September sees the arrival of a whole host of exciting new films that can brighten up even the gloomiest day. This month sees a number of film festival hits and much-delayed releases finally hitting the big screen, with some of the biggest stars returning with stellar performances. From Daniel Craig’s final James Bond performance in No Time To Die, to Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard’s charismatic coupling in the highly anticipated Annette, these are the must-see new films to add to your watch list this September.
The Best New Films for September 2021
This fever dream of a film is hard to categorise, but impossible to ignore. Set in the mid 1980s, the film focuses on the story of Rory O’Hara (played by Jude Law), a British expat who we first meet living a pretty idyllic life in his sophisticated Upstate New York home with his American wife Allison (Carrie Coon), stepdaughter Sam (Oona Roche) and young son Ben (Charlie Shotwell). Rory made his fortune as a commodity trader in New York, but one morning he stuns his family by telling them that he has accepted a job offer from his old boss in London, and they’re all moving.
Abruptly, the American clan relocates to London, into a dark, 18th-century manor house in Surrey that reflects the opposite of their former lives. It quickly becomes clear that the family aren’t settling into this new normal, but this is only the beginning, as things increasingly take dark and ghostly turns, and questions about what Rory is really up to become more and more pressing. Unsettling and disturbing, it’s a film that takes you down unexpected paths with spooks around every corner.
It was one of the most talked about and highly praised films at Cannes this year, and it’s finally coming to our big screens. Anarchist French filmmaker Leos Carax makes a loud return with his fantastical film Annette, a rock opera starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. A wild ride of a movie, Carax traces the extremes of passion, love and the trials of fame.
Driver stars as Henry, an aggressive comedian in Los Angeles who enjoys a controversial reputation but suffers from the depression of a fading career. His life takes a turn when he meets and falls in love with Ann (played by Cotillard), a striking, world-renowned opera singer whose experience of fame is altogether the complete opposite of Henry’s — while he pushes boundaries and lives in controversy, Ann is the consummate professional, always refined and polished. Their passionate affair enters a new phase when Ann becomes pregnant with their child, Annette, a mysterious little girl with an exceptional destiny that’ll throw both their lives off course.
Out 3 September
Michael Keaton and Stanley Tucci star in this moving and complex tale of a previously unexplored fallout of the horrific 9/11 attack. Following the fall of the World Trade Center and the destruction of the Pentagon, Congress appoints attorney and renowned mediator Kenneth Feinberg (Keaton) to lead the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, tasked with allocating financial resources to the victims of the tragedy. With his firm’s head of operations, Camille Biros (Amy Ryan), Feinberg faces the impossible task of determining the worth of a life to help the families who had suffered incalculable losses.
Just when Feinberg thinks he might have come up with a formula to calculate the worth of each victim’s life and consequently the funds their family should receive, he comes up against Charles Wolf (Tucci), a community organizer mourning the death of his wife. As Wolf pushes Feinberg to rethink his perspective on the task, Feinberg is forced to learn the real cost of tragedy.
Out 3 September, Netflix
A must-see for those who love a documentary with unexpected twists and turns, Misha and the Wolves traces the impact of one woman’s life story, her battle to protect it, and the unravelling of the tale she has spun.
The film explores the story of Misha, whose dramatic story of her childhood experience surviving the Holocaust, walking across occupied Europe in search of her family and in the process spending some time living with a wild wolfpack, took the world by storm. After sharing her experience one day at her temple in Massachusetts decades later, publisher Jane Daniel persuaded her to turn it into a memoir. The book became a hit, tapped for a French film adaptation and a potential Disney deal. But then, things start to fall apart, as suspicions about the veracity of Misha’s story rise, Jane’s life is pulled apart by legal claims and those involved start to wonder — if this isn’t Misha’s story, what is?
Out 3 September
Few can forget Jennifer Hudson’s powerhouse performance in Dreamgirls as the lead singer betrayed and manipulated into a supporting vocalist. Now, she’s stepping into the spotlight to play a musical icon, Aretha Franklin. The biopic, directed by Liesl Tommy, traces Franklin’s journey from her Detroit childhood to her chart-topping success, with plenty of chills-inducing songs by Hudson, and an impressive supporting cast including Forest Whitakker, Tituss Burgess and Mary J Blige.
A story of confidence, determination and finding your voice, Respect tracks Franklin’s incredible journey from a childhood spent singing in the choir of her pastor father’s church, to becoming a jazz singer, to writing her first number one hit — Respect. Interwoven throughout, we see the many trials and struggles she faced, including the sudden death of her mother, an abusive relationship and navigating her part in the Civil Rights Movement. It’s a must-see for all Aretha Franklin — and Jennifer Hudson — fans.
Out 10 September
Following its critically acclaimed debut at Sundance, Herself is finally coming to UK screens. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, best known for her work on The Iron Lady and Mamma Mia!, Herself stars Clare Dunne as single mother Sandra, who escapes her abusive partner with her two young children, only to find herself trapped once again. Stuck in temporary accommodation, Sandra struggles to get by for months before finally getting an idea thanks to one of her daughter’s bedtime stories.
Sandra is struck by the idea to build her own affordable home, and — driven by a determination to establish a better life for her and her family, sets out to make it happen. She finds an architect who provides her with plans and is offered land by Peggy (Harriet Walter), a woman she cleans for, and even manages to find a contractor, Aido (Conleth Hill), who is willing to help. But things will be far from easy, as Sandra must struggle against unsympathetic bureaucrats and the threatening reappearance of her dangerous ex, Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson).
On Amazon Prime on 10 September
A timely and thought-provoking tale of the complications of documentary filmmaking and the exploitation of lives in the pursuit of art, this sharp drama received critical acclaim following its showing at the Glasgow Film Festival this year.
The film stars Lily Newmark as Leah, a restless young documentary filmmaker who spends her time walking around Brixton, looking for a career-making subject for her next film. Her attention is drawn to two friends, loud and ostentatious Archie (played by Craig Middleburg) and — more closely — Benji (played by Ola Orebiyi). Her connection with Benji quickly deepens and intensifies, and the two strike up a romantic relationship. But as Leah’s lens continues to intrude on his life, complications and tensions rise, and when it captures something it shouldn’t, questions of privilege and profiteering come into sharp focus.
Out 17 September
An intimate documentary about a fearless and singular climber, The Alpinist tracks one filmmaker’s mission to capture elusive and publicity-shy climber Marc-André Leclerc as he takes on the most challenging journeys imaginable.
The under-the-radar 23 year old had spent years scaling mountains without anyone knowing, but filmmaker Pete Mortimer is determined to capture his solo adventures and document his record-breaking climbs. After finding him living in a tent in the woods with his girlfriend, Brette Harrington — an elite climber in her own right — Pete convinces him to let him film a series of jaw-dropping solo climbs on rock and ice. These climbs are just the training though, with Marc on a mission to explore his true passion: solo expeditions on big, frozen peaks. As Pete struggles to keep up, Marc begins to draw more attention, and debate ensues as to whether he’s the next great climber, or a reckless risk-taker.
Out 24 September
After years spent making audiences laugh hysterically, Melissa McCarthy is taking a more serious turn in this comedic drama. Happy couple Lilly (McCarthy) and Jack (Chris O’Dowd) are excited to start their new chapter, but tragedy strikes and throws their world upside down. Jack finds himself unable to cope, and goes to a facility to get therapy, while Lilly remains in the “real world” to deal with her own grief and guilt.
As Lilly struggles to adjust to her life and to be there for her husband, she starts to be harassed by a starling in her garden, and becomes obsessed with killing it. She finds herself looking for guidance from Larry, an unusual psychologist-turned-veterinarian with his own past traumas, and together the two are able to find their own form of therapy.
Out 24 September, Netflix
It’s been a tumultuous journey to get here, including rewrites, director changes and pushed-back release dates, but the latest Bond film is finally — fingers crossed — coming to the big screen. The 25th installment of the James Bond franchise, and Daniel Craig’s fifth and final time as 007, No Time to Die promises to deliver high-octane drama, jaw-dropping action scenes and plenty of quippy one-liners, thanks to a script rewrite by none other than Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Details of the plot are, unsurprisingly, being kept under tight wraps. What we do know is that we will rejoin Bond five years after the arrest of the well-known Bond villain and criminal mastermind, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who this time is played by Rami Malek. Bond has left active service, but is convinced to rejoin by his old American friend, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), who asks for his help to track down an abducted scientist. As you can predict, things quickly become more complicated, and soon responsibility falls on Bond’s shoulders to prevent actions that could cause the deaths of millions.
Out 30 September
Jessica Chastain transforms almost beyond recognition in this wild, moving and captivating biographical drama about the downfall of the rock stars of Christian gospel. Chastain stars as Tammy Faye Bakker, a flamboyant televangelist, who alongside her husband Jim Bakker (played by Andrew Garfield), becomes the leader of a multimillion dollar empire, and renowned — and oft ridiculed — public figure, who finds herself entangled in legal, political and religious controversy.
Based on a 2000 documentary about the couple, the film offers a humanizing portrait of Tammy, tracing her journey from a complex childhood with a difficult mother to being swept off her feet by Jim during her college years. Together, they redefined prosperity gospel, attracting devotees to their satellite network and Heritage USA theme park, before being investigated for fraud and conspiracy. As things go from love story to crime story, the film also explores the conflict Tammy faced between her own faith and beliefs, her love and devotion to Jim, and the morphing of evangelicalism and 1980s conservative politics.