The oldest fest still running — its first edition was in 1932 — the Venice Film Festival has always been a tastemaker and a pacesetter, one of the major international events (next to Cannes and Berlin) to watch in terms of the future of world cinema. And in recent years, notably since Alberto Barbera returned to the artistic director post in 2012, it’s been a bellwether for the red-carpet mania that sweeps through Hollywood and the media every fall, premiering a number of films that have become prominent awards-season players. Venice was where Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma first played, a blessing for which we will be eternally grateful. It’s also the festival that awarded Joker its highest honor, the Golden Lion, and started that movie on its Oscar trek, a decision for which we will hopefully one day forgive them.
This year’s edition is particularly strong, running the gamut from big-name premieres (the long-awaited new adaptation of Dune, the Pablo Larrain/Kristen Stewart Princess Di movie Spencer, the Ridley Scott-directed historical drama The Last Duel) to auteur-driven vehicles (new films from Pedro Almodovar, Edgar Wright, Paul Schrader, Jane Campion and Ana Lily Amirpour) to documentaries on Led Zeppelin, Leonard Cohen and the late, great Ennio Morricone. And if the idea of listening to Quentin Tarantino go long on one of his favorite spaghetti western filmmakers is your idea of cine-nerd heaven, oh man, are you in luck!
We’ll be reporting on the movies we see after the festival officially kicks off on September 1st, but here’s a preview of 15 titles we’re specifically looking forward to catching on the Lido.