The Top 13 Films I'm Excited to See at Venice

by keithsim | last updated - 1 month ago

Venice kicks off the Awards Season (I think we have to capitalize it now by law) in a big way every year. There are always at least two major films that premiere on the Lido and this year is no exception. There's a full lineup listing here but these 13 captured my attention the most.

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1. Downsizing (2017)

135 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
74 Metascore

A social satire in which a guy realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself.

Director: Alexander Payne | Stars: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Kristen Wiig

Votes: 882

An extended scene was shown at Cinema-Con and, to be honest, it didn't work. What does work is Payne, and Damon and everyone involved in this film. Plus it's opening the festival. La La Land opened the festival last year. Birdman two years before that. So, there's a track record here.

2. The Shape of Water (2017)

R | 119 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
87 Metascore

An other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.

Director: Guillermo del Toro | Stars: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Doug Jones

Votes: 1,589

A terrific trailer suggests that Del Toro is in the fertile field of the monstrous and the sublime that served him so well in Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (heck, even Blade II). Too bad this guy wasn't allowed to steer Universal's Gods and Monsters Dark Universe.

3. Racer and the Jailbird (2017)

130 min | Crime, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Set against the background of a brutal crime gang in Brussels, a tragic love story between Gigi (Matthias Schoenaerts), a high-flying gangster, and Bibi (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a young racing driver with very upper-class roots.

Director: Michaël R. Roskam | Stars: Matthias Schoenaerts, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Eric De Staercke, Jean-Benoît Ugeux

Votes: 355

This is Out of Competition but it's the most recent film by Roskam, whose previous films include the under-seen and under-appreciated The Drop and the Oscar-nominated Bullhead. For raw sex appeal you probably can't get better than these two stars.

4. Mother! (2017)

R | 121 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
74 Metascore

A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer

Votes: 35,870

Don't watch the trailer. It feels like it gives everything away. I'm a big fan of Lawrence and cherish her ability to really transform her very appearance according the role. Does this look a bit like Gaslight and the Oscar-nominated The Wicker Man? Does to me.

5. Suburbicon (2017)

R | 104 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  
46 Metascore

A home invasion rattles a quiet family town.

Director: George Clooney | Stars: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac, Jack Conley

Votes: 628

Actually, don't watch this trailer either. It might dissuade you from seeing it. Written by the Coens and directed by Clooney gives all kinds of street cred to the project but this is a hard, hard line to walk. I hope they can do it.

6. Lean on Pete (2017)

R | 121 min | Adventure, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
78 Metascore

The film follows fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson. He wants a home, food on the table and a high school he can attend for more than part of the year. As the son of a single father working ... See full summary »

Director: Andrew Haigh | Stars: Travis Fimmel, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Zahn, Steve Buscemi

Votes: 210

The plot may seem like something out of a straight-to-DVD family film but Haigh directed the stunning 45 Years so put those thoughts right out of your head.

7. Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno (2017)

180 min | Drama, Romance

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
55 Metascore

Amin, a young screenwriter goes to his Mediterranean home town for a summer vacation where he falls in love with Jasmine, and meets a producer who agrees to finance his first film. But when... See full summary »

Director: Abdellatif Kechiche | Stars: Shaïn Boumedine, Ophélie Bau, Salim Kechiouche, Lou Luttiau

Votes: 54

Sure, it's a pretentious title but so is Blue Is the Warmest Color which Kechiche also directed. Adèle Exarchopoulos's character, Adele, was one of the strongest female roles I've seen in a good long time with one of the best exits in recent cinema history.

8. Gatta Cenerentola (2017)

86 min | Animation

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Cenerentola struggles to escape the shadow and evil schemes of her stepmother and six stepsisters who all live aboard the Megaride, a ship stuck in the port of a decaying future Naples.

Directors: Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri, Alessandro Rak, Dario Sansone | Stars: Massimiliano Gallo, Maria Pia Calzone, Alessandro Gassman, Mariano Rigillo

Votes: 89

The team that created the award-wiinning L'arte Della Fellicita return to Venice (where they also took home some prizes) with this intriguing tale. It sounds like Cinderella on crack for a reason.

9. Sandome no satsujin (2017)

Drama, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
73 Metascore

Mikuma has a criminal record dating back many years and is now under the spotlight again. It looks like an open and shut case, for Mikuma has confessed to the new charge. Enter prominent ... See full summary »

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda | Stars: Masaharu Fukuyama, Kôji Yakusho, Isao Hashizume, Suzu Hirose

Votes: 212

Koreeda is a Cannes staple so it's interesting to see him on the Lido. His films have been in Competition for the Palme d'Or four times and Koreeda won the Jury Prize for his direction of Like Father, Like Son. The poster does make Murder seems a little like a genre will be intriguing to see what comes of this.

10. First Reformed (2017)

108 min | Drama, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
79 Metascore

A former military chaplain is wracked by grief over the death of his son. Mary is a member of his church whose husband, a radical environmentalist, commits suicide, setting the plot in motion.

Director: Paul Schrader | Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Ethan Hawke, Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Gaston

Votes: 196

Venice is known for giving old Hollywood lions at chance to roar once more even if they can't utter above a growl. In 2014 they showed She's Funny That Way, a sweet, sometimes hilarious, mess of a film from one-time legend. Peter Bogdanovich.

Schrader, among many of his amazing credits, wrote Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and the adaptation of The Mosquito Coast.

11. The Leisure Seeker (2017)

R | 112 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
55 Metascore

A runaway couple go on an unforgettable journey in the faithful old RV they call The Leisure Seeker.

Director: Paolo Virzì | Stars: Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland, Janel Moloney, Kirsty Mitchell

Votes: 208

One of two silver-maned romances starring formidable Hollywood stars. This is the one in competition.

12. Our Souls at Night (2017)

103 min | Drama, Romance

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
69 Metascore

Fonda and Redford will star as Addie Moore and Louis Waters, a widow and widower who've lived next to each other for years. The pair have almost no relationship, but that all changes when Addie tries to make a connection with her neighbor.

Director: Ritesh Batra | Stars: Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Judy Greer, Matthias Schoenaerts

Votes: 2,430

...and this is the one Out of Competition. Directed by Ritesh Batra, who directed a movie I adore, The Lunch Box. One begins to think of On Golden Pond.

13. The Private Life of a Modern Woman (2017)

71 min | Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Successful actress Vera Lockman thrashes during a nightmare in which she struggles with, shoots and kills her drug-dealer ex-boyfriend. Jolted awake, she reveals in her journal that the ... See full summary »

Director: James Toback | Stars: Sienna Miller, Alec Baldwin, Charles Grodin, Colleen Camp

Votes: 15

See comment on First Reformed.