This month's notable theatrical releases
Below, our editors have selected the most interesting films debuting in North American theaters this month, listed in alphabetical order.
By the Grace of God Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | October 18 | Directed by François Ozon
François Ozon’s latest is a departure from the director’s previous work (Double Lover, Frantz, Young & Beautiful, Swimming Pool). An investigative drama in the style of Spotlight (the director admits the influence and tips his cap by placing a poster in one scene), the film is an account of the case against Father Bernard Preynat, who was accused in 2016 of sexually assaulting 70 boys in Lyon. Focusing on three men who try to expose the abuses of Preynat and the church that protected him, the film urgently dramatizes an ongoing scandal in France. The film received solid reviews when it debuted at February's Berlinale, where it won the second-place Silver Bear award.
Documentary | October 18 | Directed by Firas Fayyad
Director Firas Fayyad’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated documentary Last Men in Aleppo focuses on Dr. Amani, a young Syrian woman who treats wounded children in a secret underground hospital in Ghouta, near Damascus. Filming from 2016 to 2018, Fayyad captures, in intimate detail, the struggles of Dr. Amani and her team as they stand strong against deep-rooted sexism and the horrors of war. The Cave received excellent reviews at TIFF last month, where it also was recognized by audiences as the festival's best documentary.
Dolemite Is My Name Watch trailer(s)
Comedy/Drama | October 4 (theaters) / October 25 (Netflix) | Directed by Craig Brewer
In what critics are calling his best performance in years, Eddie Murphy stars as musician, comedian and actor Rudy Ray Moore, who created the character Dolemite, a pimp with a mouth so obscene he couldn’t get radio stations to play his comedy records. But the ever-resourceful Moore turned to film, gaining fame in a couple of 1970s Blaxploitation flicks. Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) directs Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, Tituss Burgess, Craig Robinson, and Mike Epps, a strong cast supported by the screenplay from Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the writers of Ed Wood, a film critics used as a touchstone for Dolemite Is My Name. It’ll stream on Netflix at the end of the month after a three-week theatrical run.
Greener Grass Watch trailer(s)
Comedy | October 18 | Directed by Dawn Luebbe and Jocelyn DeBoer
Written, directed by, and starring Upright Citizens Brigade alumni Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, this debut feature takes viewers to a bizarre suburbia where adults wear braces on their perfectly straight teeth, kids turn into golden retrievers, and soccer moms birth soccer balls. Not everyone will fall for the film’s odd brand of comedic satire, and you’ll definitely want to click that trailer link above to find out which group you’re in. (Trust us—it’s worth it.) But THR's Leslie Felperin certainly did, writing, “Franz Kafka meets Serial Mom meets Edward Scissorhands somewhere on the edge of whatever alternative universe The Lobster was set could be one clumsy way to describe Greener Grass.” If that entices you, seek this one out in theaters or on VOD.
In My Room Watch trailer(s)
Sci-fi/Drama | October 11 | Directed by Ulrich Köhler
The first of German director Ulrich Köhler’s films to be released in the United States, this uniquely imagined post-apocalyptic survival tale follows Armin, a man going nowhere until he awakes one morning to discover that all of humanity seems to have disappeared. With freedom comes complications, but maybe not the ones most people would imagine for one who believes he’s the last man on earth.
Jojo Rabbit Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Comedy | October 18 | Directed by Taika Waititi
The winner of TIFF’s People's Choice Award typically earns a Best Picture Oscar nomination, but will Taika Waititi’s divisive Hitler and the Holocaust comedy end that streak which began in 2012 with Silver Linings Playbook? It’s difficult to project given the unusually diverse range of opinions from critics. Waititi seems to have taken a big swing and either hit a home run or struck out. As with Life Is Beautiful, which also received mixed reviews, maybe public opinion will carry the day for this story of a 10-year-old German boy named Jojo (newcomer Roman Griffin Davis) whose relationship with his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler (Waititi) is complicated when he meets Elsa (Leave No Trace’s Thomasin McKenzie), a Jewish girl his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding in their home.
Joker Watch trailer(s)
Action-adventure/Thriller | October 4 | Directed by Todd Phillips
This weekend the public will get to decide: Is writer-director Todd Phillips’ Golden Lion winner a masterpiece or an irresponsible, incel-inciting disaster; a comic book movie or a character study; a triumph of craft and acting or a waste of talent and sweat? Or is it none of those things, or all of them, or somewhere in between? Heavily influenced by Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and King of Comedy, Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a clown for hire with ambitions to become a standup comedian. But life doesn’t work out as planned for Arthur, as the cruelty of Gotham City leads him down a different path.
The King Watch trailer(s)
Drama | October 11 | Directed by David Michôd
After a taking a dip into comedy with War Machine, director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom, The Rover) returns to the warm waters of drama with his latest, a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. Appearing first as Prince Hal and then King Henry V, Timothée Chalamet stars alongside Joel Edgerton (who co-wrote the script with Michôd) as Falstaff, Ben Mendelsohn as Henry IV, Lily-Rose Depp as Catherine of Valois, and, for a little “razzle-dazzle," Robert Pattinson as The Dauphin. A historical epic that divided critics at its Cannes premiere (and that will head to Netflix on November 1st after three weeks in theaters), the film might be inspired by the Bard’s pen, but don’t underestimate the influence of Game of Thrones on Michôd’s blood and mud-filled battles.
The Lighthouse Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Horror/Fantasy | October 18 | Directed by Robert Eggers
Robert Eggers’ follow-up to 2016’s The Witch chronicles the downward spiral of two lighthouse keepers played by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in unanimously praised performances. Set on a remote New England island in the 1890s (but filmed in Nova Scotia in 2018) and shot in 35mm black and white in the boxy 1.19 to 1 aspect ratio, the film traps viewers in a creepy tale of madness full of bravura filmmaking and performances that could earn awards consideration despite the extremely unique material that will leave some wondering what they just experienced.
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound Watch trailer(s)
Documentary | October 25 | Directed by Midge Costin
Sound editor Midge Costin’s well-reviewed directorial debut is a documentary overview of the history and art of cinematic sound. Making a case for the importance of sound in cinema, Costin uses her contacts in the industry to interview mixers, composers, and directors, while also detailing what goes into a film’s soundtrack. In a swift 94 minutes, Costin provides a great primer for students, film geeks, and casual movie lovers, revealing a new way to experience movies.
Pain and Glory Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | October 4 | Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
The latest from beloved filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar pulls from his own life to tell the story of Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), a film director struggling physically and looking back on his life—his childhood, his first love, his first heartbreak, and his discovery of cinema. Banderas won best actor honors at the Cannes Film Festival and will be in the running to earn nominations throughout awards season, while Spain has selected the well-reviewed film to compete for a nomination in the newly renamed Best International Feature Film category at the Oscars.
Parasite Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama/Comedy/Thriller | October 11 | Directed by Joon-ho Bong
It’s rare when critics love the Cannes jury’s choice for the Palme d’Or, but this year, they rejoiced when the latest from Bong Joon-ho (Okja, Snowpiercer, The Host) took home the prize. The story concerns the street-smart Kim family as they worm their way into the lives of the affluent Park family when the Kim children become a tutor and art therapist for the Park’s kids. Twists and turns follow, but, as Bong requested of critics at Cannes, we won’t spoil them. Just brace yourself for something funny and savage—and one of 2019's very best films.
Synonyms Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | October 25 | Directed by Nadav Lapid
The latest from Nadav Lapid (The Kindergarten Teacher, Policeman) won the Golden Bear as the best film at this year’s Berlin Film Fesitval. Based on his own experiences as a young man in Paris, Lapid's latest finds newcomer Tom Mercier delivering an electrifying performance as Yoav, an obstinate young Israeli who refuses to speak Hebrew as he works at the Israeli embassy, studies for his naturalization test, and tries to find his footing in a foreign land. Like the performance at its center, if you can get on the film’s wavelength, it can be a rewarding experience.
Western Stars Watch trailer(s)
Documentary/Music | October 25 | Directed by Bruce Springsteen and Thom Zimny
Co-directed by Bruce Springsteen and his longtime collaborator Thom Zimny, this unique concert films includes all 13 songs from Springsteen’s latest album performed at his farmhouse in New Jersey for an intimate group of family and friends. In between the songs, Springsteen talks about his inspirations for the album while images of him in Joshua Tree appear on the screen. Reviews from the film’s TIFF premiere were unanimously strong, proving Springsteen can handle the big screen as well as Broadway.
Zombieland: Double Tap Watch trailer(s)
Action/Comedy/Horror | October 18 | Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Since Zombieland, his well-received debut feature, director Ruben Fleischer has failed to earn another positive Metascore, with each subsequent film (30 Minutes or Less, Gangster Squad, Venom) receiving increasingly poor reviews. Maybe a sequel will get him back on track? Original writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (the duo behind the Deadpool movies) return, as do the original cast (Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and possibly Bill Murray). They are joined by Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch, and Dan Aykroyd in a story that finds Breslin’s Little Rock taking off on her own as the others chase after her.
Bonus pick: Streaming on Netflix
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie Watch trailer(s)
Action/Drama | October 11 | Directed by Vince Gilligan
Picking up seemingly at the moment where the hugely acclaimed series ended, this fans-only feature film spinoff from Breaking Bad concludes the story of Aaron Paul's Jesse Pinkman, who finds himself a wanted man on the run from law enforcement and some very bad men after escaping captivity in the series finale. Series creator Vince Gilligan pulls double duty as the writer and director of El Camino, which will return several other characters from the series, including Matt Jones' Badger, Charles Baker's Skinny Pete, and—rather improbably—Jonathan Banks' Mike Ehrmantraut. (In other words, don't rule out anyone's return.) It's not just a Netflix movie; El Camino will also screen in a few theaters for one weekend only, and will eventually air on Breaking Bad's cable home, AMC (though a date has not yet been set).
What do you think?
Which films are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments section below. For a complete, updated listing of all upcoming film releases by date, including films arriving later in 2019 and in 2020, visit our Movie Calendar.