By Richard Roeper
Signal Contributing Writer
The fall 2023 movie slate includes new films by a host of acclaimed and successful directors, including Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, David Fincher, Kenneth Branagh, Rebecca Miller, George C. Wolfe, David Yates and Alexander Payne. You want star power in front of the camera? We’ve got enough A-list stars to wear out a red carpet: Michelle Yeoh, Anne Hathaway, Marisa Tomei, Peter Dinklage, Leonardo DiCarpio, Robert De Niro, Meg Ryan, Chris Evans, Emily Blunt, Andy Garcia, Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Foxx, Tommy Lee Jones, Colman Domingo, Joaquin Phoenix, to name just, well, to name many.
It’s a time of uncertainty in Hollywood, with virtually all work coming to a halt due to the ongoing strike situation. The repercussions of the strike will be felt in the months and years to come, but at this point, the slate of films coming to theaters between Labor Day and Thanksgiving looks to be one of the strongest of the 21st century.
Here are a dozen of my most anticipated fall releases, in chronological order of premiere date.
‘A Haunting in Venice’ (Sept. 15)
Kenneth Branagh once again sports the Rollie Fingers mustache for his third go-round as Hercule Poirot in this Agatha Christie mystery with a supernatural twist. (If the film is faithful to the original source material, titled “Hallowe’en Party,” expect some particularly dark stuff.) As you’d expect, the cast is a fantastically eclectic mix that includes Tina Fey, Michelle Yeoh, Kelly Reilly, Kyle Allen — and in a particularly delightful twist (so to speak), Jamie Dornan is reunited with his “Belfast” son, Jude Hill.
‘She Came to Me’ (Oct. 6)
Peter Dinklage is one of those actors who always finds a way to create an indelible character, and he seems well-suited to the role of a composer who is creatively stymied and sets out on a journey to find inspiration. The multigenerational plot reportedly touches on a number of love stories, featuring a cast that includes Anne Hathaway, Marisa Tomei and Brian d’Arcy James. Contemporary comedies about grown-ups remain a relatively rare thing these days. “She Came to Me” seems to fit that bill.
‘The Burial’ (Oct. 6)
Another genre we love to see on the big screen: the good old-fashioned underdog legal drama based on real events. “The Burial” checks all those boxes, with Jamie Foxx starring as Willie E. Gary, the attorney representing bankrupt funeral home director and former World War II ace pilot Jerry O’Keefe (Tommy Lee Jones) in a lawsuit against a corporation that was gobbling up funeral homes, cemeteries and insurance companies. Spoiler alert: Expect an “Erin Brockovich” type of outcome, complete with end titles telling us what happened to the real-life characters.
‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ (Oct. 20)
No doubt motivated by the resounding worldwide success of “Oppenheimer,” Apple Studios announced last week that instead of a previously scheduled gradual rollout, Martin Scorsese’s epic will be released in movie theaters around the world simultaneously. Scorsese and acclaimed screenwriter Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump,” “The Insider,” “Munich,” “Dune”) are adapting David Grann’s book about the series of murders in the Osage Nation of 1920s Oklahoma. Lily Gladstone stars, along with a couple of longtime Scorsese collaborators: Robert De Niro (in his 10th film with Scorsese) and Leonardo DiCaprio (his sixth).
‘Pain Hustlers’ (Oct. 27)
On the heels of the Netflix series “Painkiller,” which included a story thread about a fictional young pharmaceutical sales hotshot peddling OxyContin as a miracle drug, here comes the Netflix original film “Pain Hustlers,” based on a New York Times magazine article and subsequent fictionalized book by Evan Hughes. Emily Blunt stars as a high school dropout who lands a job with a pharmaceutical startup, with dire consequences. Chris Evans co-stars, and the director is … David Yates, best known for directing the final four films in the “Harry Potter” series and the three “Fantastic Beasts” movies. OK, David, we see you, changing it up!
‘What Happens Later’ (Nov. 3)
Speaking of genres, and we ARE speaking of genres, Meg Ryan can handle just about any material, but she will forever have a place in our hearts for 1980s and 1990s rom-com classics such as “When Harry Met Sally …,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.” Eight years after Ryan’s last substantial film role, in the little-seen “Ithaca” (which she also directed), she stars in and directs “What Happens Later,” in which her character Willa is Reunited Cute with an ex (David Duchovny) when they’re stranded in the same airport during a snowstorm. “Oh, great, it’s YOU” might well turn into, “Oh, great, it’s YOU!”
‘The Holdovers’ (Nov. 3)
Some 18 years after director Alexander Payne and the great Paul Giamatti helped make pinot noir more popular than ever with “Sideways,” they reunite for the story of a not-particularly-popular teacher at a New England prep school in 1970 (it takes little imagination to picture Giamatti in THAT role!) who is stuck with the responsibility of looking after a handful of students who aren’t returning home for the holidays for various reasons.