Cynthia Erivo's Harriet Tubman biopic, Milla Jovovich's Paradise Hills also among the best new movies hitting theaters and digital across the weekend ahead.

By Joey Nolfi
November 01, 2019 at 09:00 AM EDT

EW wants you to make good choices when going to the movies (or spending a night in Netflix-and-chilling) this weekend, and our new, recurring movie preview guide will keep you informed about the best new blockbusters, indie gems, sturdy holdovers, and fresh digital standouts up for your viewing pleasure (plus a bonus box office preview to wrap it all up).

As Spooky Season draws to a close, terrifying bowl cuts (The King), fantastical murderesses (Paradise Hills), and diabolical machines (Terminator: Dark Fate) converge at the multiplex this week to give you an extra shot of (Saturday and) Sunday Scaries over the two-day stretch ahead. Also on tap is Cynthia Erivo‘s potentially Oscar-contending performance in Kasi Lemmons’ historical biopic Harriet, which, judging by early reviews, provides ample heart to balance out the weekend’s heavy onslaught of more bombastic fare.

Ahead, check out highlights’ from EW’s coverage of the best new movies now in theaters, streaming, and on VOD.

Netflix; Kerry Brown/Paramount; Samuel Goldwyn Films; Glen Wilson / Focus Features

New wide releases in theaters

Terminator: Dark Fate

Starring: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Diego Boneta, Gabriel Luna
Directed by: Tim Miller
Release type: Theatrical (wide)
EW grade: C (read full review)

Arnold Schwarzenegger said he’d be back. But, he’s bringing a band of badass women with him for the latest installment of the Terminator franchise, a big-budget spectacle that sees series icon Linda Hamilton leading the charge as she teams up with a hybrid cyborg human (yes, really) to protect a young girl from a liquid, time-traveling Terminator from the future.

“It was so obvious that you had the same kind of commitment that I showed for T2,” Hamilton told her new costar, Mackenzie Davis, in a recent joint interview for EW. “Watching her just made me want to do that much more, be that much better. I was totally inspired by Mack. It was like, ‘How are you doing this? How is it possible that you’re not completely breaking down?’ Your body, your lack of sleep, the things that were asked of you — it was just mind-bending to watch, and made me so utterly proud.”

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Harriet

Starring: Cynthia ErivoLeslie Odom, Jr., Joe Alwyn, Janelle Monáe, Jennifer Nettles, Vanessa Bell Calloway
Directed by: Kasi Lemmons
Release type: Theatrical (wide)
EW grade: B (read full review)

What could be the last piece of Erivo’s EGOT puzzle finally drops in theaters this week, proving the Broadway breakout’s electrifying presence seamlessly translates from center stage to the big screen. Instead of bogging her portrait in historical biopic cliches, director Lemmons worked with Erivo to get to the heart of the character, crafting an intimate, moving, and highly personal version of a different side of one of the most important figures in American history.

“More than anything, we wanted to show the woman, so we looked into her family, her life, and her love,” Erivo told EW at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the film launched its awards season bid. She also admitted to putting herself through rigorous physical training — including lengthy bike rides and running sessions at the crack of dawn — to build up her endurance to match Harriet Tubman’s. “I did some horse riding with corsets before to make sure I got used to that. All of that, I just wanted to make sure I was ready physically so I didn’t have to think about that when I was on set. I just wanted it to be a second-nature thing for me.”

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Motherless Brooklyn

Starring: Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Cherry Jones
Directed by: Edward Norton
Release type: Theatrical (wide)
EW grade: B (read full review)

Brooklyn might be motherless in Jonathan Lethem’s novel, but Edward Norton puts an authoritative directorial stamp on the writer’s mystery in an ensemble drama that unites the actor-filmmaker with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Leslie Mann, and Willem Dafoe for a juicy throwback noir.

“The essential theme in the film is that part of becoming heroic is stepping up and taking care of other people,” Norton told EW of the film, which follows his Lionel Essrog, a detective with Tourette syndrome investigating the murder of his mentor, Frank (Willis). “And the way people are looking out for each other over power and money is the way to stay true to who we say we are in this country.”

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Arctic Dogs

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Heidi Klum, James Franco, John Cleese, Omar Sy, Michael Madsen, Laurie Holden, Anjelica Huston, Alec Baldwin
Directed by: Aaron Woodley
Release type: Theatrical (wide)

What could possibly unite Jeremy Renner, Heidi Klum, John Cleese, Michael Madsen, Alec Baldwin, AND Anjelica Huston in one place? A B-grade animated movie about talking dogs, of course. Need we say more than, in this movie, you’ll hear Huston’s Russian-accented voice coming out of a cartoon reindeer? Sold!

New limited, indies, specialty, and streaming gems

The Irishman

Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Bobby Cannavale, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, Ray Romano
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Release type: Theatrical (limited), streaming (Nov. 27)
EW grade: B+ (full review here)

Martin Scorsese is back in theaters this Friday, and he brought Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci (whom he allegedly coaxed out of retirement for his first movie role in nine years) for a gritty crime drama. What more do you need to know?

“Having gotten to make the film. The picture was very difficult to get made the past 10 years, and for many different reasons. But I really felt that De Niro and I had one more picture to make at least,” Scorsese recently told EW. “Robert read Charles Brandt’s book [I Heard You Paint Houses] when he was doing [the 2006 drama] The Good Shepard. He gave it to me. I saw he was connected with the character and we’ve been wanting to make something together since Casino. I realized he really cares about the character, and that it’s something that could be moving. So I figured we’d take the trip. It took a while. It’s very special that we got it made. And I feel at this point in my life, it’s something that I feel the value of — if not for me, for Bob, Al, and Joe — a lot of people involved in it. And the fact people have reacted so strongly is really [pauses] I don’t know if I have the words to express the thanks. What’s special about it is that everything in our hearts was put into it at this stage of our lives.”

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American Son

Starring: Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale, Jeremy Jordan, Eugene Lee
Directed by: Kenny Leon
Release type: Streaming (Netflix)

“This character is like the un-Olivia Pope,” Scandal actress Kerry Washington previously told EW of her role as a mother searching for answers regarding her missing son in Netflix’s adaptation of her stage play American Son — a stark contrast from the beloved character she played the hit ABC drama across seven seasons. “She was such a huge challenge for me as an actress to spend seven or eight years playing somebody and then try to have the pendulum swing in the total opposite direction. She is not — there is no Prada in this one folks, sorry.”

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The King

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Lily-Rose Depp, Robert Pattinson, Ben Mendelsohn
Directed by: David Michôd
Release type: Theatrical (limited), streaming (Netflix)
EW grade: B (read full review)

More eye-popping than Timothée Chalamet’s pristine mug under that silky bowl cut are the lush cinematography, gorgeous costumes, and delectable production design dressing his David Michôd-directed historical epic. The 23-year-old Oscar-nominated actor leads the star-studded adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henriad plays, which follows Hal (Chalamet, EW’s current cover star), the unorthodox heir to the throne who’s eventually crowned King Henry V after the death of his tyrannical father (Ben Mendelsohn).

“It was very challenging,” Chalamet previously told EW of joining the project. “When you’re 12 years old, you want to be an actor almost to a cartoonish degree with the swords and the horses and the fight training and playing a king and learning an accent. On the other hand, working with Ben Mendelsohn, Sean Harris, handling a role that would’ve made no sense to have fireworks involved, I found myself learning subconsciously more than I can even word.”

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Paradise Hills

Starring: Emma Roberts, Milla Jovovich, Awkwafina, Danielle Macdonald, Eiza González
Directed by: Alice Waddington
Release type: Theatrical (limited), VOD

What could be better than basking in the sun at a holistic wellness center run by Milla Jovovich as she wears lavish costumes inspired by the films of Alfred Hitchcock? Nothing! At least that’s the case when it comes to Alice Waddington’s bonkers, wildly gorgeous fantasy Paradise Hills, which features an eclectic cast (Emma Roberts, Awkwafina, Eiza González, Danielle Macdonald) playing young women in a utopian society shipped off to live at Jovovich’s titular treatment facility only to discover the decadently dressed headmistress has a sinister secret up her sleeve.

As the menacing Duchess, Jovovich is gleefully evil in this outlandish yarn, which also features some of the best costumes of the year (by designer Alberto Valcárcel) that wouldn’t feel out of place in the running for an Oscar.

“Alberto’s direction helped tremendously by informing me of the personality type we were creating. The attention to ultra-feminine dresses and detail created a persona of perfectionism that is actually quite frightening,” Jovovich previously told EW. “Like the film The Stepford Wives, I believe the costumes reflect an unrealistic desire for a perfectionism that simply does not exist. The costumes are also restrictive, which is what the theme of the film is all about: Restricting young women from having minds of their own, to fit themselves into unrealistic roles of servitude. Turning women into something beautiful on the outside without a single care for how that exertion of control is rotting their insides!”

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Earthquake Bird

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Riley Keough, Naoki Kobayashi, Jack Huston
Directed by: Wash Westmoreland
Release type: Theatrical (limited), streaming (Nov. 15)

Tomb Raider star Alicia Vikander makes another tectonic turn at the center of Netflix’s brooding thriller Earthquake Bird, which hits theaters in limited release before its Nov. 15 streaming debut.

“Working with Alicia was kind of a dream,” filmmaker Wash Westmoreland told EW of the project, which is set in 1980s Tokyo as an expat (Vikander) begins a passionate relationship with local photographer (Naoki Kobayashi) before a newcomer (Riley Keough) becomes entangled in their lives for better or worse. “The part was very demanding. About 20 percent of it is in Japanese, so we needed an actor who would actually study and learn Japanese by rote so she could pull off these scenes. Alicia has just such a high standard of excellence for everything she does, and she completely aced that part of the challenge. But also, just on a day-to-day level, she’s such a complex and interesting actress, and she always brings so much depth and nuance to every scene.”

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Gay Chorus Deep South

Starring: Tim Seelig, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
Directed by: David Charles
Release type: Theatrical (limited)

San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus conductor Tim Seelig takes the 300-strong LGBTQ vocal group on a monumental tour of America’s deep south, confronting the resurgence of anti-gay discrimination amid the Trump era with song, kindness, and love — with a little help from RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9 winner Sasha Velour, who briefly appears in the film’s trailer.

Following a lengthy run through the 2019 festival circuit, Gay Chorus Deep South makes its Oscar-qualify debut this weekend, opening only at New York City’s Metrograph and Los Angeles’ Laemmle Monica Film Center.

Notable holdovers and expanding titles in theaters now

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville
Directed by: Joachim Rønning
Release type: Theatrical (wide)
EW grade: B- (read full review)

Angelina Jolie’s second go-round as Maleficent is back for, well, another go-round at the weekend box office. Sour reviews (albeit praise for the film’s lead) couldn’t keep audiences away from the bona fide movie star’s first live-action role in four years (we still stan By the Sea!), as the Joachim Rønning-helmed fantasy (featuring a delightfully evil Michelle Pfeiffer, whom Jolie has called simply “fierce” in past interviews) cruised to the No. 1 spot at the box office two weeks in a row. And, as Jolie previously told EW, there’s more than enough room for two wicked divas in the film’s universe.

“In this one, we have been living together for a while, and we’re family, and we’ve grown up,” Jolie said of the titular dark fairy and her goddaughter, Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning). “And so now our world is expanding, it’s not just the two of us quietly living together. And so with that comes all the forces from outside, all the different ways of living, and all of the different opinions.”

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Countdown

Starring: Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Bateman, Tichina Arnold
Directed by: Justin Dec
Release type: Theatrical (wide)

Looking for love? Download Tinder. Craving a bean burrito at 3:00 a.m.? In the words of Martha Stewart: Postmate it! Curious about how much time you have left on earth? STX’s spooky thriller Countdown — starring You‘s Elizabeth Lail — proposes a world in which there’s an app that predicts your time of death down to the second, and, surprise! The company’s quality-control specialist is a maniacal supernatural force hard at work making sure you get what you paid for (in essence: it’ll kill you real good and dead).

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Parasite

Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong
Directed by: Bong Joon-ho
Release type: Theatrical (limited)
EW grade: A- (read full review)

As we commanded in our first official Oscar predictions of the season: BongHive, assemble! The breakout prestige hit of the festival circuit, Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or winner has become the darling of awards season, completely selling out every showing of its New York City theatrical bow in limited release en route to likely becoming one of the most successful foreign releases of the year for its unique social commentary on class disparity.

“I’m not a sociologist, but I think all creators are very sensitive to their surroundings and all I do is try to portray what I encounter in my daily life,” Joon-ho told EW at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Even just a second with another person, you think about that person’s class, you get to smell them, so it’s a very natural, all-surrounding thing.”

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The Lighthouse

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe
Directed by: Robert Eggers
Release type: Theatrical (limited)
EW grade: B+ (read full review)

Robert Eggers’ directorial follow-up to The Witch opens with the sound of a fart and Robert Pattinson masturbates within the first few minutes, but don’t let that scare you off. This darkly comic fable starring a mustachioed Pattinson and pipe-smoking Willem Dafoe as a pair of lighthouse keepers marooned on an island is no Dumb and Dumber. If anything, see it just to find out what Pattinson’s Batman voice will sound like since the actor says it was inspired by Dafoe in this movie.

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Jojo Rabbit

Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Thomasin McKenzie, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Release type: Theatrical (limited)
EW grade: A- (read full review)

Though it might not seem like it’s possible on the surface, director-star Taika Waititi proves it’s possible to mine heart and soul out of the atrocities of World War II, as he and an impeccable cast (newcomer Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Thomasin McKenzie) craft a timely anti-hate satire about a young Hitler Youth who, amid divisive political discourse, discovers his pure-hearted mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in the walls of their home in 1940s Germany. As Waititi said in EW’s exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette for the film: “I just want people to be more tolerant, and spread more love and less hate.”

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Nov. 1 – 3 weekend box office preview:

Sagging sequelitis plagued Terminator: Genisys (the fifth film in the 35-year-old franchise) en route to a disappointing $89 million domestic total back in 2015, though early projections have Dark Fate pacing for a No. 1 bow, likely thanks to series creator James Cameron’s involvement as a producer (his first time working on a Terminator film since 1991’s Judgment Day) and Hamilton’s return opposite Schwarzenegger (their first time together in a Terminator project in 28 years).

Elsewhere, while neither is an outright horror film, the spooky, costume-heavy trimmings of both Maleficent and Joker should add up to another healthy battle for box office domination in the second-place slot (the former narrowly beat the latter at the top spot last weekend), while Harriet‘s prestigious, Oscar-buzzed status should propel it to a healthy start in moderately wide release through Sunday.

Here are the projections:

1) Terminator: Dark Fate – $40 million

2) Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – $10 million

3) Joker – $9.5 million

4) Harriet – $9 million

5) The Addams Family – $7 million

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