Today marks the start of Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 54th New York Film Festival. Boasting new films from some of the world’s greatest living directors, NYFF has NYC buzzing in anticipation. These are not the wallflower fest flicks that will sound cool but never make it to a theater near you. Many have already secured release dates primed for award season, and the others are sure to make waves all the same.
With no further ado, here are the ten titles we’re most excited for at this year’s NYFF.
Celebrated Selma director Ava DuVernay makes history with her latest, the first documentary film to ever open NYFF. The in-depth look at the mass incarceration prison system and its institutional biases is named for the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”
The behind-the-scenes doc that has Hamilfans salivating in anticipation comes to NYFF ahead of its PBS debut on October 21st. And Hamilton creator/star Lin-Manuel Miranda will be appearing in person for both public screenings!
Based on David Grann’s best-selling book of the same name, this promising biopic centers on Colonel Percival Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), a brave British explorer who vanished in the 1920s while searching for a city lost in the Amazon rainforest. The epic adventure looks to be the most ambitious effort yet from indie helmer James Gray, heralded for such striking dramas as Two Lovers, We Own the Night and The Immigrant.
From Old Joy to Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff to Night Moves, the works of writer/director Kelly Reichardt have been met with critical acclaim. Her latest—based on the short stories of Maile Meloy—stars Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, and Laura Dern as small town women whose lives are fated to impact-fully intersect.
The new drama from writer-director Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy) has been picking up praise thanks to its naturalistic performances and mesmerizingly intimate coming-of-age tale. Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes share the role of a closeted African-American boy (to man), finding his path and voice against the backdrop of Miami’s drug-ravaged inner city. The topic is dark. The tone is arrestingly tender.
Maren Ade’s German comedy thrilled audiences at Cannes with its bittersweet brand of humor. When a jokester father (Peter Simonischek) can’t seem to mend the damaged relationship with his grown daughter (Sandra Hüller), he relies on his eccentric alter-ego Toni Erdmann to do the heavy lifting.
Ang Lee’s follow-up to the awe-inspiring Life of Pi is a sure-to-be heart-wrenching adaptation of Ben Fountain’s novel about a 19-year-old infantryman who’s between tours in Iraq. Newcomer Joe Alwyn leads a star-studded cast that boasts Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Steve Martin and Vin Diesel.
Pedro Almodovar—the controversial and visionary auteur who brought us Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, All About My Mother and The Skin I Live In returns with an epic drama that follows its titular flawed heroine over 30 years. Based on Alice Munro’s short stories, Julieta promises a tale of love, sexuality, guilt, and destiny through the unique lens of one of Spain’s greatest filmmakers.
Inspired by the poem of the same name by William Carlos Williams, Jim Jarmusch’s latest film stars Adam Driver as a bus driver/poet inspired by the world that passes him by every day as he weaves through the streets of Paterson, New Jersey. We know how it sounds. But remember, this quirky yet ever-insightful filmmaker is the one who managed to make vampires crazy cool post-Twilight.
Kenneth Lonergan’s latest has been earning rave reviews and big, fat tears since its debut at Sundance last January. Hitting Telluride, TIFF and NYFF on its way to its November opening weekend, it seems certain to be a major contender in the awards race. Casey Affleck stars as a reluctant uncle who is pressured to raise his teenaged nephew once his brother dies. Bring tissues.
Which NYFF movie are you most looking forward to?