At a time when the feet of most New Yorkers haven’t yet touched beach sand, the town’s preeminent movie festival is already steeped in lining up Oscar season launches for the fall.  The Film Society of Lincoln Center has set as the Opening Night film of the 55th New York Film Festival the Richard Linklater-directed Last Flag Flying. The film makes its World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on Thursday, September 28. The festival runs from September 28 – October 15. Amazon Studios has set Last Flag Flying for a November 17 theatrical release. The film is a road movie in which three aging Vietnam-era Navy vets—soft-spoken Doc (Steve Carell), unhinged and unfiltered Sal (Bryan Cranston), and quietly measured Mueller (Laurence Fishburne)—reunite to perform a sacred task: the proper burial of Doc’s only child, who has been killed in the early days of the Iraqi Invasion. During the trip up the Eastern seaboard, Linklater covers terrain evocative of life in the USA during the Bush era, and a striking meditation on the passage of time and the nature of truth. The latter is something Linklater has done particularly well in films from Boyhood to Dazed and Confused.

“Last Flag Flying is many things at once—infectiously funny, quietly shattering, celebratory, mournful, meditative, intimate, expansive, vastly entertaining, and all-American in the very best sense,” said New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones. “But to isolate its individual qualities is to set aside the most important and precious fact about this movie: that it all flows like a river. That’s only possible with remarkable artists like Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne, and Bryan Cranston, and a master like Richard Linklater behind the camera.”

Said Linklater: “It’s always special to be at the New York Film Festival, but to be premiering our movie on opening night, when you look at the half century of films that have occupied that slot, is a wonderful honor.”

 

It marks the second year in a row that a streaming service-minded company caught the NYFF opener, as last year’s fest bowed with the Netflix documentary 13th by Ava DuVernay. What have been the past NYFF openers? Here’s the whole list:

2016 13TH (Ava DuVernay, US)
2015 The Walk (Robert Zemeckis, US)
2014 Gone Girl (David Fincher, US)
2013 Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass, US)
2012 Life of Pi (Ang Lee, US)
2011 Carnage (Roman Polanski, France/Poland)
2010 The Social Network (David Fincher, US)
2009 Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, France)
2008 The Class (Laurent Cantet, France)
2007 The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, US)
2006 The Queen (Stephen Frears, UK)
2005 Good Night, and Good Luck. (George Clooney, US)
2004 Look at Me (Agnès Jaoui, France)
2003 Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, US)
2002 About Schmidt (Alexander Payne, US)
2001 Va savoir (Jacques Rivette, France)
2000 Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, Denmark)
1999 All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
1998 Celebrity (Woody Allen, US)
1997 The Ice Storm (Ang Lee, US)
1996 Secrets & Lies (Mike Leigh, UK)
1995 Shanghai Triad (Zhang Yimou, China)
1994 Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, US)
1993 Short Cuts (Robert Altman, US)
1992 Olivier Olivier (Agnieszka Holland, France)
1991 The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, Poland/France)
1990 Miller’s Crossing (Joel Coen, US)
1989 Too Beautiful for You (Bertrand Blier, France)
1988 Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
1987 Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov, Soviet Union)
1986 Down by Law (Jim Jarmusch, US)
1985 Ran (Akira Kurosawa, Japan)
1984 Country (Richard Pearce, US)
1983 The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan, US)
1982 Veronika Voss (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany)
1981 Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, UK)
1980 Melvin and Howard (Jonathan Demme, US)
1979 Luna (Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy/US)
1978 A Wedding (Robert Altman, US)
1977 One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (Agnès Varda, France)
1976 Small Change (François Truffaut, France)
1975 Conversation Piece (Luchino Visconti, Italy)
1974 Don’t Cry with Your Mouth Full (Pascal Thomas, France)
1973 Day for Night (François Truffaut, France)
1972 Chloe in the Afternoon (Eric Rohmer, France)
1971 The Debut (Gleb Panfilov, Soviet Union)
1970 The Wild Child (François Truffaut, France)
1969 Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Paul Mazursky, US)
1968 Capricious Summer (Jiri Menzel, Czechoslovakia)
1967 The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy/Algeria)
1966 Loves of a Blonde (Milos Forman, Czechoslovakia)
1965 Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, France)
1964 Hamlet (Grigori Kozintsev, USSR)
1963 The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, Mexico)