By Joey Nolfi
August 30, 2019 at 08:00 AM EDT
Merie Weismiller Wallace/A24; Blumhouse Productions; Eric Zachanowich/Fox Searchlight

The end of summer (and blistering temperatures) is near, but the box office is still red hot with a slew of diverse titles closing out the season. From genre breakouts like Ari Aster’s Midsommar (a director’s cut of which is slated for a weekend bow) and the new supernatural thriller Don’t Let Go to budding Oscar contenders (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Farewell) and prestige novelties (Xavier Dolan’s long-gestating Death and Life of John F. Donovan, Luce), here are 13 titles to see in theaters over the Labor Day stretch.

Midsommar: The Director’s Cut

Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter

Director: Ari Aster

Rating: Unrated

EW’s review: [Note: review is for the theatrical cut] “You can’t be afraid of the dark in Midsommar, because darkness never comes. Everything that happens in writer-director Ari Aster’s cornea-searing, fantastically unnerving folk-horror reverie unfolds in the dazzling glare of June-bright sunlight — a waking nightmare nestled cozily within the clapboard barns and verdant valleys of the Swedish countryside…. And like the fretful violins that stagger raggedly over the soundtrack, the skin-pricking pleasures of Midsommar aren’t rational, they’re instinctive: a thrilling, seasick freefall into the light.” A–

Where to watch: In theaters, limited release (opens Friday)

Don’t Let Go

Starring: David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Byron Mann, Mykelti Williamson

Director: Jacob Aaron Estes

Rating: R

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release (opens Friday)

Angel Has Fallen

Starring: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Danny Huston, Michael Landes, Tim Blake Nelson, Nick Nolte, Piper Perabo, Jada Pinkett Smith

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Rating: R

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release (now playing)

Good Boys

Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Lil Rel Howery, Will Forte

Director: Gene Stupnitsky

Rating: R

EW’s review: “Mostly, the story is just scant scaffolding on which to hang cheerfully crass jokes about Stranger Things, anal beads, and cocaine. But it’s a winning showcase, too, for the loopy charm of its young stars: Room’s Tremblay as Max, the ideal Everyboy; Noon as the spiky but vulnerable Thor, a sort of fun-size Danny McBride; and Williams’ rule-abiding Lucas, a kid so earnestly transparent, it’s like he ate truth serum for breakfast. In the end, it’s their fundamental goodness — not all the wicked, winky “bad” — that’s easily the best thing about Boys.” B–

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release (now playing)

Ready or Not

Starring: Samara Weaving, Andie MacDowell, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Kristian Bruun

Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett

Rating: R

EW’s review: “Running beneath Ready‘s fairly standard and-then-there-were-none plot mechanics, too, is a clever thread of class commentary. Yes, the rich are different from you and me; does that mean they’re evil, or just monumentally self-absorbed? And what if it’s not really biology that’s destiny, but tax brackets? Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin have a lot of fun with those ideas without belaboring them too much. So come for the crossbows, etc., and to watch Weaving’s star be born in real time; stay for the socio-economic lessons and sweet, sweet revenge. That should still leave plenty of time to get home and plan your next game night.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release (now playing)

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Starring: Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria, Adriana Barraza, Q’orianka Kilcher

Director: Janes Bobin

Rating: PG

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release (now playing)

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Starring: Leonardi DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret QUalley, Timothy Olyphant, Julia Butters, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Mike Moh, Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Al Pacino

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Rating: R

EW’s review: “Some viewers might start to wonder somewhere around the two-and-a-half-hour mark if Tarantino actually has a plan to bring this all together, or merely wants to keep unspooling his celluloid valentine until the reels run out. There’s a wild twist coming, one you can either choose to go with or not; it feels a lot better to let it in. No doubt there will be uncountable baby Tarantinos watching Once Upon a Time in dark theaters and dreaming their own future Hollywood dreams; until then, he’s still one of the most original, confounding, and purely enjoyable auteurs we’ve got.” A–

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release (now playing)

The Peanut Butter Falcon

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Zack Gottsagen, Jon Bernthal, John Hawkes, Thomas Haden Church, Bruce Dern, Yelawolf

Director: Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz

Rating: PG-13

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release (now playing)

The Farewell

Starring: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Zhao Shuzhen

Director: Lulu Wang

Rating: PG

EW’s review: Farewell has the freshness of [Wang’s] own distinct voice, a dry humor and low-key melancholy that infuses even the most quotidian scenes, from a visit to Billi’s late grandfather’s grave, where the group squabbles over offerings — should they peel the oranges before they place them on his tombstone? Does he want one more cigarette, or did he quit before the end? — to a kitschy prewedding photo shoot that plays out in the background of a serious conversation like a surreal silent comedy. On screen, Awkwafina can feel more like a personality than an actress; still, she finds something appealingly honest and vulnerable in Billi — who may always hate the lie, but finally begins to let it open her up to bigger, better truths.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release (now playing)

Luce

Starring: Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Tim Roth, Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Director: Julius Onah

Rating: R

EW’s review: “Adapted from a lauded 2013 play by JC LeeLuce spins an intriguing if sometimes too-broad tale of race, perception, and privilege. As the title character, Kelvin Harrison Jr. (It Comes at Night) walks a tricky line between possible sociopath and vulnerable young man desperate to please, but also to free himself from the crushing pressure of what everyone expects him to be. Spencer’s Harriet, too, is on a tightrope: Is she just a teacher who cares too much? Or a disturbed woman with a personal vendetta? Even Peter and Amy, both furiously clinging to their own truths and past hurts, are hardly blameless. No one gets off easy here, and no one quite gets answers, either; maybe that’s the point.” B

Where to watch: In theaters, limited release (now playing)

Brittany Runs a Marathon

Starring: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery

Director: Paul Downs Colaizzo

Rating: R

EW’s review: “Calaizzo does give his heroine a certain kind of happy ending, one that’s satisfying and cinematic in all the ways a good rom-com should be. It feels earned, though, and still open-ended; a sweet victory lap for a race she’ll have to keep running long after the credits roll.” A–

Where to watch: In theaters, limited release (now playing)

The Death & Life of John F. Donovan

Starring: Kit Harington, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Jacob Tremblay, Thandie Newton

Director: Xavier Dolan

Rating: Unrated

Where to watch: In theaters, limited release (now playing)

Blinded by the Light

Starring: Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra, Nell Williams

Director: Gurinder Chadha

Rating: PG-13

EW’s review: “Kalra embodies all that with so much grace and natural charisma that it’s hard to believe it’s his big screen debut; even when the script makes too-easy choices or steers into sheer wish-fulfillment silliness, he and the rest of the cast sell it with such sweet conviction and purity of heart, it’s hard not to want to dance in the dark — and follow them all into the light.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release (now playing)

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