The last two years, we saw something special—and rare—happen at the Oscars: the Best Song category actually meant something to many viewers. Two years ago, we couldn’t get “Let It Go” from Frozen out of our heads (but let’s be honest, did it ever really leave our heads?). That was the year the Idina Menzel tuner left Pharrell’s toe-tapping contender “Happy” from Despicable Me 2 in the dust. Then last year, we saw John Legend and Common force the Dolby to its feet with their performance of winning song “Glory” from Selma, outpacing another fan favorite, The Lego Movie‘s “Everything Is Awesome.”
This year, high-profile artists like Lady Gaga, Diane Warren, Sam Smith, and The Weeknd are in the mix, but their songs don’t have the same appeal as those from recent memory. Still, this year’s diverse lot of songs—ranging from R&B to classical to a James Bond anthem—is worth a listen before this Sunday’s Oscars.
It’s a good time to be a movie fan in New York. Two of the country’s preeminent film festivals—New York Film Festival and Hamptons International Film Festival—are upon us. The 53rd edition of the New York Film Festival (NYFF) kicks off tonight, September 25, and runs through October 11 at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center. The 23rd edition of Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) is next in line with a program running from October 8–12 in Long Island. (I’ve proudly served on the screening committee of HIFF for the past five years.) Given their fall festival dates, both have historically made good on delivering some of that year’s top Oscar contenders, and this year will likely be no different. Here are each festival’s Opening Night, Centerpiece, and Closing Night films. Check out each festival’s website for its full slate of programming. (All film synopses below are courtesy of their respective festivals’ websites.)