When picking must-sees at Fantastic Fest, one must balance movies that people who do not attend the festival might actually be able to see in theaters sometime soon with films they might have to hunt down in video stores (whatever those are) or on streaming services. To wit, here are 10 movies, in alphabetical order, screening at Fantastic Fest about which we are a-flutter.
1. “Arrival.” Denis Villeneuve’s science-fiction epic, based on Ted Chiang’s much-feted short story “Story of Your Life,” opens the fest and stars Amy Adams as a linguist who must communicate with an alien race before they get all the wrong ides about humanity.
2. “Colossal.” Fantastic Fest frequent flier Nacho Vigalondo (“Timecrimes”) puts Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis in a drama about a troubled woman who discovers a connection between herself and the kaiju (“giant monster”) clobbering South Korea.
3. “Dog Eat Dog.” Paul Schrader’s last movie, “The Canyons,” was, admittedly, pretty rough going. Here, the man who wrote “Taxi Driver” and directed “American Gigolo” returns to his noir with a violent crime comedy starring Nicolas Cage and Willem Defoe.
4. “The Handmaiden.” Park Chan-Wook (“Oldboy,” “Stoker”) delivers this erotic drama based on Sarah Walters’ novel “Fingersmith.” Park has moved the novel from Victorian Britain to 1930s Korea, when it was under Japanese colonial control.
5. “Jungle Trap.” James Bryan (“Lady Street Fighter,” “Don’t Go In the Woods”) comes to town for the world premiere of his never-before-seen VHS-era horror movie shot in 1990. Now edited and scored, this sort of thing is the beating heart of Fantastic Fest.
6. “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.” Perhaps the biggest “get” of the festival, Tim Burton is coming to town with his latest, an adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ young adult smash-hit novel.
7. “Phantasm: Remastered” and “Phantasm: Ravager.” The 1979 film “Phantasm” became one of the most important horror movies of the 1980s. The special screening of “Phantasm: Remastered” will stream live to arthouse theaters across the country to celebrate Art House Theater Day on Sept. 24. “Phantasm” director Dino Coscarelli will be on hand, as will David Hartman, director of the most recent entry in the series, “Phantasm: Ravager,” which also screens.
8. “Psycho Raman.” Indian director Anurag Kashyareap is known for his movies’ staggering violence. Here he pits a brutal, drug-addicted cop against a psychotic criminal. You think they will hash it out over dinner in a nice Mumbai restaurant? They will not.
9. “Rats.” I am a big fan of Fantastic Fest’s documentary side — I have yet to see one at the fest I didn’t enjoy — and I have high hopes for this, Morgan Spurlock’s look at the wide world of the rat, one of the planet’s most indestructible species.
10. “RZA: Live from the 36th Chamber of Shaolin.” We’re not made of stone, people. Here, one of the greatest martial arts movies ever made is re-scored by one of the greatest hip-hop producers who ever lived, and one of American popular music’s best artists in general.