For me, fall is the best season of the year.
It’s cooler, it’s cozier; it’s a season best enjoyed only partially outdoors. When the sun goes down, it’s time to retreat inside for a warm drink and new, exciting books to read and movies to watch.
Historically, fall is the start of Oscar Season: a three-month onslaught of heady adult dramas that, frankly, don’t give a shit about providing the kind of capital-E Entertainment that the movies released in the summer generate. These are films, italicized in artistic emphasis, that inspire emotional response, showcase humanity squeezed in extreme, and push craft to new levels. I love it. And it’s only gotten better.
People say the movies are dying, but I disagree. Certain-types of movies have fallen out of favor, sure. But we forget that this is still a business. When the industry recognizes an audience hunger for Westerns, or Musicals, or Comics it wrings every ounce of juice from that genre until it no longer suits the bottom line. Rom Com’s were dead until 2018 when they weren’t. Tastes are cyclical. Studios, large and small, want to make movies that people want to watch and will make those movies until the interest dies.
The real “problem” is the fragmentation of entertainment options. No longer is Friday a slam-dunk, get-your-popcorn-ready movie night. I mean come on: there are Instagram stories to watch. For most people my age and younger, it’s become harder to spend 120 minutes away from your phone — sad as it is. The movies have figured this out, somewhat. Well-made, fun Comic Book movies are engaging enough for enough age groups to get butts in seats. We as an audience, I think, also understand how much money go into making Iron Man 3 or Black Panther and can therefore justify the damn cost of a ticket.
On the flip-side, the Oscars still carries a heft of cultural cache. To know the best films gives one intellectual armor, conversational ammo. Sure, the broadcast itself has lost viewers (name a TV show that hasn’t), but I don’t think seeing smart, critically-acclaimed films has lost cultural or personal value. We want to feel smart, in on the intellectual conversations of the moment. It’s become harder, perhaps, to get someone to sit down and watch The Shape of Water on a Tuesday in January, but the awareness of films deemed award-worthy hasn’t changed. To my mind, mainstream movie making has two roads: summer spectacle and awards fodder. For the last few years, it feels like there’s been more awards fodder than ever before. And for me that’s a good thing.
Growing up, late-September/early-October was when Award Season kicked off in earnest. Always, always, always the first weekend of October had some buzzy release that reminded everyone to strap in: the Oscars were coming. This year, that’s still true. In fact, it starts next week. And it doesn’t stop. Here’s what’s coming every Friday until the end of December.
Sept. 28: The Old Man & the Gun
Oct. 5: A Star Is Born, The Hate U Give
Oct. 12: First Man, Bad Times At The El Royale, Beautiful Boy
Oct. 19: Wildlife, Mid90s
Oct. 26: Suspiria
Nov. 2: Bohemian Rhapsody, Boy Erased
Nov. 9: Outlaw King, The Girl In The Spider’s Web, The Front Runner (Nov. 7)
Nov. 16: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Widows, The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs
Nov. 23: The Favourite, Creed II (Nov. 21), Green Book (Nov. 21),
Nov. 30: If Beale Street Could Talk
Dec. 7: Under The Silver Lake, Mary Queen Of Scots, Ben Is Back
Dec. 14: Roma, Mortal Engines, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Dec. 21: The Women Of Marwen, Mary Poppins Returns (Dec. 19)
And sure, late December isn’t a hot bed for new releases, but whatever. The list of movies I want to see this fall is huge and might well take any active moviegoer well into February to complete (the Oscars are the 24th). And, remember, this list is from late September. There are films we’re not thinking about now that I’ll add to this list — and films like Suspiria that I might end up skipping entirely. But this is nearly 60 hours of my kind of entertainment.
I love fall.