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

by keithsim | last updated - 4 months 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)

R | 135 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

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

A social satire in which a man realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself to five inches tall, allowing him to live in wealth and splendor.

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

Votes: 10,674 | Gross: $24.26M

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 | 123 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

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

At a top secret research facility in the 1950s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

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

Votes: 33,425 | Gross: $28.64M

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 6.6/10 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: 903

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 6.8/10 X  
75 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: 89,437 | Gross: $17.80M

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 | 105 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
42 Metascore

As a 1950s suburban community self-destructs, a home invasion has sinister consequences for one seemingly normal family.

Director: George Clooney | Stars: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac, Noah Jupe

Votes: 7,315 | Gross: $5.78M

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 7.1/10 X  
78 Metascore

A teenager gets a summer job working for a horse trainer and befriends the fading racehorse, Lean on Pete.

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

Votes: 376

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 6.7/10 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: 72

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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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
55 Metascore

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: 209

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)

125 min | Drama, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
68 Metascore

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

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

Votes: 514

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)

R | 108 min | Drama, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 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: 258

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 6.3/10 X  
49 Metascore

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

Director: Paolo Virzì | Stars: Donald Sutherland, Helen Mirren, Dana Ivey, Kirsty Mitchell

Votes: 610

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: Judy Greer, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Iain Armitage

Votes: 4,744

...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 4.8/10 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: 65

See comment on First Reformed.