August is generally a toxic wasteland for movie fans, although this year is proving to be a glorious exception with Kathryn Bigelow's harrowing Detroit, The Glass Castle, Wind River and the instant NYC crime classic Good Time all on local screens this week (and Steven Soderbergh's riotous NASCAR heist comedy, Logan Lucky, on deck). That said, nothing turns our eye more to the serious fall movies—indies, foreign and otherwise—than the early August announcement of the New York Film Festival's "main slate," the hand-picked selection of cutting-edge cinema that will unspool in late September and early October.
This morning, that annual announcement arrived, and it's a doozy. In addition to three previously disclosed titles—opening night's world premiere of Richard Linklater's Last Flag Flying (a quasi-sequel to 1973's The Last Detail); Todd Haynes's centerpiece selection, Wonderstruck; and Woody Allen's latest bit of '50s Coney Island nostalgia, Wonder Wheel—there are several hugely anticipated movies sure to dominate awards chatter and critics' year-end lists.
In addition to the Sundance heartbreaker Call Me By Your Name—a coming-out drama on par with Brokeback Mountain and Carol—the NYFF will show Cannes' well-received The Florida Project (co-starring Willem Dafoe in a turn that might finally get him his Oscar) and Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories, starring Dustin Hoffman (happy 80th birthday, Dustin!).
But the movie we're most excited about is the California-set Lady Bird, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, starring Saoirse Ronan, the latter who gave 2015's best performance in Brooklyn. Lady Bird will world-premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in early September (we'll be there), but New Yorkers won't have long to wait.
Here's the full lineup announced today (expect a few additional surprises in the coming weeks):
Opening Night Last Flag Flying, directed by Richard Linklater
Centerpiece Wonderstruck, directed by Todd Haynes
Closing Night Wonder Wheel, directed by Woody Allen
Before We Vanish, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
BPM (Beats Per Minute)/120 battements par minute, directed by Robin Campillo
Bright Sunshine In/Un beau soleil intérieur, directed by Claire Denis
Call Me by Your Name, directed by Luca Guadagnino
The Day After, directed by Hong Sang-soo
Faces Places/Visages villages, directed by Agnès Varda & JR
Félicité, directed by Alain Gomis
The Florida Project, directed by Sean Baker
Ismael’s Ghosts/Les fantômes d’Ismaël, directed by Arnaud Desplechin
Lady Bird, directed by Greta Gerwig
Lover for a Day/L’Amant d’un jour, directed by Philippe Garrel
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), directed by Noah Baumbach
Mrs. Hyde/Madame Hyde, directed by Serge Bozon
Mudbound, directed by Dee Rees
On the Beach at Night Alone, directed by Hong Sang-soo
The Other Side of Hope/Toivon tuolla puolen, directed by Aki Kaurismäki
The Rider, directed by Chloé Zhao
Spoor/Pokot, directed by Agnieszka Holland, in cooperation with Kasia Adamik
The Square, directed by Ruben Östlund
Thelma, directed by Joachim Trier
Western, directed by Valeska Grisebach
Zama, directed by Lucrecia Martel