October is upon us, which is usually when everyone’s spine-tingling favorites come out to play. You know the ones – Hocus Pocus, Friday the 13th, Halloween, and all the other fan-favorites. While it’s great to curl up on the couch to enjoy cinematic comfort food, there’s plenty hitting the theaters worth leaving the house for. To help you get a sense of the variety at your disposal this month, here’s a list of 26 films that may surprise, jolt, and delight you in ways you may not expect.
Director: Todd Phillips.
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Marc Maron, Shea Whigham, Brett Cullen, Douglas Hodge, and Josh Pais.
Director Todd Phillips’ Joker centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.
Pain & Glory (Limited)
Director: Pedro Almodóvar.
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, Asier Etxeandia, and Leonardo Sbaraglia.
Pain & Glory tells of a series of reencounters experienced by Salvador Mallo, a film director in his physical decline. Some of them in the flesh, others remembered. First loves, second loves, his mother, mortality, an actor with whom the director worked, the sixties, the eighties, the present and the emptiness, the immeasurable emptiness at the impossibility of continuing to film. PAIN & GLORY talks about creation, about the difficulty of separating it from one’s own life and about the passions that give it meaning and hope. In recovering his past, Salvador finds the urgent need to recount it, and in that need he also finds his salvation.
Lucy in the Sky
Director: Noah Hawley.
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Dan Stevens, Zazie Beetz, Pearl Amanda Dickson and Ellen Burstyn.
In Lucy in the Sky, Natalie Portman plays Lucy Cola, a strong woman whose determination and drive as an astronaut take her to space, where she’s deeply moved by the transcendent experience of seeing her life from afar. Back home as Lucy’s world suddenly feels too small, her connection with reality slowly unravels.
Wrinkles the Clown
Director: Michael Beach Nichols.
In late 2014, a low-res video of a person in a clown mask emerging from underneath a sleeping child’s bed appears on YouTube. The description below the video claims that the clown is named “Wrinkles,” that he lives in southwest Florida, and that he’s been hired by the child’s parents to frighten her for misbehaving. The video goes viral. Soon, more mysterious videos of Wrinkles scaring children appear online, along with a phone number to hire him for “behavioral services.” Wrinkles becomes internet lore – a whole genre of YouTube videos of kids filming themselves calling him appears online, and over a million messages are left at the number. Voicemails range from disturbing to hilarious to terrifying: parents use the number to terrify their children, kids who are obsessive fans of creepy clowns reach out to make a new friend, children threaten to inflict wildly creative violence if he comes anywhere near them. But who is Wrinkles, and why is he doing this? With incredible access to the mastermind behind the mask, Wrinkles the Clown is a cryptic and playful exploration of these questions, as well as an inside look at myth-building and the unpredictable spread of imagination in the Internet age.
The Current War (Limited)
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, Matthew Macfadyen and Tuppence Middleton.
Three brilliant visionaries set off in a charged battle for the future in The Current War, the epic story of the cutthroat competition that literally lit up the modern world. Benedict Cumberbatch is Thomas Edison, the celebrity inventor on the verge of bringing electricity to Manhattan with his radical new DC technology. On the eve of triumph, his plans are upended by charismatic businessman George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), who believes he and his partner, the upstart genius Nikolai Tesla (Nicholas Hoult), have a superior idea for how to rapidly electrify America: with AC current. As Edison and Westinghouse grapple for who will power the nation, they spark one of the first and greatest corporate feuds in American history, establishing for future Titans of Industry the need to break all the rules.
Dolemite Is My Name (Limited)
Director: Craig Brewer.
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Wesley Snipes, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Snoop Dogg, Ron Cephas Jones, Barry Shabaka Henley, Tip ‘TI’ Harris, Luenell, Tasha Smith
Stung by a string of showbiz failures, floundering comedian Rudy Ray Moore (Academy Award nominee Eddie Murphy) has an epiphany that turns him into a word-of-mouth sensation: step onstage as someone else. Borrowing from the street mythology of 1970s Los Angeles, Moore assumes the persona of Dolemite, a pimp with a cane and an arsenal of obscene fables. However, his ambitions exceed selling bootleg records deemed too racy for mainstream radio stations to play. Moore convinces a social justice-minded dramatist (Keegan-Michael Key) to write his alter ego a film, incorporating kung fu, car chases, and Lady Reed (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), an ex-backup singer who becomes his unexpected comedic foil. Despite clashing with his pretentious director, D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes), and countless production hurdles at their studio in the dilapidated Dunbar Hotel, Moore’s Dolemite becomes a runaway box office smash and a defining movie of the Blaxploitation era.
Little Monsters (One-Night Only)
Director: Abe Forsythe.
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, and Josh Gad.
Dave (Alexander England), a washed-up musician, volunteers to chaperone his nephew’s kindergarten field trip after taking a shine to the plucky schoolteacher, Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o). Dave’s intentions are complicated by the presence of world-famous child entertainer and competitor for Miss Caroline’s affections, Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad). One thing none of them bargained for, however, is a sudden zombie outbreak, from which Dave and Miss Caroline must protect the children.
Director: Ang Lee.
Cast: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong.
Gemini Man is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move.
The Addams Family
Director: Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon.
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Titus Burgess, Jenifer Lewis, Elsie Fisher, and Aimee Garcia.
Get ready to snap your fingers!
The first family of Halloween, the Addams Family, is back on the big screen in the first animated comedy about the kookiest family on the block. Funny, outlandish, and completely iconic, the Addams Family redefines what it means to be a good neighbor.
Director: Boon Joon-ho.
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Jung Ji-so, Jung Hyun-joon, Lee Jung-eun, Park Myung-hoon, Park Geun-Rok, Jung Yi-seo, and Park Seo-joon.
Act like you own the place.
Meet the Park Family: the picture of aspirational wealth. And the Kim Family, rich in street smarts but not much else. Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together and the Kims sense a golden opportunity. Masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo, the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist, to the Parks. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families. The Kims provide “indispensable” luxury services while the Parks obliviously bankroll their entire household. When a parasitic interloper threatens the Kims’ newfound comfort, a savage, underhanded battle for dominance breaks out, threatening to destroy the fragile ecosystem between the Kims and the Parks.
By turns darkly hilarious and heart-wrenching, Parasite showcases a modern master at the top of his game.
Director: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.
Cast: Adam Devine, Alexandra Shipp, Ron Funches, Charlyne Yi, Wanda Sykes, Justin Hartley, Kid Cudi, Michael Peña, and Rose Byrne.
From the writers of The Hangover and the writing/directing team behind Bad Moms comes the new comedy JEXI.
Phil (Adam Devine) has a major dependency issue – he’s addicted to his phone. He has no friends, he has a job writing pop culture “Top 10” lists, and his love life is non-existent. But his Facebook status is about to change. When he is forced to upgrade his phone, the latest model comes with an unexpected feature…Jexi (Rose Byrne) – an A.I. life coach, virtual assistant and cheerleader. With her help, Phil begins to get a real life. But as he becomes less dependent on his phone, Jexi’s artificial intelligence morphs into a tech nightmare determined to keep Phil all to herself, even if it means ruining his chances of finding success.
Director: Robin McKenna.
Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s beloved classic The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, GIFT is a tribute to something that can’t be measured or counted, bought or sold. An intimate exploration of real-life gift economies, it’s a reflection on the creative process, the reasons we labour in service of our gifts, and a celebration of the imagination.
High Strung Free Dance
Director: Michael Damian.
Cast: Thomas Doherty, Juliet Doherty, Harry Jarvis, Jane Seymour, Desmond Richardson, and Nigel Lythgoe.
High Strung Free Dance tells the story of Zander Raines (Thomas Doherty), a dazzling and tempestuous young choreographer who gives the break of a lifetime to two hopeful artists when he casts a stunning contemporary dancer, Barlow (Juliet Doherty) and innovative pianist, Charlie (Harry Jarvis) in New York’s most-anticipated new Broadway show: Free Dance. But the move throws off the show’s delicate creative balance when Charlie falls hard for Barlow while Zander embraces her as his muse.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Director: Joachim Rønning.
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Harris Dickinson, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a fantasy adventure that picks up several years after Maleficent, in which audiences learned of the events that hardened the heart of Disney’s most notorious villain and drove her to curse a baby Princess Aurora. The film continues to explore the complex relationship between the horned fairy and the soon to be Queen as they form new alliances and face new adversaries in their struggle to protect the moors and the magical creatures that reside within.
Zombieland: Double Tap
Director: Ruben Fleischer.
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, and Luke Wilson.
A decade after Zombieland became a hit film and a cult classic, the lead cast (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone) have reunited with director Ruben Fleischer (Venom) and the original writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (Deadpool) for Zombieland: Double Tap. In the sequel, written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and Dave Callaham, through comic mayhem that stretches from the White House and through the heartland, these four slayers must face off against the many new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors. But most of all, they have to face the growing pains of their own snarky, makeshift family.
Director: Taika Waititi.
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Taika Waititi, Thomasin McKenzie, and Roman Griffin Davis.
Writer director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), brings his signature style of humor and pathos to his latest film, Jojo Rabbit, a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy (Roman Griffin Davis as JoJo) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.
Director: Robert Eggers.
Cast: Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe.
From Robert Eggers, the visionary filmmaker behind modern horror masterpiece The Witch, comes this hypnotic and hallucinatory tale of two lighthouse keepers on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.
By the Grace of God
Director: François Ozon.
Cast: Melvil Poupaud, Denis Ménochet, and Swann Arlaud.
Alexandre (Melvil Poupaud), lives in Lyon, a bastion of the French Catholic bourgeoisie, with his wife and four children. A fervent church-goer, he learns that Father Preynat (Bernard Verley), the priest who abused him when he was a Boy Scout, is still working with children. He decides to take action, soon to be joined by two other victims of the priest, François (Denis Ménochet) and Emmanuel (Swann Arlaud). The three men will go to great lengths to denounce the perpetrator and the institution that has always protected him, a risky endeavor that will endanger the relationships with their loved ones, as well as compromise their own fragile selves.
Director: Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe.
Cast: Dot-Marie Jones, D’Arcy Carden, Jim Cummings, Beck Bennett, Mary Holland, Jocelyn DeBoer, and Dawn Luebbe.
In a day-glo-colored, bizarro version of suburbia where adults wear braces on their already-straight teeth, everyone drives golf carts, and children magically turn into golden retrievers, soccer moms and best friends Jill (Jocelyn DeBoer) and Lisa (Dawn Luebbe) are locked in a passive aggressive battle-of-the-wills that takes a turn into the sinister when Lisa begins systematically taking over every aspect of Jill’s life—starting with her newborn daughter. Meanwhile, a psycho yoga teacher killer is on the loose, Jill’s husband (Beck Bennett) has developed a curious taste for pool water, and Lisa is pregnant with a soccer ball. That’s just the tip of the gloriously weird iceberg that is the feature debut from writers-directors Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, a hilariously demented, Stepford Wives-on-acid satire destined to be an instant cult classic.
Cyrano, My Love
Director: Alexis Michalik.
Cast: Thomas Solivérès, Olivier Gourmet, and Mathilde Seigner.
December 1897, Paris. Edmond Rostand is not yet thirty but already has two children and too much anxiety. He has not written anything for two years. In desperation, he offers the great Constant Coquelin a new play, a heroic comedy, in verse, for the holidays. There’s one problem: it is not written yet. Ignoring the whims of actresses, the demands of his producers, the jealousy of his wife, the stories of his best friend’s heart and the lack of enthusiasm of all those around him, Edmond must focus and put to pen to paper. For now, he has only the title: “Cyrano de Bergerac”.
Black and Blue
Director: Deon Taylor.
Cast: Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson, Frank Grillo, Mike Colter, Reid Scott, Beau Knapp, and Nafessa Williams.
Black and Blue is a fast-paced action thriller about a rookie cop (Naomie Harris) who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Tyrese Gibson) as she tries to escape both the criminals out for revenge and the police who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage.
Director: Justin Dec.
Cast: Elizabeth Lail, Charlie McDermott, and Anne Winters.
In Countdown, when a young nurse (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when a person is going to die, it tells her she only has three days to live. With time ticking away and death closing in, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.
Director: Tom Harper.
Cast: Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.
In 1862, daredevil balloon pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) teams up with pioneering meteorologist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) to advance human knowledge of the weather and fly higher than anyone in history. While breaking records and advancing scientific discovery, their voyage to the very edge of existence helps the unlikely pair find their place in the world they have left far below them. But they face physical and emotional challenges in the thin air, as the ascent becomes a fight for survival.
Director: Ira Sachs.
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, and Greg Kinnear.
Three generations of a European family come together in the fabled town of Sintra, Portugal, for one last vacation before the family matriarch faces the next, and last, chapter of her life. Over the course of one crisp October day, the fairy tale setting brings about everyone’s most romantic impulses, revealing both cracks between them, as well as unexpected depth of feeling.
Director: Nadav Lapid.
Cast: Tom Mercier, Quentin Dolmaire, and Louise Chevillotte.
Yoav, (Tom Mercier), a young Israeli man, has just moved to Paris with great expectations that France will save him from what he sees as the madness of his country. Things don’t get off to a great start as he discovers that the flat he’s supposed to stay in is unfurnished and completely empty, and, while taking a bath there, has his belongings stolen. Not deterred easily and desperate to erase his origins, he refuses to speak Hebrew, relying on a French dictionary as his constant companion, and to communicate with the various people he encounters. Based on the real life experiences of writer-director Nadav Lapid, Synonyms is a tragicomic puzzle about cultural identities and the challenges of putting down roots in a new place. Newcomer Tom Mercier gives a hypnotic performance as the deeply alienated Yoav whose attempts to find himself awaken past demons while opening up an existential abyss.
Director: Alice Waddington.
Cast: Emma Roberts, Danielle Macdonald, Awkwafina, Jeremy Irvine, Arnaud Valois with Eiza Gonzalez and Milla Jovovich.
On an isolated island, Uma (Emma Roberts) wakes up to find herself at Paradise Hills, a facility where high-class families send their daughters to become perfect versions of themselves. The facility is run by the mysterious Duchess (Milla Jovovich) where calibrated treatments including etiquette classes, vocal lessons, beauty treatments, gymnastics and restricted diets, revolve all physical and emotional shortcomings within two months. The outspoken Uma finds solace and friendship in other Paradise Hills residents — Chloe (Danielle McDonald), Yu (Awkwafina) and Mexican popstar Amarna (Eiza Gonzalez). Uma soon realizes that lurking behind all this beauty is a sinister secret. It’s a race against the clock as Uma and her friends try to escape Paradise Hills before it consumes them all.