As summer turns to fall, the temperatures outside are still miserable in Texas. While there are always plenty of good reasons to go to the movies—and chances to see the various ways that our fellow Texans are a dominant force in Hollywood—the interminable summer we’ve been experiencing gives us yet another excuse to go outside, drive to the multiplex, and sit in an air-conditioned theater until darkness falls upon us.
With that in mind, here’s a list of all of the movies set for release this fall with a Texas filmmaker, Texas star, or Texas subject for you to enjoy over the next several months. From Woody Harrelson to Renée Zellweger to Tommy Lee Jones to Woody Harrelson again, the lineup of Texans gracing our screen—in front of and behind the camera—is rich this year.
Ad Astra (September 20)
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Tommy Lee Jones remains a national treasure of Texas, and while his turn as Brad Pitt’s mysterious father in the grounded sci-fi epic Ad Astra was released earlier this month—and hasn’t ignited the box office thus far—we’d be remiss not to include any opportunity you’ll have to watch him on the big screen. Jones hasn’t really been a big-time box office draw in at least a decade, but he’s still fantastic, and the critical response to Ad Astra (83 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) is proof that the box office isn’t the only measure of Jones’s greatness here. —Dan Solomon
Judy (September 27)
Renée Zellweger, after a nearly decade-long pseudo-hiatus, takes on a lead role in this Judy Garland biopic. Zellweger is a fascinating choice to play an out-of-the-spotlight Garland in the waning days of her career—and it’s possible that it’ll lead her to a resurgence we’ve already dubbed the Renéessance. —DS
Jim Allison: Breakthrough (September 27)
Following the iconoclast and Texan Jim Allison, Breakthrough tells the story of the Houston-based scientist’s relentless quest to find a cure for cancer. Today, Allison is a 2018 Nobel Prize winner for his discovery of how a cancer patient’s own immune system can help defeat their disease (now known as immunotherapy). The documentary shows the journey to these findings wasn’t always easy: Allison’s own mother died from cancer, which is what prompted him to start his work, and he received decades of pushback and skepticism from the medical establishment. Narrated by Woody Harrelson and featuring music from Willie Nelson and Mickey Raphael, Breakthrough is Texan through and through. —Arielle Avila
The Parts You Lose (October 4)
Dallas-raised director Christopher Cantwell—cocreator of the largely Dallas-set AMC drama Halt and Catch Fire—makes his feature film debut with this thriller, starring Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, about a bullied small-town child and an outlaw on the run who develop a friendship. Paul tends to excel in roles like this, and Winstead is one of the more underrated actors of her generation, which has us intrigued about a film that might otherwise get lost in the annual glut of fall thrillers. —DS
Lucy in the Sky (October 4)
Loosely based on former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak’s story, Lucy in the Sky follows Lucy Cola’s arrival back to Earth after a lengthy, mind-altering space mission. Played by Natalie Portman, Lucy reassesses her cozy, suburban life and finds herself distanced from her family and drawn closer to a fellow astronaut played by Jon Hamm. In the real-life version of this story, Nowak ended up driving from Houston to Orlando, infamously wearing an adult diaper, to attempt to kidnap a woman involved with her love interest. From the trailers, it seems that director Noah Hawley follows Nowak’s account closely in Lucy in the Sky, but takes artistic liberty with some details (one being the lack of diapers in the film). —AA
Zombieland: Double Tap (October 18)
Greatest living Texan candidate Woody Harrelson reprises his role as Tallahassee, the zombie-hunting redneck he first portrayed in 2009’s Zombieland, in a sequel ten years in the making. As sequels go, Zombieland: Double Tap is likely to either be very much your thing—the original is a beloved cult favorite—or very much not, since “horror-comedy built around Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson” is a pretty specific flavor. If you do need a lil’ Texas bonus to push you over the edge, though, Double Tap also features Dallas native Luke Wilson as a Woody Harrelson-lite character. —DS
The Current War (October 25)
Laredo native Alfonso Gómez-Rejon cut his teeth directing episodes of Glee and American Horror Story, before transitioning to features with 2014’s The Town That Dreaded Sundown and the following year’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The latest project from the South Texas native—The Current War, which spent two years awaiting release after the collapse of the Weinstein Company—is decidedly more ambitious, a drama about the Gilded Age competition to electrify America between Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla’s innovations. —DS
Countdown (October 25)
Williamson County native Elizabeth Lail stars in the horror movie Countdown, about a nurse who downloads an app claiming to predict when you’ll die and discovers she has only three days left on the clock. Riffing off of a similar concept seen in the romcom TiMER, which envisioned a clock counting down the seconds until you meet your soulmate, Countdown sees what would happen if yet another aspect of our lives were dictated by our phones. It seems that closer the timer gets to zero, the closer a looming Grim Reaper figure approaches Lail’s character. Whether she’s being spooked by the supernatural or by bookish stalkers (à la the Netflix show You), Lail can’t seem to catch a break. We’ll have to see if she manages to escape in time. —AA
Terminator: Dark Fate (November 1)
The wildly uneven Terminator franchise gets its most serious reboot in a generation with the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton in Terminator: Dark Fate—and this time, the unstoppable cyborg killing machine out to ensure that the robots rule the future is played by Austin native Gabriel Luna. Luna’s been on the fringes of a Hollywood breakout for a while—he was in Robert Rodriguez’s Matador, and played Ghost Rider in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—but Dark Fate represents his first foray into the world of big-screen blockbusters. —DS
Waves (November 1)
Houstonian Trey Edward Shults is back with his third directorial feature, Waves, that explores a crisis brought upon a family based in South Florida. If it’s anything like his first movie, Krisha, where he examined tensions at a family’s Thanksgiving, he’ll do it in a way that’s devastatingly intimate and emotionally gut-wrenching. The movie has already garnered critical praise after its release at the Telluride Film Festival, and with leads like Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown and Tony winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, it’s expected to get plenty of nods during award season. —AA
Midway (November 8)
German filmmaker Roland Emmerich—whose taste for big-budget blockbusters gave us Independence Day, 1998’s Godzilla, and the climate change thriller The Day After Tomorrow—brings his, ah, delightfully unsubtle eye for large-scale action to the Battle of Midway. To tell the tale of the World War II naval battle that tilted the balance of power in the Pacific theater, Emmerich has enlisted a handful of Texans: Woody Harrelson (naturally) as well as Dennis Quaid and Nick Jonas. If you like your World War II films over-the-top and full of extremely broadly sketched characters, Midway is likely to deliver on that front. —DS
Playing With Fire (November 8)
Directed by Midland native Andy Fickman, Playing With Fire is a family comedy about a team of firefighters turned babysitters who, after rescuing three siblings from a house fire, embark on a journey to reunite the children with their family. The rugged firefighting crew, including pro wrestler John Cena and comedians Keegan-Michael Key and John Leguizamo, seem to have met their match and are tested by the trio’s antics in the slapstick comedy. The movie registers similarly to Fickman’s previous work, like The Game Plan and Parental Guidance, which find humor in the challenges of chaperoning. —AA
A Hidden Life (December 13)
Austin filmmaker Terrence Malick’s recent oeuvre has been wildly uneven—Song to Song, Knight of Cups, and To the Wonder were all critical and commercial failures. At his best, though, Malick is a titan of cinema. And the early reports on his World War II drama A Hidden Life, about a conscientious objector who refused to fight for the Nazis, are that it’s a return to the caliber of filmmaking that made him a legend with Badlands, Days of Heaven, and The Thin Red Line. The film won two awards at its premiere at Cannes, and secured Malick his widest distribution deal (with Disney) since 2005’s The New World—which suggests that if you want to catch A Hidden Life in its full big-screen glory, you’ll have the chance to watch the master at work. —DS
An earlier version of this article contained two errors: While Jim Allison was awarded a Nobel Prize, it was not the Nobel Peace Prize. And Trey Edward Shults is not a UT graduate.