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10 Must-See Movies at the 2023 Venice Film Festival

The Venice Film Festival, the first major event of the fall film festival circuit, is officially on the horizon. This year’s 80th edition is set to highlight new films from some of the most celebrated names in the industry, from Sofia Coppola and Wes Anderson to David Fincher and Michael Mann. Despite Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers being pulled from its opening night slot in solidarity with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes—as well as an expected lack of movie star presence—the festival has managed to deliver a program stacked with highly anticipated titles that’ll undoubtedly be discussed throughout the rest of the year.

Ahead of the festival’s run from August 30 to September 9, we’ve gathered a selection of the most exciting films premiering on the Lido.

Priscilla

On the heels of Baz Luhrmann’s Oscar-nominated spectacle Elvis, Sofia Coppola is poised to premiere the more intimate Priscilla, which thrusts Priscilla Presley into the spotlight. Based on Presley’s 1985 memoir Elvis and Me, the film charts her life and marriage to Elvis, with Cailee Spaeny in the titular role and Jacob Elordi as the king of rock ‘n’ roll. Coppola has always excelled at crafting stylish and poignant portraits of womanhood, and we expect no less with Priscilla.

The Killer

Courtesy of Netflix
A still from The Killer.

David Fincher returning to his psychological thriller roots with a film starring Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton? We’re sold. The Fight Club and Gone Girl director’s latest revolves around a cold-blooded assassin (played by Fassbender) suffering a psychological crisis—he fears he’s losing his mind the longer he waits for his next target. If it’s anything like Fincher’s previous work, then The Killer will be a standout of both the festival and entire year.

Maestro

Courtesy of Netflix
Carey Mulligan and Bradley Cooper in a still from Maestro.
Photo by Gotham/GC Images
Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan are seen filming Maestro in Central Park on July 5, 2022 in New York City.

One highlight of the Venice lineup is Maestro, Bradley Cooper’s long-awaited follow-up to his 2019 hit A Star is Born. His sophomore effort behind the camera finds him returning to the music world, this time with a biopic of prolific composer Leonard Bernstein. The story tracks everything from his legendary career to his complicated marriage to Felicia Montealegre (played by Mulligan). With Cooper taking on triple duty as director, writer, and star, we’re excited to see what he’s cooked up.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

Courtesy of Netflix
A still from The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Just months after the release of Asteroid City, Wes Anderson is back with his second film of the year. Premiering out of competition, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is a 37-minute long anthology based on Roald Dahl’s whimsical 1977 story of the same name. Like every Anderson production, the pastel-drenched short features a stacked ensemble including Dev Patel, Ben Kingsley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, and Richard Ayoade. Anderson has yet to disappoint with his charming explorations of humanity, so this is sure to be a must-watch.

Poor Things

Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures
A still of Emma Stone in Poor Things.

Ever since it was announced that Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone—who first collaborated on The Favourite—would team on another project, expectations have been high, to say the very least. Described as a feminist take on Frankenstein and adapted from Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel of the same name, Poor Things centers Stone’s Bella Baxter, a creation of a brilliant scientist played by the king of weird guys, Willem Dafoe. The star-studded cast of this Victorian sci-fi comedy also includes Mark Ruffalo, Christopher Abbott, Margaret Qualley, Ramy Youssef, and Jerrod Carmichael. While Poor Things doesn’t hit theaters until December 8, there are two trailers to keep us hooked in the meantime.

Ferrari

Courtesy of Lorenzo Sisti
A still of Adam Driver in Ferrari.

This one’s for all the Formula 1 fans out there. Eight years after his last directorial effort, Michael Mann is finally back with a biopic about Italian racer and entrepreneur Enzo Ferrari. Set in 1957, the film zeroes in on the issues within Ferrari’s personal and professional life, including his marriage to Laura Ferrari and the buildup to a horrible accident at the Mille Miglia race. Led by Adam Driver and Penélope Cruz, Ferrari looks to be a major awards contender.

The Beast

Courtesy of Venice Film Festival
A still from The Beast.

Bertrand Bonello may be a frequent face at the Cannes Film Festival, but this year he’s traded the Croisette for the Lido. A decades-spanning sci-fi romance, The Beast centers Gabrielle (Léa Seydoux) and Louis (George MacKay), who develop a romantic connection in a near future where emotions have become a major threat. Based on the premise, the French auteur’s ninth feature looks to be his most ambitious to date.

Origin

Courtesy of Venice Film Festival
A still from Origin.

With Origin, Ava DuVernay will make history as the first Black woman director to compete for the Golden Lion. The social drama is based on Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, which examines racism in America in relation to caste systems around the world. Starring Aunjanue Ellis, Niecy Nash-Betts, Audra McDonald, and Jon Bernthal, Origin marks DuVernay’s first feature-length film in five years.

Evil Does Not Exist

Courtesy of Neopa/Fictive
A still from Evil Does Not Exist.

One of the biggest surprises of this year’s lineup is the revelation of a new film from Ryusuke Hamaguchi, whose incredible Drive My Car won the Oscar for International Film in 2022. The drama stars Hitoshi Omika as a father who lives a modest life in a village near Tokyo with his daughter. When a glamping company plans to use it as the site of its next resort, it unveils concerns over the negative impact it will have on the local water supply that causes unrest among the residents.

Aggro Dr1ft

Courtesy of Venice Film Festival
A still from Aggro Dr1ft.

Another unexpected addition to the festival’s program is Aggro Dr1ft, American auteur Harmony Korine’s first feature since 2019’s The Beach Bum. This experimental action film—whose plot is being kept under wraps—centering an assassin was shot entirely in infrared and stars Travis Scott. With the intriguing duo of Scott and Korine and a unique concept—consider our interests piqued.


Source: W Magazine

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