With the popcorn-adventure high jinks and effects-laden bombast of the summer blockbuster season finally winding down, the chillier autumnal climes are now ushering in the fall cinema season. Notably the period where studios begin to trot out the more thought-provoking – and Oscar hopeful – heavy-hitters, this season also features its fair share of expected blockbusters and franchise lead-ins, not to mention some of the year’s most anticipated television.
While not necessarily home to the box-office draws that define the summer period, fall nonetheless features a broad range of options for cinephiles of all stripes – and for the bibliophiles in that crowd, an ever-satisfying number of intriguing literary adaptations. The picks below are our choices for the most compelling and highly anticipated offerings adapted from books for screens both large and small. This is by no means an exhaustive list; be sure to let us know what you’re most looking forward to.
Based on the first volume in the bestselling Fallen series by Lauren Kate, “Fallen” tells the story of Luce Price, a new student at the mysterious Sword & Cross boarding school in Savannah Georgia. Luce is immediately drawn to fellow student and strangely familiar Daniel Grigori. Her fascination quickly pulls her to the center of centuries-old supernatural struggle.
Theaters, September 8
Based on the seminal Stephen King novel of the same name, “It” has already proven itself as one of the fall’s most anticipated releases. Centering on a group of pre-teens who come against a preternatural clown preying on children in the sleepy town of Derry, Maine, “It” is already shattering box office records, not that we’re surprised by that. This adaptation certainly bodes well for the slate of King adaptations coming down the pike.
Theaters, September 8
The premiere of the third season of the Starz hit adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series premiered landed not a moment too soon for fans of the series. This latest season will focus primarily on the third book in the series, Voyager, and will see a now pregnant Claire and Jamie once again struggling to reconnect across time.
Starz, September 10
“American Assassin” marks the first on-screen appearance of the late Vince Flynn’s iconic CIA operative, Mitch Rapp, played by Dylan O’Brien, previously of “The Maze Runner.” The film is based on the novel of the same name and will chronicle Rapp’s recruitment and training as a black ops specialist.
Theaters, September 15
The True Story of the Queen's Closest Confidant
“Victoria and Abdul”
This oft-comical and extraordinary true story chronicles the unlikely friendship between the elderly Queen Victoria of England (Judi Dench, naturally) and a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal). The film is based on the book of the same name by Shrabani Basu and also stars Michael Gambon and Eddie Izzard.
Theaters, September 22
“Our Souls at Night”
This Netflix adaptation of the Ken Haruf novel of the same name reunites screen legends Robert Redford and Jane Fonda for the fourth time. “Our Souls at Night” sets up the Oscar-winning pair as long-widowed, empty nesters discovering a second chance at love in the small community of Holt, Colorado.
Netflix, September 29
This year’s seemingly endless parade of Stephen King adaptations continues onward, and Gerald’s Game may be one of King’s most difficult novels to translate to the screen. The surreal and cerebral thriller centers on a woman’s solitary fight for survival in a remote cabin following her husband’s death during bondage. Director/writer Mike Flanagan has quietly shown himself to be one of the horror genre’s most innovative and talented minds in recent years and we have high hopes for this one.
Netflix, September 29
“The Mountain Between Us”
In this atmospheric tale of survival and love, a pair of strangers (Kate Winslet and Idris Elba) find themselves stranded and injured in the remote wilderness of Utah. With winter closing in, no food and water, and only meager supplies, the pair are forced to rely on one another – and their growing bond – for any chance at survival. The film is based on the novel by Charles Martin.
Theaters, October 6
Jo Nesbo is arguably the current king of Nordic noir and his Harry Hole is one of the genre’s best protagonists. The Snowman, Nesbo’s eighth Hole novel, is generally considered among the writer’s finest. The adaptation, like the underlying novel, will drop us at the forefront of a bizarre missing person’s investigation that will set Hole on the trail of an elusive and brutal serial killer. The pitch-perfect casting of Michael Fassbender as Hole is really just icing on this chilling cake. The film also stars Rebecca Ferguson, Val Kilmer, Chloe Sevigny, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and J. K. Simmons.
Theaters, October 20
Amazon is adding a horror anthology to its ever-growing lineup of original programming, this time turning to a popular podcast for inspiration. The six-episode series is based on the award-winning podcast created by Aaron Mahnke, and will explore the disturbing history behind a number of horror-tinged myths.
Amazon Prime, October 13 (a Friday, naturally)
From a Notebook
“Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold”
Across more than fifty years of essays, novels, and criticism, Joan Didion has chronicled the changing tides of American culture and politics – often in deeply personal ways. In this upcoming documentary, actor and director Griffin Dunne intersperses archival footage alongside his interviews with his Aunt Joan Didion, delving into her extraordinary body of work and its impact on our cultural landscape.
Netflix, October 27
On the heels of the huge success of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” expectations are running high for “Alias Grace,” the adaptation of another celebrated Margaret Atwood novel. Produced by Netflix and Canada’s CBC, the series will tell the story of Grace Marks, a young Irish immigrant and housemaid, whose conviction for a notorious double murder in Canada in 1843 sparked controversy throughout the country.
Netflix, November 3
A Story of War and Family
“The Long Road Home”
Based on Martha Raddatz’s searing nonfiction book of the same name, “The Long Road Home” recounts in eight episodes the harrowing story of The First Cavalry Division, which suffered a surprise attack on the streets of Sadr City, a district of Baghdad, on April 4, 2004. The series, like the book, will chronicle the events of the attack through the eyes of the soldiers who lived it.
National Geographic Channel, November 7
“Murder on the Orient Express”
Agatha Christie is one of the most influential authors of the twentieth century and her work has inspired many an adapted production. The latest, “Murder on the Orient Express, is directed by Kenneth Branagh and features an all-star cast that includes Branagh, Johnny Depp, Dame Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Gad, and Willem Dafoe.
Theaters, November 10
R. J. Palacio
Based on the bestselling children’s novel of the same name by R. J. Palacio, “Wonder” is the story of Auggie Pullman, an ordinary kid with an extraordinary face. Born with a facial difference that for the first several years of his life prevents him from attending school, Auggie is finally allowed to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep – but is the school ready for him? “Wonder” is a timely tale of compassion, empathy, and the strength of community.
Theaters, November 17
“Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders”
Based on the events that inspired Truman Capote’s seminal true crime novel, In Cold Blood, this two-part series from Sundance will chronicle the brutal Kansas murders of the Clutter Family on November 15, 1959. The murders, seemingly committed without motive, shocked the country and inspired Capote’s novel, which in many ways sparked America’s obsession with the true crime genre. “Cold Blooded” will draw on firsthand accounts of relatives, friends, community members, and law enforcement – many of whom have never spoken publicly before – to examine the infamous case and its cultural impact.
Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell
“The Disaster Artist”
The 2003 movie “The Room” is an uncontested cult classic – a viewing is basically a film geek rite of passage – renowned as much for its almost indescribable terribleness as for its bizarre and eccentric creator and star, Tommy Wiseau. Unsurprisingly, what went on behind the scenes is nearly as strange and inexplicable as the film itself. “The Disaster Artist,” based on the memoir of the same name by “The Room” co-star Greg Sestero, will chronicle the ins and outs of making one of the most infamously bad movies of all time. James Franco directs and stars, and co-stars include Alison Brie, Zac Efron, Kate Upton, Kristen Bell, Bryan Cranston, Sharon Stone… We could go on, but we’d be going on for ages.
Theaters, December 8
Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen (1947-1955)
Season two of Netflix’s critically acclaimed and beloved-by-viewers series “The Crown” is expected to wade into darker territory when it makes its return on December 8. The second season will focus more on the complexities of Elizabeth’s (Claire Foy) marriage to Prince Philip (Matt Smith) while also delving into Philip’s backstory – one that is both extraordinary and tragic. Given the success of season one, “The Crown” sits as one of fall’s most anticipated series.
Netflix, December 8
Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Delilah S. Dawson
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
Following the events of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “The Last Jedi” will see the return of Mark Hamill as legendary and now-reclusive Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. Although the finer plot points have been largely kept under wraps, “The Last Jedi” is expected to be a darker sequel more akin to “The Empire Strikes Back” and will see Rey (Daisy Ridley) begin training with Skywalker as the Resistance – led by a now-grieving General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher in her final role) – continues the fight against the First Order.
Theaters, December 15
Munro Leaf; Illustrated by Robert Lawson
Based on The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, a classic children’s tale originally published in 1936, “Ferdinand” tells the story of a large but gentle bull named Ferdinand who is forced into the bullfights in Spain. It is a timeless tale of pacifism and nonviolence and sure to be a delightful film for all ages. Kate McKinnon, John Cena, Bobby Cannavale, and Gina Rodriguez, among others, lend their voice talents to the animated film.
Theaters, December 15