When the 2018 Venice Film Festival slate was first announced, people were quick to proclaim it one of the greatest on-paper festival line-ups. We here at ORWAV can’t help but agree, and with our team off the cover the fest (starting Wednesday 29), here are the 10 most exciting projects to look out for.
10. The Other Side of the Wind (Dir. Orson Welles)
Of all the prestigious directors premiering new films at Venice 2018, perhaps the most remarkable get for the festival is Orson Welles. Despite the legendary actor and filmmaker being dead for over 30 years, Welles’s latest, The Other Side of the Wind is only just now releasing, having been completed and distributed by Netflix. Though there’s every chance that the long story behind the making of the film will be more interesting than the finished product itself, this should still be a fascinating watch.
9. Vox Lux (Dir. Brady Corbet)
Having worked with many great filmmakers as a young actor, Brady Corbet took the lessons he learned from them to craft a stunningly assured debut with The Childhood of a Leader. His follow up looks like a drastic departure from the sombre, funereal exploration of European proto-fascism, with Vox Lux following a meteoric rise of a pop star played by Natalie Portman. With a glittery, metallic aesthetic on display and Sia on the soundtrack, Vox Lux should have style to burn, with a great cast and an intelligent writer to add depth and substance.
8. 22 July (Dir. Paul Greengrass)
The second film this year to cover the hideous 2011 terror attacks by white nationalist Anders Breivik, having a British director tackling subject matter already pored over by Norwegian filmmakers could feel unnecessary and even ghoulish. That said, there couldn’t be a better pick of an English-language auteur for this subject matter than Paul Greengrass, whose United 93 and Captain Phillips proved him a master of complex, empathetic looks at terrifying real life tragedies. Expect a debate to rage about the morality of 22 July’s very existence once it releases on Netflix, but it should be one of the more immersive and powerful experiences at Venice this year.
7. Suspiria (Dir. Luca Guadagnino)
Horror movie remakes are rarely something to get that excited about, but when it’s the director of Call Me By Your Name revisiting one of the most magnificently lurid giallo horrors ever made, you can be sure to make an exception. Clocking in at just over two and a half hours, the new Suspiria is unlikely to attempt quite the same tone of sustained mania as the far shorter original, so unpredictability should be the order of the day. Luca Guadagnino has assembled a stellar cast, reuniting with former collaborators Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson as well as drawing new faces into the fold. There might not be a huge surfeit of high-profile home-grown films at this year’s Venice, but it will still be a thrill to see Italy bring one of its finest cinematic exports back to home territory.
6. Roma (Dir. Alfonso Cuarón)
Alfonso Cuaron’s first film since 2013’s Gravity is taking him closer to his roots than he’s been in a long time. A black and white tale of a middle class family in 1970s Mexico City, it’s a personal film for Cuaron, and one that promises to be beautiful and intimate, yet also epic in scope. A largely wordless teaser trailer promises a mix of quiet domestic drama and earthshaking political and social upheaval. Even though he might not be breaking new technological ground like he did with his last effort, we expect Cuaron to conjure some stunning visuals and bravura camera feats in what is likely to be a major contender for the Golden Lion.
5. Peterloo (Dir. Mike Leigh)
After its surprising absence from Cannes, Mike Leigh’s most ambitious film yet makes its bow at Venice. An obvious awards season frontrunner, especially in the UK, Peterloo has been a very long time coming, announced as Leigh’s next project almost immediately after the 2014 release of Mr Turner. After his stunning success with that film, seeing him expand his scope even further into period pieces is hugely exciting, tackling an event that shaped British liberalism into the form we understand today. A cast of excellent character actors, headed up by national mainstays Maxine Peake and Rory Kinnear, will bring the infamous 1819 Peterloo massacre to life, and with our current generation of sneering, wilfully incompetent politicians, the story could hardly feel more relevant.
4. The Sisters Brothers (Dir. Jacques Audiard)
Really, we shouldn’t have to sell this harder than naming the four leads – Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Riz Ahmed all in the same film is a deliriously exciting prospect – but The Sisters Brothers has more up its sleeve that just a stacked cast. It marks the English-language debut of Palme d’Or winner Jacques Audiard and is set in an eclectic corner of the Wild West where fun silliness and mortal peril collide. With four of the finest actors working today, all seeming in the trailer to be having a huge amount of fun, The Sisters Brothers promises to be a wildly entertaining ride that should inject plenty of levity into the Venice 2018 competition.
3. The Favourite (Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)
After the out and out surrealism of The Lobster and the strange, Greek-myth inspired divine judgement of The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Yorgos Lanthimos returns to relative normality with The Favourite. That’s not to say that this looks like a conventional period piece. From its female-led ensemble to the trailer’s hints at Lanthimos’s trademark pitch-black humour, The Favourite is definitely going to land on the weird end of the historical drama spectrum. Getting another Lanthimos film so soon after Sacred Deer is an absolute treat, and, if nothing else, The Favourite is finally giving Olivia Colman the leading cinematic role she deserves as the debauched Queen Anne. If what we’ve seen of the film already is any indication, it should place her right at the centre of the awards conversation alongside Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz as her sterling support.
2. First Man (Dir. Damien Chazelle)
Probably this year’s festival’s outright biggest film, First Man should kick Venice 2018 off with an almighty bang. Leaving jazz behind in favour of a focus on humanity’s greatest scientific and technological achievement, Damien Chazelle is set to open the awards season proper with an Oscar favourite that promises plenty of spectacle. One of the few non-action films to earn an IMAX release, it’s a wonder that the story of Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11 hasn’t yet been told on film with this sort of scope. Ryan Gosling is already an Oscar favourite in the role of Armstrong, and last time Chazelle was in Venice, he blew the competition away with La La Land. Here’s hoping he brings the same magic, because this has the potential to be something genuinely inspiring.
1. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen)
Even with such a staggeringly good slate of films as Venice has this year, the most exciting one was never going to be that hard to choose. ‘Surprise Coen Brothers Western’ is a phrase that practically has us foaming at the mouth, so when it was revealed that they had reworked the Ballad of Buster Scruggs miniseries into a feature film, it instantly shot to the top of the most anticipated charts. The Coens have a superb track record with Westerns, whether traditional like True Grit or neo-Western like No Country For Old Men, and the cast list and anthology hook suggests a lighter, more comedic take on the genre this time out. Given that their last film, the severely underrated Hail Caesar, was such a hilarious hoot, that can only be a good sign for what looks to be the crown jewel in this year’s festival slate and Netflix’s 2018 movie lineup.