Labor Day brought summer to its unofficial end, and in movieland, fall begins when some of the top film festivals are underway. With so many films scheduled to be released now and Christmas, I decided to make a list of 30 of my most anticipated titles of the season to help readers get through the winding sea of flicks that will crowd the cinemas and streaming services. Next week, I’ll highlight some of the ones that didn’t make the cut but are worth checking out.
30) “Motherless Brooklyn”: Edward Norton spent nearly two decades getting this project off the ground. Norton, who adapted the Jonathan Lethem novel, directs and stars as a New York detective with Tourette syndrome who is looking for who killed his mentor. The setting is transformed to the 1950s. Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Alec Baldwin also star. (Nov. 1)
29) “Zombieland: Double Tap”: Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin and Jesse Eisenberg are a makeshift family again fighting off more zombies in the sequel to the 2009 surprise hit. Bill Murray returns as some form of himself and is joined by Rosario Dawson and Zoey Deutch. (Oct. 18)
28) “Last Christmas”: Director Paul Feig of “Bridesmaids” reteams with “A Simple Favor” star Henry Golding for a romantic holiday comedy featuring Emilia Clarke of “Game of Thrones.” Michelle Yeoh and Emma Thompson, who wrote the screenplay, also appear in the film featuring music by George Michael. (Nov. 8)
27) “Cats”: Since “Moulin Rouge” debuted in 2001, audiences have expected at least one big musical a year. The Broadway favorite features Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba and Judi Dench. (Dec. 20)
26) “Uncut Gems”: Adam Sandler has had a terrible track record for more than 10 years, but his pairing with acclaimed directing duo Josh and Benny Safdie (“Good Time,” “Heaven Knows What”) has many thinking this is a comeback. Featuring LaKeith Stanfield and Idina Menzel, Sandler plays a jeweler and a compulsive gambler in New York City’s competitive diamond district. (Dec. 13)
25) “Charlie’s Angels”: Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska fills the shoes of three iconic characters under the watchful eye of Elizabeth Banks’ Bosley in the big-screen reboot. (Nov. 15)
24) “Little Women”: Greta Gerwig returns to directing with much of her “Lady Bird” cast in this adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic. Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Eliza Scanlen and Meryl Streep make up the ensemble cast. (Dec. 25)
23) “Gemini Man”: It’s Will Smith versus a deaged version of himself in this action movie helmed by Ang Lee. Smith stars as an assassin whose younger self is created to destroy him. Clive Owen and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are part of the cast.
22) “Hustlers”: Constance Wu is a single mother who turns to stripping to make ends meet. Along with Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer and Cardi B, the dancer seek revenge against their Wall Street clients. (Sept. 13)
21) “The Good Liar”: Helen Mirren is the target of Ian McKellen’s con in the film adaptation of Nicholas Searle’s novel. The cat-and-mouse feature includes Jim Carter and Russell Tovey. (Nov. 15)
20) “Knives Out”: Daniel Craig is not James Bond in this movie, but he plays a detective investigating the death of a wealthy patriarch (Christopher Plummer) on his birthday. Chris Evans, LaKeith Stanfield, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis and Toni Collette also star in this Agatha Christie-like flick. (Nov. 27)
19) “Marriage Story”: Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver star as a creative, bi-coastal couple as they are about to divorce. Noah Baumbach directed the movie, and Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta co-star. (Nov. 6 in theaters, Dec. 6 on Netflix)
18) “Atlantics”: Directed by Mati Diop, the first black woman director to win a prize at the Cannes Film Festival, “Atlantics” is a love story and a ghost tale out of Senegal about construction workers who seek a better life. (Nov. 15 in theaters, Nov. 29 on Netflix)
17) “Doctor Sleep”: It’s one of three major films from a Stephen King. The literary sequel to “The Shining” stars Ewan McGregor as the grown-up Danny Torrance who finds Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), a young girl who shares his similar powers. She is being hunted by a cult, The True Knot, and Danny tries to protect her from them. Rebecca Ferguson and Jacob Tremblay also appear in the movie.
16) “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”: Tom Hanks, perhaps America’s favorite, lovable actor, is playing Fred Rogers, the lovable television personality who taught generations of children about respect and caring. Marielle Heller directs the biopic. (Nov. 22)
15) “The Lighthouse”: Robert Eggers, the director behind one of the decade’s best horror movies “The Witch,” returns with a tale about two lighthouse keepers who are isolated in New England. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson star in the psychological drama. (Oct. 18)
14) “Downton Abbey”: Fans of the celebrated British TV show have a chance to see the Crawleys again as they welcome the royal family. Some of the best-known characters return for the film. (Sept. 20)
13) “The Laundromat”: Steven Soderbergh takes on the Panama Papers and off-shore accounts in this biting comedy. Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Sharon Stone and Antonio Banderas lead the ensemble cast.
12) “Jojo Rabbit”: Taika Waititi writes and directs an “anti-hate satire” set in World War II. A German boy (Roman Griffin Davis) has Adolf Hilter (Waititi) a problematic, imaginary friend, but when his mother (Scarlett Johansson) takes in a Jewish girl to protect, he doesn’t know what to do. (Oct. 18)
11) “Judy”: It’s been 17 years since Renée Zellweger sang and danced her way in “Chicago,” but the Oscar winner returns as Judy Garland in this biopic. The film is set during the last year of the performer’s life as she performs sold-out concerts in England. (Sept. 27)
10) “It Chapter 2”: The Derry kids are all grown up, and Pennywise is waiting for them. Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, James McAvoy, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan and Andy Bean face off against Bill Skarsgård in the final chapter of the Stephen King classic. (Sept. 6)
9) “Ad Astra”: Director James Gray enters new territory with a movie set in space. Brad Pitt stars as an astronaut looking for his father (Tommy Lee Jones) who may have the answer to solving a threat that faces Earth. Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga and Donald Sutherland also star. (Sept. 20)
8) “Frozen II”: Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) go on an adventure away from their kingdom to find the source of Elsa’s powers. It’s one of the rare Disney sequels not to go directly to home video. (Nov. 22)
7) “Queen & Slim”: A first date leads to a couple on the run after one of them kills a police officer. Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out,” “Widows”) and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith star in the drama written by Lena Waithe. (Nov. 27)
6) “Dolemite is My Name”: If Matthew McConaughey can have an out-of-this-world comeback, so can Eddie Murphy. He stars in a biopic about blaxploitation superstar and director Rudy Roy Moore. (Oct. 4 in theaters, Oct. 25 on Netflix)
5) “Joker”: Joaquin Phoenix is the latest actor to transform into Batman’s nemesis in this Todd Phillips film. Zazie Beetz and Robert De Niro are also in the DC Comics movie. (Oct. 4)
4) “1917”: Set in World War I, soldiers are tasked to cross enemy lines in a Sam Mendes-directed movies that features a who’s who in British acting talent. Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Colin Firth and Andrew Scott lead the cast. (Dec. 25)
3) “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”: The final saga in the new trilogy includes Carrie Fisher’s last footage, with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver J.J. Abrams returning to bring the story to a close. (Dec. 20)
2) “Parasite”: This year’s winner of the Palme d’Or details the lengths that a poor tutor does to fit into a wealthy family. Bong Joon-ho, director of South Korean masterpieces like “The Host,” “Mother” and “Snowpiecer,” returns with a family-centered drama. (Oct. 11)
1) “The Irishman”: It’s not just the fact that it’s a Martin Scorsese epic or that it connects with Northeastern Pennsylvania. This film, about a hitman who was ordered to take out Jimmy Hoffa, is good enough to get Joe Pesci out of retirement. That’s worth the price of admission alone. (Nov. 1 in theaters, Nov. 27 on Netflix)