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55 Films to See This Fall

Written by on August 22, 2018 


As summer cools down, we’re entering perhaps the best time of year for cinephiles, with a variety of festivals — some of which will hold premieres of our most-anticipated 2018 features — gearing up. As we do each year, after highlighting the best films offered thus far, we’ve set out to provide a comprehensive preview of the fall titles that should be on your radar.

We’re doing things slightly different this year, combining both the best films we’ve already seen (with full reviews where available) and the films with (mostly) confirmed release dates that are coming over the next four months and have us intrigued. While some won’t show up until late December, a good amount will first premiere over the next few weeks at various film festivals, so check back for our reviews.

See our list below, and return soon for the second part of our preview: the festival premieres with no release dates and/or U.S. distribution we’re most looking forward to.

Bisbee ’17 (Robert Greene; Sept. 5)


Here is a story that makes Faulkner’s adage about the past not being past seem horribly valid. A hundred years ago, both the Arizona mining town of Bisbee and America itself were wracked with controversy over pointless war, hatred toward immigrants, and rampant inequality and injustice. Today, only the wars are different. In 1917, over a thousand miners protesting for better wages and working conditions were rounded up by authorities in Bisbee, with the help of two thousand deputized townspeople. At the behest of the company which essentially owned the town, the strikers were crowded onto a train and exiled to New Mexico, threatened with death if they ever returned. Most of them were immigrants, most of whom came from Mexico. In 2017, the residents of Bisbee, now long past its days as a mining town, observe the centennial of the deportation with a reenactment of it. Robert Greene and his crew were there to film it. – Dan S. (full review)

I Am Not a Witch (Rungano Nyoni; Sept. 7)


Recalling the polemics of Ousmane Sembène, Rungano Nyoni’s Zambian film I Am Not a Witch is an impressively crafted comedy of manners turned tragedy. The film centers around the accusation that an 8-year old girl, Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) is engaging in witchcraft solely because people in the town say so, and because the girl refuses to confirm or deny whether she’s a witch. – John F. (full review)

Five Fingers for Marseilles (Michael Matthews; Sept. 7)


Director Michael Matthews and writer Sean Drummond were drawn to the landscapes of South Africa’s Eastern Cape while traveling their homeland, especially the echoes of classic cinematic western environments. Learning about how its current towns arose — from the ashes of Apartheid-era cities mimicking European capitals by name — only cemented the comparison, each a product of the locals taking control once their oppressors left after their government changed hands and the train lines shutdown. This new frontier became the pair’s setting, their story gelling after seven years of research and development to do right by the inhabitants’ history and struggles. Sprinkle in a bit of legend and lore to create an antihero hidden beneath rage and Five Fingers for Marseilles was born. – Jared M. (full review)

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross; Sept. 14)


Structurally, Hale County This Morning, This Evening does not do much to distinguish itself from other contemporary vérité documentaries which focus on quotidian details within a certain milieu. But even so, it still finds value in the unique incidents it captures. Send a hundred different filmmakers to a hundred different places, and even if their work is aesthetically identical, they’ll each document at least a few unique moments that will make each piece worth it. Beyond that, director RaMell Ross demonstrates a talent for framing a scene in a striking manner, such as shooting a trash fire so that the rays of the sun shine through the smoke. – Dan S. (full review)

Mandy (Panos Cosmatos; Sept. 14)


In an era of dime-a-dozen Nicolas Cage movies, you may think you know what you’re getting when sitting down for his latest feature. Rest assured, nothing could prepare you for the experience of Mandy. I’m not even referring to the gory and gleeful shocks–of which the back half has many–but rather Panos Cosmatos’ intoxicating, singular version, which mixes beauty and batshit insanity for an LSD-fueled descent into darkness like no other. – Jordan R. (full review)

The Land of Steady Habits (Nicole Holofcener; Sept. 14)


Nicole Holofcener is known for her character-driven stories and snappy, melancholic dialogue, which for her five previous films have all been (mostly) driven by women. However, the lead of her upcoming film The Land of Steady Habits, premiering at TIFF and quickly landing on Netflix, is Anders Hill, played by the always-great Ben Mendelsohn. He plays a retired man who decides to quit his life of “steady habits” in Connecticut, leaving his wife Helene (Edie Falco) in the process. – Stephen H.

The Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard; Sept. 21)


Jacques Audiard’s Palme d’Or win for Dheepan has given him the clout to recruit his finest ensemble yet for The Sisters Brothers, his English-language debut that’s a neo-noir western, an adaptation of the novel by the same name from Patrick DeWitt. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, Riz Ahmed, and John C. Reilly, the story follows two brothers (Phoenix and Reilly) who hunt down a gold prospector (Gyllenhaal) in 1850s Oregon. With the makings of a stranger tale than his last few films, hopefully Audiard steps up his scope in a big way here. – Jordan R.

Colette (Wash Westmoreland; Sept. 21)


Keira Knightley returns to the genre that she has become synonymous with: the period piece. In Colette, she finds another tenacious character in a corset in the true story of the famous French author. Trying to balance her newfound success, her exploration of her sexuality, and a marriage to her dominating husband Willy (Dominic West) Colette must find her voice in order to save her career, and herself. Following praise at Sundance, it’ll arrrive in theaters this September. – Stephen H.

Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. (Stephen Loveridge; Sept. 28)


Long before “Galang” and “Paper Planes,” and prior to her Oscar nomination and universal fame, there was a time M.I.A. was Mathangi Arulpragasam, the daughter of Tamil refugees who fled conflict-stricken Sri Lanka to settle in 1980s England. More an account of her origins than a stylized tour documentary, Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. draws from over 700 hours of footage M.I.A. personally recorded at different stages of her career to offer an intimate pre- and-post-stardom bio-doc that feels just as magnetic as the artist it brings and dissects on screen. – Leonardo G. (full review)

The Old Man & the Gun (David Lowery; Sept. 28)


At 81 years of age, Robert Redford is truly one of the last great movie stars we have left, in a career that spans five decades and countless iconic films. Back in 2016, he announced his upcoming role in David Lowery’s crime drama throwback is set to be his last one before retirement. In the film, Redford plays Forrest Tucker, a bank robber who begins another string of heists. His two co-stars are Casey Affleck as the detective trying to hunt him down, and Sissy Spacek as his kind-hearted love interest. Sporting a nostalgic tone in its trailer, Lowery’s A Ghost Story follow-up promises to be a final return to form for one of Hollywood’s greatest stars. – Stephen H.

Hold the Dark (Jeremy Saulnier; Sept. 28)


Green Room and Blue Ruin director Jeremy Saulnier is stepping away from colors for his next film and getting bleak(er) and bloodier for Hold the Dark, starring Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgard, Riley Keough, and James Badge Dale. The adventure thriller is based on William Giraldi’s novel, which follows a wolf expert (Wright) who comes to Alaska to investigate disappearing children with the prime suspect being — you guessed it — wolves. Keough plays the mother of a son who died, while her husband (Skarsgard) goes wild when he returns from Iraq, and is being tracked by a detective (Dale). Promising to be another dark, brutal thriller, the Macon Blair-scripted film will hit Netflix following a TIFF premiere. – Jordan R.

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