When the 51st annual New York Film Festival kicks off September 27, there will be scores of films for cinema buffs of every stripe to take in. From shorts to the work of emerging artists, the fest is known for showing some of the best contemporary movies from around the world. And this year’s no exception.
From an opening night featuring the terrifying-looking new Tom Hanks flick to a vampire flick from indie stalwart Jim Jarmusch, there’s plenty to get excited about at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center. Here are our picks for the 12 must-see movies at the fest.
All Is Lost
After a collision on the Indian Ocean, Robert Redford’s character does his best to keep his ship from sinking in this nearly silent action movie. It’s a whole new direction for the veteran star and the audiences who’ve followed him for years.
Blue is the Warmest Color
This sexually charged, three-hour-long French film—a Palm d’Or winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival—follows two young girls as they fall into a romantic relationship.
Not for anyone heading out on the high seas soon, this based-on-a-true-story thriller follows a ship and the film’s eponymous captain (Tom Hanks) as it’s taken over by some frightening Somali pirates. Pirates of the Caribbean this certainly is not.
A warm, funny Chilean film that follows Paulina García as a middle-aged woman grappling with the ins and outs of new love with a man who’s exhaustingly set in his ways.
The latest from director Spike Jonze features what’s said to be a show-stopping performance from Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls in love with his computer. To his credit, it does have the voice of Scarlett Johansson.
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Coen brothers’ love letter to the folk music scene of 1960s New York City, right before Dylan hit it big, is one of the year’s most anticipated films. The touching, funny film features music by T Bone Burnett and a cast including John Goodman, Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac and a scene-stealing cat!
The Invisible Woman
Ralph Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens in the story of the famed writer’s secret affair with a young actress (Felicity Jones). The film will have its U.S. premiere at the festival as part of a special gala tribute for the English actor.
A sweet, sympathetic look at middle-aged love starring Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent as an English couple who travel to Paris to rekindle the romance in their ailing marriage.
Like Father, Like Son
Veteran director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s moving tale of two families who discover their sons were switched at birth impressed Steven Spielberg so much that the director is said to already be working on an English-language remake.
The Descendants director Alexander Payne goes on the road with this comical and poignant film about an aging father and his son (Bruce Dern and SNL alum Will Forte) who embark on a journey from Nebraska to Montana to claim a $1 million prize.
Only Lovers Left Alive
Indie superhero Jim Jarmusch’s romantic drama stars the perfectly cast Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as vampire lovers who reflect on their lives together through the centuries.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Ben Stiller does double duty on and off camera as he stars in and directs this comedy about a guy chasing after the woman he loves, who’s played, surely convincingly, by the lovable Kristen Wiig.