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  • Writer's pictureNoelani Mitchell

The BEST Movies to Watch This Fall

If you’re looking to listen to an artsy film dork ramble on about some of the best movies she’s ever seen, you’ve come to the right place. Everybody needs a little art in their life, and fall is the ultimate season to embrace that. Not only do the fiery bursts of leaves and the cooled earth instigate a period of natural renewal, but the exhilaration of reconvening with friends at school and family during the holidays brings about a special beauty this time of year. Despite the accumulating stress of school midterms or mentally preparing oneself for said family gatherings, try to take some time to appreciate that unique fall spirit. I find that the best, although amorphous, definition of it lies within these amazing flicks. This carefully hand-crafted compilation details every criterion of, in my opinion, perfect fall media: cozy, nostalgic, contemplative, thrilling, and of course, flat-out beautiful.

Let's start out with some familiar classics:

First off, Matilda! Remember her? This 1996 movie adaptation of Roald Dahl’s whimsical classic perfectly encapsulates all those childhood back-to-school memories. I was a HUGE Roald Dahl nerd as a kid, and as you may infer from that statement, Matilda was quite the relatable character. It was a story I never forgot, from the mountainous intimidation of scary teachers, to the daunting experience of attending a new school. Matilda’s uniqueness, manifested through her supernatural abilities, had always stuck with me as a reminder that feeling different from others was completely fine, and that despite adversity, you will always find your niche.

Keeping up with the Roald Dahl inspo is Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Although this is the more recent contender of what I'm calling “classics”, this story feels as old as time. Obviously at face value, this movie was made for the autumn season. Seriously, I don't think I can spot a single frame of this movie that isn't drenched in orange, and all that talk of apple cider and roasted poultry really accelerates that thanksgiving hype. This wild and witty escapade of a man, or fox I should say, tampering with greed and the consequences of temptation is a flawless modern allegory. Naj, if you’re reading, I’m talking “Grasshopper on the Road” tier. It doubles as simply a funny, visually appealing animation marvel and also a worthy subject of artistic analysis. Enjoy it as you please; I won't disclose my full interpretation of it yet to encourage you all to take a deeper look for yourself first. It's fun! I promise!

Honorary mention (and a valid justification to calling this the “classics” category): Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting. This is a great film for the transition back to school, and especially for college-bound seniors, an encouraging story of the intimidating journey to finding academic success and validation.

On to what I bet most of you were expecting for this fall movie review: the spooky section oooooOOOOooOooooo…

Heads up guys and ghouls, the movies I’m about to reference do contain a fair amount of spooky. You’ll probably already know most of them, but just in case, watch (or don’t watch) with caution if you are sensitive to violence, jumpscares, or existential dread. What helps me most is to think of it as purely art, and just pretend not to be too scared to use the bathroom at night. Easy, right?

Starting off this segment strong with 1991 film legend Silence of the Lambs. Aside from the thrilling serial killer story, this film is absolutely brilliant. It handles the quintessential killer-target goose chase magnificently through the framework of a true crime investigation. If you love an empowering, non-objectified, wicked smart female lead, Clarice Starling is the character for you. Although horrifying to consider as a plausible reality, this film’s blend of worldly events and classic thriller twists really makes an impact on the audience's impression of crime in our society. This movie left me more scared of the real world than most actual true crime documentaries. Unfortunately, it is possible for a cannibalistic serial killer to aid in investigating the murders of another (even more gruesome) serial killer, but would I ever be smart enough to crack that case? Nope. A perfect balance of all too real fears and movie magic.

Last is my favorite spooky piece of media to obsessively study and collect fandom facts about: The Shining. Did you know that certain scenes of the movie were filmed on an 18mm lens to purposely distort their appearance and make them more subliminally unsettling? Did you know that the iconic horror movie term “Kubrick Stare” refers to the specific pose that director Stanley Kubrick had his actors perform in this movie? If you’re interested in doing it, basically tilt your head down slightly and stare upwards at your subject “through” your brow ridge. Scary stuff. What I’m trying to get at is that this film is so rich with calculated artistic intention, and it’s extremely difficult to water it down as just a horror movie. However, in the context of generalizing it as a horror movie, it was a trailblazer. Its heavy, slow-burn pace contrasts that of most scary movies, but makes those essential jump-scare moments all the more startling. It creates so much without explicitly showing or stating it. Even the setting, a seemingly mundane hotel, presents itself as if it had been written as its own character. It exists almost as a living entity, harboring decades of torment. This film elicits a visceral, gut-wrenching fear of the unthinkable capability, or better yet, fragility of the human mind. Ugh, I could go on and on about this forever. If you see me in person and need to kill some time, just ask me about The Shining.

Alright folks, do as you wish with these recommendations. Cozy up on a rainy day with a nice warm beverage, maybe even invite a friend for discussion or support. Most importantly, keep loving art. Happy fall! :)

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