30 movies to see this fall

Say hello to a much cooler film season—here are 30 picks to set your cinema-lovin’ heart ablaze this fall



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Bring on the long coats and scarves, the chill in our cheeks and, of course, the smart fall movies. Much-buzzed new films from David Fincher (Gone Girl), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman) have us primed as awards season approaches. All three of those titles have slots in the New York Film Festival (Sept 26–Oct 12), the city’s premier annual film event, after which they’ll open in theatrical release. But don’t limit yourself to the multiplex. Try a foreign film like the slyly funny Force Majeure, or sink your teeth into an authoritative documentary, such as Frederick Wiseman’s absorbing National Gallery. Hell, go see John Waters’ Female Trouble for the zillionth time (at Film Society of Lincoln Center in a retrospective of the director’s outré classics). It’s safe to turn on your brain again.

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Last Days in Vietnam

Filmmaker Rory Kennedy returns to the chaotic final weeks before the 1975 fall of Saigon, when American diplomats and CIA agents had to weigh the moral decision of whether to obey government orders and flee, or help the South Vietnamese to safety. (Sept 5)


“50 Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take?”

The Film Society of Lincoln Center celebrates the Pope of Trash with this extensive retrospective of shorts, features (the inimitable Female Trouble among them) and a subsection called “Movies I’m Jealous I Didn’t Make,” which includes the 1983 killer-rat classic, Of Unknown Origin. Waters will attend several screenings. (Sept 5–14)


“Nonesuch Records on Film”

Throughout September, BAM will showcase movies featuring work by composers signed to the influential music label Nonesuch. You’ll hear scores by talent as diverse as Philip Glass (1985’s Mishima), Georges Delerue (1962’s Jules and Jim) and John Adams (2009’s I Am Love, pictured). The films ain’t half bad either. (Sept 8–25)


The Drop

Tom Hardy (a strapping Mad Max in next summer’s Fury Road) plays a quiet Brooklyn schnook who unwittingly finds himself involved in a robbery with deep ramifications. For a final time, we’re reminded of the genius of James Gandolfini, whose strengths are tapped for a seething supporting role. (Sept 12)


The Skeleton Twins

Former SNL-ers Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig take a sincere shot at family drama, playing estranged suicidal siblings in this Sundance sensation. Both actors impress us with chops we haven’t seen—and sure, they cut loose in a riotous lip-synch that will have you humming Starship’s “Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now” against your better judgment. (Sept 12)


The Guest

Fine, Dan Stevens had to go his own way, choosing to leave Downton Abbey just when we were warming to his character. (How could you do that to Lady Mary?) But fans won’t expect where the model-handsome actor has landed: as the mysterious antihero at the center of a delightfully John Carpenter-esque horror flick about a shady war veteran returning to the suburbs. (Sept 17)


20,000 Days on Earth

An eventful (and intentionally staged) day in the life of Nick Cave is the meat of this unusually witty biographical profile—a reinvention of the form that deserves association with the intense, restless music of its subject. We’re there just to watch Cave wrestle with his demons in a therapist’s office. (Sept 17)



Kevin Smith’s previous feature, 2011’s Red State, was a promising turn to horror for the comedically inclined auteur of Clerks and its slacker ilk. Now he’s back with a deliciously oddball concept (man gets trapped by psycho who wants to turn him into a walrus) and a cast (Justin Long, Michael Parks) that seems more than able to sell it. (Sept 19)


A Walk Among the Tombstones

The last time writer Lawrence Block’s alcoholic P.I. Matt Scudder graced movie screens was in the form of Jeff Bridges in 1986’s sleazy thriller 8 Million Ways to Die. This time, a grizzled-looking Liam Neeson plays the tortured lawman, who lends his investigative services to a drug kingpin whose wife has been kidnapped. (Sept 19)


The Zero Theorem

Director Terry Gilliam’s brand of craziness is always welcome to us, and his latest looks like a particularly deep dive into the kooky end. Django Unchained’s Christoph Waltz stars as a computer hacker searching for the meaning of human existence in a colorfully dystopian future only the maker of Brazil could concoct. (Sept 19) 

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