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Bond, Black Widow, Comey: 32 movies and television shows to watch this fall

Here's a month-by-month guide to some of the season's most notable debuts.
Image: Stacey Abrams, Gal Gadot as \"Wonder Woman,\" The Mandalorian and Daniel Craig as \"James Bond.\"
The fall release calendar includes a mix of summer blockbusters delayed by the coronavirus crisis, as well as topical documentaries timed for election season.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The fall release calendar is unusually crowded this year. Big-budget blockbusters delayed by the coronavirus crisis will jostle for attention alongside Oscars contenders, marquee television premieres and a handful of political documentaries aiming to help shape public opinion ahead of the presidential election.

Here's a month-by-month guide to some of the most notable movies and television shows arriving by the middle of December.


"All In: The Fight for Democracy" (Sept. 18 on Amazon Prime Video)

Democratic politician and activist Stacey Abrams plays a central role in this searching documentary about voter suppression and gerrymandering, which she also co-produced. The issues are personal for Abrams, who two years ago narrowly lost her Georgia gubernatorial bid to Brian Kemp in a race she alleges was rife with mismanagement and disenfranchisement.

"The Nest" (Sept. 18 in theaters)

Sean Durkin, who made his directorial debut in 2011 with the haunting thriller "Martha Marcy May Marlene," returns to the screen with this disquieting familial drama about a vain businessman (Jude Law) who relocates his wife (Carrie Coon) and children to an English country manor in the 1980s. The trailer suggests "The Shining" by way of E.M. Forster.

"PEN15" (Sept. 18 on Hulu)

The mortifications of middle school in the early 2000s once again take center stage in the second season of this comedy series. The show's co-creators, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, play versions of themselves as 13-year-olds (alongside actual child actors) and re-enact all manner of adolescent awkwardness.

"Ratched" (Sept. 18 on Netflix)

Mildred Ratched, the tyrannical nurse who torments Jack Nicholson's psychiatric patient in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975), gets the origin story treatment in this suspense series, based in part on Ken Kesey's original novel. Sarah Paulson plays the title character alongside a supporting cast that includes Cynthia Nixon and Sharon Stone.

"Enola Holmes" (Sept. 23 on Netflix)

"Stranger Things" star Millie Bobby Brown plays Sherlock Holmes' intrepid teenage sister in this adventure film inspired by Nancy Springer's book series of the same name. The movie was originally slated for a theatrical debut by Warner Bros., but Netflix scooped up the rights as the coronavirus crisis shuttered theaters.

"Agents of Chaos" (Sept. 23 on HBO)

The furiously prolific documentarian Alex Gibney is no stranger to thorny subject matter, having directed films about Enron, the Church of Scientology and WikiLeaks. He trains his lens on an especially knotty topic in this two-part documentary: Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — and how America remains vulnerable to foreign meddling.

"Kajillionaire" (Sept. 25 in theaters)

The medium-hopping multi-hyphenate artist Miranda July has two feature films under her belt: the distinctive "Me and You and Everyone We Know" (2005) and "The Future" (2011). July's latest is a decidedly unconventional heist movie starring Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger and Gina Rodriguez.

"Tehran" (Sept. 25 on Apple TV+)

Apple's streaming service ventures into non-English-language programming with this political thriller, originally created for Israeli public television. The tense eight-episode drama follows an Iran-born Mossad agent as she embarks on a risky computer hacking assignment in her hometown, the Iranian capital of the title.

"Fargo" (Sept. 27 on FX)

The long-awaited fourth installment of this crime anthology series, loosely inspired by the Coen brothers' 1996 masterpiece, co-stars Chris Rock and Jason Schwartzman as the leaders of rival crime syndicates duking it out in 1950s Kansas City. The indie rock hero Andrew Bird plays a supporting character by the glorious name of Thurman Smutney.

"The Comey Rule" (Sept. 27 on Showtime)

Jeff Daniels portrays former FBI chief James Comey in this two-part miniseries based on "A Higher Loyalty," Comey's bestselling book about his government service and strained relationship with President Donald Trump. Brendan Gleeson, best known to viewers of a certain age as Mad-Eye Moody from the "Harry Potter" film series, plays the 45th president.

"The Boys in the Band" (Sept. 30 on Netflix)

Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer and Andrew Rannells co-star in this ensemble drama adapted from the 1968 play of the same name, a seminal work in LGBTQ-themed theater and a landmark in queer representation. The four actors are reprising their roles from the play's 2018 revival on Broadway.

"The Glorias" (Sept. 30 on Amazon Prime Video)

Four actresses, including Oscar winners Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander, take turns playing women's rights movement leader Gloria Steinem in this formula-tweaking biopic directed and co-written by Julie Taymor. The film covers some of the same historical ground as the FX miniseries "Mrs. America," which featured Rose Byrne as the legendary feminist activist.


"Wonder Woman 1984" (Oct. 2 in theaters)

Patty Jenkins' follow-up to her 2017 box-office smash was one of the most notable summer blockbusters delayed by the COVID-19 crisis. But come October, audiences will finally get a chance to reconnect with Gal Gadot's immortal Amazon warrior in this sequel set during the height of the Reagan era and the final years of the Cold War.

"The Walking Dead: World Beyond" (Oct. 4 on AMC)

AMC's massively popular zombies show gets a second spinoff in this two-season, 20-episode miniseries. "World Beyond," set in Nebraska a decade after a bloody apocalypse, centers on two young women trying to make sense of their disorienting new reality. (The premiere date for the 11th season of the flagship series has yet to be announced.)

"The Right Stuff" (Oct. 9 on Disney+)

Tom Wolfe's gripping chronicle of the early days of the U.S. space race, previously adapted into an epic 1983 film, gets a family-friendly spin in this drama series. The show, with Leonardo DiCaprio as one of its executive producers, will focus on the astronauts chosen for the pioneering Mercury Seven program.

"The 40-Year-Old Version" (Oct. 9 on Netflix)

The playwright Radha Blank makes her directorial debut and plays the lead role in this Sundance Film Festival favorite about the trials of a struggling Black artist in New York City. The film, which finds Blank grappling with questions about artistic integrity and selling out, marks the introduction of a magnetic new cinematic voice.

"Candyman" (Oct. 16 in theaters)

The mesmerizing teaser trailer for this supernatural slasher film went viral over the summer, stoking anticipation for what has been described as a sequel to the 1992 cult classic of the same name. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II ("Watchmen") heads up the cast; Nia DaCosta, the director, co-wrote the script alongside Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld.

"The Trial of the Chicago 7" (Oct. 16 on Netflix)

You can expect plenty of Aaron Sorkin's signature verbal pyrotechnics in this docudrama, which he wrote and directed. The film, originally set for a theatrical release before moving to streaming, centers on the group of anti-Vietnam War activists charged with conspiracy related to protests at the famously turbulent 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

"David Byrne's American Utopia" (Oct. 17 on HBO)

The former Talking Heads frontman — backed by an electrifying 11-person ensemble of singers, musicians and dancers — dazzled Broadway audiences with the theatrical concert "American Utopia." Thanks to director Spike Lee, viewers around the U.S. will now have a chance to see the full performance in this filmed version for HBO.

"Death on the Nile" (Oct. 23 in theaters)

Agatha Christie's fabled sleuth Hercule Poirot returns to the big screen in the form of actor Kenneth Branagh, who directed this follow-up to his "Murder on the Orient Express" (2017). The cast is stacked with marquee names, including Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie ("The Good Fight"), Letitia Wright ("Black Panther"), Russell Brand and Annette Bening.

"Connected" (Oct. 23 in theaters)

In this animated sci-fi comedy, electronic devices — phones, home appliances, domesticated robots — stage an uprising, throwing a proverbial wrench in one family's plans to bond during a road trip. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the duo behind "The Lego Movie" and the "21 Jump Street" reboot, served as co-producers.

"Bad Hair" (Oct. 23 on Hulu)

Justin Simien, the creator of the Netflix series "Dear White People" and the independent film that inspired it, braids horror and comedy in this film about a young Black woman who discovers her new hairstyle has a mind of its own. The supporting cast includes Lena Waithe, Laverne Cox and Blair Underwood.

"The Mandalorian" (Oct. 30 on Disney+)

You may be largely unfamiliar with the exploits of the bounty hunter known as the Mandalorian, but surely you've heard of Baby Yoda, the doe-eyed, pointy-eared tyke who helped turn this "Star Wars" spinoff series into a cultural phenomenon. The second season promises to replenish the internet with memes — and restock your shopping cart with inevitable tie-in toys.


"Black Widow" (Nov. 6 in theaters)

The latest installment in the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe, set before the events of "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame," finds the title character (Scarlett Johansson) on the lam. Florence Pugh ("Midsommar," "Little Women") and David Harbour of "Stranger Things" fame round out the cast.

"I Am Greta" (Nov. 13 on Hulu)

The teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg is at the center of this 97-minute documentary portrait, which follows her rapid ascent from high school political organizer to world famous generational leader. The film, directed by Swedish filmmaker Nathan Grossman, premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 3.

"The Crown" (Nov. 15 on Netflix)

The fourth chapter of this acclaimed royalty drama brings back the previous season's players — Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip — and promises to add a few new faces, including Emma Corrin as Lady Diana Spencer and Gillian Anderson as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

"No Time to Die" (Nov. 20 in theaters)

Daniel Craig goes out for a spin as James Bond for a fifth and final time in this 25th(!) franchise installment, originally slated for an April release before it was bumped because of the coronavirus crisis. Cary Joji Fukunaga, the gifted visual stylist behind the first season of "True Detective," served as director; "Fleabag" auteur Phoebe Waller-Bridge co-wrote the screenplay.

"Animaniacs" (Nov. 20 on Hulu)

If you spent a lot of weekday afternoons indoors in the 1990s, the original run of the witty, winking animated series "Animaniacs" is bathed in nostalgic glow. The folks behind this two-season revival are surely banking on that affection for Yakko, Wakko, Dot — locked away in the Warner Bros. Water Tower no more.

"Soul" (Nov. 20 in theaters)

Pixar aims to brighten your holiday season with this fantastical comedy centered on a jazz-mad music teacher, voiced by Jamie Foxx, whose soul takes on a life of its own. "Soul" appears to channel some of the heartfelt surrealism of "Inside Out" (2015), and that is no coincidence: Pixar veteran Pete Docter directed and co-wrote both movies.


"Tiger" (Dec. 13 on HBO)

HBO charts the "rise, fall and redemption" of golf star Tiger Woods in this two-part documentary, surveying the unrelenting drive that propelled him to the heights of athletics and the inner demons that threatened to destroy his legacy. The film features never-before-seen footage.

"The Stand" (Dec. 17 on CBS All Access)

Stephen King's dizzyingly ambitious post-apocalyptic novel, previously adapted into a 1994 miniseries, now gets a prestige TV upgrade in this miniseries starring James Marsden, Amber Heard and Greg Kinnear. The convoluted plot, centered on a deadly pandemic that wipes out almost everyone on the planet, has taken on grim resonance this year.

"Dune" (Dec. 18 in theaters)

In the 1980s, David Lynch tried his hand at adapting Frank Herbert's epochal, extraordinarily complex science fiction epic to mixed results. Denis Villeneuve, the celebrated director behind "Arrival" and "Blade Runner 2049," might have better luck in this new adaptation starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac.