We are now officially straddling summer rom-com and winter awards seasons. While horror flicks are obvious choices to indulge in for the next month or so, it would be unfortunate to neglect all other autumnally apt films. Here are eight to watch (or, most likely, re-watch) this season.
This acerbic Nora Ephron rom-com is brimming with heart and cozy-looking turtlenecks, and is best when enjoyed from late September to early January. It’s not spooky, nor entirely set in autumn, but the film does feature a brief stroll down a leaf-strewn Central Park sidewalk that became its eponymous red-and-orange poster. You can stream it now on Netflix or watch it Harry and Sally-style — at the same time as your friend, from different beds, while arguing about it over the phone.
An animated standby for over 20 years, this is the perfect film to get you in the seasonally spooky spirit. If you’ve never seen it, it’s not too late; “Nightmare Before Christmas” is currently streaming on Netflix, so you can acquaint yourself with Jack Skellington and Danny Elfman’s songs that are still gracing Halloween playlists today.
This decidedly unconventional Wes Anderson-made rom-com is a masterpiece. It’s witty, absurdly funny and tragic, tracking the rise and fall of extracurricular overachiever and failing student Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman). Most importantly, the film (also featuring a love triangle, of course, between Schwartzman, Bill Murray and Olivia Williams’ characters) is academically-oriented and autumnally-hued.
It’s always a good time to watch a “Harry Potter” movie, and a case could be made for either of the first two as optimal October films. But this one is, in my opinion, a better way to get psyched for Halloween than its predecessor. Quirrell is creepy, but there’s a heightened sense of impending doom looming over “Chamber of Secrets;” it’s exacerbated by the spiders, Moaning Myrtle and everyone getting petrified. Plus, if you can’t stream it, you can find it almost every weekend, in some type of marathon, on FreeForm.
This is not quite as comical as “Rushmore,” to put it mildly. But “Dead Poets Society” is ideal if you’re looking for a film in which Robin Williams espouses poetry, general wisdom and life advice, as only a cool high school English teacher can. You’ve probably seen it before, but it’s worth another go; maybe it’ll give you some much-needed mid-semester inspiration.
If your horror tolerance is relatively low, but you’re still looking for something that will, at the very least, creep you out, try this rare Helena Bonham Carter-less Tim Burton production. Heads will roll and your skin will crawl as you watch 18th-century Johnny Depp try to unravel the mystery of the infamous Headless Horseman (and land 18th-century Christina Ricci).
This charming animated film about a family of foxes may be even more aesthetically in-season than “Rushmore.” George Clooney voices the titular patriarch, married to Meryl Streep’s Mrs. Fox; enjoy watching them antagonize the farmers around their home in all their stop-motion, autumn-hued glory.
Disney Channel’s original movie repertoire boasts a surprising amount of kid-friendly horror, but “Halloweentown” is perhaps its most enduring autumnal standby. While alternative classic “Twitches” did put a memorable spin on the princess-and-pauper trope (magic) and gift us with Aly & AJ’s iconic “Rush,” “Halloweentown” spawned three sequels and consistently tops rating lists. If nothing else, Debbie Reynolds does not appear in “Twitches,” “Don’t Look Under the Bed,” “The Phantom of the Megaplex” or any other DCOM likely to air this month.