Fall 2017: Cinematic appetizers cleared for main course

September 16, 2017

Now that summer is in the rearview mirror, studios are prepping their more prestigious pictures for release in the remainder of 2017. And for the true movie buffs out there, it's time to clear the plate of cinematic appetizers and get ready for the main course.

This week, it's all about "It," the theatrical take on the popular Stephen King novel that has been critically lauded and will undoubtedly scare up a bunch of cash over the weekend (review to come soon). So let's have a look at film's final quarter of the year and start marking the calendar in anticipation.

Sept. 15

Mother!: Little is known about Darren Aronofsky's creepy-looking thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris. Lawrence and Bardem play a couple who move into a new home, only to have their happy domesticity disrupted by two mysterious visitors (Pfeiffer and Harris). Aronofsky is a master of mind games ("Black Swan," "Requiem for a Dream") and looks to be in top form here.

Sept. 22

Kingsman: The Golden Circle: While the first film was a mild hit at the box office, it went on to garner enough fans in the home streaming market to merit a sequel, with much of the original cast and crew returning. This means Eggsy (played by Taron Egerton) is back with his fellow spies, but he now heads to the U.S., where he encounters the likes of Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum and ... Elton John?

Battle of the Sexes: This film re-creates the famous tennis match between Billie Jean King (played by Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carell) in the height of the sexual revolution. The event became one of the most-watched sporting events in history and sparked a nationwide conversation about equality.

Stronger: Jake Gyllenhaal plays Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the attack. It follows his path to regain his life and fight through the loss. Director David Gordon Green used to specialize in such films early in his career ("George Washington," "Snow Angels") before turning to darker comedic affairs ("Pineapple Express," "Eastbound and Down"). It will be interesting to see if he can return to his roots in this drama-fueled tale.

Sept. 29

American Made: Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman ("Edge of Tomorrow") reteam for this fact-rooted flick about American CIA agent Barry Seal, who also used to run drugs in Colombia on the side.

Oct. 6

Blade Runner 2049: Director Denis Villeneuve ("Arrival") takes over for Ridley Scott in this sequel to perhaps the most influential sci-fi flick in the last 40 years. This time, Ryan Gosling plays a young detective who sets out to find a former blade runner (Harrison Ford) to help him confront some dark secrets.

Oct. 13

The Snowman: Michael Fassbender stars in this cinematic version of the best-selling book about a detective who is on the tail of a murderer who leaves behind a clue wrapped around a rather ominous-looking snowman. Director Tomas Alfredson knows a thing or two about snow, using it to chilling effect in "Let the Right One In."

Oct. 20

Wonderstruck: Todd Haynes is one of the last directors that comes to mind when you think of a kids' film. The director is known for more adult-oriented affairs, such as "Velvet Goldmine," "Poison" and "Carol." But here he simultaneously weaves together two tales of a young Midwestern boy and a young Big Apple girl who are both searching for the same mystery, 50 years apart.

Mountain Between Us: Kate Winslet and Idris Elba are two strangers who must work together to survive a small-plane crash in a remote, snow-covered mountain range. Directed by the celebrated Hany Abu-Assad ("Paradise Now').

Geostorm: Dean Devlin is hell-bent on destroying the planet, cinematically speaking, or at least demonstrating what will happen when it is in engulfed by a natural disaster. The producer of "Independence Day" and "Godzilla (1997)" enlists Gerard Butler to help him lead the charge against a cataclysmic climatological catastrophe.

Oct. 27

Jigsaw: It's been seven years since the "final" Saw film. Which in Hollywood is an ice age when it comes to rebooting a franchise. This will be the eighth entry into the franchise, in which the mysterious madman, long thought dead, seems to have returned with a series of deadly scenarios and a new crop of victims.

Nov. 3

Thor: Ragnarok: The franchise gets a lighter touch from acclaimed comedic director Taika Waititi ("What We Do in the Shadows," "The Hunt for the Wilderpeople"), in which our titular hero is pitted against former ally Hulk in a gladiatorial battle that may determine the future of Thor's planet.

Nov. 10

Red Sparrow: Jennifer Lawrence teams with her "Hunger Games" director Francis Lawrence in a film where she plays a Russian spy who falls for a CIA operative and considers defecting.

Nov. 17

Justice League: After "Wonder Woman" locked down the summer box office, DC hopes to further the cinematic franchise by throwing together all its main comic book characters in one film. Director Zack Snyder, who directed the dreary "Batman v. Superman" returns, but he bowed out early due to personal matters, with Joss Whedon ("The Avengers") filling in to finish the project.

Wonder: Based on the New York TImes bestselling novel, "Wonder" is the story of August Pullman, a young boy with facial deformities who overcomes life's challenges in an attempt to fit in with fellow classmates. Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts star as August's parents.

Nov. 24

Coco: Pixar presents a young aspiring musician (Miguel) who teams up with a trickster. The two take an adventure to the Land of the Dead where they hope to uncover aspects of the past in order to pave Miguel's way to the future.

Murder on the Orient Express: Kenneth Branagh directs and stars as Agatha Christie's enduring literary creation Hercule Poirot in this lavish adaptation of her acclaimed novel. This train is full of accomplished actors, including Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz and Judi Dench.

Dec. 1

The Disaster Artist: Lovers of bad films will certainly know the name Tommy Wiseau. But those unacquainted with his atrociously awesome "The Room" will have a chance to be introduced to the colorful director via James Franco's performance of him in this dramatization of the creation of the cult-classic trash-terpiece.

Dec. 15

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The second chapter in the latest trilogy of the Skywalker saga finds Rey in her epic quest to restore balance in the universe and follow the path of the Jedi.

Dec. 22

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: The Rock and Kevin Hart reunite for this sequel to the popular 1995 film. Rock stars as Dr. Smoulder Bravestone, leading a crew (including Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black) of real-life representations of video game avatars that go back into the Jungle.

Downsizing: The always-interesting Alexander Payne ("The Descendants," "Election," "Sideways," "Citizen Ruth") wrote and directed this social satire in which an occupational therapist (played by Matt Damon) decides to undergo a process to shrink himself in order to live a better life.


  • Rob is the head of the English and Communications Department at Delaware Technical Community College, where he teaches film. He is also one of the founders of the Rehoboth Beach Film Society. Email him at