If you’re anything like us, you’ve worked every waking weekend straight since Labor Day thanks to the Venice Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Fantastic Fest and the Emmys. So it’s without any murderous feelings that we absolutely cannot wait for the upcoming New York Film Festival which, unlike most film festivals, runs over the course of three weekends, not one, this year, running from September 27-October 13. It is truly a joyous time to be alive.

While NYFF director Kent Jones is stepping down, leaving his post to devote more time to filmmaking—his docs are great and his feature-length narrative drama, “Diane,” is genuinely excellent—the festival remains in good health. Jones opened up the festival from its previous administration, broadening the film to capitalize on the fall film festival awards season and hype, but always with the same kind of artful and tasteful eye that has designed the festival and never steering it away from its roots.

If you weren’t able to attend Cannes, Toronto, or any of the big festivals this year, for New Yorkers, NYFF is essential catch-up and the fest generally judiciously curates the greatest and most artistic films that have hit the circuit so far.

This year, NYFF boasts the world premiere of Martin Scorsese‘s “The Irishman“—currently said to be running about 3.5 hours and maybe that’ll change in the… oh, several days. Ed Norton’sMotherless Brooklyn” is the closing night film and Noah Baumbach’s much-beloved “Marriage Story” is the centerpiece movie. You’ll definitely want to see those if you haven’t already, but we wanted to focus on the vast array of programming beyond just the hits. Below, 12 films we’re highly anticipating.

The Irishman
Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano
Synopsis: A mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa.
What You Need to Know: What is left to say about “The Irishman?” Apart from its terrible-looking poster—the promotional artwork possesses all the elegance of a mixtape cover-stitched together in Microsoft Paint—Martin Scorsese’s newest endeavor is practically a certifiable classic even before its release date. Even if you don’t count yourself among the Scorsese hivemind, no one, cinephile or otherwise, should deny the filmmaker’s talent or unrivaled work ethic. Nevertheless, years from now, “The Irishman” may be remembered more as an intriguing experiment in the director’s career rather than a creative departure from the status quo when one takes into account that Mr. Scorsese is returning to familiar territory: the biographical crime drama. Equipped with a CGI-altered cast—visual de-aging effects were applied to several of the leads—and a three-hour-plus runtime, “The Irishman” may be the breakout American masterpiece that 2019 needs to redeem itself.
Release Date: November 27 – Jonathan Christian

First Cow
Cast: John Magaro, Orion Lee, Toby Jones, Alia Shawkat, Ewen Bremner, Rene Auberjonois
Synopsis: Traveling with a group of unruly fur trappers as a cook, a young man forges an unlikely connection with a Chinese immigrant and they hatch a plot to run a business dependent on the cow of a local wealthy landowner.
What You Need to Know: Filmmaker Kelly Reichardt marches to the tune of her own drum and nowhere is that more evident with her latest drama “First Cow,” which on the surface, is Reichardt doing tranquil Reichardt in the North-Western Pacific, in a period piece, that doesn’t seem interested in commercial appeal or even being part of the current zeitgeist at all. But the deeper you look, “First Cow” is a really serene story about friendship, community, harmony—all things we’re sorely lacking in right now— and even a touching immigration story. It’s a gentle, subtle movie, and likely not one that’s going to light up the box office in the way, say some Robert Pattinson-led edgy indie will, but “First Cow” is good for the soul and thank god, Kelly Reichardt is still making movies. Our review.
Release Date: March 6, 2020, via A24.Rodrigo Perez

Cast: Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Sun-kyun
Synopsis: All unemployed, Ki-taek’s family takes a peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident.
What You Need to Know: If you ask director Bong Joon-ho – who was one of several famed filmmakers in 2019 to issue a “no spoilers” plea in advance of his latest feature’s Cannes premiere – you’re best going into this one knowing as little as possible. Still, those of you acquainted with the Korean auteur’s deliriously entertaining contributions to genre cinema (“The Host,” “Mother,” “Snowpiercer”) are likely approaching this year’s Palme d’Or recipient with expectations of another eccentric and darkly comic thriller shot through with subversive social commentary. And so far, the critical consensus suggests that not only does “Parasite” give the people what they want, but it might even go down as the director’s most celebrated offering to date. Even The Playlist’s own Bradley Warren, who argued in his Cannes review that the film “falls slightly short of Bong’s greatest work,” praised “Parasite” as a “demented and often-uproarious class-conscious satire” that shows off the director’s talent for “making intimate stories pop on a blockbuster-sized canvas.” [Our Review]
Release Date: October 11 – David Pountain

Cast: Sônia Braga Udo Kier Bárbara Colen
Synopsis: After the death of her grandmother, a woman comes home to her matriarchal village in a near-future Brazil to find a succession of sinister events that mobilize all of its residents.
What You Need to Know: “ Bacurau” has so many great things working for it, first and foremost, its an official selection film from both the Toronto Film Festival and Cannes where it won the Jury Prize. Additionally, it’s part of the burgeoning Brazilian New Wave scene, that’s really made an impact internationally. Dubbed a “weird Western” with strange events inside of it, “Bacurau” is directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles, and Filho is known for such films as 2016 Cannes entry “Aquarius” and 2012’s breakthrough film “Neighboring Sounds” which tackled class and race in mysterious, ambiguous ways, played at the Rotterdam film festival and was chosen as the Brazilian submission for best foreign-language film at the 86th Academy Awards. With references and allusions to the work of John Carpenter, George Miller, and Sergio Leone, our review from Cannes said Filho “flips the arthouse script” to deliver a sinister and blood-soaked adventure.
Release Date: TBD, but Kino Lorber has acquired the film rights for North America. – RP