It’s finally time for chilly days, cosy nights, cinnamon cookies and pumpkin spice lattes. But most importantly, it’s time for Autumn cinema!
That means that now (right now) is the perfect time to dig out that old jumper, dust off your biggest coffee cup and make your way through this list of Autumnal cinematic gems.
Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
Kicking off this list is a movie from everyone’s favourite director of Autumn colour schemes, Wes Anderson.
The protagonists of this stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic are creatures that we see more of in the Autumn months, which instantly gives it a seasonal tone. Add to this the warm and Autumnal colour palette, a wonderful story perfect for all ages – including the presence of those all important family values – and you get a great film for a cosy night in with family and friends.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
If there’s just one Harry Potter film to watch at this time of year, there’s no doubt that it’s be The Prisoner of Azkaban. Most of the Harry Potter movies take place around Autumn/Winter time, and we often see reference to Halloween and Christmas. Though it is strong in its Autumnal iconography – the memorable school trip to Hogsmeade, the pumpkins growing in Hagrid’s yard and the woolly jumpers worn by the Weasley’s being great examples – this 3rd Potter instalment also holds a special place in the hearts of so many who grew up with the franchise, making it the perfect film to warm your heart on a dull day.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
In hindsight, you could watch all the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies (if you so wished) as they’re all ideal Autumn movies. But are there any other films from the franchise that inspire a nostalgia in a fun and easy-to-watch way like An Unexpected Journey?
If you’re looking for a film to improve a dreary day without the commitment of taking in everything that is Tolkien, An Unexpected Journey is a great choice, and the ‘Misty Mountains’ scene in particular is bound to send a welcomed chill down your spine. For fans of the franchise, this is the movie that’ll make you want to pack your bags for Bag End and Hobbit hole!
Good Will Hunting (1997)
The first of two Gus Van Sant entries on this list, Good Will Hunting (starring Matt Damon and Robin Williams) embraces difference and encourages self-love against a beautiful, north-western United States autumn back-drop, providing an uplifting story which many people remember for its powerful, moving dialogue and inspirational story.
Another film that has a beautiful colour palette is the 2001 whimsical French rom-com Amelie,which follows the story of a young waitress who sets out to change the lives of those around her for the better. The cinematography in this film is stunning and the story itself plays out, in many ways, like a modern fairytale.
Fans of the film will tell you that you’ll fall in love with this film straight away!
Isle of Dogs (2018)
The 2nd Wes Anderson stop-motion animation to make the list is Isle of Dogs, the director’s 2018 release that focuses on the love between a young boy and his dog, and is voiced by a stellar cast of high profile and highly talented names.
This is a film that presents family values that are parallel to the ones seen in Fantastic Mr Fox, making for a strong 2nd part to a double bill with the director’s 2009 release. And for the animal lovers out there… this is a perfect film to watch with your pets!
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
What better Disney-branded film to watch in the autumn than The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, a film set in the middle of the woods.
Everyone knows the timeless stories of Pooh and his friends, and the film is great to watch with your own friends, so get the squad together for this one!
If you want that full nostalgia effect, why not combine this film with 2018’s Christopher Robin?
James and the Giant Peach (1996)
A childhood favourite of most 90s kids and another Roald Dahl novel adapted into a stop-motion animation, James and the Giant Peach is a story of friendship, adventure and the realisation that home is never far away.
This is a story suitable for the whole family that reinforces that home is wherever your family is, come rain or shine.
This 80s cult classic may not be for everyone, but it is certainly one to watch around Halloween.
The film stars Winona Ryder, who can instantly be recognised as a Halloween icon after starring in films such as Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice and the Netflix Original series ‘Stranger Things’, and is a classic teen high school movie with a murderous twist. What could be better?
The dark undertones of Heathers make for great Halloween-time watching and provide a catharsis for those of you who may feel like murdering your school mates or work friends in these dark and gloomy months.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993)
This coming-of-age drama starring Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio is an enlightening family drama that’ll have you crying as much as you’re smiling.
The Autumnal setting and warm tones mirror the loving yet complex story of two brothers as they learn to take care of one another, with each offering a beautiful backdrop to the beautifully filmed small town setting.
Finding Neverland (2004)
Most of us know the story of “Peter Pan”, but what of the author J.M.Barrie? Finding Neverland stars Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp in a tale a dramatic yet whimsical tale about the origins of the world’s favourite ‘Lost Boy’.
The scenes of old London streets give this film a lovely British feel, while the story always manages to hit that nostalgia button with Pan references any fan is bound to lap up.
The third (and final) Wes Anderson film on this list is arguably the most Autumnal of the lot… Rushmore.
With an Autumnal backdrop, this Wes Anderson movie focuses on the life of an ambitious teenager (Max) and his attempts to ‘woo’ one of his school teachers. The colours in this movie vary from navy and blue to deep reds and burnt oranges, highlighting the ‘school in Autumn’ tones in a way now very familiar to Anderson’s work.
This is a great comedy starring such huge talents as Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, making for a humorous watch filled with innocence and joy.
Where The Wild Things Are (2009)
This imaginative story is an adaptation of the 1963 children’s book of the same name in which a young boy escapes to the land of the ‘Wild Things’ after feeling misunderstood at home and at school, but never seems to be able to fill the a void within him.
This may be based on a children’s book, but this film will suit viewers of any age. It has a certain depth of nostalgia to it, making you reminisce on days spent running about in the forest with your imaginary friends.
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
One of Studio Ghibli’s finest films, Kiki’s Delivery Service is another one that is perfect for October and Halloween.
It’s a film about witches – good witches!
This very sweet and playful story encourages you to believe in yourself and have the confidence to follow your aspirations, so grab your broomsticks and find yourself a black cat!
Dead Poets Society (1989)
A film featuring some of the very finest work of Robin Williams’ career, Dead Poets Society is well known for its warm colours (deep reds and oranges) and its memorable quotes.
Remember… “no matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Even if you haven’t seen this film, it’s possible that you’ve seen countless stills of Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal walking through New York’s Central Park covered in Autumn leaves.
This is a classic and timeless romantic comedy that will remind you of walks on chilly Autumn days, romances that never prospered and those that did. In this season of beautiful decay, take a step back and set your eyes on a movie that transcends its genre as much as it defies it: When Harry Met Sally.
St Elmo’s Fire (1985)
This one comes from the “Brat Pack” 80s cinema and is often likened to films such as The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
St Elmo’s Fire is representative of the better side of 80s nostalgia that seems so popular at the moment, and is perfect for film lovers who are at University or are recent graduates wondering what the heck to do with their life – the film’s colour palette is a warm reminder of Autumn days spent with friends at college and university, getting ready for graduation and looking ahead to the future.
Autumn in New York (2000)
The title of this one tells you everything you need to know.
Just like When Harry Met Sally, this film delivers beautiful shots of New York and Central Park engulfed in orange leaves, highlighting just how seasonal this movie is.
Starring Winona Ryder (again) and Richard Gere, this typical romance film gets you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
The 2nd Gus Van Sant movie on this list is the beautifully tragic Restless, the story of a teenager coming to terms with the inevitable death of his girlfriend.
The movie itself is humourous in places but mostly acts as a stark reminder as to the fragility of life. Its themes of death and temporariness are driven home by the American autumn of Portland, Oregon, and the central characters are presented as being at one with their limited time together, making for a moving movie as much about Autumn’s role in the circle of life as it is about the two characters.
Lady Bird (2017)
The final film on this list is Lady Bird starring Saoirse Ronan and directed by Greta Gerwig.
A spectacular youthful drama, this film focuses on the relationship between a young girl and her mother as she starts to make decisions about her future, with its attention to the idea of a new start and discovering yourself being reminiscent of the thoughts and feelings we all get towards the end of each year.
Lady Bird is memorable for its warm colour palette and fantastic cast, and is a must watch for just about anyone this Autumn.
A perfect film to end this list.