Dipping temperatures may be the only way to tell fall’s release slate from that of summer, as tentpole blockbusters, sequels and remakes dominate the release schedule. Do not expect many of these features to be Best Picture contenders, and Athens is unlikely to see many of those films until 2019. However, the winner of the new Oscar for Best Popular Film could come from this list, if they can knock off current frontrunners Black Panther or A Quiet Place.
1. Aquaman (Dec. 21)
I understand that Batman v Superman and its follow-up, Justice League, are not everyone’s favorite superhero movies. However, I will argue the merits of the former and long for the rumored Snyder cut of the latter. My hopes are high for the first solo adventure for the former superhero punchline who talks to fish. Jason Momoa has made Arthur Curry/Aquaman cool, and The Conjuring’s James Wan has few duds on his filmography. The plot requires Aquaman to battle his half-brother, Orm (Patrick Wilson), for control of Atlantis.
2. Halloween (Oct. 19)
Aquaman’s only real competition for the top spot is David Gordon Green and Danny McBride’s reboot-cum-sequel to John Carpenter’s slasher classic. The filmmakers have tossed out every Halloween sequel to pick up Michael Myers’ story 40 years after the night he came home. The trailer promises a horror flick strong with Carpenter DNA, including a score by the master himself.
3. Bohemian Rhapsody (Nov. 2)
Rami Malek looks tremendously like Freddie Mercury in this biopic from Bryan Singer that takes Queen up to its 1985 Live Aid performance.
4. Suspiria (Nov. 2)
Dario Argento’s original Suspiria may be horror’s artsiest entry. The trailer for the remake from Luca Guadagnino, the Italian director of the acclaimed Call Me by Your Name, makes me think he gets it. Fifty Shades’ Dakota Johnson is the new American ballerina attending a European ballet school run by witches and Tilda Swinton. I just hope Athens gets a chance to see this flick.
5. The Predator (Sept. 14)
The Predator could be really terrible, but putting Lethal Weapon writer Shane Black, who appeared in the original, in the director’s chair is inspired. Co-writing a script with The Monster Squad’s Fred Dekker certainly does not hurt the film’s chances. Nor does the premise of an ultimate Predator. Weak trailers, on the other hand, severely cap my expectations.
6. The Nun (Sept. 7)
Weak trailers are not The Nun’s problem. It looks genuinely—if generically—terrifying. The Conjurings are way more professional than their minor-league spinoffs, the Annabelles. That dark-eyed nun is way more petrifying than a scary doll. Still, no one will be surprised if the final product is just another subpar horror flick.
7. Venom (Oct. 5)
A live-action movie featuring Spider-Man villain Venom (Tom Hardy stars as the meat in the suit, Eddie Brock), as an antihero slightly edged out the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (out Dec. 14) for fall’s most anticipated Spidey-related feature. Still, despite a stronger second trailer, something about Venom—which is not part of the larger MCU—feels off.
8. First Man (Oct. 12)
The only known prestige release to make this list, First Man re-teams La La Land’s Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling for an intense retelling of the first moon landing.
9. Mary Poppins Returns (Dec. 21)
On paper, Mary Poppins Returns is a smash. No one can fill the shoes of Julie Andrews, but Emily Blunt’s casting has drawn few criticisms. Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda as the Dick Van Dyke stand-in adds some nice diversity to a cast that may include every British actor you can name.
10. Holmes and Watson (Dec. 21)
I know absolutely nothing about this movie, but the mere idea of Step Brothers’ Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly teaming up as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson would make my Top 10 most-anticipated movies list any year.
Honorable Mentions: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut also stars Lady Gaga); Nobody’s Fool (Tyler Perry’s newest comedy owns one of the year’s funnier trailers); Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (the prospect of more Johnny Depp knocked this expansion of the Potterverse out of the Top 10); The Front Runner (Jason Reitman directing Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart intrigues); Creed II (the loss of writer-director Ryan Coogler tempers expectations for a sequel pitting Apollo Creed’s progeny against that of his killer, Ivan Drago); Bumblebee (no Michael Bay might mean this Transformers prequel channels more ’80s cartoon and less abusive action movie); and On the Basis of Sex (a dramatized account of RBG’s landmark sexual discrimination case rides the coattails of summer’s successful doc).