"Amour" (Oct. 5 & 6)
Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winning (the director's second Palme in just three years) "Amour" makes its New York debut at the festival. The film stars veteran French actors Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva as Georges and Anne, married music teachers living out their final years in a Paris apartment until Anne suffers from a stroke. Featuring staggering performances from Trintignant and Riva, the film is a remarkably moving portrait of its titular emotion. It also is a film that will hopefully finally give Haneke an Oscar for foreign language film (its Austria's official submission), not to mention nominations for his actors. [Peter Knegt]
READ MORE: CANNES REVIEW: A Restrained Michael Haneke Delivers With Gripping Death Drama 'Amour'
“Fill the Void” (Oct. 9 & 10)
Israeli filmmaker Rama Burshtein’s debut feature has the unique distinction of being the only film ever shot by a haredi Orthodox woman about Tel Aviv’s Hasidic community. Originally set to show first at the Jerusalem Film Festival in July, the film was pulled once it was chosen to screen at Toronto and Venice, where 22-year-old star Hadas Yaron ultimately won the best actress honor. A near sweep of the Israeli Academy awards then led to “Void” being chosen as Israel’s Oscar submission for best foreign-language film. Now American audiences can get a look at Burshtein’s Hebrew-language story of an engaged Orthodox teenager who is pushed to marry her brother-in-law instead when her sister dies in childbirth — a film with an excellent chance of drawing the attention of Academy voters throughout the fall. [Jay A. Fernandez]
Robert Zemeckis finally takes a break from motion capturing the likes of Jim Carrey and Tom Hanks for “Flight,” his first live action feature since “Cast Away,” which was released a whopping 12 years ago. Given that he’s never helmed a stinker of a feature (“What Lies Beneath” haters be damned), signs are pointing to “Flight” being a stellar closing night film for the festival. Working with Denzel Washington for the first time, “Flight” stars the acting titan as a pilot who crash lands a crippled airline. Hailed a hero upon landing with most of the passengers intact, he soon comes under fire after it’s revealed he was out boozing the night before. The plot affords Zemeckis the chance to show his action chops with a crash sequence that is rumored to be harrowing, but it’s the moral darkness of the tale we’re curious to see play out. [Nigel M. Smith]
“Frances Ha” (Sept. 30, Oct. 4 & 10)
Greta Gerwig gives her most appealing performance yet in Noah Baumbach’s seemingly effortless black-and-white comedy that, yes, does share a lot of similarities to Lena Dunham’s hit HBO show “Girls.” Centered on the bumbling life of Frances (Gerwig), a struggling post-modern dancer living and loving in the Big Apple, “Frances Ha” doesn’t tell a story, so much as force you to get to know the protagonist. As written by both Baumbach and Gerwig, Frances is a hot mess, but an endearing, awkward and hilarious one. The comedy made waves at its world premiere in Telluride and subsequently in Toronto, where IFC Films picked it up, but its homecoming New York premiere will likely be the most bittersweet for Baumbach and Gerwig. Don’t miss out on welcoming them home. [Nigel M. Smith]