Amidst the rush of film-festival season, with new films pouring out of places like Venice, Telluride and Toronto over the course of two months, the New York Film Festival rides in as perhaps the most prestigious of them all.
With major premieres, prolific conversations and emerging immersive experiences (both in virtual reality and on the big screen), the world of film will now turn its cinematic eyes toward New York for the next big thing when it comes to movies.
Here’s a snapshot of this year’s festival with our picks for the six films we want to put on your radar.
The opening-night movie
What it’s about: There may not be a more important and relevant documentary right now than Ava DuVernay’s (Selma) 13th, one that opens with the incredibly sad statistic that the United States represents 5% of the world’s population and houses 25% of the world’s prison population.
The film – its title referencing the 13th amendment of the U.S. that abolished slavery – uses the startling influx in those convicted and sent to prison as a backdrop to discuss why and how we got here, from the rise of the war on drugs to the push for harsher sentences for minor offenses. DuVernay’s The 13th is the kind of film we need right now; one that won’t just continue the conversation, but help better define it.
Did you know: This is the first feature film directed by Ava DuVernay since Selma. It is also the first documentary to ever open the New York Film Festival.
When you can see it: 13th will be available to stream on Netflix beginning October 7.
Watch the trailer:
The major Oscar contender
20th Century Women
What it’s about: A multigenerational story that tracks the lives of three women exploring love and freedom in Southern California in the late ‘70s. Annette Bening, Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig star in a film that looks to tap into the relatable suburban aspirations that surround many of our lives.
Did you know: Director Mike Mills is also behind indie movies like Beginners and Thumbsucker. This is his first feature as a director in six years, with Bening already among those critics are pegging as a Best Actress contender.
When you can see it: Following its NYFF premiere, 20th Century Women hits theaters on December 25.
Watch the trailer:
The most intriguing premiere
The Lost City of Z
What it’s about: Charlie Hunnam and the new Spider-Man, Tom Holland, are among the stars in this period epic about a real-life explorer who, in 1925, disappeared while on a quest searching for a lost city in the Amazon.
Did you know: The Lost City of Z is based on a best-selling novel by author David Grann, who staged his own journey into the Amazon to try to figure out what exactly happened to British explorer Percy Fawcett (played by Hunnam in the film), not to mention whether or not there actually was a lost civilization hidden amidst the jungle.
When you can see it: Following its premiere at the New York Film Festival, The Lost City of Z is currently scheduled to hit theaters in 2017.
The most anticipated big-screen experience
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
What it’s about: Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) directs one of a few war-driven movies in theaters this season, with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk perhaps boasting the most fascinating ensemble. Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Garrett Hedlund, Chris Tucker and Steve Martin are among the stars of this film about a soldier who returns home for a victory tour following a hellish battle in Iraq.
Did you know: This film is quite the big deal for tech nerds as it’s the first full-length narrative film shot in 4K, native 3D at the ultra-high rate of 120 frames per second. With a premiere set at New York’s famed Lincoln Square theater (home to one of the world’s biggest IMAX screens), we expect the experience of this new technology – coupled with an emotionally gripping story tactfully helmed by one of today’s great filmmakers – to be one of the biggest stories to emerge from this year’s festival.
When you can see it: Following its premiere at NYFF, the film will arrive in theaters on November 11.
Watch the trailer:
The festival favorite
What it’s about: Adam Driver is a bus driver named Paterson who actually lives in Paterson, New Jersey. In one of his most subdued roles, Driver plays an unassuming married guy with aspirations of writing poetry who must juggle the ins and outs of everyday life while his wife begins to pursue her newfound ambitions.
Though Paterson has made stops in both Cannes and Toronto on its way to the New York Film Festival, it has been among critics’ favorites so far this year.
Did you know: Paterson is written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, who actually has two films playing at this year’s NYFF. The other is his documentary Gimme Danger about the rock band the Stooges.
When you can see it: Following its premiere at NYFF, Paterson will hit theaters on December 28.
Watch a clip from the film:
The tiny animated film you totally need to check out and have no idea exists
My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea
What it’s about: From acclaimed graphic novelist Dash Shaw, this wildly inventive animated film tracks the hilariously harrowing tale of a group of students who get trapped in their school after a tragic accident leaves it sinking in the Pacific Ocean.
Did you know: The wildly imaginative film is already receiving a ton of buzz from critics, and it features a fun ensemble voice cast including Jason Schwartzman, Lena Dunham, Alex Karpovsky, Susan Sarandon and Maya Rudolph.
When you can see it: There is no release date scheduled yet for the film.
For much more on the 2016 New York Film Festival, hit up the official website.