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10 Standouts from This Year’s Venice Film Festival

Every year at the start of September, the Venice Film Festival helps to usher in awards season. Some six months before the Oscars take place, filmmakers from across the globe use the Lido as a launchpad for their latest, greatest work—and in 2022, things were no different.

Harry Styles and Timothée Chalamet both made big red carpet statements for their buzzy new projects (Don’t Worry Darling and Bones and All, respectively), wearing Gucci and Haider Ackermann. Elsewhere, a coterie of respected directors made long-awaited returns. After earning Kate Winslet an Oscar nomination with Little Children 16 years ago, Todd Field arrived in Venice with a sure-fire awards vehicle for Cate Blanchett, TÁR; controversy stirred around Andrew Dominik’s dangerous Marilyn Monroe movie, Blonde; and on the festival’s final night, the coveted Golden Lion, won by Nomadland and Joker in the past, went to a powerful documentary—only the second non-fiction movie to win the top prize in the festival’s near-80-year-long history.

If you were distracted by the red carpet looks (and the tabloid drama attached to one project in particular), then fear not: Here were 10 of our favorite films to premiere at the Venice Film Festival this year.


Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection

Cate Blanchett won the best actress prize at the festival for her turn in this drama from the elusive Todd Field. In it, Blanchett plays a conductor at the top of her game as she prepares to stage a performance she considers her life’s defining work. But ghosts from her past, many of them of her own making, threaten to derail it. This is thorny, dangerous filmmaking that poses a real moral dilemma: Can one become a tyrannical genius without weaponizing one’s power on the way up? Read our full review here.

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

Photo: Nan Goldin

Oscar-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras joined forces with artist and photographer Nan Goldin to create what is by turns a thorough and anarchic documentary about Goldin and her fight to take down the Sackler family. The Sacklers’ long-time association with the opioid crisis has a resonance with Goldin, a recovering addict herself; but Poitras interweaves this story of protest with the tale of how Goldin became an icon of her craft, introducing us to her family and iconic friends, from Cookie Mueller to David Wojnarowicz. It’s devastating and effective, and won the festival’s prestigious top prize: the Golden Lion.

The Banshees of Inisherin

Photo: Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

After leading Frances McDormand to Oscar success with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, director Martin McDonagh returns with a minor-key movie set on a fictional island off the coast of Ireland. It’s the early 1920s, and a civil war is unfolding on the mainland—but on Inisherin, Colin Farrell’s Pádraic is experiencing a conflict of his own. His longtime friend and drinking buddy Colm (Brendan Gleeson) has, almost overnight, decided that he doesn’t want anything to do with Pádraic anymore, leading Pádraic to contemplate just how a friendship can fall apart so swiftly. It’s a beautiful film about male sadness and how we unpick our personal legacies—namely, if we’ve made the impact we really want to. Farrell’s Oscar chances skyrocketed after he took home the festival’s best actor prize.

Bones and All

Photo: MGM

Five years after Call Me By Your Name stole our hearts, director Luca Guadagnino reunites with his protégé Timothée Chalamet in this cannibal love story set in the American Midwest. Taylor Russell (who won the festival’s Marcello Mastroianni Award for emerging actors) plays Maren, an “eater” abandoned by her father who sets out to rekindle a relationship with her mother, whom she hasn’t seen in years. On the way, she meets Lee (Chalamet), a fellow eater who joins her on the journey. But for all its blood and guts, Bones and All remains a distinctly Guadagnino-style story of love and outsidership. Read our full review here.

Blue Jean

Photo: Helene Sifre

Young British filmmakers are on fire at the moment. Just as Charlotte Wells’s Aftersun is being touted as one of the best movies of the year, along comes this modest and perfectly formed film from Georgia Oakley. Set in the north of England during the Thatcher era, Blue Jean tells the story of Jean, a lesbian P.E. teacher trying to conceal her sexual identity during the implementation of Section 28, a law that banned the promotion of same-sex practices in schools. But when a teenage girl joins her class, clearly struggling with the same internal issue, Jean is forced to choose between her job and her responsibility, on a human level, to help the girl navigate the choppy waters of understanding who she is. A rare and mighty debut.

Dreamin’ Wild

After earning plenty of love for his Beach Boys biopic Love & Mercy, director Bill Pohlad returns with this lyrical true-life tale of two brothers, Donnie and Joe Emerson, becoming belated superstars after an album they recorded as teens is rediscovered. Starring Casey Affleck and Walton Goggins as the adult duo (and a stratospherically talented double-act as their younger selves: Noah Jupe and Jack Dylan Grazer), it’s one of those classic American Dream movies, sensitively made with wide-eyed ambition. 

Other People’s Children

French director Rebecca Zlotowski called upon her home country’s actor du jour, Virginie Efira, to lead up her latest feature. Other People’s Children follows Efira’s Rachel, a childless 40-year-old school teacher living in Paris. She questions how she’s reached this point in her life without having a child of her own, but all of a sudden finds herself in a relationship with a divorced father and bonding with his young daughter. In this set-up, her maternal desires are satisfied, but it’s precarious and complicated. Zlotowski makes her best film in years here: A contemporary and guileless look at womanhood with a starry lead performance. 

Don’t Worry Darling

Harry Styles and Florence Pugh in Don’t Worry Darling.Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Look past the ceaseless tabloid controversy surrounding Don’t Worry Darling, and you’ll find a supremely entertaining thriller. Florence Pugh plays Alice, a woman living in a borderline dystopian 1950s town that she believes has her best interests at heart. But when the stitching begins to unravel, she finds that all is very much not as it seems. This is a labyrinthine film about female autonomy packaged as a popcorn blockbuster—and Harry Styles is pretty great in it, too. Read our full review here.

The Eternal Daughter

RZ6A2470.JPGPhoto: Sandro Kopp

Joanna Hogg’s long history as a filmmaker paid off on a larger scale with her semi-autobiographical The Souvenir and The Souvenir: Part II, movies inspired by her years in film school. Her follow-up to them, The Eternal Daughter, is a quiet and contemplative ghost story set in an old manor hotel in the north of England. A filmmaker, played by Hogg’s longtime friend Tilda Swinton, has taken her elderly mother, also played by Swinton, there for what seems like a vacation. But the trip becomes marred by melancholy as the secrets of the place, and its connection to their family, are slowly revealed. A stunning, mist-shrouded work of art.


Blonde. Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe. Cr. Netflix © 20222022 © Netflix

Ana de Armas of James Bond and Knives Out fame is given a role with real meat in Blonde, playing a fictional version of Marilyn Monroe. Taking us from her early days as Norma Jeane Baker to her final, barbiturate-addled moments, it’s a wretched fable about fame as currency and the way the industry treated—and still treats—its female stars. Not one for the faint hearted, it’s the best film (not) about Monroe ever made. Read our full review here.



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