After a summer of superhero movies, the serious fall season returns, with its roster of prestige films and Oscar-caliber actors — people such as Cate Blanchett, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Idris Elba.
As it happens, they're all in the same movie. A new Sam Mendes adaptation of King Lear? Well, no. They're in Thor: Ragnarok, which opens Nov. 3. This indicates that even though superhero summer is over, Hollywood is still (wait for it) Norse-ing a hangover. And just a few weeks later (Nov. 17), we get Justice League, which features Wonder Woman, back for a second time this year.
And Batman. And the Flash. And Aquaman. And Cyborg.
Whither the Oscar bait?
Well, the schedule is not as packed with obvious Academy Award contenders as we might like. But we do have Judi Dench as Queen Victoria in Victoria & Abdul, a timely true story about the furor that erupts when the queen seeks the counsel of a Muslim servant (Bollywood star Ali Fazal). Chadwick Boseman, who's already played James Brown and Jackie Robinson, plays Thurgood Marshall in Marshall.
In a biopic with a less exalted title character, Jessica Chastain has the lead in Molly's Game, the true story of a woman who ran Hollywood's most infamous illegal poker ring, a drama written and directed by Aaron Sorkin.
Here's a partial list of movies opening this fall, with dates subject to change.
mother! (Sept. 15). Psychological horror movie from director Darren Aronofsky has a couple (Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem) moving into a house where weird people show up and bad things happen. That sounds vague, but few plot details have emerged. With Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris, and Brendan Gleeson.
American Assassin (Sept. 15). Vince Flynn's best-selling Mitch Rapp novels hit the screen, with Dylan O'Brien in the title role as a guy who wants to wipe out the terrorists who killed his girlfriend. Costarring Michael Keaton.
Stronger (Sept. 22). Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the inspirational true story of Jeff Bauman, who lost both his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing and overcame many obstacles on the way to recovery.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Sept. 22). Sequel to the offbeat British hit about a teen 007 (Taron Egerton). This time, he's set in the States (with Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges), investigating a drug kingpin (Julianne Moore).
The Lego Ninjago Movie (Sept. 22). This time, the plastic heroes send up kung fu flicks and Japanese monster movies.
Battle of the Sexes (Sept. 29). Oscar-winner Emma Stone and Steve Carell are Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, who famously played against each other in a 1973 tennis match. With Sarah Silverman and Elizabeth Shue.
American Made (Sept. 29). Based on the true story of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), a commercial airline pilot who became a drug smuggler and DEA agent at the height of the war on drugs.
Victoria & Abdul (Sept. 29). Loosely based on the true story of Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and the mysterious Indian servant (Ali Fazal) who becomes her confidant, to the consternation of her stuffy staff.
Flatliners (Sept. 29). Remake of the 1990 sci-fi horror movie about young people who "die" and are resuscitated in order to see what's on the other side. Ellen Page, Diego Luna star.
The Mountain Between Us (Oct. 6). Two people (Idris Elba and Kate Winslet) survive a plane crash and are stranded in the frigid mountains, probably huddling together for warmth.
Blade Runner 2049 (Oct. 6). Sequel to the 1982 classic has future-world detective Ryan Gosling probing a mystery that leads him to Harrison Ford's character from the original, who's been missing for 30 years. Denis Villeneuve directs.
The Foreigner (Oct. 13). When terrorists kill Jackie Chan's daughter in London, he'll stop at nothing to avenge her death, even if it means taking on British Intelligence (in the form of Pierce Brosnan).
Marshall (Oct. 13). Chadwick Boseman plays Thurgood Marshall in this true story of his work as an NAACP attorney assisting in the defense of a man accused of rape. With Josh Gad.
Goodbye Christopher Robin (Oct. 13). Margot Robbie and Domhnall Gleeson star in this account of A.A. Milne. The author, recovering from WWI trauma, creates Winnie the Pooh for the amusement of his son and creates a phenomenon that threatens the family's privacy.
The Snowman (Oct. 20). A detective (Michael Fassbender) investigates the disappearance of a young woman. Rebecca Ferguson, Val Kilmer, J.K. Simmons, Chloë Sevigny costar.
Thank You for Your Service (Oct. 27). Based on David Finkel's best-selling, true life account of soldiers struggling to adjust to life at home after seeing combat duty in Iraq. Starring Downingtown native Miles Teller and Amy Schumer in a dramatic role.
Suburbicon (Oct. 27). George Clooney directs this black comedy about a suburban father (Matt Damon) who goes to violent extremes to protect his family from mobsters. Costarring Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac.
Killing of a Sacred Deer (Nov. 3). Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell confront a curse in this horror movie from Yorgos Lanthimos, who directed Farrell in The Lobster.
Thor: Ragnarok (Nov. 3). Shouldn't this be released in Ragnaroktober? Will it be preceded by Ragnaroktoberfest? Will Mr. T star in Ragnarocky III? Chris Hemsworth returns in the title role, battling an evil priestess played by Cate Blanchett. With Tom Hiddleston.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Nov. 10). Writer-director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) returns with a story of a woman (Frances McDormand) in a small town going up against local law enforcement (Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell).
Last Flag Flying (Nov. 10). Reportedly a belated sequel of sorts to the Jack Nicholson classic The Last Detail. Three Vietnam veterans (Laurence Fishburne, Steve Carell, and Bryan Cranston) bury one of their sons. Directed by Richard Linklater.
Murder on the Orient Express (Nov. 10). Agatha Christie's famous story about a detective, the great Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh), investigating a murder on a train. Suspects include Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, and Star Wars star Daisy Ridley.
Justice League (Nov. 17). With Superman out of action, Batman and Wonder Woman and the Flash and Aquaman gang up on a bad guy. Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck reprise their roles.
Molly's Game (Nov. 22). Aaron Sorkin directs Jessica Chastain in this true story of a former Olympic skier who ran Hollywood's most notorious underground card game.
Coco (Nov. 22). Pixar animation about a Mexican boy who strums a magical guitar and is transported to the land of the dead. We're guessing it's more upbeat than it sounds.
Shape of Water (Dec. 8). A Guillermo del Toro original is always something to be excited about. In 1962, a mute janitor (Sally Hawkins) befriends an amphibious mutant (Hellboy alum Doug Jones).
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Dec. 15). The Christmastime Star Wars release is becoming an annual tradition. Except much more Luke Skywalker this time around.
Jumanji (Dec. 22). Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Kevin Hart take over where Robin Williams' 1995 movie (and the children's book its based on) left off.