The ten best movies for fall on this list evoke the feeling of the season that brings us colored leaves, cooler air and the nectar of the gods called pumpkin spice lattes. (I mean, pumpkin spice is, like, everything now, right?)
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Whether you’re snuggling with your S.O. or getting together with besties, one of the fall movies on this list is sure to pair well with mulled win, hot cider or the PSL I mentioned already.
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10 Best Movies for Fall
#10 Far From Heaven
Far From Heaven, which was released in 2002, stars Julianne Moore as the perfect ’50s housewife. From her head to her toes, her cooking, her children, her house and everything domestic is perfect. But her perfect life starts falling apart when she finds out her husband has a secret. (And it’s a whopper!)
She confides in her gardener, who happens to be an African-American, which gets all the tongues in town wagging. Meanwhile, they build a very meaningful friendship.
Far From Heaven takes place in the autumn, as you can see when they’re walking around the grounds of her perfectly maintained home. You can see the fall leaves in the grass and the scarf over her head. It’s very autumnal.
Far From Heaven is also a very well-crafted movie, which is why it is nominated for four Academy Awards. It was also nominated for four Golden Globe Awards.
Julianne Moore garnered a lot of critical praise for this movie, so I know you will enjoy her performance.
#9 The Royal Tenenbaums
The Royal Tenenbaums, which was released in 2001, is about a very dysfunctional family. (There are two Wes Anderson movies on this list. I know, crazy.) You think your family is dysfunctional? This family is way more dysfunctional.
Growing up, all of the children were prodigies, and now they’re dealing with the aftermath of peaking too early. Plus, they all have personal tragedies.
The Royal Tenenbaums stars Bill Murray, Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson and Ben Stiller.
The entire color scheme of The Royal Tenenbaums seems to be burnt orange or burnt umber, so it definitely evokes a fall feeling.
The Royal Tenenbaums was nominated for an Academy Award for best original screenplay for writers Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, who also stars in the movie.
Gene Hackman won a Golden Globe award for his performance.
#8 When Harry Met Sally
When Harry Met Sally is the quintessential romantic comedy. When Harry Met Sally was released in 1989, and like the title says it’s about when Harry met Sally. But! They don’t fall in love right away; they became best friends. The falling in love part comes later.
When Harry Met Sally takes place over a long period of time, but within that time frame there are some classic New-York-in-the-fall scenes with crunchy leaves and some cute, tweedy outfits that Meg Ryan wears.
When Harry Met Sally stars Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby.
It was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, and the screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award for writer Nora Ephron.
#7 On Golden Pond
On Golden Pond was released in 1981, and I remember seeing it in the theater. The movie was a big deal because it stars a father and daughter in the same movie, Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda.
It was also a big deal because Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn, who star as husband and wife, were — shall we say, in their twilight years?
The story is about Norman, who is kind of curmudgeonly, and his wife, who is always hen pecking at him. Both of them are getting older and they’re having more and more trouble living on their own.
Jane Fonda, who plays their daughter, comes to visit, then leaves her son with them for an indefinite period of time. They’re kind of resistant to this at first, but he ends up bringing the family together. It is a beautiful, touching story.
On Golden Pond takes place at the end of the summer, the beginning of the fall, and it is just gorgeous.
It won three Academy Awards: one for Henry Fonda for Best Actor; one for Katharine Hepburn for Best Actress; and one for best screenplay adaptation. It also won two Golden Globe Awards.
#6 Kramer vs. Kramer
I’m going to be honest with you. Although Kramer vs. Kramer is supposed to be very good, with super praise from critics when it came out, and it stars powerhouse actors of Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, I really didn’t like it.
I probably don’t like Kramer vs. Kramer because it came out in 1979, when I was very young. Plus, it’s about the divorce of two parents who have a custody battle over their son, and right around the time it was released, my own parents divorced.
Now, you have to remember that in 1979 divorce wasn’t commonplace; it was a big, big deal. Not that many people got divorced, and when they did, nobody talked about it. In fact, my little friends were all worried that their parents would now get a divorce too.
Don’t worry; my own parents didn’t have some crazy custody battle like they do in Kramer vs. Kramer. I’m not scarred or anything. I’m just saying, not a big fan.
Kramer vs. Kramer was ground-breaking not only because it dealt with divorce, but also because it portrayed a dad who wanted primary care of his son, which was also unusual. Generally, the mother gets the kids.
If you are the kind of person who loves to bawl your eyes out and have some kind of catharsis when you watch a drama, Kramer vs. Kramer is for you.
Like other movies on this list, Kramer vs. Kramer has several classic New-York-in-the-fall scenes. The one I remember is when he takes his son bike riding in Central Park.
Kramer vs. Kramer won a bunch of Academy Awards: Best Picture; Best Actor; Best Actress in a Supporting Role; Best Director; and Best Screenplay Adaptation.
It also won four Golden Globes.
#5 Ordinary People
Ordinary People was released in 1980. (I’m starting to realize that there are a lot of sad movies on this list. Maybe there’s a correlation between dramatic movies and and setting them in the fall.) It’s about a family tragedy. One son dies, and the other son is left behind to grieve. He doesn’t cope very well, but his mother doesn’t help him because she can’t cope either. The father is left trying to hold everyone together.
Ordinary People is a very moving, very gripping story that takes place in the fall. There are several scenes outside their house with autumn colors in the background.
It stars Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland and a young Timothy Hutton.
Like Kramer vs. Kramer, it won a whole slew of Academy Awards: Best Picture; Best Actor in a Supporting Role; Best Director for Robert Redford; and best screenplay adaptation.
#4 Fantastic Mr. Fox
Fantastic Mr. Fox is the second Wes Anderson movie on this list. It was released in 2009, and is one of my all-time favorite movies. Fantastic Mr. Fox is tied with Rushmore for the best Wes Anderson movie.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is just a gorgeous, incredible piece of art and craftsmanship. I say craftsmanship because it’s a stop-motion animation film. (If you’re not familiar with stop-motion animation, think of the old cartoon, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Stop-motion animation requires moving figures just a tiny bit, frame by frame, until you build up several frames that equal a scene. It’s an incredibly lengthy, tedious process.)
Fantastic Mr. Fox is about a fox who doesn’t like being poor. He feels like he’s lost the excitement in his life, and that he’s not doing enough for his family. The story is about what he does to rectify that situation, and the consequences to his actions.
Like Anderson’s The Royal Tanenbaums, this movie is also about tragedy within dysfunctional families.
You would be hard pressed to find a movie that doesn’t say “fall” like Fantastic Mr. Fox does because everything is orange. I mean it. Everything, including the foxes, is orange.
The characters are voiced by some heavy hitters, like George Clooney and Meryl Streep, and by Wes Anderson’s go-to actors, Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman.
Fantastic Mr. Fox was nominated for Best Animated Movie at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.
#3 October Sky
October Sky is obviously a fall movie. I mean, it’s right there in the title.
October Sky was released in 1999, and tells the true story of a boy who lives in a coal mining town when Sputnik went up into space. It inspired him to make his own rocket. But he is held back by his father, who doesn’t think rocket science is going to go anywhere. His father wants him to follow in his footsteps as a coal miner.
It’s an excellent film and it stars a very young Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Laura Dern.
Surprisingly, October Sky wasn’t nominated for any Academy Awards or Golden Globe Awards. But it is a very family-friendly movie.
#2 Scent of a Woman
Scent of a Woman is another New-York-in-the-fall movie. Scent of a Woman was released in 1992, and there was a lot of HOOP-LA around Al Pacino’s performance.
In fact, there’s so much HOOP-LA about Al Pacino in that movie — do you remember “The Soup Nazi” episode of Seinfeld? Elaine comes to the counter and says “hoo-ah” to the Soup Nazi, which gets her gets kicked out.
Al Pacino stars as an angry, cantankerous, blind veteran, and Chris O’Donnell plays his nurse-maid/babysitter. O’Donnell takes the job because he’s going to a fancy private school but needs the money.
The story seems typical: the cantankerous, old fool gives the youngster a hard time, but they become more and more fond of each other. However, the story takes a dark turn.
Al Pacino won an Oscar for his performance, and he also won a Golden Globe.
I just want to go on record here, saying that I don’t understand what the big deal was. He was just Al Pacino being Al Pacino. It was his stock character, so I’m not really sure why he won awards. Maybe a good PR campaign? I don’t know.
[END OF RANT]
Scent of a Woman won a Golden Globe for best picture.
#1 Good Will Hunting
Good Will Hunting was released in 1997. It’s about a young janitor at a university who solves a giant, difficult math problem on a chalkboard. He gets plucked from obscurity and lands a scholarship. His future looks very bright. Meanwhile, he has to leave his life-long, blue-collar friends behind.
Good Will Hunting explores the differences in classes, as well as how bittersweet it is to grow up.
Good Will Hunting made Matt Damon and Ben Affleck the Hollywood stars that they are today. They wrote and starred in it. Good Will Hunting won two Academy Awards, one for their original screenplay, and one for best supporting actor for Robin Williams. (Robin Williams also stars in the number one movie on my back to school movies list.)
That’s it! Grab your pumpkin spice and your sweater, and cozy up with one of these movies this weekend. Thanks for reading!