What’s not to love about the fall season? The weather goes from sticky to crisp, the leaves turn romantic shades of red, yellow and orange, and we have every excuse to cozy up in sweaters with hot beverages in our hands — pumpkin spice flavored or otherwise.
Speaking of cozying up, there’s nothing like a good fall movie at this time of year. From romantic comedies to inspirational dramas, some of the best fall movies can put us in that snuggly state of mind. Whether you’re looking for a new watch on your favorite streaming service or hoping to rent a good fall movie with loved ones on a cold day, we’ve rounded up 15 of our favorite fall picks.
Read on for our recommendations on the best movies to watch in fall.
1. Knives Out (2019)
BEST FOR SWEATER WEATHER
There’s something about a good murder mystery that just gets us in that fall mood, and Rian Johnson’s 2019 Benoit Blanc drama starring Daniel Craig is no exception. Aside from the mega cast (Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, LaKeith Stanfield, Toni Collette and Christopher Plummer), it’s one of the best fall movies for the autumn wardrobe alone. (Chris Evans did start a whole thing with that sweater, after all.) Plus, now’s an excellent time for a rewatch, given that the sequel (which we’ve previewed and are pretty excited about) hits theatres on November 23 before joining the original on Netflix.
2. Autumn in New York (2000)
FALL IN THE BIG APPLE
This dramatic, May-December romance starring Richard Gere and Wynonna Ryder is a bit of an old-fashioned watch, but if you haven’t seen it or are in the mood for something that will punch you in the gut, it’s worth checking out. Gere plays an aging playboy who falls for a terminally ill, younger woman. The ending seems to write itself, but the beautiful fall landscapes in some of the film’s scenes are surprisingly breathtaking.
3. The Cider House Rules (1999)
BEST FALL MOVIE WITH A POLITICAL TWIST
Aside from the fall scenery and abundance of apples featured in this Oscar-winning adaptation of John Irving’s novel, it tackles challenging but relevant themes like racism and abortion. The story is told through the eyes of a young orphan (Tobey Maguire) who was raised in an orphanage but then sets off to see what else is out there, encountering an unexpected world in the process. Michael Caine, Charlize Theron, Paul Rudd and Delroy Lindo also star.
4. Autumn Sonata (1978)
BEST FALL MUSICAL DRAMA
Writer/director Ingmar Bergman helmed this story starring Ingrid Bergman. The latter shines as a devoted wife whose life is upended when her successful concert pianist mother visits. What follows is a raw and painful discussion of how the two hurt each other over the years, leading to Oscar nominations for both Bergmans. It’s one of the older picks on this list but always worth a fall re-watch, especially since autumn is in the actual title.
5. Little Women (2019)
Sure, there are plenty of Little Women adaptations to check out. Still, we have a soft spot for Greta Gerwig’s adaption, which helped to make a household name out of Oscar-nominee Florence Pugh, while pairing up Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson. The coming-of-age story (based, of course, on Louisa May Alcott’s novel) is great fall fare because of its comforting nature and overall scenery.
6. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
BEST FOR KIDS
Director Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel is great kids’ fall fare for older children who are interested in seeing how foxes prepare for the season. It revolves around a sly fox outwitting nasty farmers, with some capers and mischief thrown in for good measure. Adults will get a kick out of some of the double entendres and recognize some of the famous cast’s voices (George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Bill Murray, for example).
7. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
BEST FAMILY FALL MOVIE
No matter your age, there’s always something fun about snuggling up and watching Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the gang celebrate the season in style. Sure, this is technically a Halloween movie, but it’s such a beloved classic, full of fall scenes and kids jumping in leaves, that we’d be remiss not to include it.
8. Remember the Titans (2000)
BEST FOOTBALL FLICK
What’s fall without at least one football movie? Our top pick is this Denzel Washington selection, directed by Boaz Yakin and based on a true story. It follows a newly appointed Black football coach and high school players during their first season as a racially integrated team. Ryan Hurst, Donald Faison, Will Patton, and Hayden Panetierre also star.
9. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Director Rob Reiner brought Nora Ephron’s words to life with the help of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in this now-classic film that always reminds us of fall. There are so many autumn depictions throughout the movie, from changing leaves to sweaters, that it’s even one of the most recognizable fall movies on this list. But, if you’re a good old-fashioned rom-com lover, it’s also one of the best.
10. St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)
Writer/director Joel Schumacher helmed the Brat Pack in what is probably the most romantic film from the group at the time, following a group of friends just out of college struggling with adulthood. The fall- and winter-set film was controversial at the time, especially since many of the characters were unlikeable, but we say that makes it hold up even better in today’s cringeworthy-character-embracing climate.
11. Good Will Hunting (1997)
BEST FOR REALIZING YOUR POTENTIAL
By now, we’re all familiar with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s big-screen writing debut, but it’s always worth a cozy fall re-watch, thanks to the golden hues and sweaters featured throughout. Seeing the actors in their younger days alongside Robin Williams is also kind of nostalgic, and it’s surprisingly motivating if you feel like you’re in a bit of a fall funk.
12. Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
BEST NOSTALGIC LAUGH
Not all of the scenes in this John Candy, Steve Martin classic hold up, but if you’re looking for a funny fall movie to get you into the Thanksgiving scene, it’s always worth a watch. In the flick, writer/director John Hughes had the actors play a shower curtain ring salesman and an ad man, respectively, trying to make it home for the holidays. And of course, nothing goes according to plan.
13. The Straight Story (1999)
BEST BIOGRAPHICAL DRAMA
David Lynch’s movie tells the real-life story of a 73-year-old man who drives his lawnmower from Iowa to Wisconsin to make up with and visit his sick brother. The movie was filmed chronologically, complete with plenty of gorgeous fall scenery, but it also warms you up thanks to the themes of family and perseverance.
14. Clueless (1995)
BEST HIGH SCHOOL PICK
It’s impossible to think of fall and not about the return to school. Therefore, we had to include at least one high school flick on this list. And what better film to represent them all than Amy Heckerling’s classic Clueless, which is a cleverly disguised interpretation of Jane Austen’s Emma? To this day, it’s Alicia Silverstone’s most notable role, plus it’s rife with California fall scenery that makes you want to hang out inside with good friends and chill.
15. Rushmore (1998)
BEST REVENGE FLICK
Okay, so technically, Wes Anderson’s prep-school dramedy also revolves around those teen years, but it’s different enough from Clueless that we also thought it was important to include. Jason Schwartzman stars as an ambitious but daft teen who falls in love with a teacher (Olivia Williams). But when he realizes his friend is involved with her, the war for her attention is on. Bill Murray, Brian Cox and Luke Wilson also star.