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Our 25 Most-Anticipated Fall 2016 Films

Written by on August 25, 2016 

9. Mascots (Christopher Guest; Oct. 13)


Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman director Christopher Guest is finally back to feature filmmaking for the first time in a decade with his new, Netflix-distributed comedy Mascots. Set in the world of competitive mascots, it will first premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and features Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Ed Begley Jr., and Fred Willard. Guest already directed one of the century’s best comedies, and this has the makings of being another. – Jordan R.

8. Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk (Ang Lee; Nov. 11)

Billy Lynn 2

One of the most promising films of the fall — and not just because it has the eclectic cast including Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel, and Steve Martin — is Ang Lee‘s latest drama, which might push the boundaries of cinematic technology. The story of a teenage soldier who survives a battle in Iraq and is brought home for a victory lap before returning has been shot at 120 frames per second in 4K and native 3D, giving it unprecedented clarity for a feature film. After setting it for an NYFF premiere, Kent Jones said, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk astonished me, and it moved me deeply—in the grandest way, as a story of America in the years after the invasion of Iraq, and on the most intimate person-to-person wavelength.” – Jordan R.

7. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins; Oct. 21)

Moonlight 1

While there are a number of features we’ve been looking forward to all year long (and beyond) that will be premiering on the fall festival circuit, it’s genuinely thrilling when an up-and-coming voice gets their chance in the spotlight. If we were putting money down, we’d bet (based on the stunning first trailer) that the sleeper drama of the fall is Barry JenkinsMoonlight, which is a three-part story spanning three time periods for a gay African-American man growing up in Miami. Set for a Toronto International Film Festival premiere, New York Film Festival screening, and October release by A24, this seems rather likely to be one of the fall’s essential dramas. – Jordan R.

6. 20th Century Women (Mike Mills; Dec. 21)

20th Century Women 4

Mike MillsBeginners marked something of a real surprise for yours truly, its blend of unusual conceits with specific emotional registers doing a good deal to match my own way of seeing the world and understanding those who I share it with. I’m thus left to wonder if his follow-up, 20th Century Women, will live up to that effect – or if it’ll even try. Heightening the anticipation is that little’s known about the project, outside its ’70s setting and who its ensemble cast comprises. (Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, and newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann.) The latter is promising and the former, like all else, remains up in the air, but if 20th Century Women ends up carrying even a trace of Beginners‘ impact, we – or perhaps just I – will be handed a stirring experience. – Nick N.

5. La La Land (Damien Chazelle; Dec. 2)

La La Land 2

What was the last original musical you were excited for? Damien Chazelle seeks to overcome the apathy surrounding the genre in this original film centered on a jazz pianist and an aspiring actress. The final sequence of Whiplash was a good indication of how skillfully Chazelle can handle theatrical and musical sequences. Equally important: the young writer-director has attracted Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in lead roles, ensuring the film will be plenty charismatic — as evidenced in the first trailers. – Zade C.

4. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve; Nov. 11)


We critics often bemoan the lack of films made for adults nowadays. Stories that exist to serve as thoughtful entertainment, or at least mature entertainment — primarily for people out of high school — don’t really exist anymore. How lucky are we, then, that Denis Villeneuve is on his way with this hard science-fiction film to save the day. Centered on a linguist (Amy Adams) racing around the clock to decipher an alien language and discern their intent, Arrival promises to be a cerebral, emotionally and intellectually rigorous time at the movies. Thank God. – Brian R.

3. Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford; Nov. 18)

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A Single Man was a film that seemed unheralded in its time and forgotten too soon. A movie whose beauty and style somehow managed to play up rather than drown out its emotional core, Tom Ford‘s directorial debut should have been the start of a fruitful directing career. It’s instead taken seven years for the fashion designer to bring us another picture. Still, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams being but two names in a photogenic and talented cast, one can only hope that Nocturnal Animals manages the same stylistic and emotional triumphs as Ford’s first effort. – Brian R.

2. Silence (Martin Scorsese; TBD)


Silence is coming out, right? The promise of a fall release means, at least to me, that Martin Scorsese‘s years-in-the-making (or decades) drama has never seemed quite so far off, and so the prospect of a properly executed passion project has never exactly felt this fine. Excitement always hangs in the air for another of the man’s projects; rarely is it accompanied by certain mystery. It’ll be comforting to know Scorsese’s conquered one of his long-desired dreams – as long as everything goes according to plan. – Nick N.

1. Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience (Terrence Malick; Oct. 7)

Voyage of Time 4

The quality and, until recently, sparseness of Terrence Malick’s directorial output has mythologized the filmmaker to the point where every new film of his is something of an event. Voyage of Time is no exception. That said, it does have the rarefied status of being Malick’s dream project, a vision forty-plus years in the making that aims to explore the past, present, and future of the universe and humanity’s place within it. In other words, Voyage of Time seems destined to be the ultimate Malick film, upping the ante in scope from his previous pictures. Where The Tree of Life framed a single midwestern family against the creation of the universe, Malick’s new film appears to cast the entire human race in the role of insignificant blip and chart the cosmos’ conclusion, in addition to their inception. To call this film ambitious would be the understatement of the century. – Jonah J.

We’re still curious when it comes to a number of titles that didn’t make the cut. The Light Between Oceans, Bleed For This, Blair WitchMoanaLion, and Blue Jay deserve honorable mentions. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will hopefully be a return to form for Tim Burton, while we hope The Magnificent Seven, Snowden, The Accountant, Morgan, Passengers, The Girl on the Train, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, and Doctor Strange end up being better than expected.

Fans of Peter BergMark Wahlberg collaborations will also be pleased to learn not one, but two arrive in the span of a few months with Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day. At the top of the blockbuster machine, there’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which everyone will be buying a ticket for regardless, so we thought it would be best not to waste the space. Lastly, it’s been suggested that Ben Affleck‘s Live By Night will sneak in by the end of the year, but we’re waiting on confirmation from WB on that one.

Our 25 Most-Anticipated Fall 2016 Festival Premieres


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