Jesse James...") presumably plans to leave no stone unturned when it comes to the legendary Hollywood bombshell. Charting Monroe’s life from her traumatic childhood as Norma Jeane to her Hollywood superstardom, the psychological drama "blurs the lines of fact and fiction to explore the widening split between [Monroe’s] public and private selves." "Blonde" will be the first Netflix original film with an NC-17 rating — reportedly due to its graphic depictions of sexual violence — so don’t expect an easy, glamorous watch with this one. ("Blonde" will also play in select theaters starting Sept. 16.)
Bros (in theaters Sept. 30)
Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane in "Bros." Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
From "Love, Simon" to this year’s delightful "Fire Island," Hollywood has slowly been making in-roads when it comes to gay rom-coms. But the new romance "Bros" boasts its own unique descriptor: It’s the "first romantic comedy from a major studio about two gay men maybe, possibly, probably, stumbling towards love. Maybe. They're both very busy." Co-written by and starring comedian Billy Eichner, "Bros" features an entirely LGBTQ+ principal cast, including Hallmark Channel darling Luke Macfarlane, who also popped up in the 2021 Netflix queer holiday rom-com "Single All The Way." Unlike that wholesome holiday film, however, "Bros" promises something a little edgier — thanks to Eichner's sardonic comedic voice and director/co-writer Nicholas Stoller, who previously helmed "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and the "Neighbors" franchise. Still, there will be plenty of swoony, heartfelt moments too, as Eichner's Bobby tries to find "another tolerable human being to go through life with."
Hocus Pocus 2 (streaming on Disney+ Sept. 30)
Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker in "Hocus Pocus 2." Photo by Matt Kennedy (Disney+)
It’s been 29 years since "Hocus Pocus" flopped at the box office, only to find a second life (much like its heroines) as a perennial spooky season favorite. And now Disney+ is hoping it can make magic happen twice with this decades-later sequel. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are back as the witchy Sanderson Sisters, who are once again awakened by the Black Flame Candle. Now it’s up to a trio of teen girls to stop them from wreaking havoc on Salem (or at least steer them towards performing another musical number). Comedic actors Sam Richardson and Tony Hale are also onboard, as is "Ted Lasso" star Hannah Waddingham. Given Waddingham’s own West End musical theater chops, we can only hope the whole movie ends in a sing-off.
Rated PG. Dir: Anne Fletcher. Featuring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Sam Richardson, Doug Jones, Hannah Waddingham, Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, Lilia Buckingham, Froy Gutierrez, Tony Hale.
The Greatest Beer Run Ever (in theaters and streaming on Apple TV+ Sept. 30)
Zac Efron in "The Greatest Beer Run Ever." Photo courtesy of Apple TV+
Director Peter Farrelly follows up his Best Picture-winning film "Green Book" with an action-comedy about the Vietnam War. Like "Green Book," "The Greatest Beer Run Ever" is loosely based on a true story. Unlike "Green Book," it stars Zac Efron! To show support for his old friends serving in Vietnam, New Yorker "Chickie" Donohue (Efron) decides to travel to the frontlines to bring them their favorite American brews. But "what started as a well-meaning journey quickly turns into the adventure of a lifetime." It’s a pretty wild set-up for a "heartfelt coming-of-age tale." But if anyone can spin a questionable premise into awards-season gold, it’s Farrelly. And, who knows, maybe this will kick off a new era: the age of the Zac-stache.
Clockwise from top left: Maya Hawke and Camila Mendes in "Do Revenge"; Tamara Lawrence and Letitia Wright in "The Silent Twins"; Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson in "Meet Cute"; Sheri Moon Zombie and Jeff Daniel Phillips in "The Munsters".
FOR ROMANCE: Kat Graham ("The Vampire Diaries") and Tom Hopper ("The Umbrella Academy") go from enemies to lovers while visiting fair Verona in "Love in the Villa" (Netflix, Sept. 1). Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffinreturn as hot and heavy teen couple Tessa and Hardin in the preposterously titled fourth "After" movie, "After Ever Happy" (in theaters, Sept. 8). Emma Roberts and Thomas Mann are thrown together by destiny in the New Year’s Eve rom-com "About Fate" (in theaters and VOD, Sept. 9). And Pete Davidson and Kaley Cuoco get their own time travel romance in "Meet Cute" (Peacock, Sept. 21).
FOR FAMILIES: Netflix adapts a series of best-selling children’s book into a series of family films called "Ivy + Bean" (Netflix, Sept. 2).
FOR HORROR: The acclaimed, genre-bending Senegalese thriller "Saloum" (Shudder, Sept. 8) makes it streaming debut. Naomi Watts is a creepy, bandaged-up mom in "Goodnight Mommy" (Prime Video, Sept. 16). Edgar Allen Poetakes center stage as the main character of "Raven’s Hollow" (Shudder, Sept. 22). "Smile" (in theaters, Sept. 30) turns a happy face into horror movie fodder. And "My Best Friend’s Exorcism" (Prime Video, Sept. 30) blends demonic horror with 1980s fun.
FOR COMEDY: Kevin Smith is back with "Clerks III" (in theaters, Sept. 13). Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke team up to "Do Revenge" (Netflix, Sept. 16) in a stylish dark comedy about teenage girls. Jon Hamm takes on Chevy Chase’s famous role in "Confess, Fletch" (in theaters and VOD, Sept. 16). And Rob Zombie remakes "The Munsters" (VOD, Sept. 27).
FOR ACTION: Ben Foster and Michael Caine lead the epic historical drama "Medieval" (in theaters, Sept. 9). "Brahmastra Part One: Shiva" (in theaters, Sept. 9) is "the blockbuster opening chapter in India’s first original cinematic universe." Queen Latifah and Ludacris get mixed up in a dangerous desert drug deal in "End of the Road" (Netflix, Sept. 9). And Allison Janney and Jurnee Smollett team up to save a kidnapped girl in "Lou" (Netflix, Sept. 23).
FOR DRAMA: "Black Panther" star Letitia Wright is one half of "The Silent Twins" (in theaters, Sept. 16) in this remarkable true-life story. "Westworld" star Thandiwe Newton leads the haunting modern-day Western "God’s Country"(in theaters, Sept. 16). [Read FOX Digital’s review of "God’s Country" from the Sundance Film Festival.] A24 releases the Irish psychological family drama "God’s Creatures" (in theaters and VOD, Sept. 30). And Christoph Waltz, Willem Dafoe and Rachel Brosnahan lead the Western "Dead for a Dollar" (in theaters, Sept. 30).
FOR DOCUMENTARY LOVERS: Oscar-nominated director Dan Krauss revisits "The Anthrax Attacks" (Netflix, Sept. 8) of 2001. Social activist Abigail Disney uses her family’s theme park history to examine economic inequality in "The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales" (in theaters, Sept. 16). "Riotsville, U.S.A." (in theaters, Sept. 16) explores police militarization by way of unearthed military training footage from the 1960s. And "Mija" (Disney+, Sept. 16) follows two daughters of undocumented immigrants as they navigate the music industry. [Read FOX Digital’s review of "Mija" from the Sundance Film Festival.]
About the writer: Caroline Siede is a film and TV critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, she spent four years lovingly analyzing the romantic comedy genre one film at a time in her column When Romance Met Comedy for The A.V. Club. She also co-hosts the movie podcast, Role Calling, and shares her pop culture opinions on Twitter (@carolinesiede).
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