15 of the best movies to watch in the fall, ranked

insider@insider.com (Lara Walsh)
·8 mins read
autumn movies
A lot of classic films can help you get into a fall mood.
  • One of the best ways to welcome fall with open arms is by curling up with a hot cider and watching some of the most classic autumn films. 

  • Insider rounded up some popular fall films and ranked them by critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes. 

  • "Good Will Hunting," "When Harry Met Sally," and "Nightmare Before Christmas" are just a few of the seasonal favorites that critics and audiences enjoy. 

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Whether or not you're ready to embrace the turning leaves and pumpkin treats, there's no better way to say goodbye to summer than by queuing up your favorite seasonal films. 

Fortunately, there's certainly no shortage of films that feature common fall staples like football, Halloween, colorful leaves, and back-to-school season.

To help you narrow them down, Insider rounded up popular movies that'll get you in the spirit of the season and ranked them according to critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Read on for 15 movies that will put you in a fall mood, ranked. 

Note: Scores were up to date at the time of publication but are subject to change.

Although "Practical Magic" was slammed by critics when it first came out in 1998, the story of two witch sisters has since become a cult-classic Halloween film.

practical magic
"Practical Magic" is about witches.

Critic score: 22%

The spooky flick features Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as the Owen sisters, whose love interests are doomed to an untimely death due to a curse put on the family of witches.

In addition to its fall-inspired setting in a small New England town, "Practical Magic" also serves up plenty of autumnal vibes with its spooky storyline and, of course, all the witches.

1996's "The Craft" is all about student witches who get involved in some dark magic.

the craft columbia pictures
The film is filled with spells and witchcraft.

Critic score: 55%

This classic Halloween flick is set in a prep school and it and features students who get themselves wrapped up in some dark magic as they try to get revenge on those who have hurt them.

Rachel True, Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, and Neve Campbell starred in the film. 


Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal played star-crossed lovers in the 1970 flick "Love Story."

1970 love story
The film has some famous lines.

Critic score: 68%

Against the backdrop of the New England foliage, viewers can watch as two students strike up an unlikely romance, which goes awry when Jenny is diagnosed with an incurable illness.

Set in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the romantic tearjerker was nominated for multiple Academy Awards and is where you may have heard the famous phrase, "Love means never having to say you're sorry."

With Tim Burton at its helm, 1999's "Sleepy Hollow" reimagined Johnny Depp's Ichabod Crane as a detective.

sleepy hollow movie
Audiences enjoyed the film more than critics did.

Critic score: 69%

In addition to featuring Tim Burton's signature eerie aesthetic, the film also evokes autumnal vibes with its backdrop of falling leaves and changing colors.

The film has an extra dose of fall because it's about Ichabod Crane and his trials with the Headless Horseman, a classic Halloween story

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan played two arch-nemeses who unexpectedly fall in love online in 1998's "You've Got Mail."

Youve Got Mail
The movie is set in New York.

Critic score: 69%

During much of their online and offline courtship, Kathleen and Joe's lives are illuminated against the backdrop of the changing seasons in New York.

This movie is filled with autumn energy through and through. In one email to Kathleen, Joe even writes, "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."

You can kick off football season with the Sean Astin-led 1993 flick "Rudy."

jon favreau rudy
Jon Favreau in "Rudy."

Critic score: 78%

"Rudy," which is based on the real-life story of Rudy Ruttinger, follows an underdog who longs to play football at the University of Notre Dame.

Centered around a popular fall sport, this film's inspiring plot may even bring a few tears to your eyes. 

2001's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" combines back-to-school vibes with the magic of witches, wizards, centaurs, and more.

harry potter and the sorcerers stone
The film is the first of many in this series.

Critic score: 81%

The first installment of the films adapted from controversial author JK Rowling's book series is filled with autumn vibes and magic.

As Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe) starts school at Hogwarts, viewers get to see the Great Hall decked out with floating pumpkins and more ghoulish decor for Halloween.

It's really just a bonus that the whole film is about witches and wizards. 



Another iconic football film, 2004's "Friday Night Lights," which tells the story of the Panthers of Odessa, Texas, would later go on to inspire a TV series.

friday night lights movie
The series came out a few years later.

Critic score: 82%

Based on a book, the film starred Billy Bob Thornton as Coach Gaines, Lucas Black as Mike Winchell, Garrett Hedlund as Don Billingsley, and Derek Luke as James "Boobie" Miles.

It's all about football, one of the most popular fall sports. And if you love the film, you'll likely enjoy the NBC drama series of the same name. 

1989's "Dead Poets Society" follows an English teacher who uses the power of poetry to get through to his students.

dead poets society
Robin Williams starred in the film.

Critic Score: 84%

Set in the fall of 1959 at a fictional boarding school in Vermont called Welton Academy, the film starred Robin Williams as John Keating, a teacher. 

The back-to-school flick also featured actors like Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, and Josh Charles.

2004's "Garden State" tells the story of a man returning to his East Coast hometown amidst the changing leaves.

garden state
"Garden State" premiered in 2004.

Critic score: 86%

Zach Braff, who led the film as Andrew, also directed this 2004 hit. The movie was well-received by critics and audiences alike and is filled with romance, comedy, and tragedy. 

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan played two friends who are afraid that sex will ruin their friendship in 1989's "When Harry Met Sally."

when harry met sally
There's nothing like autumn in New York.

Critic score: 91%

Most of Harry and Sally's unlikely friendship and eventual courtship takes place in New York during the fall and the long walks under the changing leaves in Central Park are sure to put you in an autumn mood. 

Viewers who are ready for a new season can also appreciate that the pair boasts some pretty stellar autumnal style, with the characters donning plenty of plaid blazers and fall hats. 

2012's "Silver Linings Playbook" is set during the start of football season in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Silver Linings Playbook
Jennifer Lawrence starred in this flick.

Critic score: 92% 

Set in the fall, the award-winning film tells the story of a teacher (played by Bradley Cooper) who moves back in with his parents and meets a girl named Tiffany (played by Jennifer Lawrence) after spending time working on his mental health. 


Set shortly after Halloween, 1993's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" tells the story of the Pumpkin King as he goes rogue and takes over Christmastown.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton produced the film.

Critic score: 95%

In addition to having plenty of Halloween imagery with life in Halloweenland, the beloved Tim Burton film also features haunting characters like Jack Skellington and his love interest, Sally. 

Set against the backdrop of Boston, Massachusetts, in the fall, 1997's "Good Will Hunting" tells a heartwarming tale.

good will hunting
Robin Williams and Matt Damon starred in the movie.

Critic score: 97%

This flick tells the story of the relationship between a bright but troubled hooligan-turned-student Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon) and the psychologist (played by Robin Williams) who tries to help him. 

Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Minnie Driver, and Stellan Skarsgard also starred in the film.

1973's short "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" follows in the footsteps of the Halloween- and Christmas-inspired segments.

charlie brown thanksgiving
It's a brief, animated classic.

Critic score: 100%

When it comes to fall holidays, Thanksgiving is definitely a big one.

And, in this 25-minute segment, mayhem (and heartwarming lessons) ensue after Peppermint Patty invites everyone to spend Thanksgiving at Charlie Brown's house.

Read More:

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All of the best Halloween episodes from your favorite TV shows


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