Ahhh Fall! 🍁🎃🍂 It’s my favorite season of the year! I love the leaves changing colors, the cooler crisp air in the air, and seeing the fall-themed decorations in my neighborhood. I’m fortunate to live in a place where the foliage is especially pretty… I often get distracted by the colorful trees while I’m driving around town! Well, as the temp dips and days grow shorter, that means there’ll be more time for staying in and watching movies!
I’m thrilled to be collaborating with fellow blogger Katie Carter, whose blog Katie At The Movies you ought to check out if you haven’t already (she’s been posting a ton of reviews from TIFF recently, too!). So we come up with our favorite Fall movies that really get you in the mood for Autumn.
BABY BOOM (1987)
Like all seasons, autumn marks a transitional period, but one that can either mean growth—the fall harvest—or decay—falling leaves, wilting flowers. In “Baby Boom,” a comedy directed by Charles Shyer and co-written by Nancy Myers, the fall scenes are brief but impactful, coming almost an hour into the movie after Diane Keaton’s J.C. Wiatt has made the decision to leave her Manhattan apartment and high profile consulting job and high-tail it to the sprawling Vermont estate she just purchased along with her late cousin’s toddler she’s recently taken in.
She arrives at the peak of fall, driving down picturesque rural roads framed by colorful trees, and finds her land overwhelmed by apple trees ready for picking. The scenery is so Instagram-perfect I’m surprised Baby Boom doesn’t top more lists of great fall movies, but the season also beautifully marks J.C.’s transition from the cold concrete jungle to the countryside.
ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (1955)
Douglas Sirk’s quintessential melodrama finds the director applying his typically beautifully photographed colors to New England during the transition from fall to winter. As wealthy widow Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) falls in love with a younger, working-class man, Ron (Rock Hudson), Sirk uses the warm autumnal backdrop to frame his leads as they grapple with the prospect of a new life together, the glow of which is countered by the judgement of Cary’s family and friends.
HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988)
When I think of quaint and adorable fall scenes in movies, the “Halloween” series springs to mind—specifically Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. That may sound like an odd statement, but almost every “Halloween” movie is packed with great small-town fall vibes, from jack o’lantern lit stoops to the feeling that everyone there knows everyone else, and “Halloween 4” opens on an especially picturesque montage of Haddonfield, Illinois, with its pumpkin patches and cutely decorated main street shops. Even after the mayhem kicks in—this installment finds Michael breaking free during a prison transfer and returning to Haddonfield to track down his niece—it’s still a lovely (and I would say accurate) portrait of autumn in the Midwest.
THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (1955)
One of director Alfred Hitchcock’s rare forays into more straightforward comedy finds him applying his dark sense of humor to an adaptation of Jack Trevor Story’s novel, which is set in an idyllic small town in Vermont during the fall. The townsfolk are shaken up by the discovery of a dead body (the Harry of the title) in the woods surrounding the town, and they all have their suspicions as to what—or who—was the cause. This quirky (and still moderately suspenseful) film is headlined by a cast that includes Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, and Shirley MacLaine in her film debut, but the real star is the gorgeous fall foliage that adorns every shot.
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944)
Vincente Minnelli’s Meet Me in St. Louis is typically thought of as a Christmas movie, thanks to its climax that occurs on that holiday and Judy Garland’s memorable introduction of the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Even I, when I watch this movie every year, usually do so around the Christmas holidays. But the film, a period piece set in 1904 over the course of one year in a family’s life, is divided into acts that correspond with the four seasons, and the autumn segment set on Halloween is just as worthy of praise.
While the bulk of the story centers around Garland’s Esther, a teenager falling in love for the first time, the fall scenes deviate from that slightly, as they follow Esther’s younger sisters Agnes (Joan Carroll) and Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) going trick-or-treating—all this isn’t the trick-or-treating we’re familiar with today. Agnes and Tootie attend a bonfire with the neighborhood kids and play pranks on the neighbors, and Tootie is dared to call on one gentleman who they view as particularly fearsome. I’m always awed at how Minnelli frames these scenes from a child’s perspective so accurately. We really feel Tootie’s fear, as a tiny person approaching a great big house, so thoroughly, as well as the excitement of being a child and getting to go out at night on your own. It’s a charming time capsule aided all the more by O’Brien turning in one of the all-time great child performances as the spunky Tootie. Also, I live in St. Louis, so I’m pretty sure I’m legally required to discuss “Meet Me in St. Louis” whenever possible.
*Disclaimer – I’ve put down Nora Ephron movies a bunch of times on various lists, so for this one, I’m going to leave out You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally even though those two have such lovely Autumn scenes.
LITTLE WOMEN (2019)
My in-law family lives in New Hampshire and Autumn is especially glorious in New England. The Fall vibes are so evocative in this Greta Gerwig’s version, the March home is so cozy with the warmth of the fireplace and I love the sound of the rustic fall leaves as the March girls and Laurie walk around the neighborhood. I especially love the foliage of the town from the hill in the heart-wrenching proposal scene… romantic and heartbreaking at the same time.
FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009)
Wes Anderson must love this season as his color scheme is practically an Autumn palette, which is amplified even more in this movie. His stop-motion animated film captures the season’s aesthetic beautifully right from its opening scene. You could say Fantastic Mr. Fox the quintessential Fall movie, basked in a warm golden glow that makes you want to reach for your coziest sweater and hot cocoa when you watch it.
ST ELMO’S FIRE (1985)
It’s been ages since I saw this but it always got me nostalgic for the college years… mostly because school started in September when I was in college and I always associate college campuses with the Fall season. This movie highlights the change the seven friends go through following college graduation, as each of them is just finding out their true colors. Plus I absolutely love this theme by David Foster, which again makes me feel so nostalgic for the 80s 🙂
FRENCH EXIT (2020)
Who doesn’t love Paris in the Fall? Well, Paris is always a good idea no matter the season, but Fall is especially gorgeous as it’s the most fashionable season of the year. Michelle Pfeiffer’s wardrobe, with her oversized scarf, cozy sweaters, and fur-collared coat, are all Pinterest-worthy. I love the Parisian scenery as the characters sit in a cafe, walk around the park, or along the Seine, it definitely puts you in the Fall mood.
KNIVES OUT (2019)
Nothing says sweater season like Chris Evans donning the ivory Fisherman’s knit that quickly becomes a fashion phenom. I mean, this ensemble looks straight out of a GQ Fall Fashion photoshoot!
Everyone’s got a nifty Autumn wardrobe as well, and the location in Ames Mansion and around the Boston area highlights the best of New England foliage. The cooler weather is also a perfect time to enjoy a clever whodunnit mystery.
Hope you’ve enjoyed our list! Which Fall movies are your favorites?