When we got word Martin Scorsese’s mob epic “The Irishman” would have a running time of 3 hours and 30 minutes, there was quite the flitter and flutter on Twitter.
Three and a half hours! That’s crazy!
Is it though?
One of the great directors in cinema history takes on the Jimmy Hoffa story in a film starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, and the running time is about a half hour longer than “Avengers: Endgame”? I’m OK with that.
We have no problem watching three-hour NFL games back-to-back-to-back. We binge-watch all 10 episodes of our favorite streaming TV series.
Let’s strap it in for “The Irishman,” what do you say?
Scorsese’s film is just one of the highlights of what on paper (or on your screen) could be one of the richest, deepest and most entertaining autumn movie seasons of this century.
Here’s my chronological rundown of 20 films I’m keen to see.
And I easily could have added 10 more!
“Downton Abbey” (Sept. 20). Just when we thought we’d have to be content with rewatching Julian Fellowes’ masterpiece of a historical period piece series, we’re getting a feature film. The year is 1927, and King George V and Queen Mary are about to visit Downton Abbey. Thank you, Julian Fellowes!
“Rambo: Last Blood” (Sept. 20). Talk about an alternative choice for the non-Abbey crowd. The fifth and final installment of the franchise could be horrible, or fantastically terrible, or just fantastic. With John Rambo and Rocky Balboa, it could be argued Sylvester Stallone has the most impressive one-two iconic character punch this side of Harrison Ford with Han Solo and Indiana Jones.
“The Laundromat” (Sept. 27). Didn’t Steven Soderbergh retire a half-dozen years and a bunch of movies ago? Thank goodness that didn’t stick. The prolific and versatile director returns in an insurance-fraud comedy-drama starring Academy Award winners Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman.
“Dolemite Is My Name” (Oct. 4). Remember Eddie Murphy? Movie star? Funniest man in the world? Not only is Murphy hosting “Saturday Night Live” this year, he’s starring as blaxploitation filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore (who created the character of Dolemite) in a 1970s period piece from director Craig Brewer (“Hustle and Flow.”) Just the sight of Murphy in a pink bowler and a pink suit with wide velvet collar is enough to get the countdown clock running to this release.
“Joker” (Oct. 4). If Joaquin Phoenix DOESN’T get Oscar-nominated for his performance as Arthur Fleck aka the Joker in this stand-alone, origins story, it will be a huge upset.
“Lucy in the Sky” (October date TBA). The Oscar buzz is nearly as buzzy for Natalie Portman’s performance as an astronaut who gets involved in an ill-fated affair. Very loosely based on a true story, “Lucy in the Sky” marks the feature directorial debut of the talented TV showrunner Noah Hawley (“Bones,” “Fargo,” “Legion”).
“Parasite” (Oct. 11). A class conflict fable from the fertile mind of director Bong Joon-ho, who has given us such unique feature films as “The Host” (2006) and “Okja” (2017), the best movie ever about a genetically modified Super Pig, and no kidding, you really should check out “Okja.”
“The Lighthouse” (Oct. 25). Willem Dafoe (eyeing a possible fifth Academy Award nomination) and Robert Pattinson (who, like Kristen Stewart, has proved to be a first-rate actor post “Twilight”) star in a grainy, black-and-white horror film.
“The Irishman” (Nov. 1). Word is Netflix’s $150 million budget includes the cost of de-aging certain cast members, with De Niro playing the same character in his early 20s and at 80.
“Harriet” (Nov. 1). The wonderful Kasi Lemmons (“Eve’s Bayou,” “Black Nativity”) directs the greatly talented Cynthia Ervo (“Widows,” “Bad Times at the El Royale’) in the Harriet Tubman story.
“Motherless Brooklyn” (Nov. 1). Edward Norton has been relatively quiet since the 2014 combo of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Birdman,” but that’s in part because he’s the writer, producer, director AND star of this 1950s crime noir thriller about a detective with Tourette’s whose mentor is murdered.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” (Nov. 1). Honestly, I have no idea where we are on the “Terminator” timeline these days, so I’m happy to see this sequel/reboot set nearly three decades after the events of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” and I’m REALLY happy not only Arnold Schwarzenegger but also Linda Hamilton are returning.
“Marriage Story” (Nov. 6). Count me psyched any time Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale,” “Margot at the Wedding,” “Mistress America”) is releasing one of his signature dramatic comedies. Adam Driver and Scarlett “Quote Machine” Johansson star as divorcing couple.
“Doctor Sleep” (Nov. 8). “The Shining” has been playing in heavy rotation on premium cable lately, and that 1977 horror classic is still scary as … heck. What you might not have known is Stephen King wrote a sequel in 2013, and here comes Ewan McGregor as the grown-up Danny Torrance.
I wonder if Danny will encounter those twin girls in the powder blue dresses again. Yeesh!
“Klaus” (Nov. 8). Netflix — you’ve heard of Netflix, right? — enters the original animated feature game with a Santa Claus origin story, that’s right, a Santa Claus origin story, from “Despicable Me” creator Sergio Pablos.
“Ford v Ferrari” (Nov. 15). Matt Damon is the American auto designer Carroll Shelby (as in the Shelby Mustang) and Christian Bale is the British driver Ken Miles in this mid-1960s race car period piece. Early reviews have been universally positive.
“The Report” (Nov. 15). Adam Driver makes the buzz list again with this Sundance hit about a U.S. Senate staffer looking into the CIA’s use of torture in the 2000s.
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (Nov. 22). Somehow, some way, Tom Hanks hasn’t been nominated for an Academy Award since “Cast Away” in 2001, despite great work in films such as “The Terminal,” “Captain Phillips,” “Bridge of Spies” and “Sully.” And Hanks hasn’t won since his triumphs for “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump” in the 1990s.
Don’t be surprised to see one or both “slumps” end with Hanks’ work as the beloved TV host Fred “Mister” Rogers.
“Dark Waters” (Nov. 22). In the vein of “Erin Brockovich” and “A Civil Action,” this is a based-on-a-true story thriller about the lawyer who unearthed tragedy-inducing corruption by a chemical company behemoth. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway and Tim Robbins.
“Frozen 2” (Nov. 22). Six years after the release of a terrific animated film that would go on to drive tens of millions of parents crazy IF THEY HEARD THAT ‘LET IT GO’ SONG ONE MORE TIME, here’s the sequel.
Which includes an updated version of “Let it Go.”