Blair Witch to Rogue One: Your guide to the biggest movies of the fall season

Summer may be prime season for superhero blockbusters and gigantic genre films, but just because fall and winter are quickly approaching doesn't mean there aren't some major titles for those that don't want to let go just yet.

The dawn of fall signals a couple of things for movie buffs. It's the beginning of festival season — which means that it's also time for the awards circuit. The films that come out during this time, especially around November, are gunning for an Oscar nomination.

But just because the dawn of Hollywood's "most esteemed" movies are upon us doesn't mean blockbusters are going away. This year alone, there's still one major Marvel movie left to be released — Doctor Strange — and then there's a small film by the name of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that will be released the week before Christmas. In fact, including movies like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, this fall season is chock-full of blockbusters that will keep you satisfied until May of next year, when it all kicks off again.

To make it a little easier for you to plan movie night outings, here's a list of some of the biggest and most anticipated films being released between now and the new year.



Starring: Tom Hanks, Anna Gunn, Laura Linney and Aaron Eckhart
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: Sept. 9

Synopsis: Sully, which screams "possible Oscar nomination" for Tom Hanks, is the retelling of United Airlines' Captain "Sully" Sullenberger's controversial and heroic emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York on Jan. 15, 2009. It was because of Sully's quick thinking and flying skills that he was able to land the plane as safely as possible and get all 155 passengers, crew members and co-pilots out without much harm. The movie examines Sully as the hero the American people were introduced to that day, but also explores the controversies that followed him, including the investigation into whether he was drunk before flying and his history with alcoholism.

Prediction: Over the years, Clint Eastwood has developed a distinct voice as a director. Look at films like Gran Torino, American Sniper or Million Dollar Baby and you'll find an iconography that defines his award-winning work. With Sully, expect to feel anxious as Eastwood plays with the visuals of a plane crash, water flooding the main cabin and people panicking as they try to escape. It's going to feel as tense as American Sniper and as dramatic as Million Dollar Baby, but with an actor like Hanks on board, Sully seems like a pretty safe bet for movie night this early fall season.

For the Love of Spock

Starring: George Takei, Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, William Shatner, Zachary Quinto and J.J. Abrams
Directed by: Adam Nimoy
Rating: N/A
Release Date: Sept. 9

Synopsis: Adam Nimoy had been working on this documentary even before his father, Leonard Nimoy, passed away. The documentary looks at the legacy his father left behind as one of the most important figures in the original Star Trek television series, the half-Vulcan, half-human science officer, Spock. The documentary features interviews with people who worked with Nimoy on Star Trek, including William Shatner, as well as actors who are a part of the new cinematic generation of the franchise. J.J. Abrams, director of the series' cinematic reboot, also appears to talk about how important Leonard Nimoy and Spock were to him growing up, as a budding director and fan of science-fiction.

Prediction: Bring the tissues: This is going to be a tearjerker. Leonard Nimoy was one of those actors that almost everyone had a personal connection with just through watching his work, and he was known to be a genuinely great human being. Listening to his family members, friends and co-workers talk about what they loved most about Nimoy, how he touched them personally and what they'll miss most about him is going to get the waterworks going. That's not to mention that Adam Nimoy stocked the film full of archival footage of his father, which is sure to be an emotional experience for any Star Trek fan.


Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scott Eastwood, Shailene Woodley, Nicolas Cage, Zachary Quinto and Melissa Leo
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Rating: R
Release Date: Sept. 16

Synopsis: Snowden, Oliver Stone's anticipated adaptation of the story featured on the front page of every major newspaper for months in 2013, focuses on the events leading up to the Edward Snowden's major leak of NSA documents and what happened to him after. The film follows Snowden as he learns about the NSA's spying program, as well as covering his relationship with reporter Glenn Greenwald and documentarian Laura Poitras following his escape from extradition in Russia.

Prediction: If you want a more historically accurate portrayal of Edward Snowden's life, you're better off going with Citizenfour, Laura Poitras' documentary about him that gives the most in-depth look at how everything unfolded. Like most Stone movies, Snowden will be large, dramatic and exaggerated to make it as Hollywood was possible. Just think of what Stone did with films like JFK and The Doors and apply that style to the Edward Snowden tale.

Blair Witch

Starring: Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson and Valorie Curry
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Rating: R
Release Date: September 16

Synopsis: The surprising sequel to Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez's 1999 cult favorite, The Blair Witch Project, Blair Witch follows Heather's younger brother James as he enters the woods where his sister went missing years earlier to discover what happened. Along with his friends, he'll learn the secret about the mysterious woods and why they were told never to enter.

Prediction: Blair Witch, which was originally titled The Woods, has already screened at some festivals after being revealed at San Diego Comic-Con in July, and word on the street is that it's a worthy successor to the original film. From the sounds of it, expect to be very creeped out — if not actually scared — while watching the film. Adam Wingard is one of the best horror directors in the industry right now; he's worked on films like The Guest, You're Next and VHS. His next film is a live-action adaptation of the popular manga-turned-anime series, Death Note.

The Magnificent Seven

Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Peter Sarsgaard and Matt Bomer
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: Sept. 23

Synopsis: The Magnificent Seven is a remake of John Sturges' classic Western from 1960, which was in turn based on acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa's 1954 film Seven Samurai. The film follows seven gunfighters who are hired to protect a small Mexican town from a band of marauders and miscreants who plan to ransack the village. The modern retelling will move the location to the American West, but will mostly just work on modernizing the story and introducing it to an entirely new audience.

Prediction: The Magnificent Seven has a massive cast and a well-regarded director, but it almost feels like it's too big for its breeches. Fuqua deserves credit for wanting to give his own take on such a beloved film with an entirely new cast, but we wouldn't be surprised if this was a flop. That being said, the actors involved are incredible talents and Fuqua's work points to him possibly being able to pull it off. I'm going in as optimistic as possible.

Deepwater Horizon

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez and John Malkovich
Directed by: Peter Berg
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: Sept. 30

Synopsis: Based on a true story, Deepwater Horizon follows the men and women who were on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig when it exploded in April 2010, leading to the greatest environmental disaster in U.S history. The film is set to debut at the Toronto International Film Festival at the beginning of September and is already entering award race discussions. Directed by Peter Berg, best known for co-creating television series like Friday Night Lights and The Leftovers, the film is sure to play heavily into personal relationships as much focusing on the visual effects of the explosion.

Prediction: It's hard to say with Deepwater Horizon, but Berg is an excellent director, writer and producer who knows how to sell a story. We think it has the potential to be the one disaster movie where the interpersonal relationships of the characters on screen are more catastrophic than the actual disaster. It will be interesting to see where Berg takes the story.

Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children

Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, Judy Dench and Chris O'Dowd
Directed by: Tim Burton
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: September 30

Synopsis: Based on the Ransom Riggs novel of the same name, Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children follows a young boy who stumbles upon a place full of "strange" children like himself. Upon discovering it, he learns that there is something almost cosmic occurring at the house, an occurrence that spans different worlds and times. As he learns more about the children that live there, the more dangerous and revealing the house and its purpose becomes.

Prediction: If this doesn't perfectly exemplify what a Tim Burton movie should be, we don't know what does. It's full of the macabre, gothic undertones that Burton likes to include in all of his movies, but still carries themes of whimsy and innocence that no one seems to do better. After the "unsalvageable mess" of Alice Through the Looking Glass, Miss Peregrine's looks like it could be the return that Burton getting back in the game and the type of film that fans of the director have been patiently waiting for.


Girl on the Train

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney, Justin Theroux and Lisa Kudrow

Directed by: Tate Taylor

Rating: R
Release Date: October 7

Synopsis: Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, Girl on the Train follows Rachel Watson and her obsession with the couple she can see from where she sits on the train everyday. After months of doing this, she wakes up one morning to learn that the woman she had been watching has gone missing, and she takes it upon herself to learn what has happened. The only problem is that the more she investigates the disappearance of this mysterious woman, the more Rachel learns that she may be directly involved with the crime that occurred.

Prediction: Following the success of Gone Girl, Girl on the Train seemed to fill that hole that we were looking for. It's dark, twisted and a genuinely good mystery thriller, but the question is whether Tate Taylor can adapt it for the big screen. Taylor, best known for The Help, knows how to work with adaptations, but can he add the David Fincher-like touch that the movie needs to really succeed, and keep up with the pace the book set for it? This film has had a lot of buzz surrounding it since it was announced, and it could be the mystery thriller that we all need this season.

The Birth of a Nation

Starring: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Mark Boone Junior, Gabrielle Union, Aunjaune Ellis and John West Jr.
Directed by: Nate Parker
Rating: R
Release Date: October 7

Synopsis: The Birth of a Nation, originally called The Clansman, was an American silent film released in 1915 and directed by D.W. Griffith. The movie told the story of two families during the Civil War and the reconstruction period, and both its use of black face and its demonization of African Americans led to its use as a propagandistic recruiting tool by the Klu Klux Klan. The 2016 version is not a remake of the 1915 film, but rather, director Nate Parker told Interview magazine, borrows its title "ironically, but very much by design." It tells the true story of Nat Turner, leader of a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831.

Prediction: The film received rave reviews when it debuted at Sundance earlier this year, and most critics who have seen it since have called it a frontrunner for an Oscar nomination. Yet it would be remiss to mention the film without bringing up the controversy surrounding Nate Parker and collaborator Jean McGianni. The two were accused of rape in 1999, though they were eventually acquitted, but the increased attention as The Birth of a Nation's release approaches has brought the events of the trial back into public attention. A piece of art does not always reflect the artist who created it, but the seriousness of the charges and the controversy surrounding them have already seemed to have an impact on the film's future.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Robert Knepper and Aldis Hodge
Directed by: Edward Zwick
Rating: NA
Release Date: October 21

Synopsis: The sequel to 2012's Jack Reacher, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back follows the CIA agent as he returns to his headquarters, now standing accused of a murder that occurred 16 years ago. Like most secret agent movies, what starts as one thing soon dissolves into madness as Reacher realizes that he's in more danger than he ever thought possible.

Prediction: The first film had a couple of good things going for it that are absent with the sequel, most noticeably director Christopher McQuarrie. Those looking for an identical experience to what they got out of the first film are probably in for a little disappointment, but Zwick is a seasoned director who knows how to handle action. Go in thinking of this as a spinoff more than a sequel, and you should be pretty safe.


Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster, Omar Sy and Irrfan Khan
Directed by: Ron Howard
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: October 28

Synopsis: Based on the novel by Dan Brown, Inferno is the third feature in the Da Vinci Code series and follows professor Robert Langdon after he wakes up in an Italian hospital suffering from amnesia. Although he can't remember much, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks to travel around Europe to try and stop a deadly world attack.

Prediction: Chances are that if you liked The Da Vinci Code, you're going to be a fan of Inferno. Ron Howard is back to direct, and Tom Hanks is starring again, so the recipe is kind of hard to screw up for fans of the films. On the flip side, if you weren't a fan of those, you probably won't be too big of a fan for this installment, either.


Doctor Strange

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Mad Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton
Directed by: Scott Derickson
Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: One of the newest superheroes to be introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange follows a talented neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Strange, who gets into a terrible car accident one night, leaving his hands a trembling mess. In an effort to fix his hands and get back to being a surgeon, he travels around the world to East Asia where he encounters a sorceress who promises that she can not only fix his hands but enlighten him in ways he never thought possible. It's his journey, both literal and figuratively, that leads to him becoming the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange.

Prediction: Following Guardians of the Galaxy, which took place mostly in space, Doctor Strange feels like the next of the rare Marvel films to show a wholly celestial story that encompasses what Marvel looked like in the '60s and '70s. It's one of the more important movies to come out of the cinematic universe, and Derrickson has proved that he's more than capable of taking on a film of this magnitude. Marvel movies are not the end-all, be-all of superhero films, but the studio has done more right than wrong over the last eight years, so chances are this one is going to be just fine.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz and Jon Voight
Directed by: David Yates
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: November 18

Synopsis: Based on J.K. Rowling's eponymous fictional field guide, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the next installment in the wizarding franchise, but don't expect this to be a Harry Potter movie. There are some ties to the Harry Potter setting, including mention of the wizarding community in England and the creatures they encounter, but this film takes place decades before Harry was even born. The book follows Newt Scamander, a wizard and researcher of magical beasts, who must dash around New York after his friend accidentally unleashes a group of creatures into the city. It'll look at the early relationships between muggles, witches and wizards, and Warner Bros. intends it to be the foundation of a trilogy of films.

Predictions: Don't go in expecting Harry Potter, and this might be a fantasy film that you actually enjoy. Go in expecting Harry Potter, and you're not going to be satisfied.


Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Rating: NA
Release Date: November 11

Synopsis: Based on the short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chang, Arrival follows a linguist, Dr. Louise Banks, after she's recruited by the American government to try and communicate with a group of aliens that have crash landed on Earth. It's up to Dr. Banks to discover if the aliens come in peace or if they have ulterior motives — and, if so, how can they be stopped before it's too late?

Prediction: Denis Villeneuve, who also did Sicario, is a master of tension and storytelling, which is exactly what a film like this needs. There's little doubt in our minds that he'll be able to take the human drama of Chang's story and wrap it in a science-fiction package that will appeal to most people. We think it'll be one of the best films of the season and would not be surprised to see it get a couple of nominations along the way.


Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Auli'i Cravalho, Alan Tudyk, Nicole Scherzinger and Jemaine Clement
Directed by: Ron Clements and John Musker
Rating: G
Release Date: November 23

Synopsis: Moana tells the story of Disney's first Polynesian princess. The musical follows the main character as she sets out on an adventure to try and find a fabled land. Along her journey, she'll team up with a demi-god named Maui, and the two will encounter sea creatures, ancient folklore and beautiful lands, according to the studio.

Prediction: It's rare that Disney gets a princess movie wrong (do we have to bring up Frozen again? Or can we just let it go?), so there's a good chance Moana is going to be one of the best movies of the season. It's great that Disney is trying to be more inclusive by creating non-white roles for their princesses, and Moana is sure to be an excellent addition to Disney's lineup of characters.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Starring: Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna and Donnie Yen
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Rating: NA
Release Date: December 16

Synopsis: Lucasfilm and Disney have released an official synopsis for the movie, but as one would expect, it's about as vague as it can get.

"In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire's ultimate weapon of destruction," the official synopsis reads. "This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves."

Prediction: There's been some concern over the status of the movie because of several post-production reshoots, but I have a feeling Rogue One is going to be pretty decent. This is the first anthology stand-alone film in the franchise, so there's a lot riding on it. Disney and Lucasfilm are going to want this to be one of the best because it sets the expectation for stand-alone Star Wars films going forward, and I imagine that's why there were as many reshoots as there were. The biggest question is whether the film can live up to the recent hype around Star Wars and follow the success of J.J. Abrams' addition, The Force Awakens.

Assassin's Creed

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Michael Kenneth Williams and Brendan Gleeson
Directed by: Justin Kurzel
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: December 21

Synopsis: Semi-adapted from Ubisoft's video game franchise, Assassin's Creed follows the templar Callum Lynch, who realizes he can travel back in time and take on the role of his ancestor, Aguilar. It's through this realization of his powers that he learns he's the ancestor of a man who belonged to a secret group of assassins. Through his ancestor's visions, Lynch learns all about where his family came from and who he really is.

Prediction: Justin Kurzel is one of my favorite directors working today. He approaches his subject with a visionary eye, bringing breathtaking visuals to the screen and working in a phenomenal story while doing so. We were worried when we first heard about the adaptation because video game-to-movie transitions have never been easy, but with Kurzel behind the camera, Assassin's Creed has become one of our most anticipated. We think it's going to shock all of the naysayers.


Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen and Laurence Fishburne
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Rating: NA
Release Date: December 21

Synopsis: According to IMDB, "A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 60 years early."

Predictions: We don't know too much about Passengers, but it's got an A-list cast, and Morten Tyldum is a fantastic director who knows how to work with big scenes to make the most out of them. More information will become available as we get closer to the release date, but this could be the big surprise movie of the season.