Grandlife guide


back to list

The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 56th annual New York Film Festival provides New Yorkers and cinephiles the opportunity to catch outstanding international films from the prestigious Toronto, Telluride, and Venice fests, promising first peeks at potential Oscar-nominees, restored classics, immersive experimental storytelling, and, of course, a healthy dose of celebrity spotting.

This year, sections include a lineup of documentaries, experimental films, and dialogues with directors including Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Gravity), Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line), and Claire Denis (Beau Travail, White Material). As for tickets, you can pre-purchase online via the Film Society app and the Alice Tully Hall box office. If a screening sells out, line up for last-minute standby tickets at the film’s venue one hour before showtime (with fingers crossed, of course).

To help scope out the NYFF’s must-sees, Roxy Cinema curator Illyse Singer offers up some top picks and commentary.

If Beale Street Could Talk

Making its US Premiere at NYFF, director Barry Jenkins’s follow-up to Oscar-winner Moonlight is an adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel about an African American couple, Fonny (Stephan James) and Tish (KiKi Layne), facing racism-fueled tragedy when Fonny is falsely accused of a crime.

Singer Says: “I think Jenkins is bringing a really fresh and interesting perspective to issues that need to be brought to the forefront. In Moonlight, we could all relate to that need to be loved—he captures emotional undercurrents in a quiet, powerful way.”

The Favourite

Set in 18th-century England, this subversively dark comedy sees Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone star as Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, and her servant Abigail Hill, who schemes, backstabs and plots while competing for the favor of an ailing Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) has whipped up yet another offbeat delight, with a Sapphic edge to boot.

Singer Says:It sounds wild and ridiculous; a sexual fight to the death for the body of Queen Anne. But it looks so rich and beautiful, and there has to be quirkiness. It can’t be normal!”


Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Y Tu Mama Tambien) returns to his homeland with this semi-autobiographical Centerpiece title about a live-in nanny and maid who keep a six-member middle-class family together (the title refers to the Mexico City district, Colonia Roma, where they live).  

Singer Says:Cuarón has always been one of my favorite directors, going back to 1998’s Great Expectations. It’s been a really long time since he put something out and it’s going back to his roots—and in black and white.”

The Times of Bill Cunningham

Before he passed away in 2016, New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham established himself as the most prolific name in urban street fashion reportage. Hot on the heels of his recently released memoir, Fashion Climbing, this documentary traces his career and work from beginning to end.

Singer Says: “He’s such an interesting subject who captured New York City life. This film was made posthumously, and they have a really long interview with him from 1994 that serves as the centerpiece.”

Private Life

Filmmaker Tamara Jenkins returns after a decade with this drama about a New York couple, played by Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn, who enlist an extended family member to help them have a child.

Singer Says: “Whereas Jenkins’s Slums of Beverly Hills was about a 15-year-old girl, this is about a couple trying to have a kid—it seems she’s moving along the stages of her own life as she makes more movies. It also has such a strong cast.”

At Eternity’s Gate

Willem Dafoe stars as Vincent van Gogh in artist/filmmaker Julian Schnabel’s first film since 2010’s Miral. NYFF’s Closing Night selection.

Singer Says: “I love Willem Dafoe. I think he’s one of the greatest actors alive. Schnabel really only makes films about artists, like Jean-Michel Basquiat in Basquiat and Reynaldo Arenas in Before Night Falls. Now he’s tackling van Gogh, which seems so out of his normal reach. I’m curious to see how he brings it to life.”

Also on our short list: Her Smell starring Elisabeth Moss as a 1990s alt-rocker; Cannes Palm D’Or winner Shoplifters; Latin American drama Too Late To Die Young; Paul Dano’s directorial debut Wildlife; and Frankenstein AI: A Monster Made By Many, a free interactive AI experience from Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab.

Words Lawrence Ferber

Image The Times of Bill Cunningham, Film Society of Lincoln Center

You May Also Like

Paige Powell Andy Warhol Basquiet Bill Cunningham John Lennon Bob Gruen Ken Schles New York 80s Allan Tannenbaum Walt Cassidy

New York-Centric Coffee Table Books

art & design
From revelrous art world celebrities to late-night voyeurism: The photo books that pay homage to our immensely photographic city.
SoHo New York itinerary soho diner king ruby's cafe brunch al fresco roxy hotel clic gallery saturdays surf nyc the webster

Weekends in SoHo

art & design
bars & nightlife
food & drink
Explore the neighborhood anew with this curated guide.
Catskills Guide Upstate New York Phoenicia Diner

Top Picks for a Fall Getaway

It’s time to start planning your fall getaway, and we’re here to help.
St Mazie, Bemelmans Bar, new york bars, cocktails, Lucien, Dante, Grand Banks

Local Go-Tos with Maxwell Britten, Tali Lennox, Zackery Michael & Others

bars & nightlife
We asked friends of GrandLife to share their neighborhood spot for drinks and what they order when they go. Here’s what they told us…
MoMa, the Whitney, Brooklyn Museum, The Met, The Metropolitan Museum, Fotografiska

Museums Reopen: Here's What to Expect

art & design
A collab with David Byrne at the Brooklyn Museum, the Donald Judd retrospective at MoMA, and more to explore at New York's landmark museums this fall.
Summer Day Trips to Ignite your Senses

Summer Day Trips to Ignite your Senses

art & design
bars & nightlife
We round up the best day trips to set your senses alight and lull you into that holiday state of mind without venturing too far from the city.
McNally Jackson Summer Reading List New York Books

McNally Jackson’s John Francisconi shares his top 5 summer reads

art & design
For your reading pleasure. 
New York Stores bookstore coming soon abc home adam green brianna lance tali lennox academy records maryam nassir zadeh no.6 store shopping the realreal sincerely tommy strand bookstore mast di palo's

Local Go-Tos With Adam Green, Brianna Lance, Nikki Kynard & Others

art & design
now open
We asked friends of GrandLife to share their favorite NYC stores and what they love about them. Here’s what they told us…
Best Rate Promise
Soho Grand Hotel

310 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013

(212) 965-3000
The Roxy Hotel Tribeca

2 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10013