For those who didn’t attend the 2016 Sundance and Cannes festivals and who don’t plan on hitting Telluride or Toronto, the just-announced slate for the 54th New York Film Festival (9.30 to 10.16) will be full of the usual excitement and nutrition shots. The NYFF is always a great thing to settle into. To attend this annual gathering is to sense that you’re alive and attuned and a reveller in a very rich Manhattan scene, a celebration and meditation about movies that matter most, just as those who attended this festival in 1963 or ’78 or ’99 were also plugged into the films and currents that were essential back then. For two weeks in early October it’s the ultimate well, the place to be.

But for festival veterans like myself it’ll mostly be a “greatest festival hits of 2016” recap. Not entirely but mostly.

If I were attending I’d be focusing on a combination of unseen curiosities and special faves: Barry Jenkins‘ buzzed-about Moonlight, Paul Verhoeven‘s Elle (which I missed at Cannes, partly due to my schedule but also because Sony Classics refused to screen it before the official debut), Kenneth Lonergan‘s Manchester by the Sea, Olivier AssayasPersonal Shopper (one of a handful of 2016 films that I consider to be truly riveting and extra-level), Ava Duvernay‘s The 13th (not a study of the 13th amendment but “an in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality”), Mike Mills20th Century Women (I’ve heard good things but also a meh comment), Pablo Larrain‘s Neruda and James Gray‘s The Lost City of Z (the Charlie Hunnam factor gives me concern).

There may also be a special sneak preview (a highlight that NYFF director Kent Jones hasn’t included for the past couple of years) and perhaps an extra sidebar attraction or two.

Other selections + original festival debut + HE comment: Kleber Mendonça Filho‘s Aquarius (Cannes / well worth it); Kelly Reichardt‘s Certain Women (Sundance / boring, underwhelming); Gianfranco Rosi‘s Fire at Sea (Berlin / haven’t seen it); Cristian Mungiu‘s Graduation (Cannes / exacting, well acted, ethically compelling); Matías Piñeiro‘s Hermia and Helena (no info); Ken Loach‘s I, Daniel Blake (Cannes / WAY overpraised); Pedro Almodovar‘s Julieta (Cannes / okay but somewhat underwhelming); Dash Shaw‘s My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea (Toronto ’16 / no info but great title!); Jim Jarmusch‘s Paterson (Cannes/ my initial reaction was one of muted respect, but the film expanded and deepened the more I thought about it).

Not to mention Alison Maclean‘s The Rehearsal (no previous festival exposure I know of); Cristi Puiu‘s Sieranevada (Cannes / definitely underwhelming); Eugene Green‘s Son of Joseph (Berlin / haven’t seen it); Alain Guiraudie‘s Staying Vertical (Cannes / didn’t see it); Mia Hansen-Love‘s Things to Come (Berlin / haven’t seen it); Maren Ade‘s Toni Erdmann (Cannes/ WAY over praised — I personally hated it & Cannes jury ignored it); Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne‘s The Unknown Girl (Cannes / underwhelming, CSI: Liege); Hong Sangsoo‘s Yourself and Yours (I know nothing).