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10 Films That Have Us Pumped For The New York Film Festival

By Kristy Puchko | Film | September 25, 2015 |

By Kristy Puchko | Film | September 25, 2015 |

Today the Film Society of Lincoln Center kicks off their 53rd New York Film Festival. This extraordinary cinematic event exhibits films from around the world, while attracting Hollywood’s most celebrated stars and daring directors. And year after year, its slate’s standouts become frontrunners in award season. With all this in mind, we look ahead to the next 2 weeks with the kind of excitement we usually reserve for all-you-can eat sundae buffets.

And so we share with you our ten most anticipated NYFF titles:

The Walk

In 1974, high-wire artist Philippe Petit decided he’d like to take a walk between the tops of the twin towers in New York City. Of course, there was no way the city’s officials would allow this eccentric Frenchman to attempt the insane stunt. So he and his team surreptitiously did it on their own, making for one of the most wonderfully surreal things to even happen in Manhattan.

It’s a story that was beautifully told in the doc Man on Wire (available now on Netflix). But this time it’s got a star-studded cast that includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, and Jean-Ralphio Ben Schwartz. Plus director Robert Zemekis is utilizing 3D to give audiences the sensation of walking 1,362 feet above the city. Maybe bring an air sickness bag to this Opening Night feature.

Bridge Of Spies

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen (and Matt Charman). Stars Tom Hanks. Do you need to know anything more? Ugh. Fine.

In another strange-than-fiction docudrama, Hanks plays an everyman who was called into a highly volatile situation have tipped the scales from Cold War to all out bedlam. In 1962 at the height of the Cold War, Russia had captured an American spy while the United States has secured one of theirs. An exchange of prisoners was to be negotiated. And who did the U.S. choose to represent them? A mild-mannered but sharp insurance lawyer (Hanks).

Miles Ahead

Academy Award-winner Don Cheadle makes his directorial debut with this Closing Night selection. But he not only helmed this Miles Davis biopic. He not only corralled a cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12), and Emayatzy Corinealdi (Hand of God). He also stars as the man himself. Behold his triple-threat glory!

This ambitious passion project will be making its world premiere at NYFF’s Closing Night. If that’s not a sign that Cheadle crushes his first feature, I don’t know what is.


Do you want to watch Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara fall in love with each other? Of course you do!

Mara plays a wide-eyed department-store clerk in 1950s New York, who falls hard for a chic, older—and married—woman. Based on the Patricia Highsmith novel and directed by Todd Haynes, we expect one the most glamorous love story to ever hit the silver screen!…but not a happy ending. (Read our review out of Cannes.)


Want a romance with a shot at a happy ending? How about this Sundance selected stunner with a script by Nick Hornby?

Based on the Colm Tóibín novel, this tender romantic drama stars Saoirse Ronan as an Irish immigrant trying to make sense of life and love in 1950s New York. But what path do you choose when one leads to a new life in Brooklyn with a charming Italian-American, and the other leads to your homeland and Domhnall Gleeson?

Where To Invade Next

Michael Moore is back. He’s tackled GM, gun violence, health care, and the aftermath of 9/11. This time, this lightning rod for controversy takes his antics to other nations to see—well—where the U.S. should invade next.

Moore as an ugly American? Yeah, we’re game.

The Lobster

Colin Farrell must find love or become a lobster. That’s the bonkers but bemusing premise of this surreal romantic-comedy stuffed with stars like Olivia Colman, John C. Reilly, Michael Smiley, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw and Rachel Weisz.

In a not-so-distant dystopia, single people are given one last chance to pair up at The Hotel. There they have 45 days to fall in love, or else they’ll be transformed into an animal and sent off into The Woods. This is the desperate situation David (Farrell) finds himself in after the break-up of his 12-year relationship. So, with his dog/former brother by his side, he sets forth on a life-changing search for love. Directed by Dogtooth’s Yorgos Lanthimos, this odd picture has been gathering praise as it rolls through a string of film festivals. And we can’t wait to see what it’s all about. (Read our review out of Cannes.)

Heaven Can Wait

The revivals section this year boasts titles like Blow Out, Ran, Rocco and His Brothers, and Black Girl/La Noire de… But only one of this slate is so beloved by me that I still have a VHS copy…despite not having a VCR.

This 1943 gem begins with recently deceased playboy Henry Van Cleve conferring with the devil about his fate. What sounds like a dark premise becomes deliciously delightful as Van Cleve (a dapper Don Ameche) recounts his reckless romantic history. It’s a comedy that’s sexual politics are devotedly old school. Just accept that it as a product of its time, so you can blithely enjoy Ameche’s charming chemistry with Gene Tierney.

Steve Jobs

Forget that Ashton Kutcher did Steve Jobs drag a couple of years back, because this biopic about the tech idol was penned by Aaron Sorkin, directed by Danny Boyle, and stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, and Jeff Daniels.

We’re getting into Oscar season, which typically means lots and lots and lots of Oscar-baiting biopics about powerful white men overcoming adversity. But NYFF’s Centerpiece looks like it could actually give a thorough portrait of the complexities of Jobs, who changed the world for the better, but was by most accounts a pretty shitty person.


The Assassin

From Hou Hsiao-Hsien, the acclaimed director of Flight of the Red Balloon and Three Times, comes a period piece of breathtaking beauty. And bonus: it centers on a female assassin!

Shu Qi stars in this wuxia as a young woman who was exiled as a child, separated from the boy to whom she was once betrothed, and forced to become an assassin to make her way. But as a potential coup brews against the royal court in the Tang Dynasty, she’s called on to kill the man she was once meant to marry. The plot intrigues. But honestly, they had us from the trailer alone. The colors!

NYFF runs September 25th to October 11th.

Kristy Puchko is the film editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.

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