The New York Film Festival finished its 53rd year this past weekend, bringing with it some big films that will undoubtedly be favored in the upcoming awards season. While I didn’t get to see everything on my list, I saw enough to pick out some gems along the way, which is why this list exists now. Sure, the huge films get center stage at NYFF, but the whole selection still offers some unexpected treats that certainly stay with you. So without further delay, here are my favorite films from NYFF.
Despite my wanting something different from Spielberg, Bridge of Spies is still a mighty impressive film, sticking to a formula that is saved by its actors (most notably Mark Rylance) and its story. While it is another historical film from Spielberg, it sheds compelling light on a true story revolving around a war of intrigue instead of a war of violence. The fact that the Coen brothers wrote part of the script adds a refreshing touch not normally seen in Spielberg’s work.
4. The Lobster
This festival favorite is no stranger to praise, and it’s going to receive some more. Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster wreaks absurdity and originality and utilizes its stellar cast completely. Colin Farrell nails every deadpan delivery, and the rest of the ensemble fits in perfectly into this weird world. A story set in a dystopian reality where people are forced to be in relationships and single people are hunted down may not sound like something that can be pulled off. But Lanthimos does and has established himself as a truly original writer-director whose ideas are only going to get stranger, and I’m sure everyone who’s seen this movie is totally okay with that.
It’s nice to see that the director of There Will Be Blood and The Master is able to just take a short break from intense narratives and make a very chilled out documentary. Paul Thomas Anderson shows a new side of his directing in this doc about the collaboration between British musician Jonny Greenwood and incredible Indian musicians. It’s a brief reprieve from what we’re used to from Anderson, but it’s certainly a most welcomed one that introduces the world to these truly creative minds and their deeply infectious music.
2. De Palma
Sticking to another documentary from yet another prominent director, Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s doc on the prolific filmmaker gives Brian De Palma the chance to set the record straight on his career. For someone who’s only seen two of his films, De Palma is essentially a master class on the do’s and don’ts of filmmaking and of dealing with Hollywood. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself binge watching his filmography after seeing it.
And my number one most anticipated film for the festival certainly did not disappoint. I already had high hopes for Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter, and some how it managed to surpass my wildest expectations. In a world of formulaic biopics, this film about social psychologist Stanley Milgram laughs in the face of that formula and puts the audience through its own experiment, testing how much one can break the rules of biography in order to deliver something original and refreshing without totally alienating viewers. While it’s strangeness may put some people off, it will certainly be a breath of fresh air for those who have been eager to see someone daring enough to make a truly original biopic, and that’s exactly what Almereyda has done with Experimenter.