The COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted the film industry in unforeseen ways. Anticipated features like Respect, the much anticipated Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson, have had their release dates pushed back as a majority of theaters remain closed. Meanwhile others, like the Disney and Pixar animated feature Soul, have been bumped from their planned theatrical release and will instead be distributed on Disney+.
As we enter a new holiday season, plenty more films are headed to the small screen meaning you’ll have lots of options to choose from while hunkering down for the winter. Having so many choices can be overwhelming, which is why we’re singling out the best ones. Here are the 15 must-see films coming to a screen near you this fall.
"On The Rocks"
We could use more lighthearted films like this charming dramedy starring Rashida Jones and Bill Murray.The story follows a New York mom who enlists her playboy father to chase her husband around the Big Apple when she suspects him of having an affair. Directed by Sofia Coppola and also starring Marlon Wayans, the film explores love, aging, and that sometimes complicated tenable bond between father and daughter.
On The Rocks has been in limited theatrical release since Oct. 2 by A24, and since Oct. 23, you can now also watch it from the comfort of your home on Apple TV+ digital streaming.
“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”
We’re gleefully anticipating this candy-coated musical adventure about a down-and-out toymaker who finds renewed hope after teaming up with his bright granddaughter on a new invention. The family friendly film boasts an all-star cast that includes Madalen Mills, Forest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose, Ricky Martin, Keegan-Michael Key, and Phylicia Rashad.
The film is from the imagination of writer-director David E. Talbert and featuries original songs by John Legend, Philip Lawrence, Davy Nathan, and "This Day" performed by Usher and Kiana Ledé. The film will be released on Netflix on Nov. 13, 2020.
This isn’t exactly a festive film, but we’re still intrigued by this sci-fi horror about a single father who, after losing his wife and his memory in a car accident, undergoes an excruciating treatment that leaves him questioning his identity. Phylicia Rashad and Mamoudou Athie pack an emotional punch in this thrilling story directed by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr. Amazon Studios released the film on Oct. 6 on Prime Video as one of the two first feature films from the 8-film anthology "Welcome to the Blumhouse."
"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman bring powerhouse performances to this period drama set in 1920s Chicago. The story follows legendary blues singer Ma Rainey (Davis) as she battles her white manager for control of her own music. Meanwhile, her ambitious trumpeter Levee (Boseman) has his sights set on making his own mark in the music industry. Produced by Denzel Washington, the film marks Boseman’s final big screen project and is already causing a stir around possible award contention for both Davis and Boseman. It hits theaters and Netflix on December 18th.
“One Night In Miami”
There’s plenty of hype around this film which marks Regina King’s directorial debut and made history as the first feature directed by a Black woman to be selected for the Venice Film Festival. It follows the fictionalized story of Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke meeting up to celebrate Ali’s title win over Sonny Liston at a Miami hotel in February 1964. Based on Kemp Powers’ stage play of the same name, the film stars Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodgeand Leslie Odom Jr. The film opens in select theaters on Christmas day (Dec. 25) before launching nationwide on Amazon Prime on Jan. 15, 2021.
Anyone familiar with the 1990 film starring Anjelica Huston knows that this Roald Dahl story is both darkly fun and just plain weird. A new generation will experience a twisted world in this modern remake from Robert Zemeckis, Kenya Barris, and Guillermo del Toro.
The story follows a young orphaned boy (Jahzir Bruno) and his grandmother (Octavia Spencer) who vacation at a seaside resort in rural Alabama in 1967 at the same time that the Grand High Witch has gathered her minions to carry out her evil plan. Anne Hathaway and Stanley Tucci headline this modern adaptation which is narrated by Chris Rock and directed by Nicolas Roeg.
The Witches is available on HBO Max starting on Oct. 22 with a theatrical release in beginning on Oct. 28.
Omari Hardwick and Loretta Devine star in this hair-raising film about a man who survives a plane crash only to be held captive by a woman who claims she can nurse him back to health using the voodoo doll she made from his flesh. It’s a truly wild story that promises to bring the drama — along with plenty of twists and turns — as Hardwick and Devine go toe-to-toe in a rural cabin. Directed by Mark Tonderai, Morris Chesnut also lends his star power as a producer on this R-rated thriller, which comes out in theaters and video on demand Oct. 30.
"Coming 2 America"
After 32 years, Prince Akeem is back! Eddie Murphy reprises his role as the beloved African royal in this highly anticipated sequel directed by Craig Brewer and featuring a screenplay by David Sheffield, Barry W. Blaustein and Kenya Barris.
We reunite with the prince who is in line to become the King of Zamunda when he learns that he has a son in America. Following his father’s dying wish, Akeem heads back to Queens with Semmi (Arsenio Hall) to groom his son as the newly crowned prince. Several Black Hollywood giants have assembled for this film including Murphy, Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Shari Headley, John Amos, Tracy Morgan, Wesley Snipes, and the legendary James Earl Jones.
The classic film was going to have a big studio release but the coronavirus forced executives at Paramount Pictures to pivot and the movie will now be available for streaming digitally on Amazon Prime on Dec. 18. Without a preview available, take a look at a preview of the original version below.
Disney and Pixar deliver another heartwarming animated feature in this musical tale about a middle school band teacher who finds his soul separated from his body after a terrible accident. He then travels to a different realm where he learns what it really means to have soul.
Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, Daveed Diggs, and Angela Bassett lend their voices to this delightful film that is sure to get a younger generation hooked on jazz. Originally scheduled for a Thanksgiving Day release, Soul is now set to debut on Disney+ on December 25 instead.
J.M. Barrie’s fantastical world gets spun on its head in this fantasy drama which positions Alice in Wonderland (Keira Chansa)
and Peter Pan (Jordan Nash) as siblings trying to help their grieving parents through the tragic loss of their elder brother. Expect award-worthy performances from the film’s stellar cast, which includes David Oyelowo (who also serves as a producer), Anna Chancellor, Clarke Peters, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Caine, David Gyasi, Derek Jacobi, and Angelina Jolie.
Come Away hits theaters on Nov. 13.
“A New York Christmas Wedding”
Calling all romance fans! This hidden gem delivers a bittersweet LGBTQ+ love story that examines the road never taken. The story follows a woman who is visited by a Yuletide angel who shows her the future she could have had if she hadn’t denied her feelings for her childhood best friend. With her Christmas Eve wedding just around the corner, she’ll revisit the past and reevaluate her future. Chris Noth, Nia Fairweather, Chris Trousdale, Otoja Abit star in this Christmas film featured on Netflix on Nov. 5 about reconnecting with the past.
"Life in a Year"
Jaden Smith and Cara Delevingne star in this teen drama centered on a 17-year-old who is determined to give his dying girlfriend a lifetime worth of experiences knowing she only has a year left to live. If you cried your eyes out during The Fault in Our Stars and A Walk to Remember, you’ll probably need lots of Kleenex on hand for this tearjerker which also stars Nia Long, Cuba Gooding, and RZA.
While there isn't a preview available of the film quite yet, the project is indeed a family affair as it’s executive-produced by Will and Jada Smith and scheduled to debut on the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27 by Amazon Studios.
"The Life Ahead"
This adaptation of Romain Gary’s novel The Life Before Us follows an aging Holocaust survivor (Sophia Loren in a bold return to film) who forms an unlikely bond with the young, orphaned Senegalese immigrant (Ibrahima Gueye) who robbed her. This uplifting film is coming to Netflix on Nov. 13 and delivers a powerful message of acceptance in the face of overwhelming adversity.