avatar the way of water
via 20th Century Studios

20 best new movies releasing fall 2022

Some of these trailers are already giving us goosebumps in anticipation.

Now that fall is upon us, let’s take an inventory of the 20 best movies we have to look forward to during the season of pumpkin spice lattes. We were poised to do a top 10 list at first, but there are just so darn many good films coming out, we decided to double that figure.

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Not all of these movies have reviews available just yet, but we will mention if they happen to have exceptional critical scores on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes if they do.

First, let’s define what counts as fall: the season of leaves changing colors technically spans from Sept. 22 to Dec. 20 from an astronomical perspective (per Almanac.com), so we won’t list any films that get released outside that calendar window. Without further adieu, here are the films we’re most excited to check out this autumn, in order of release date.

On The Come Up – Sept. 23

Sanaa Lathan might be best known to casual movie fans for starring in beloved films that include Blade, Alien vs. Predator, and Love & Basketball, but the Emmy-nominated actor is making her feature-length directorial debut with the story of an underdog teenage rapper with On the Come Up. The film is based on a young adult novel of the same name by The Hate U Give author Angie Thomas and set in the same universe. Starring newcomer Jamila C. Gray as a gifted 16-year-old rapper who struggles with the perils of overnight viral fame in the age of the internet, the film which has already amassed a 79 percent on Rotten Tomatoes comes to Paramount Plus on Sept. 23

Sidney – Sept. 23

Earlier this year, the world lost who can only be described as Hollywood royalty with the passing of Oscar-winner Sidney Poitier. The 94-year-old actor who became the first African American to win the Best Actor Academy Award for 1963’s Lilies of the Field leaves behind a legacy that includes not only an incomparable filmography but an important involvement with civil rights activism. Check out the new Oprah Winfrey-produced and Reginald Hudlin-directed documentary about the actor’s extraordinary life — featuring interviews with Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Robert Redford, and more — when the film that has an 82 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes comes to Apple TV Plus on Sept. 23.

Bros – Sept. 30

What do you get when you combine the seminal comedic voice of actor Billy Eichner, the crowd-pleasing magic of Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller, producer Judd Apatow’s signature ability to create cinematic vehicles for up-and-coming talent, and a premise that is ground-breaking for its representation? The forthcoming Bros, a romantic comedy focused on two gay men, is receiving praise and splitting the sides of critics with a 94 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, making us ready to warm a seat at a movie theater when it releases on Sept. 30.

Hocus Pocus 2 – Sept. 30

We have to give a tip of the pointy hat to the forthcoming Hocus Pocus 2 on Disney Plus for getting us in the mood for the Halloween season by reuniting original stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, who will once again reprise their roles as the witches known as the Sanderson Sisters wreaking havoc on the town of Salem, Massachusetts. Though the original film received mixed reviews and was not a box office success upon its release, it later became a cult favorite thanks to home media sales and TV broadcasts. Hocus Pocus 2 comes to the House Mouse’s streaming service on Sept. 30.

Smile – Sept. 30

Speaking of Halloween, we can’t help but be won over by the trailer for the very creepy-looking horror film Smile. The premise centers on a woman recovering from a traumatic experience who inexplicably encounters people who don the same vacant-eyed smile wherever she goes. There isn’t a Rotten Tomatoes score for this film yet, but we get the feeling it’s either destined to be a modern horror classic, such as 2014’s It Follows, or a so-bad-its-good cult laugh-fest, à la 2017’s The Bye Bye Man. Either way, the memorable preview for this film makes us want to buy a ticket for when it releases in theaters on Sept. 30.

God’s Creatures – Sept. 30

When it comes to must-see fall titles for cinema fanatics, you can’t go wrong with a twice-Oscar-nominated lead actor like Emily Watson, a reliable studio like A24, and a nose-bleedingly high Rotten Tomatoes score of 95 percent. That’s exactly what you’ll get with the upcoming thriller God’s Creatures, which focuses on a close-knit fishing village whose bonds get tested following a serious allegation directed at one of its residents. God’s Creatures comes to theaters on Sept. 30.

Catherine Called Birdy – Oct. 7

Director Lena Dunham is known to court controversy for her sometimes off-kilter remarks in the public sphere, but her skills behind the lens with her debut film Tiny Furniture and hit HBO show Girls should make movie-enjoyers excited for her upcoming adaptation of a beloved children’s novel, Catherine Called Birdy. The film, focusing on a young girl during medieval times, already boasts an impressive 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and comes to Amazon Prime Video on Oct. 7.

TÁR – Oct. 7

Tár is a film that recently made waves at the Venice International Film Festival starring Cate Blanchett as the fictional composer Lydia Tár. The musical film, which serves as an examination and meditation on fame and power, represents the first movie helmed by writer-director Todd Field since 2006’s Little Children. With a star as big as Blanchett in the lead role and boasting an overflowing score of 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, we’re excited to be swept away by Tár when it comes crashing into theaters on Oct. 7.

Triangle of Sadness – Oct. 7

Triangle of Sadness has garnered as much infamy for its raunchy gross-out moments as it has for its praise for being a biting satire when it made waves at its Cannes Film Festival premiere earlier this year. The film, which stars the late Charlbi Dean, Harris Dickinson, and Woody Harrelson, comes from writer-director Ruben Östlund in his English-language film debut. Taking place on a superyacht and focused on high-profile figures in the fashion industry, Triangle of Sadness only has a 70 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, but it won Cannes’ top prize, the Palme D’Or, making us curious about seeing it when it makes landfall to theaters in the U.S. on Oct. 7.

Halloween Ends – Oct. 14

Few rivalries in horror movie history have proven to have as much staying power as the one between the masked killer known as Michael Myers and the baby-sitter-turned-survivalist-badass Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode. With 2018’s Halloween, director David Gordon Green successfully reinvigorated the longtime slasher franchise. Though last year’s follow-up, Halloween Kills, proved a disappointment to some, it still offered enough groundwork to make us excited to see if the third installment can stick the landing. Halloween Ends slices its way into theaters and on the paid tier of streaming service Peacock on Oct. 14.

Till – Oct. 14

The heart-wrenching true story of the brutal lynching of a young Black boy, Emmett Till, in Jim Crow-era Mississippi, and his grieving mother’s relentless campaign to illuminate the injustice, is the focus of Till, whose trailer alone is already making our eyes well up with water. We have good reason for thinking the movie, which is set to make its premiere next month at the New York Film Festival, will be an absolute knock-out of a cinematic experience, despite not yet generating a Rotten Tomatoes score. That’s because the film is being directed by Chinonye Chukwu, who previously helmed the highly-acclaimed thriller Clemency. Get your box of tissues ready when you go to see Till at a theater near you on Oct. 21.

Black Adam – Oct. 21

It’s clear that producer and star Dwayne Johnson is taking much care in his handling of the DC superhero film Black Adam, a project the wrestler-turned-movie-star has been attached to for over a decade. That passion alone, as well as a star-studded cast that includes Pierce Brosnan and Viola Davis, among others, makes us curious if Black Adam will be the DC franchise’s much-needed savior at a time of uncertainty for Warner Bros. Discovery, despite the character himself being decidedly an antihero at best. Black Adam comes thunder-bolting into theaters on Oct. 21.

Ticket to Paradise – Oct. 21

George Clooney and Julia Roberts — who famously co-starred together in the Ocean’s franchise — are once again reuniting for a romantic comedy, Ticket to Paradise, that critics are already hailing as a sure-fire crowd-pleaser due to its star power alone. Boasting a respectable 69 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the film from co-writer and director Ol Parker focuses on two divorced parents who try to intervene on their daughter marrying a man she hardly knows in order to prevent the same mistake they made. Ticket to Paradise comes to theaters Oct. 21.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Nov. 11

Black Panther made history upon its release in 2018 by not only becoming a monumental worldwide hit amongst the audience, but also by holding the distinction of being the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first and only Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and the first MCU film to actually win an Oscar (the film snagged three golden statues, but lost the Best Picture award to Green Book). While that may seem like a very high bar, especially considering the late Chadwick Boseman will be sorely missed in the franchise, the sequel looks like an emotional epic as sweeping as its predecessor. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever comes to theaters on Nov. 11.

The Inspection – Nov. 18

It isn’t just a high Rotten Tomatoes score, at 84 percent, and a reliably high-quality movie studio, A24, that makes us want to check out The Inspection. Rather, it is the fact that the film is written and directed by Elegance Bratton and based upon his own life experiences in what is touted to be a moving and inspiring film about LGBTQ+ issues as it relates to the military that truly draws our interest. Focusing on a young man’s struggle in the face of rampant homophobia at a Marines boot camp, The Inspection stars Jeremy Pope and comes to theaters on Nov. 18.

Devotion – Nov. 23

Another military drama based on a true story, Devotion is the kind of film that is sure to draw in fans of this year’s megahit Top Gun: Maverick. Not only does Devotion co-star Maverick actor Glen Powell, it also boasts the distinction of Jonathan Majors in the lead role, who many MCU fans may recognize as Kang the Conqueror from Loki. Also similar to Maverick, the aerial photography has wowed critics, with Devotion boasting an impressively sky-high 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Focusing on the true story of famed naval pilots Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner during the Korean War, Devotion comes flying into theaters on Nov. 23.

Strange World – Nov. 23

The breathtaking vistas alone in Strange World makes us ready to buy a ticket for Disney’s latest animated adventure, but the larger-than-life story, star power of lead actor Jake Gyllenhall, and considerable talent of Big Hero 6 director Don Hall at the helm is what has us convinced it will be well-worth the price of admission when Strange World hits theaters on Nov. 23.

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinnochio – Dec. 9

The world probably didn’t need three Pinnochio movies in one year, but that’s what we got anyway. We think they likely saved the best for last since Guillermo del Toro’s Pinnochio looks like the most interesting of the bunch by a country mile. Not only does it appear to have wholly original character designs and a unique stop-motion-animation style, but the film being helmed by who is considered by many to be the best director working in the fantasy genre today, del Toro, has us excited about what he will bring. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinnochio comes to Netflix on Dec. 9.

The Whale – Dec. 9

Brendan Fraser fans should be rejoicing for his role as a 600-pound man in Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming The Whale as critics are already hailing his performance as his comeback and the main reason to watch the film. This is especially good news for Fraser fans who felt short-changed by the nearly-completed Batgirl film he was set to star in as the villain getting scrapped at the last minute. Despite generating some controversy for what some have deemed an exploitive depiction of morbid obesity for the sake of melodrama, The Whale has nevertheless won over critics for the most part, as it has a 72 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. The drama about an English teacher seeking to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter comes to theaters on Dec. 9.

Avatar: The Way of Water – Dec. 16

By all accounts, 2009’s Avatar did not need a sequel. Now that we’re getting one in Avatar: The Way of Water, we must admit James Cameron is winning us over with the breathtaking first trailer for the film. Once again taking place on the alien planet of Pandora, the film sees returning stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña who now have a burgeoning family in the spectacular world. Avatar: The Way of Water comes to theaters on Dec. 16.

Honorable mentions: Don’t Worry Darling (Sept. 23), Amsterdam (Oct. 7), and Meet Cute (Sept. 21).

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Danny Peterson
Danny Peterson covers entertainment news for WGTC and has previously enjoyed writing about housing, homelessness, the coronavirus pandemic, historic 2020 Oregon wildfires, and racial justice protests. Originally from Juneau, Alaska, Danny received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Alaska Southeast and a Master's in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Oregon. He has written for The Portland Observer, worked as a digital enterprise reporter at KOIN 6 News, and is the co-producer of the award-winning documentary 'Escape from Eagle Creek.'