With Labor Day behind us and the official start of fall just around the corner, we know you’ve started to pull out your sweaters and cozy up your home with visions of cooling nights spent inside capturing your imagination. But while there’s plenty to occupy you during your time hunkered down on the couch, don’t get too comfy, because fall also brings with it a bevy of new cultural offerings well worth leaving your house for. Here, we bring you Observer’s 2019 Fall Arts & Entertainment Preview, a definitive guide to everything you should be watching, reading, attending, documenting and debating this season.
To quote the late, great Bill Paxton in the perpetually underrated Edge of Tomorrow, “Battle is the great redeemer. The fiery crucible in which the only true heroes are forged.” Well, based on the battle of blockbusters over this summer, the only true hero is Disney. Lucky for the rest of the industry, the coming months represent an opportunity for redemption. With an assortment of fancy film festivals on the horizon and prime Autumn release dates, movie fans should prepare themselves for a deluge of Oscar hopefuls and a handful of well-timed blockbusters. As such, we’ve pulled together a handy guide to help you navigate the crowded cluster of bankable biggies and prestige pics.
It may already feel like we’re getting bombarded by a new television series every single week, but it’s about to get even heavier as we head into the new TV season. Fall is always filled with excitement, not just because of the weather and back-to-school feeling in the air, but because there are seemingly endless new series to watch—and plenty of returning favorites—and this year is no exception. It can be daunting to sift through all the premieres, so we bring you the 10 new series that are worth your time.
What theater should you see this fall? Well, do you like musicals? What about new plays? Oh, you prefer classics? And how about experimental stuff—what’s your tolerance for the weird? Luckily, this fall has it all. We bring you 11 of the dozens of shows opening that cater to a spectrum of tastes. There’s a notable cluster of pop stars (Tina Turner, Alanis Morissette, David Byrne), but also cult figures for freaky-theater connoisseurs (María Irene Fornés). Once you’ve winnowed it down (Off Broadway > Play > Foreign > Classic etc.) you will find your ideal showbiz niche. And once you do, we’ve got the show recommendation for you.
The art world is constantly shifting, but this fall is shaping up to be a particularly fruitful period for intense dialogue and radical change. Museum board members are getting called out for their business affiliations, galleries in Beijing are being bulldozed without warning and prices for contemporary work are as high as they’ve ever been; there’s the uneasy sense that we’re on the edge of something. These upcoming exhibitions promise to be challenging, from the Vija Celmins retrospective at the Met Breuer to the immersive survey of human migration at the MCA Chicago.
A criticism that is often leveled at the performing arts is that these aesthetic frameworks have grown out of touch with modern audiences. And yet, a cursory glance of what’s ahead this fall season reveals that opera and dance have become platforms for the most timely conversations of 2019: immigration, climate change, racial and gender equality. Whether it’s legacy institutions like the Met revisiting Porgy and Bess with a modern lens or indie opera company Heartbeat Opera tackling climate change with the arias of Mozart, opera and dance are taking on contemporary challenges within classic art forms. The result is a fall season filled with innovative performances, immersive experiences and some of the most compelling artistry these genres can offer.
No matter how old you get, it’s impossible to shake that “back to school” feeling. New shoes, new notebooks, new books. Even now, you can still catch that energy by leaving your local bookstore with a stack of new titles, a bookmark tucked in each one. Looking beyond politics, some of the most compelling nonfiction of the fall centers around things unexplained—from the supernatural to the paradox of fame as well as violence invisible to the eye. Coming to terms with mystery, we may steady ourselves for what’s to come. It’s an exceptional year for fiction. Some authors try their hand at a new form and others create sequels to legendary classics and cult favorites. So don’t dwell on summer’s end; concentrate on sweater season and setting aside your phone in order to hit the books.