For the last several years, Netflix has been charging hard at the feature film industry, with mixed results. Their populist hits (Birdbox) still feel relatively small, even if they get everyone talking. But one of their great successes has been in establishing credibility with year-end "awards season" films, scoring big in the last two years with the likes of Roma, Marriage Story, and The Irishman. And now, with the theatrical film industry barely beginning to crawl back, and the TV landscape increasingly thirsty for new and major productions, here sits Netflix with a robust fall schedule packed with movies ready to capture our attention. From big releases from top directors — like Oscar winners Ron Howard and Aaron Sorkin — to major Broadway adaptations, to animated musicals, the Netflix schedule of fall movies has the potential to be huge.
Director Antonio Campos — who previously made the films Simon Killer and Christine, and well as directed the opening episodes for the first two seasons of The Sinner — is adapting the novel by Donald Ray Pollock about a postwar Southern town beset by sinister characters. Campos is an intriguing director whose films tend to take dark characters or events and complicate them beyond tropes or expectations. But the real draw here is the cast, which is stacked with a ton of young and exciting talent: Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Mia Wasikowska, Haley Bennett, Sebastian Stan, Eliza Scanlen, and Harry Melling fill out the cast, and from the looks of the trailer, everyone is trying out some kind of wild accent.
Release Date: September 16
Despite the huge success of Stranger Things, attempts to make Millie Bobby Brown a star have thus far been pretty anemic, especially since Godzilla: King of Monsters was such a dud. But Netflix is taking matters into their own hands and casting Brown as the lead in Enola Holmes, a film adaptation of the Nancy Springer novels about the teenage sister of Sherlock Holmes. Enola's famous detective brother is played by screen Superman Henry Cavill, continuing a rather fascinating trend of film and TV versions of Holmes played by actors who also play superheroes (after Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch). Also appearing are Sam Claflin as Mycroft Holmes and Helena Bonham Carter as Holmes matriarch Eudoria, whose disappearance drives the plot of the film.
Release Date: September 23
The notorious/landmark 1970 film The Boys in the Band (based on Mart Crowley's 1968 play) holds a complicated space in queer cultural history. It offered representation and visibility at a time when almost none existed, but its portrait of catty, vicious, self-hating gay men was far from uplifting. That same level of conflicted appreciation/derision met the recent Ryan Murphy-produced Broadway revival, which starred an exclusively gay cast, but was met with the same criticisms about how it portrayed the lives of its characters. Murphy now brings the film adaptation to Netflix, featuring the same cast, most of whom have starred in various Murphy-directed films and TV shows, including Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Andrew Rannells, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesus, and Tuc Watkins.
Release Date: September 30
Aaron Sorkin's career has involved a fascinating relationship with American politics, from the Capra-esque White House romance of The American President, to the idealist hopes of The West Wing, to the hyper-earnest plea for media to return to its glory days with The Newsroom. He even attempted to reckon with America's foreign policy misadventures in Charlie Wilson's War. But with his upcoming The Trial of the Chicago 7, Sorkin is placing himself right in the middle of the current national moment, where the 1968 Democratic National Convention — and with it the riots, unrest, and general sense that America was at a turning point in its fraught history — serves as a mirror for the current upheaval in Trump's America. Is Sorkin up to the challenge? With a cast that includes Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Frank Langella, Williams Hurt, and Michael Keaton, we'll certainly find out.
Release Date: October 16
The history of remaking Alfred Hitchcock movies is a checkered one indeed. Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow did a pretty darn good job of remaking Dial "M" for Murder with A Perfect Murder, while Gus Van Sant's notorious shot-for-shot Psycho remake was a fascinating (if doomed) experiment). Now. the only Hitchcock film to ever win Best Picture at the Oscars, Rebecca, is being reimagined by Ben Wheatley. The British director best known for his stylistic experiments and penchant for violence in films like Kill List, High Rise, and Free Fire is adapting from the original novel by Daphne du Maurier, and will almost certainly look to put his own unique stamp on the film's visual style. Lily James stars as Mrs. de Winter, whose new marriage to Maxim (Armie Hammer) is haunted by the memory of his late wife, Rebecca. Kristin Scott Tomas, Sam Riley, and Ann Dowd co-star.
Release Date: October 21
A new film from director David Fincher is always something to celebrate. A new Fincher film that dives into the legends of Old Hollywood, just in time for Oscar season? Even more reason to be laser focused on Mank. Oscar-winner Gary Oldman stars as screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who battled none other than Orson Welles for screenplay credit on Citizen Kane. British actor Tom Burke (BBC's Three Musketeers and War and Peace) plays Welles, with Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies, and Ozark standout Tom Pelphrey as Herman's brother Joseph Mankiewicz, who would go on to direct All About Eve. The screenplay is by Fincher's late father, Jack Fincher.
Release Date: October TBA
Revered animator Glen Keane — who was an integral part of the great Disney renaissance with The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Pocahontas — directs this American/Chinese co-production that could easily plant a flag for Netflix in the realm of feature animation. In the musical adventure, a young girl named Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) builds and flies a rocket ship to meet the moon goddess, Chang'e, voiced by Hamilton star Philippa Soo. The cast also includes the likes of John Cho, Sandra Oh, Margaret Cho, Ken Jeong, Ruthie Ann Miles, and Kimiko Glenn.
Release Date: October TBA
The bestselling memoir by J.D. Vance becomes the latest film from Oscar-winning director Ron Howard. The film, about multiple generations of a family living in the Appalachians, stars Amy Adams, Glenn Close, Haley Bennett, and Freida Pinto.
Release Date: November TBA
The rights to the recent Broadway musical The Prom were promptly gobbled up by Netflix, who set Ryan Murphy up with an all-star cast, including Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells, James Corden, Kerry Washington, and Keegan-Michael Key. The story surrounds a group of theater actors recovering from a flop who try to save their careers by taking up the cause of a small-town Indiana girl whose high school won't let her attend the prom with her girlfriend. With cinematography by Matthew Libatique (A Star Is Born), this could be Murphy's most visually ambitious feature film yet.
Release Date: TBA
Filming wrapped on director George Clooney's latest film in early February, but whether that means the film was able to undergo post-production — or will be able to in time for a 2020 release — is unclear. If it does show up on the fall schedule, it will follow Clooney as an isolated scientist in the Arctic, racing to stop a group of astronauts (led by Felicity Jones) from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe. Based on the novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton, the film also stars Kyle Chandler and David Oyelowo.
Release Date: TBA
This adaptation of the August Wilson play about a fateful 1927 recording session for Black blues legend Ma Rainey hasn't gotten a release date yet, but in the wake of the untimely death of Chadwick Boseman, who stars in the film, Netflix assured that it would see a 2020 release. Viola Davis stars as Ma Rainey, and considering the last time she took an August Wilson adaptation to the big screen — 2016's Fences — she won an Oscar for it, expectations here are high.
Release Date: TBA
Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: Netflix, Aaron Sorkin, David Fincher, George Clooney, Millie Bobby Brown, Ron Howard, Ryan Murphy