5 of the best movies at this year’s Venice Film Festival

5 of the best movies at this year’s Venice Film Festival

Gold standard

Text: Aravin Sandran

From the life of the first man to walk the moon to a haunting look at the world of dance, this year's Venice Film Festival was laced with eclecticism and controversy


Directed by: Call Me By Your Name Italian director Luca Guadagnino returns with a horror-mystery.

Cast: Fifty Shades of Grey siren Dakota Johnson leads the mostly-female cast that includes Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth and Chloë Grace Moretz.

Storyline: A remake of Dario Argento's 1977 film, witchcraft and a dark energy envelope a young American dancer Susie Bannion (Johnson) after she auditions for the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Company in West Berlin under the tutelage of Madame Blanc (Swinton).

Trivia: Violent and almost Exorcist-like dance sequences designed by Belgian choreographer Damien Jalet, paired with a haunting original score by Radiohead's Thom Yorke, cast this film’s greatest spells.

The First Man

Directed by: This would be Damien Chazelle's first non-music film after he became the youngest winner of the Best Director accolade at the Oscars for his musical debut La La Land in 2016 and Whiplash in 2014.

Cast: Men want to be him and women want to be with him — Ryan Gosling stars alongside Claire Foy, who recently won an Emmy for her portrayal of the Queen in Netflix's The Crown.

Storyline: Based on James R. Hansen's official biography, the film examines the life and work of astronaut, Armstrong (Gosling), as he embarks on the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on 20 July 1969.

Trivia: When the film premiered at the Venice Film Festival, the film faced controversy for not featuring the iconic planting of the American flag on the Moon. Defending the omission, Gosling said, "I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement and that's how we chose to view it. Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible. We wanted the film to reflect Neil."

Release date: 18 October 2018

Vox Lux 

Directed by: This is the second full-length feature for 30-year-old American actor-turned-director Brady Corbet, following his breakout directorial debut The Childhood of a Leader in 2015.

Cast: Natalie Portman transforms into a Gaga-meets-Bowie persona alongside Jude Law and Willem Dafoe.

Storyline: Celeste (Portman) is propelled into pop stardom after she sings at a memorial service following a shooting tragedy at her school. Spanning 18 years, the film charts her evolution as a musician while she struggles with a series of familial challenges and scandals. 

Trivia: The film's lyrical soundscapes were composed by Australian singer-songwriter Sia, who is also the executive producer of the film.

The Favourite 

Directed by: Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos follows up his absurd dystopian 2015 hit The Lobster with another dark comedy.

Cast: BAFTA-winning British actress Olivia Colman is supported by Hollywood A-listers Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.

Storyline: In this Marie-Antoinette-gone-wrong period comedy, a clumsy and clueless queen (Colman) recklessly indulges while her scheming cousins (Stone and Weisz) compete and vie for her affection.

Trivia: Colman was awarded the prestigious Best Actress Volpi Cup at this year's Venice Film Festival for this career-defining performance.


Directed by: Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón returns to his homeland after his Oscar-winning sci-fi odyssey Gravity in 2013.

Cast: A relatively unknown cast includes overnight sensation Yalitza Aparicio who has been tipped for an Oscar nomination.

Storyline: Taking five years to complete, this black-and-white film is set in Mexico City's middle-class Roma neighbourhood and follows the life of Cleo, a young domestic worker. 

Trivia: The film scooped the Golden Lion, the top honours at the Venice Film Festival. This is the first movie from Netflix to receive such an accolade at a major festival, and the second movie in a row from a Mexican filmmaker to win at the festival. Last year, Guillermo del Toro's Golden Lion winner, The Shape Of Water, went on to clinch Best Picture at the Oscars.