Our Guide to Fall Movies

Fall is movie season.

There’s the New York Film Festival, which just ended on Sunday, having run over a fortnight. There’s its cousin across the ocean, the London Film Festival, an 11-day affair, which ended Sunday as well. And there’s the looming specter of the Oscars, and the many film that will be released in these next few months for consideration by the Academy.

Fortunately for us, this year looks like it will be a much-needed reprieve from the Oscar-geared film, with some unusual, exciting releases from film veterans, newcomers, aesthetes, and experimenters, centering the lives of people of color, women, queer people, and immersing them in imaginative, terrifying, confusing, sweet, and lonely worlds.

It’s nice to have a movie list—to know there will often be a film to get excited about, or at least a bevy of trailers on YouTube to help you procrastinate in the face of whatever inevitable deadline—and I’ve made mine short.

In Theaters:

Moonlight (October 21) — Director Barry Jenkins’s second film (his first in 8 years) tells the story of Chiron, a black boy—and then man—growing up in a housing project in Miami. It’s a coming-out/coming-of-age story and much more, told in three parts and with three actors sharing the lead role. Critics have been raving, and I’m excited to see new work by Jenkins, with a screenplay adapted from an unpublished play by 2013 MacArthur Fellow Tarell Alvin McCraney.

The Handmaiden (October 21) — Park Chan-wook, director of “OldBoy” and “Snowpiercer,” returns with an adaptation of Sarah Waters’s 2002 Victorian crime novel Fingersmith, but this time set in 1930s Korea. Surprising, fast-paced, imaginative queer cinema—and all in period dress.

Toni Erdmann (December 25) — Rave, ebullient, frantic reviews from Cannes, Toni Erdmann is Maren Ade’s third feature, and very simply put, tells the story of a dad who takes on an alternate persona, Toni Erdmann, in order to prank his daughter out of her uptight, utilitarian lifestyle.

On Demand:

Little Sister (For rent or purchase on iTunes, Vimeo) — A young nun yet to take her vows returns home after her brother returns home from Iraq, his entire face severely burned. Featuring goth aesthetics, sweetness, darkness, a God dream, and Ally Sheedy; need I continue?

13TH (Streaming on Netflix) — Ava Duvernay’s documentary on the prison industrial complex premiered at the New York Film Festival last month. Interviewees are broad-ranging on the political spectrum, from Angela Davis to Newt Gingrich, but the focus is on highlighting a deeply racist, classist, capitalist, and simply broken system. Thoughtful set design and animations  add to, rather than embellish, the content.

Krisha (Streaming on Amazon Prime) — Master of All Trades actor/writer/director/editor Trey Edward Shults seemed to muscle this film unto our earth and mostly out of nowhere. It’s the story of a recovering addict, Krisha (played by Shults’s aunt, also named Krisha) when she visits family—including her estranged son, played, yes, by Shults—for Thanksgiving. The entire film was shot in Shults’s family’s home, and is one of the most inventive feats of cinema—DIY or not—I’ve seen.


Hermia & Helena — Argentine director Mathias Piñeiro’s summer/winter tale, very very loosely based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Textual, talkative, idiosyncratic, choreographed, and intimate—a Buenos Aires interpretation of a New York film.

Header image courtesy of Slant Magazine

Cassie da Costa is a writer who focuses on moving image and performance. She's based in Brooklyn and works as a member of The New Yorker's editorial staff while also producing the magazine's video podcast, The Front Row, featuring film critic Richard Brody.

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