The 54th Chicago International Film Festival kicks off this week and it is a festival I love attending. Not only was it the first festival that I attended back in 2008, but it is a festival that highlights so many unique movies from all around the world and showcasing some of the best filmmakers working today. This year’s festival is no different, with a slew of movies from all genres. I plan on seeing over 20 films over the next ten days and here are the five that I am most excited for.
5 – WILDLIFE (Paul Dano)
Wildlife made its debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and I unfortunately missed it while I was there. Paul Dano’s directorial debut has received nothing but raves and I am excited it is coming to Chicago. The film is seen through the eyes of Joe (Ed Oxenbould) as he watched his parents marriage crumble. The parents are played by Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal, easier two of my favorite actors working today, who look to be at the top of their game. I’ve been waiting ten long months for this one, and now, it’s finally here.
4 – FLAMMABLE CHILDREN (Stephan Elliot)
An Australian sex comedy set in the 70’s? Sign me up. Flammable Children looks absolutely insane. It is filled with a great 70’s set, bright colors, and a stellar cast. Flammable Children is coming of age movie about 14-year-old Jeff (Atticus Robb) who’s life gets throne into a tizzy after a 200-ton blue whale washes ashore a local beach. The trailer is bonkers and looks stylistically beautiful. Throughout the festival, there are a lot of heavy movies, dramas that grab at your soul and pull at the heartstrings. Not this one. This is going to be one of the most fun films I see during this festival.
3 – SHOPLIFTERS (Hirokazu Koreeda)
The Chicago International Film Festival usually shows the film that won the Palme de Or at that year’s Cannes Film Festival. Since Cannes is an incredibly exclusive film festival, it’s nearly impossible to go, so I always get excited when I get to see movies that played there, especially those that won the top prize. Word from those who have seen Shoplifters have called it nothing short of extraordinary. Shoplifters tells the story of a family of thieves who bring an unknown child into their family. The film looks like an intimate portrait of the family bond and what it means to raise children. Shoplifters has the makings of a truly special film.
2 – THE FAVOURITE (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Yorgos Lanthimos makes movies like nobody else today. Each film is incredibly original, beautiful, and weird. Films like Dogtooth, The Lobster, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer are expertly crafted films that you won’t forget (The Lobster is my personal favorite). The Favourite looks like another Lanthimos gem, telling a story set in the 1800’s about a frail Queen (Olivia Coleman), her close friend (Rachel Weisz), and a new servant (Emma Stone), all with pineapple eating and duck racing and war happening. The three main actresses alone are enough to get me to watch this movie, but the fact that this is a Lanthimos period piece completes my excitement. Lanthimos is one of the most exciting directors working today and is one I will always be excited to watch.
1 – WIDOWS (Steve McQueen)
The last time we saw Steve McQueen he was on stage at the 86th Academy Awards winning Best Picture for 12 Years a Slave. It’s always tough to follow-up a Best Picture win, but McQueen looks to have done it with his latest film, Widows. Widows looks like McQueen’s most accessible film, as he generally makes tough, artistic films that are, at times, hard to watch. But knowing McQueen, this movie isn’t going to pull any punches. The film follows a group of women who’s criminal husbands botch a job and leave them all in a large debt whole, forcing them to take matters into their own hands. Nothing needs to be said about the cast, it’s incredible. Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Robert DuVall, Jon Bernthal, Brian Tyree Henry, and Daniel Kaluuya, plus many, many more all load up in this movie, which is arguably the most impressive ensemble of the year. I love crime movies, I love this cast, and I love Steve McQueen, and when I see this movie on October 13th, I plan on loving it.
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