10 movies you should see at the New York Film Festival 

Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver star in "Marriage Story," screening during the New York Film Festival.  Photo Credit: Film at Lincoln Center PR

The 57th NYFF includes films from 17 different countries.

Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver star in "Marriage Story," screening during the New York Film Festival. 
Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver star in "Marriage Story," screening during the New York Film Festival.  Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

This year’s New York Film Festival — the 57th edition — features a lineup of more than two dozen films from 17 different countries.

The festival opens with the debut of a highly anticipated, Martin Scorsese epic (“The Irishman”) and includes the final film by late French director Agnès Varda (“Varda by Agnès”). Its features head to New York with “Motherless Brooklyn,” Spain with “Pain and Glory,” and to Japan with “To the Ends of the Earth.”

“Each and every movie in this lineup, big or small, whether it’s made in Italy or Senegal or New York City, is the result of artists behind the camera fighting on multiple fronts to realize a vision and create something new in the world,” NYFF director Kent Jones explains in a release.

Our film critic Rob Levin sifted through the lineup’s 29 total films to select 10 — mostly international films — that should catch your eye.

"The Irishman" 

Martin Scorsese’s anticipated epic — starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino — opens the festival Sept. 27. The film, set for Netflix later this year, focuses on the 1975 disappearance of Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa and his connection to mob hit man Frank Sheeran.

"Marriage Story"

Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story," also an upcoming Netflix release, is the fest’s centerpiece film. And, if that’s not enough of a reason to go see it, the film stars "Last Jedi" actor Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a soon-to-be ex-husband-and-wife duo. Their relationship is tangled, messy, raw, and unfolds within the boundaries of New York City. 

"Motherless Brooklyn"

Based on a novel by Jonathan Lethem, "Motherless Brooklyn" follows a detective with Tourette’s syndrome. The film — starring Willem Dafoe, Leslie Mann, Bruce Willis and Edward Norton, who also directs and writes — will close the festival on Oct. 13. 

"First Cow"

"Certain Women" director Kelly Reichardt’s latest project "First Cow" focuses on the Pacific Northwest in the early 19th century.

"Pain and Glory"

This film by iconic director Pedro Almodóvar stars Antonio Banderas as a film director modeled after Almodóvar himself. Penélope Cruz plays his mother in this time-jumping project. 


Bong Joon-ho directs the film described in a release as being one of the "wildest, scariest, and most unexpectedly affecting movies in years." It follows a family of four who turn to a life of scheming to make ends meet. It won the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

"Varda by Agnès"

This film comes from the late director Agnès Varda, a beloved titan of cinema who died in France earlier this year at the age of 90. Her final work serves as a tour through her career, with archival interviews, videos and more. 

"Wasp Network"

"Wasp Network" makes its US premiere at the festival. The film, directed by Olivier Assayas ("Personal Shopper"), tells the story of a group of "Cuban defectors in Miami who in the early nineties established a spy web to infiltrate anti-Castroist terrorist groups carrying out violent attacks on Cuban soil," according to a release. 

"Portrait of a Lady on Fire"

Céline Sciamma directs this film about a young artist commissioned to paint a portrait of a wealthy woman who’s about to marry a man she’s never met. 

"To the Ends of the Earth"

Japanese filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s narrative is described as "both an entertaining tale of culture clash and a penetrating depiction of a young woman’s alienation and anxiety that pushes the director’s craft into new, mysterious, and enormously emotional realms." 

IF YOU GO: The 57th New York Film Festival runs Sept. 27 through Oct. 13 at Lincoln Center.

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