10 must-see movies coming out this fall, from 'Hocus Pocus 2' to Dwayne Johnson's 'Black Adam'

Brian Truitt
USA TODAY

Tom Cruise owned the summer. Now Dwayne Johnson is coming to electrify the fall.

Pulling superhero duty for the first time, the "Black Adam" star is joining an array of A-listers like Viola Davis, Zac Efron and Anthony Hopkins, who are heading to theaters and streaming services with new films.

A season of summer blockbusters like Cruise's "Top Gun: Maverick" warmed up the box office for audiences, and now fall unleashes scary-movie fare (from Jamie Lee Curtis in her final "Halloween" to the return of the "Hocus Pocus" bunch), Oscar-season competitors, British pop star Harry Styles moonlighting as an honest-to-goodness Hollywood actor (in the psychological thriller "Don't Worry Darling" and English ensemble drama "My Policeman") and, yes, some dudes in capes too. (For the record, Johnson needs no added muscles for his "Black Adam" suit.) 

Here are the 10 movies you absolutely, positively must see in September and October:

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'Goodnight Mommy' (Sept. 16)

Naomi Watts stars as a bandaged mother who freaks out her twin boys in the horror film "Goodnight Mommy."

Stars: Naomi Watts, Cameron Crovetti, Nicholas Crovetti

Director: Matt Sobel

The skinny: In a redo of the nerve-shredding 2014 Austrian horror standout, Watts stars as a mother convalescing at home from cosmetic surgery, her whole face bandaged. Her twin boys arrive for a visit, though when she not only looks but acts unusual, the kids wonder if this strange woman is actually their mom.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

'The Woman King' (Sep. 16)

Viola Davis (left) stars as a fearsome general of an all-female warrior unit protecting their African nation in "The Woman King."

Stars: Viola Davis, John Boyega, Lashana Lynch

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

The skinny: Inspired by the real story of 19th-century female African warriors in Dahomey, the action-packed historical epic casts Davis as the general training new recruits for the fierce Agojie – the official guard of the king (Boyega) – and preparing them to fight a European threat aiming to take their kingdom.

Where to watch: In theaters

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'Don’t Worry Darling' (Sept. 23)

Harry Styles and Florence Pugh play a young married couple living in an idyllic, 1950s-style community in the psychological thriller "Don't Worry Darling."

Stars: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine

Director: Olivia Wilde

The skinny: Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles) live an idyllic life in a 1950s-style retro community in the desert, run by the Victory Project and Jack's beloved boss (Pine). However, cracks form in Alice's existence as a happy housewife when she starts having strange dreams and questioning her surroundings.

Where to watch: In theaters

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'Bros' (Sept. 30)

Bobby (Billy Eichner, right) gets some life advice from his married friends Edgar (Guillermo Díaz) and Tina (Monica Raymund) in the romantic comedy "Bros."

Stars: Billy Eichner, Luke Macfarlane, Monica Raymund

Director: Nicholas Stoller

The skinny: Eichner co-writes and stars in the mainstream gay romantic comedy – with an all-queer principal cast – as a podcaster navigating work issues as a curator for an LGBTQ culture museum, as well as personal ones when a new relationship with a ripped yet thoughtful jock (Macfarlane) throws him off his game.

Where to watch: In theaters

'The Greatest Beer Run Ever' (Sept. 30)

Chickie (Zac Efron, left) heads to Vietnam to deliver beer personally to his soldier buddies, including pal Rick (Jake Picking), in the war dramedy "The Greatest Beer Run Ever."

Stars: Zac Efron, Russell Crowe, Bill Murray

Director: Pete Farrelly

The skinny: In the true-life 1960s war dramedy, Efron plays a New Yorker frustrated that his Army buddies in Vietnam aren't getting the proper respect back home in their neighborhood. So he embarks on a mad scheme to deliver cans of beer to friends on the frontlines and gets a taste of the conflict up close during a life-changing journey.

Where to watch: Apple TV+

'Hocus Pocus 2' (Sept. 30)

The witchy Sanderson sisters – Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker, from left),  Winifred (Bette Midler) and Mary (Kathy Najimy) – are unleashed on Salem once again in the Disney+ sequel "Hocus Pocus 2."

Stars: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy

Director: Anne Fletcher

The skinny: Set 29 years after the original 1993 Halloween cult classic, the fantasy comedy sequel centers on three teenage girls who, after inadvertently unleashing the villainous, soul-sucking Sanderson sisters (Midler, Parker and Najimy) on Salem again, have to foil the witches' wicked plans.

Where to watch: Disney+

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'Halloween Ends' (Oct. 14)

Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers face off one final time in the horror film "Halloween Ends."

Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Will Patton

Director: David Gordon Green

The skinny: Set four years after "Halloween Kills," Laurie Strode (Curtis) is working on her memoir and trying to finally live a peaceful life. However, a young man accused of murdering a boy he was babysitting is the inciting incident leading to a final confrontation between Laurie and her archnemesis, masked maniac Michael Myers. 

Where to watch: In theaters and on Peacock

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'The School for Good and Evil' (Oct. 19)

Michelle Yeoh (from left), Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington star as professors at an enchanted school in the Netflix fairy-tale adventure "The School for Good and Evil."

Stars: Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Sofia Wylie

Director: Paul Feig

The skinny: In this fairy-tale spin on "Harry Potter," two best friends (Wylie and Sophia Anne Caruso) are whisked away from their village to an enchanted school with colorful teachers (including Theron, Washington and Michelle Yeoh) that trains both heroes and villains in order to maintain a necessary balance between good and evil.

Where to watch: Netflix

'Black Adam' (Oct. 21)

Dwayne Johnson plays a fearsome figure with god-like powers freed after 5,000 years of imprisonment in the DC superhero film "Black Adam."

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Pierce Brosnan, Noah Centineo

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

The skinny: Johnson stars as the powerful DC title antihero, a formerly enslaved man with god-like powers imprisoned for 5,000 years before escaping in modern times. His dark sense of justice puts him on the radar of the Justice Society of America, and he has to make the decision whether to be a good guy or a supervillain.

Where to watch: In theaters

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'Armageddon Time' (Oct. 28)

Esther (Anne Hathaway) has a chat with Grandpa Aaron (Anthony Hopkins) in director James Gray's coming-of-age drama "Armageddon Time."

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong

Director: James Gray

The skinny: Set in 1980 Queens, the coming-of-age film centers on an artistic sixth grade boy (Banks Repeta) from a Jewish American family who makes new friends at school, clashes at home with his parents (Hathaway and Strong) but fosters a special bond with his kind and compassionate grandfather (Hopkins).

Where to watch: In theaters