Going out or staying in? 35 top film releases, TV shows, gigs and albums to enjoy this autumn
Paul Whitington and John Meagher pick the best movies, TV and music to enjoy as the days get shorter, whether you're in the mood for going out or just an evening on the sofa
Leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter, there are reasons not to be cheerful. The stretch between now and Christmas can be dreary, but at least the films and TV shows tend to be good. Autumn is the time when terrestrial channels and streamers traditionally unleash their biggest dramas and shows, and this year is no exception, with Catherine the Great, Dublin Murders, a new dramatisation of War of the Worlds and season three of The Crown all due for imminent release.
And in cinemas, some equally big fish are on the way, including Todd Phillips' Joker, Tom Harper's beautiful period drama The Aeronauts, a sequel to The Shining and (god help us all) Frozen 2. Plenty of good reasons, then, to settle down in front of the small and big screens and forget about the horrible weather.
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In the music world, it's time to bid adieu to festivals and outdoor shows and to embrace the extensive live offerings that we're spoiled with every week - especially in Dublin.
It's also the perfect time to lend an ear to some of the most anticipated albums of the next couple of months, as well as catching up with some of the year's finest releases to date, including Designer from New Zealand singer Aldous Harding and I Am Easy to Find from The National.
And, lest we forget, it's been quite a year for Irish music too, with Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital proving that rock is far from dead. This weekend also sees the release of The Talkies, the highly anticipated second album from Dublin alt-rock outfit, Girl Band.
By Paul Whitington
One of the most anticipated films of the year, Todd Phillips' ambitious prequel won the Golden Bear at Venice and is even being talked about as a Best Picture Oscar contender. It gives us a rich backstory to Batman's nemesis The Joker, who started out as a failed stand-up comic and children's clown called Arthur Fleck. Joaquin Phoenix stars in a film that should be pretty special. October 4
While the fact that Ang Lee's sci-fi thriller has been in development since the mid-1990s is not encouraging, the trailer for Gemini Man looks pretty slick, and could provide Will Smith with a much-needed hit. He is Henry Brogan, a crack government assassin who is perplexed when he comes up against an enemy who predicts his every move. It's a clone of Henry, a younger, fitter, faster him. October 11
Zombieland: Double Tap
Ruben Fleischer's Zombieland was one of the smartest films of 2009, a knowing satire that saw the funny side of an invasion of undead flesh eaters. Fleischer, his writers and all the original cast reunite in this tardy sequel that sees Tallahassee, Columbus and co resume their struggle against an army of shuffling zombies. Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone star. October 18
Terminator: Dark Fate
Flogging a dead horse? Maybe, but at least this sixth Terminator movie ditches the crazy plotting of the last few sequels and returns to the original timeline of Terminators 1 and 2. We'll also see the welcome return of Linda Hamilton's avenging mum Sarah Connor, who reunites with the original Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to deal with yet another invasion of remorseless robot assassins. October 23
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining might be a very hard act to follow, but in Doctor Sleep writer/director Mike Flanagan is giving it a go. Ewan McGregor plays the grown-up Danny Torrance, who's suppressed his psychic gift and tried to put the past behind him when he meets a similarly gifted teenager who's being pursued by a parasitic gang. Could go either way. October 31
The Theory of Everything stars Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne are reunited in Tom Harper's handsome period drama. Redmayne is James Glaisher, a Victorian metrologist and astronomer who wants to rise as high as he can in a hot air balloon in order to conduct various experiments. Jones is the pilot who'll get him there, but their ambition will almost be their undoing. November 8
September 11 changed America forever, and in Scott Z Burns' dense drama, Adam Driver is US Senate investigator Daniel J Jones, who uncovers an ugly trail when he sets out to investigate the CIA's use of torture following the 9/11 attacks. Looks substantial. November 15
Director Michael Winterbottom is no stranger to controversy, and in this bold new satire, he tilts his lance at the absurd and bloated lives of the super rich. When British billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie (Steve Coogan) turns 60, he decides to celebrate by throwing a huge party on the Greek island of Mykonos. What happens next is not seemly. November 22
Little girls across the land will be beside themselves with excitement as Disney's follow-up to their 2013 mega-hit finally hits the screens. Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel return as Anna and Elsa, who are drawn north into new adventures as they search for the source of Elsa's magic powers. Can it possibly match the achievements of the original? It'll need a few decent songs. November 22
Do we really need another movie based on the risibly camp 1970s TV show? The early 2000s films were terrible, but this one seems more promising, boasting a female writer/director (Elizabeth Banks) who is bound to put the emphasis firmly on tongue-in-cheek comedy. Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska play the angels, who face a Bond-like international conspiracy. November 29
By John Meagher
He may have played second fiddle to Jarvis Cocker during his Pulp days - who wouldn't? - but the Sheffield native has shown plenty of steel in his career since. His honeyed croon is redolent of past greats but his songs are rooted in the present. He's had quite an innings over the past 20 years and his latest album, Further, suggests Hawley's mojo is as finely tuned as ever. Olympia, Dublin, September 30
The Divine Comedy
Neil Hannon is a born performer. If you haven't seen him in concert, now's your chance to put that right. And the beautiful, acoustically perfect rooms of both these venues is the perfect environment from which to savour the Derry man do his thing. His latest album, Office Politics, is just as idiosyncratic as we've come to expect - it's a synth-led meditation on work and the people we sit beside every day. Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, and Cork Opera House, October 6 and 8
Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook formed one of the great songwriting duos of the new wave era and their hits with Squeeze have stood the test of time. 'Cool for Cats', 'Up the Junction' and 'Tempted' are among the period's great songs. Now there's the chance to hear that trio and many more on Squeeze's valedictory tour, dubbed the Difford and Tilbrook Songbook 2019.
Wexford Spiegeltent, Cork Opera House, and Vicar Street, Dublin, October 13-15
Two Door Cinema Club
The Northern Irish trio got the decade off with a bang when they released their effervescent debut, Tourist History, in February 2010. They've never quite managed to top that album in the years since, and yet their stock has grown and grown. Alex Trimble and friends normally play venues that are 3Arena-big, so it's cool to see them in a more intimate setting for a change. Olympia, Dublin, October 14 and 15
Is there anyone in Ireland who has not seen Sinéad's remarkable comeback performance on The Late Late Show? She sang 'Nothing Compares 2 U' as though her life depended on it and apparently she was the star of Féile in Thurles last weekend. Now she's embarking on a mini Irish tour, starting with this show in the City of the Tribes. She will also be at the Wexford Spiegeltent (October 24), Cork Opera House (October 26) and Vicar Street, Dublin (October 27 and 28). Róisín Dubh, Galway, October 16-17
Hunting High and Low was the huge-selling debut album from the Norwegian trio who blazed quite a trail in the mid-1980s. The still youthful-looking Morten Harket and friends will play the album in its entirety, so that means a live run-out for their all-conquering 'Take On Me' and 'The Sun Always Shines on TV' which achieved number ones in the US and the UK respectively. 3Arena, Dublin, October 29
The X Tour - a play on Aguilera's nickname, Xtina, is ostensibly in support of her most recent album, Liberation, but it's also set to be a greatest hits offering. And having been in the business since her teen years, she has no shortage of big songs. At 38, the New York-born singer is among the elder stateswomen of pop stars who came of age this century. Does she still have what it takes?
3Arena, Dublin, November 5
By Paul Whitington
After directing acclaimed crime films such as Cardboard Gangsters, Mark O'Connor turns his attention to the small screen with this drama set on a tough estate and starring newcomer Dane Whyte O'Hara as a young man whose dreams of MMA glory are compromised by his proximity to a violent gang. Virgin Media One, October 7
Kelly Macdonald heads the cast of this ambitious new thriller written by Joe Barton and set - topically - between London and Tokyo. It tells the story of a Japanese detective called Kenzo (Takehiro Hira) who comes to Britain in search of his missing brother and instead finds a right old mess. BBC2, October
Catherine the Great
Helen Mirren is sure to chew the scenery in this big budget mini-series based on the remarkable life of Catherine the Great, who overthrew her husband in a coup before transforming her backward country, Russia, into one of Europe's great powers. Jason Clarke, Gina McKee and Rory Kinnear co-star in a drama that's sure to give it socks. Sky Atlantic, October 21
Rugby World Cup Final
God loves an optimist, and you never, never know, right? If Joe Schmidt's Ireland emerge, as looks likely, as group winners, who's to say they might not overcome the probable challenges of South Africa in the quarter-final and possibly Australia in the semis, and show up in Yokohama on November 2? Stranger things have happened, it's just that I can't think of any at the minute. RTÉ2, Eir Sport 1, November 2
His Dark Materials
Fans of Philip Pullman's fantasy novels were not best pleased by the 2007 film The Golden Compass, which played down the books' anti-religious undercurrents. They ought to be happier with this serial TV dramatisation, starring Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy and Andrew Scott among others, and has the blessing of the man himself. BBC1, November 3
I'm greatly looking forward to this RTÉ/BBC co-production based on Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad novels. Killian Scott and the invariably excellent Sarah Greene play Reilly and Maddox, garda detectives trying to get to the bottom of two grisly and possibly connected murders at the height of Ireland's economic boom. RTÉ, November
As she's proved in everything from Happy Valley to Kiri, Sarah Lancashire is perhaps the greatest TV actor of her generation, and she takes on another meaty role in Jack Thorne's gritty drama set in a small Welsh town that struggles to come to terms with the aftermath of a devastating explosion. Channel 4, November
War of the Worlds
Peter Harness's adaptation of HG Wells' celebrated story is set in the era in which it was written and stars Rafe Spall and Eleanor Tomlinson as a couple who are defying convention by committing to each other when Edwardian Britain is overwhelmed by an invasion of technologically advanced aliens who do not come in peace. BBC1, November
The ever-expanding Disney empire launches their streaming service with this very tempting space western set in the Star Wars universe and starring Pedro Pascal (of Narcos, etc) as The Mandalorian, an unsociable bounty hunter in the Han Solo mode who is hired to hunt down a very important person. Disney+, November
The period drama with a huge fanbase returns for a third season with a new monarch at the helm. It's the 1960s, and Claire Foy has been replaced by the excellent Olivia Colman as an older, more tired Queen Elizabeth II, who must deal with the Moon landings, decolonisation in Africa and the arrival of a troublesome daughter-in-law, Lady Di. Netflix, November 17
By John Meagher
Jesus is King
The Chicago rap superstar may almost be more famous for his marriage to Kim Kardashian and for public utterances that make Trump look normal, but when he's on form he's a sensational talent. As has become the norm with his more recent releases, Kanye has kept his new music under wraps. He started the decade with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - one of the very best albums of the 2010s. Can he go out on a flourish too? Out this weekend
It's been a remarkable year for American female troubadours of various hues with both Sharon Van Etten and Lana Del Rey delivering outstanding albums. Olsen has fantastic pedigree herself with both her breakthrough album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness and its follow-up, My Woman, confirming her status as one of the great contemporary songwriters. All Mirrors has been on heavy play in my house - it's another superb offering. October 4
Giants of All Sizes
The ascension of the English band into stadium maestros after years toiling in the margins was one of the great feel-good stories in recent British music history, especially as the Guy Garvey-led quintet didn't change the focus of what they were doing: think big-hearted songs about love and the human condition, but with added strings. Garvey has described it as "an angry, old blue lament which finds its salvation in family, friends, the band and new life". October 11
Cigarettes After Sex
If their band name was inspired by a favoured post-coital pastime of many, their self-titled debut album was similarly fixated on romance between the sheets. Few male-fronted bands have addressed sex quite as directly or tenderly as Cigarettes After Sex. New single 'Heavenly' bodes well for the album. According to singer Greg Gonzalez, it was "inspired by the overwhelming beauty [he] felt watching an endless sunset on a secluded beach in Latvia one summer night." Bless. October 25
When a well-established artist titles a new album after themselves, it's normally to signify rebirth. And, sure enough, the soulful Londoner says his third release finds him in a good place. "The last album came from an introspective place and felt like therapy, I guess. This one is more about feeling comfortable in who I am and asking what I want to say." That last album, Love & Hate, was very well received by critics and the general public. Will the more chilled-out Kiwanuka mean a less captivating one, though? October 25
It's been five years since the last album from England's Tahliah Debrett Barnett, and she's been through the wars: she suffered a major health scare when tumours were discovered in her uterus. But she says she has completely recovered from surgery. A host of impressive names pop up on this album, including Chilean-American composer Nicolas Jaar. The songs are apparently inspired by, in the words of the lady herself, "every lover that I've ever had, and every lover that I'm going to have". October 25
Bloc Party were one of the leading lights of the smart post-punk inspired posse that emerged from the UK a dozen or so years ago. Kele Okereke has never been content to merely be the frontman of that band and his solo offerings have demonstrated a desire to make politically charged music of an experimental sort. He has also co-written a musical about gay marriage called Leave to Remain. His latest solo album promises to unpick the business of being black in Britain today. November 8
Thanks for the Dance
A real treat this, for aficionados of the late and very great Canadian songsmith. The posthumous album will feature a collection of previously unheard Cohen songs. It's being described by his estate as "an unexpected harvest of new songs" and "a continuation of the master's work". The album was completed by his son Adam, who worked on the final Cohen album released in his lifetime, You Want it Darker. November 22