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The Student News Site of Hendrick Hudson

The Hendrick Hudson Anchor

10 Movies to Watch this Autumn


No season has garnered such a specific aesthetic as autumn. Halloween, the crisp air and warm hues– these all contribute to a universal understanding of autumn. There are certain movies that fit into this aesthetic quite well, and there are others that just have an autumn feeling that we can’t exactly place, but we know is there. With that in mind, here are 10 movies we think are perfect to watch this autumn.


1. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Bill Melendez (1966)

Photo Credits: Michael De Pippo

No character is so quintessentially holiday as Charlie Brown. The Charlie Brown specials, including A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, are both well-known classics to watch for their respective holidays, but it’s 1966’s It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown that captures the spirit of autumn best. The acclaimed Halloween special follows all the Peanuts kids as they celebrate Halloween, except for Linus, who waits in a pumpkin patch for the legendary Great Pumpkin to arrive. 

The Great Pumpkin exudes a childhood warmth that few films are capable of producing. This is in part due to the comforting soundtrack, courtesy of Vince Guaraldi, which has become a pop culture staple for its recognizable tracks like “Linus and Lucy” and “The Great Pumpkin Waltz”.

But more importantly, The Great Pumpkin helped define the Halloween special as a new genre, and popularized the celebration of Halloween in America. Rewatching it annually around the Halloween season has become commonplace, making it a perfect film for viewers of all ages to enjoy.


2. Dead Poets Society by Peter Weir (1989)

Photo Credits: Touchstone Pictures

Since its release in 1989, Dead Poets Society has garnered a cult following among the youth, probably more than any other film on this list. It’s one of those rare films that has an aesthetic appeal to younger generations, a narrative appeal to older generations, and a thematic appeal to critics all at the same time.

Set in a picturesque New England boy’s private school, the movie follows a group of students who have their lives changed by a passionate new English teacher named Mr. Keating, who is played to perfection by Robin Williams. The students gain newfound appreciation for subjects like poetry and acting, and are now torn between following what their parents and institution want them to become, and what they want to become. 

Dead Poets Society’s setting and tone has resonated with younger audiences due to their appeal to the “dark academia” aesthetic, a subculture that deals with an idealistic version of higher education, literature and the arts, with gothic undertones. The preparatory school that the film takes place in, draped in the colors of Vermont autumn and flooded with old money, fits perfectly into this aesthetic. It’s the aesthetic appeal that makes it a perfect film to watch during autumn, but it can be enjoyed at any time of the year.


3. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Wes Anderson (2009)

Photo Credits: 20th Century Fox

Have you ever watched a movie and it just feels like a hug? That’s the exact feeling Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox gives off. Armed with a star-studded cast and world class stop motion animation, Fantastic Mr. Fox tells the story of the cunning Mr. Fox, who gets into a heated conflict with three greedy farmers after stealing from one of their farms.

Oozing with warm oranges, reds and yellows, Fantastic Mr. Fox is the film on this list that probably has the most autumnal cinematography. Animators and set designers working with Wes Anderson chose to reflect autumn through settings such as rolling beige fields and colorful large trees.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is full of classic Wes Anderson tropes, such as dysfunctional families, quirky characters and an almost theatrical tone. It’s these idiosyncrasies that make Wes Anderson’s films so memorable, and it’s what makes Fantastic Mr. Fox an ideal candidate for an enjoyable autumn viewing.


4. When Harry Met Sally by Rob Reiner (1989)

Photo Credits: MGM

When Harry Met Sally is one of the most iconic and popular rom coms, and rightfully so. The movie follows Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) and different times of their lives, centered around their struggle to have a platonic relationship. They first meet on a car ride from Chicago to New York, where they argue about how men and women can’t have platonic relationships and that sex ruins true friendship. 10 years later, they meet in a bookstore, restarting their friendship and complicated feelings for eachother. 

Set in New York City, the city gives the movie a beautiful fall, moody background as the characters mature, fight, and develop feelings for each other. Not to mention, When Harry Met Sally is full of iconic moments: a museum date, witty banter, 80s style, and a love confession party scene. 

One of the best parts of the movie is that it mainly focuses on love and friendship, making it easy to escape into. No one struggles with their job, money or any real problems, so love, and all that comes with it, carries the plot forward. At its heart, When Harry Met Sally is a feel-good romance, one perfect for the autumn months. 


5. The Craft by Andrew Fleming (1996)

Photo Credits: Columbia Pictures

Do you love witches, crazy ladies and 90s fashion? Then The Craft is the perfect movie for you! The Craft exudes a cool vibe– it’s goth, gritty, and full of revenge. 

The plot follows Sarah (Robin Tunney), a new girl with telekinetic abilities, and her friendship with three witches at her new school. Together, they take revenge against their bullies, but soon their leader, Nancy (Fairuza Balk) turns power-hungry to right society’s wrongs against her. All the girls have their reasons and desires to better their lives with witchcraft, giving the movie more nuance over the correctness of their actions. Plus, the movie just gets entertainingly bizarre at some points, like making a girl’s hair fall out and shapeshifting. 

Two highlights of the movie are the soundtrack and wardrobe. The soundtrack is stacked with 90s alt-rock songs, fitting perfectly with the dark, goth indie premise. The wardrobe, full of plaid skirts, rosaries and leather jackets, gives the characters such style that solidifies who they are, while juxtaposing them with the background characters. 


6. Mona Lisa Smile by Mike Newell (2003)

Photo Credits: Columbia Pictures

Starring the icon Julia Roberts, Mona Lisa Smile follows a group of students at the prestigious all-girls college Wellesley in 1950s rural Massachusetts. With a stacked cast of Kristen Dunst, Julia Stiles and Maggie Gyllenhall, the movie’s characters are confronted with their ideas of societal expectations as subservient women and their personal career desires. Roberts (or Katherine Watson) teaches the girls modern art, pushing them to question their ideas of what art is and how to be open to new, progressive ideas/expressions. 

I love to think Mona Lisa Smile is a feminine, women-centered Dead Poets Society. It has a “dark academia” backdrop and a wonderful message about self-expression against a conservative institution, but centers it around female struggles in a patriarchal society.


7. Little Women by Greta Gerwig (2019)

Photo Credits: Columbia Pictures

Many directors have adapted Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women over the years, but it’s the most recent one, Greta Gerwig’s 2019 Little Women, that stands out as the clear best adaptation. The film is fit with an ensemble cast including the likes of Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothee Chalamet, Emma Watson, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep, among others. 

Little Women follows the four March sisters, Jo, Amy, Meg and Beth, as they grow from adolescence into adulthood in the years after the Civil War. It is a classic American story of girlhood, love and the struggle between family and personal growth that has stayed in the American zeitgeist for over 150 years.

Greta Gerwig’s exceptional screenplay and direction made sure that her adaptation would be one to remember. She has done films that explore similar themes of girlhood and coming-of-age like 2012’s Frances Ha and 2017’s Lady Bird, so her taking on Little Women just made sense; she was the perfect fit for the job. In particular, her screenplay puts the nuances and characterization of the characters before everything else, ensuring that the film’s actors and actresses could properly play these famous roles in a way that felt fresh and relatable. 

It’s the New England setting and emphasis on warm family bond that makes this movie perfect for the autumn months. Autumn has a warm affection associated with it, and the March family’s tender home among the foliage of wooded Massachusetts is perfect for fall viewing.


8. Coraline by Henry Selick (2009)

Photo Credits: Focus Features

Laika Studios are arguably the best stop-motion studio currently working today, and Coraline is considered by many to be their best film. The film took four years to make, with a team of 500 people painstakingly working to create the film frame by frame. An adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 2002 novel of the same name, Coraline tells the story of Coraline Jones and her family, who move to Oregon for work, against her wishes. Life in Oregon seems bleak and boring, but one day while exploring, Coraline finds a hidden door in the house, one that leads to a parallel world. This parallel world is seemingly better than her dreary reality, but not everything is what it seems…

Coraline is another film that is fine-tuned for the Halloween season. It is by no means a horror film, but it contains an air of uncanny mystery that is in line with the Halloween spirit. Coraline’s bizarre and eerie characters, strange and foggy settings, and generally spooky tone makes it a perfect watch for an autumn afternoon. 


9. Over the Garden Wall by Patrick McHale (2014)

Photo Credits: Cartoon Network Studios

Although technically not a movie, this mini-series clocks in at only two and a half hours, so we are including it on this list. Over the Garden Wall is an animated dark fantasy mini-series particularly crafted for the fall season. It ran from November 3rd 2014 to November 7th 2014, and since then has become a cult classic among both adolescents and adults.

The mini-series follows two brothers, the older brother Wirt, and the younger brother Greg, who get lost in the woods known as the Unknown. Their attempts to leave the woods and get back home take them through many different places, meeting many different characters.

If autumn were embodied in one show, it would be Over the Garden Wall. The mini-series is full to the brim with classic autumnal tropes, such as a town inhabited by skeletons wearing pumpkins, dense forest full of peak foliage, and even creepy antagonistic characters such as the mysterious Beast and the cunning Adelaide of the Pasture.

The mini-series boasts talented voice acting from well-known actors such as Elijah Wood and Christopher Lloyd, as well as a phenomenal soundtrack consisting of old-time jazz and folk tunes that fits perfectly into the world of the Unknown.

I personally rewatch the series every year around Halloween with my family, and every time we rewatch it we find new hidden details and new interpretations of Wirt and Greg’s travels through the Unknown. Over the Garden Wall is a deeply enjoyable mini-series that you can finish in one afternoon, preferably an autumn afternoon. No series on television today can match the autumnal aesthetic that Over the Garden Wall offers; that is my promise to you.


10. Juno by Jason Reitman (2007)

Photo Credits: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Juno is a perfect blend of teenage confusion and indie style. The movie follows a teenage girl named Juno (Elliot Page) and her surprise pregnancy. Instead of an abortion, she finds a family willing to adopt, but begins a bizarre, strange relationship with the husband (Jason Bateman). With this weird relationship, Juno struggles with her feelings, the meaning of true love, and self-expression. 

One thing this movie does great is the style. The movie is covered in an orange hue and feels oddly nostalgic despite its unrelatable premise. The soundtrack is filled to the brim with folky ballads, adding a cuteness and warm fuzz. Another highlight is the dialogue; Juno uses such random slang that adds a funny element to a somewhat serious topic. All in all, Juno will make you cry and warm your heart at the same time.

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Francisco Aguirre-Ghiso
Francisco Aguirre-Ghiso, Managing Editor
Francisco Aguirre-Ghiso is currently a senior at Hen Hud. This is his second year writing at The Anchor, and currently holds the position of managing editor. He is also public relations officer for Tri-M Music Honor Society and plays Varsity Tennis. Outside of school, he likes watching movies, playing video games and listening to music.
Kacie Burns
Kacie Burns, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Kacie is a Senior at Hen Hud and this is her fourth year on The Anchor. For the paper, she does the layout, artwork, and writes. This year, she is the Arts & Entertainment Editor and Head of Layout. Outside of school, she loves to listen to music (Fiona Apple, The Cure, and The Smiths), take film photos, and read classic literature. She doesn’t play any sports, but does play the violin in the school’s orchestra and loves to draw and paint. 
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