Autumn is finally here. It might not look like fall, depending on where you live, but the most atmospheric season can shine through any day still resembling summer — like sunlight through red, orange and yellow leaves — with an aesthetic fall film.
Pull your favorite sweater over your head, brew a cup of hot tea (or stop by Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte — don’t worry I won’t tell) and bundle up in an excessive amount of blankets because these films will put you in the mood to feel the crunch of dead leaves underfoot.
1. Good Will Hunting
Taking place in Boston, “Good Will Hunting” shows off New England during autumn in the most delightful ways. The 1997 drama follows janitor Will (Matt Damon) after his gift for mathematics is revealed to professors at MIT and his relationship with Sean (the late Robin Williams), his psychologist, helps him discover his purpose in life. The film also takes on a romantic undertone as Will begins a relationship with Skylar (Minnie Driver).
Written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, this classic feel-good film exudes the energy that everyone is looking for this time of year. A beautiful message, expertly crafted story and Damon pressed up against a glass window saying “How do you like them apples?” work together in front of a perfect fall backdrop.
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Unfortunately, the start of fall means back to school for students. During the trying time of syllabus week, students can rest easy and be transported into a better world through “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (or any of the films based on J.K. Rowling’s universe).
While the audience fantasizes about transferring to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) starts a new school year. In fact, almost every single film starts in autumn because that’s when school resumes and Harry can see his best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) again.
Whether you watch it for the nostalgia factor or you’re watching the films for the first time (seriously? Where are you living? Under a rock?), these films will give you a warm and fuzzy feeling in your chest like no other.
3. Donnie Darko
Although most wouldn’t describe “Donnie Darko” as an autumn-themed film (and it isn’t), it takes place in the fall right around Halloween and the colors, music and atmosphere combined make this surreal drama thriller a great film to watch while munching on candy corn.
A teenage Jake Gyllenhaal plays the troubled teenager Donnie Darko, who is plagued by visions of a man in a giant rabbit suit who tells him when the world is ending and manipulates him to commit crimes. A star studded cast attempts to reach out to the angsty Donnie including his sympathetic therapist (Katharine Ross), his passionate english teacher (Drew Barrymore), a local motivational speaker (Patrick Swayze) and his new friend (Jena Malone).
This cult classic will give you a lot to ponder as you look at your window at the not-quite-fall looking landscape. It’s the kind of film that you can watch over and over again and still learn something new each time. And if you are die-hard fan like myself and you’ve seen it a million times, check out the director’s cut of the film, which somehow makes more sense while being more confusing.
4. When Harry Met Sally
Looking for a sweet romance to sink your teeth into like a vampire sucking blood, try “When Harry Met Sally.” Directed by Rob Reiner, this 1989 film is one of the most famous romantic comedies. Seriously, if you type in “rom coms” into your search bar right now, it will be one of the first films to pop up.
Starring young Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan (the ultimate female lead in a romance) as Harry and Sally, the film tackles a still very relevant question: Can straight men and women just be friends without it leading to sex or romance?
5. The Craft
If you are looking for an aesthetic fall film that also conjures up some bulletproof girl power, then “The Craft” is the right film for you. When Sarah (Robin Tunney) transfers to a Catholic school, a group of girls deemed outcasts by their peers befriend her and offer her the opportunity to join their coven.
Together the four girls, including Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Bonnie (Neve Campbell) and Rochelle (Rachel True), form an unstoppable power and use witchcraft to do anything they want, convince men to fall in love with them and gain revenge for all the bullying.
In addition to the spells and potions, these witches really know how to dress. Each girl has her own style that draws from the different trends from ‘90s fall fashion.
Based on Neil Gaiman’s best selling dark fantasy children’s book of the same name, “Coraline” hypnotizes viewers with fantastical and colorful elements — as well as button eyes.
Directed by Henry Selick — I would include another film directed by Selick, but “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a little too obvious — this stop motion film has won many hearts, but also kept several children and adults up awake late at night out of fear of the “Other Mother.”
When her parents move into a new house, the curious 11-year-old Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) discovers a little door in the wall that leads to another world. A world almost exactly like her own, but better. Her parents pay more attention to her, the neighbors are simply eccentric instead of crazy and her only friend Wybie (voiced by Robert Bailey Jr.) doesn’t speak.
The strangely idealized version of her real life might seem like heaven, but the sinister secrets behind the little door makes this film perfect for a late autumn night, no matter your age.
The 1978 film “Halloween” might be an obvious choice, but many young adults have never seen the film that started it all. They might have seen remakes and sequels but nothing is the same without teenage Jamie Lee Curtis, playing Laurie — the ultimate potential victim for Michael Meyers.
“Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” all fall into a similar category. If you haven’t seen the first films in these overworked franchises, go watch them right now. Even though the younger generations are no longer shocked by the special effects in these films, the atmosphere alone reigns superior over their successors.
If you’ve made it to the end of this article without starting a new film, go ahead. We can pretend that it’s chilly outside.