Dir. Darren Aronofsky
It’s an event-movie detonation, a phantasmagorical horror, a black-comic nightmare. Jennifer Lawrence plays the loving young wife of a famous author (Javier Bardem); they live in a remote, picture-perfect country house. Suddenly a strange couple, played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, show up out of the blue and very strange stuff starts to happen, leading to an explosion of horror and hallucinatory violence. Seatbelts must be worn and airbags may deploy. Read the full review.

  • Released on 15 September in the UK and the US; 14 September in Australia.

On Body and Soul

Dir. Ildiko Enyedi
Hungarian director Ildiko Enyedi won the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin film festival with her deeply strange, dreamlike movie: this director has in fact been absent from the movie scene since her estranged-twins drama My Twentieth Century won the Cannes Camera d’Or in 1999. On Body and Soul is about two people employed at a slaughterhouse, which is grimly depicted. They don’t get on in real life, but mysteriously share dreams. Is this the “soul” which rises above the “body” — and the blood-flecked reality of the workplace?

  • 22 September UK.

Home Again

Dir. Hallie Meyers-Shyer
This could be this autumn’s guilty pleasure with extra cheese. Reese Witherspoon stars in an upscale romantic comedy written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, who has impeccable family background for this kind of thing. Her mum is Nancy Meyers (writer/director of Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated) and dad is Charles Shyer (director of Baby Boom and Father of the Bride). Witherspoon plays the divorced single mother of two kids who returns to the (extremely comfortable) family home in LA and immediately is plunged into uproarious dating situations.

  • 29 September UK; out in US.


Tail of rebirth … Natalia Pavlenkova in Zoology.
Tail of rebirth … Natalia Pavlenkova in Zoology. Photograph: PR Company Handout

Dir. Ivan I Tverdovsky
Whoah. A Kafkaesque situation develops in this curious fable from Russian director Ivan I Tverdovsky. Natalya Pavlenkova plays Natasha, an unhappy and downtrodden middle-aged office worker who lives with her mother and likes going to the zoo. Then she experiences a personal renaissance when she, erm, grows a tail and then finds love with a younger man. Whatever can it all mean? Read the full review.

  • 29 September UK.

On the Road

On the Road: clip from Michael Winterbottom’s Wolf Alice film – video

Dir. Michael Winterbottom
The prolific British film-maker Michael Winterbottom gets his groove back with his best film in years: romantic, erotic and euphoric. It’s a docu-social-realist adventure, with fictional scenes in a real setting. Winterbottom went on the road with the rock band, Wolf Alice, documenting their performances but also inveigling ride-along actors on the tour bus, playing the part of a roadie and PR who fall in love. Read the full review.

  • 29 September UK.

Blade Runner 2049

Running men … Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford.
Running men … Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. Photograph: Stephen Vaughan/AP

Dir. Denis Villeneuve
Harrison Ford hands on the baton of postfuturist heroism to his young co-star Ryan Gosling in this sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic, and running at a buttock-challenging two hours and 43 minutes. The original was based directly on Philip K Dick; this is an original screenplay. Gosling plays LAPD officer K, who uncovers an awful secret about humanity, and his own existence. He sets out to discover the whereabouts of a blade runner who has been missing for 30 years — Rick Deckard, played by Ford. Jared Leto plays a sinister villain, who says things like: “You do not know what pain is yet. You will learn.”

  • 5 October UK and Australia; 6 October US.

The Reagan Show

Dirs. Sierra Pettengill, Pacho Velez
Reagan nostalgia? Too soon? The time will surely come for a fiction-feature about the Gipper — focusing, I predict, on the 1981 assassination attempt. (Alec Baldwin? Steve Carell?) Meanwhile, here is a documentary about Ronald Reagan made up entirely of his TV appearances, and various line-fluffing TV feeds. Who was this man? It’s an exercise in 80s immersion. He may seem hokey, but in those pre-social media, pre-Trump days he also seems like a stately monarch of homely restraint.

  • 6 October UK; out in US.

The Party

Dir. Sally Potter
We might have thought that Sally Potter couldn’t do funny. We were wrong. This is a short, sharp shock of a film, written and directed by Potter: a theatrical drawing-room comedy starring Kristin Scott Thomas on tiptop form, playing a government minister who is hosting a party at her elegant London townhouse, along with her husband, played by Timothy Spall. It’s like a stylish play by Simon Gray or Anthony Shaffer, with a neat punchline twist that leaves you laughing over the closing credits.

  • 13 October UK.

The Death of Stalin

Watch a trailer for The Death of Stalin

Dir. Armando Iannucci
For my money, this is the film of the year: Armando Iannucci (Veep, The Thick of It) directs an icily brilliant, ruthlessly satirical and mordant comedy about backstairs intrigue at the Kremlin after Stalin dies in 1953. It’s superbly acted by an A-list cast including Michael Palin, Simon Russell Beale, Jason Isaacs, Steve Buscemi, Andrea Riseborough and Jeffrey Tambor. Iannucci has written the script, alongside David Schneider and Ian Martin. Read the full review.

  • 20 October UK.

I Am Not a Witch

Maggie Mulubwa is the girl accused in I Am Not A Witch.
Injustice … Maggie Mulubwa is the girl accused in I Am Not A Witch. Photograph: film company handout

Dir. Rungano Nyoni
The new film from the Zambian-born and Cardiff-raised film-maker Rungano Nyoni made a fierce impression at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. It’s a tale of dogma and corruption in the land of the director’s birth, a satirical and surreal account of absurdity and sexual politics. A young woman is accused of witchcraft and this preposterous injustice exposes a raft of absurdities. Read the full review.

  • 20 October UK.

Call Me By Your Name

Dir. Luca Guadagnino
Luca Guadagnino’s gay romance is a coming-of-age drama — widely acclaimed as a stunning and moving addition to this director’s already very impressive work. Timothée Chalamet is Elio, a young man whose academic father (Michael Stuhlbarg) welcomes research assistants to his handsome summer villa in Italy. One of these is Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, and his growing relationship with Elio is at the film’s centre. Read the full review.

  • 27 October UK; 24 November US; 26 December Australia.

Murder on the Orient Express

Kenneth Branagh as Poirot.
Great detective … Kenneth Branagh as Poirot. Photograph: Alamy

Dir. Kenneth Branagh
Time for some comfort cinema. Last filmed by Sidney Lumet in the 70s with an A*-list cast, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express now returns to the screen, directed by Kenneth Branagh, who has cast himself as the great moustachioed detective Poirot. Someone has been offed in his compartment of a luxury train. One of the passengers happens to be Poirot himself. The cast includes Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe and Daisy Ridley. It’s one of Christie’s most famous and sensational endings.

  • 3 November UK; 9 November Australia; 10 November US.

The Florida Project

The Florida Project.
One summer … The Florida Project. Photograph: Marc Schmidt

Dir. Sean Baker
Sean Baker was the film-maker who gave us Tangerine, a movie about trans experiences which he filmed mostly on his iPhone, inspiring a new generation of digital film-makers. This is a richly atmospheric and great-looking film about Moonee, a six-year-old kid who rattles around with her friends one summer, at the motel where her dad (Willem Dafoe) is manager, in the shadow of Walt Disney World. Meanwhile her mum has just lost her job as a stripper, though Moonee is happily unaware of it all.

  • 10 November UK.

Justice League

Dir. Zack Snyder
Inspired by Superman’s gesture of friendship, Bruce Wayne experiences a resurgence of faith in humanity and reaches out to Wonder Woman to help battle a new enemy. Director Zack Snyder stepped back from working on this movie after a personal tragedy: his daughter took her own life, and the film was entrusted to Joss Whedon. Inevitably, this puts things in perspective, as the director himself put it: “In the end, it’s just a movie. It’s a great movie. But it’s just a movie.”

  • 17 November UK and US; 16 November Australia.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Hollywood scouse … Annette Bening and Jamie Bell.
Hollywood scouse … Annette Bening and Jamie Bell. Photograph: PR

Dir. Paul McGuigan
There’s a lovely warmth and likability to this heartwarming stranger-than-fiction love story, starring Jamie Bell as Peter Turner, an out-of-work actor in the 1970s who met and fell for the legendary Hollywood star Gloria Grahame, who was then in the endgame of her career and suffering from ill health – and who later came to stay with Turner’s mum and dad, played by Julie Walters and Kenneth Cranham, at their home in Liverpool. She is played with terrific verve by Annette Bening: by turns imperious, vulnerable and tender. Read the full review.

  • 17 November UK.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
Yorgos Lanthimos is the Greek film-director who has acquired a cult following for his disquieting surreal strangeness; here is his second English-language movie. It’s a taboo horror about a wealthy and successful surgeon, played by Colin Farrell, who appears to have a happy if sexually weird marriage to Nicole Kidman. Then he forms a friendship with a 16-year-old boy which tests the boundaries of appropriate behaviour and ends in disaster. Read the full review.

  • 17 November UK; 27 October US.

Battle of the Sexes

Dirs. Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Which is better: men’s tennis? Or women’s tennis? It’s time to return to 1973 — the era of wooden racquets in presses, and the post-match jumping of the net to shake hands — for the exhibition match designed to settle this thorny issue. The contestants are the bullish, middle-aged former US champion Bobby Riggs who challenged the then twentysomething Billie Jean King to a match. Steve Carell plays the egregious Riggs and Emma Stone puts on the glasses to play King.

  • 24 November UK; 22 September US; 28 September Australia.


Matt Damon and Noah Jupe in Suburbicon.
Unhappy family … Matt Damon and Noah Jupe in Suburbicon. Photograph: Allstar/Entertainment One

Dir. George Clooney
Director and co-writer George Clooney has taken an old, unproduced script by the Coen brothers and brought it to the screen as an intriguing cousin to Fargo. It’s the 1950s and Matt Damon plays a sleazy guy with criminal interests, living unhappily with his unusual family, in the apparently picture-perfect smalltown of Suburbicon. Julianne Moore plays twins, and Oscar Isaac is an insurance claims investigator.

  • 24 November UK; 27 October US.

Happy End

Dir. Michael Haneke
There’s a strange note of Alan Ayckbourn to this new movie from director Michael Haneke, set in Calais: a satirical nightmare of haut-bourgeois European prosperity. It is a horribly inspired soap opera: a dynasty of lost souls. Isabelle Huppert plays a woman who has taken over a family construction and transport business from her ageing father, played by veteran Jean-Louis Trintignant. She must also preside over a grisly collection of dysfunctional family secrets. Read the full review.

  • 1 December UK; 22 December US.

Mountains May Depart

Mysterious and ambitious … Mountains May Depart.
Mysterious and ambitious … Mountains May Depart. Photograph: Beijing R/Rex/Shutterstock

Dir. Jia Zhangke
This movie from China’s Jia Zhangke is a mysterious and ambitious piece of work utterly unlike anything else. It appears to evolve before our eyes, starting out as a classic drama of the kind that Old Hollywood could have produced, and then turning into a futurist essay on China’s global diaspora and a destiny of alienation. A young woman has a child with a pushy young capitalist in a country which, in the new century, is infatuated with business: that child is to grow up far away, in a future in which hopes and expectations are far from being fulfilled. A flawed, complex, challenging film.

  • 15 December UK.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp