Seven non-scary films to enjoy during fall

Autumn has officially started and horror movie season is approaching with Halloween on the horizon.

With that said, not all films watched during the fall months have to be scary. There are plenty out there from other genres that are great to watch in September, October and November, and I’ve included some of my favorites here.

Just as a note, one of my favorite parts of fall is the sport of football being played. However, I didn’t want to get this list too bogged down and have it become a sports movie column. I did write a piece about good college football films, though, which you can read here.

With that said, here’s the list.

Dead Poets Society (1989)


The season of fall and the first semester of school simply go hand-in-hand, and that’s certainly on display in this movie. The film follows English students throughout the autumn season, with the fall-colored leaves hanging outside the windows of the classroom as their teacher John Keating, played wonderfully by Robin Williams, gives them new insight into poetry.

The outdoor scenes have a sense of fall in them, too. A notable example is where Keating has the class kick a ball each time they  read a poem and they’re surrounded by the crisp, autumn atmosphere. Scenes like this make “Dead Poets Society” a great choice for the season.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)


“E.T.” takes place smack dab in the middle of fall, with the second act notably having a scene set on Halloween. As a result, it’s a great go-to for this time of year.

The scenes in the forest and all of the characters regularly wearing sweaters give it an Autumn feeling. It still holds up as a wonderful family feature and those fall aspects make this prime for an October viewing.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good Will Hunting
Ben Affleck, Matt Damon
Credit: Miramax/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

“Hunting” is such a strong film that it can really be watched year-round. Autumn is a good choice, though, considering the picture is set during fall in the city of Boston.

The clothing choices, the feel of a fall semester underway, and a change in someone’s life mirroring the change from summer to winter are all on display. The film even references the World Series, which is often called the Fall Classic.

The film earned an Oscar for its writing and Robin Williams won an Academy Award for his performance. Because of its quality and setting, it’s a good choice to watch with a cold Sam Adams during a cool fall day.

Knives Out (2019)


Late fall is a time of families getting together for Thanksgiving. In between the football and turkey, a screening of “Knives Out” is recommended for a mystery revolving around some major family drama.

There are plenty of exterior shots showing barren trees, but a lack of snow, giving it a November feel, making it a great option for the autumn months. The writing is razor sharp and the cast is superb here, making it a top tier choice for a fun movie experience when families are together.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)


This flick isn’t exclusively an autumn movie. It’s also just as enjoyable to watch around Dec. 31 as the finale takes place on New Year’s Eve. However, there’s definitely a fall aesthetic at play in “When Harry Met Sally,” from the setting to the fashion.

Scenes take place in areas surrounded by colorful leaves with Billy Crystal wearing sweaters that are perfect when the weather gets cold, but not too cold. It feels right to put this one on and enjoy the relationship building during autumn.

Scent of a Woman (1992)


“Scent of a Woman” takes place in late fall, more specifically, during the week of Thanksgiving. The November holiday is quite important to the movie, too, as it’s the setting for one of the film’s key scenes where information is revealed about Al Pacino’s character.

Pacino finally won an Oscar for his performance in “Scent of a Woman.” In my opinion, it’s not his best performance, but it’s certainly worthy of praise and accolades. With Pacino doing fantastic work and a strong script, the film is a drama worth seeing, and its fall setting makes it ideal for a November watch.

Silence of the Lambs (1991)


So, I included this film because while “Silence” is suspenseful, it’s not really scary. The movie exists more as a crime drama and a mystery. This makes it a great choice during the Halloween season for horror fans and non-fans alike.

The fall atmosphere hits right off the bat, with the protagonist Clarice running in a sweater in a cold, autumn environment with leaves on the ground. The movie is a dark, intense drama and the cold, stark atmosphere of a cool fall day really helps set the mood.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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