In a year defined by Disney reboots and superhero sequels, it is hard to sift through the franchises we know and love to find new movies to be excited about. With this in mind, here are six movies that absolutely deserve attention in the second half of the year.
Ad Astra (Sept. 20)
Advances in film technology mean that we are not only terrified by disturbing images from the upcoming live-action Cats film, but also blessed with sharper visual experiences at the movies. James Gray’s upcoming movie Ad Astra (Latin for “to the stars”) takes advantage of these innovations to create a new space odyssey adventure film. The movie follows Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) as he travels to space to retrieve his father, while also attempting to solve a mystery that threatens the planet. This not only appeals to an international obsession with space travel, but also a similar obsession with Brad Pitt in one of his increasingly less frequent starring roles. His involvement, combined with the stunning visuals demonstrated in the trailer, makes this a must-see.
Harriet (Nov. 1)
Although it seems that Harriet Tubman will not be replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill anytime soon, the upcoming biographical drama will pay tribute to her life in a different way. The movie originally garnered controversy for the casting of British actress Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman, as part of a larger discussion about British actors being cast over Black Americans for roles on American historical figures (e.g., David Oyeolowo as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma). However, the trailer has nonetheless sparked considerable excitement. The movie also stars Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, and Joe Alwyn in supporting roles. Despite the controversy, Harriet is an opportunity to honor a Black woman who risked her life for the freedom of others in a display of courage, bravery, and inspiration.
The Goldfinch (Sept. 13)
The Goldfinch is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt. It follows the life of a boy, Theo, after the sudden death of his beloved mother in a terrorist attack. The synopsis seems dark, but the book is brimming with empathy, dark humor, and beautiful imagery. The trailer not only features a great score, but also seems to present a film that closely adheres to the plot of the book. So, if you are not interested in reading the 800 pages, this adaptation is likely the next best thing. Ansel Elgort stars as the older Theo, while his younger counterpart is played by Oakes Fegley. Also, if you are already missing Stranger Things, Finn Wolfhard plays a Polish delinquent named Boris who causes trouble with and for Theo on the outskirts of Las Vegas.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Nov. 22)
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is an upcoming biopic that follows the relationship between Fred Rogers (famously known as Mr. Rogers) and the cynical journalist Lloyd Vogel (based on Tom Junod) as Vogel writes a profile on the beloved television icon. This comes closely on the heels of the 2018 documentary on Mr. Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? You may be thinking, do we need two movies about the host of a preschool after school show within a year? In short: yes. Junod attributed his relationship with Mr. Rogers to changing his entire perspective on life. Mr. Rogers’ infectious compassion for others is a legacy that should extend to generations beyond those who viewed his show and this movie is an opportunity to do just that.
Zombieland: Double Tap (Oct. 11)
Grab your Twinkies and buckle your seatbelts, because Zombieland is finally getting a sequel. The premise of Zombieland: Double Tap is essentially the same as Zombieland. A ragtag group of unlikely survivors during a zombie apocalypse team up to survive. What is appealing about this sequel is that they managed to assemble the entire original cast. Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin all returned for the second movie, making the main cast entirely comprised of Academy Award nominees or winners. Even more impressive is that Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, and Zoey Deutch were all added to this makeshift family. If you like zombies, romance, or Jesse Eisenberg’s nervous yet charming screen presence, then I would highly suggest marking your calendar for Zombieland: Double Tap.