Fall Film Festival Recap: The Best & Worst of TIFF, Telluride, and Venice

  • Publish Date: September 16, 2018
  • Comments: ↓ 0 user comments

An Oscar contender (or two, or three) is born

ImageIn the world of film, fall (or "awards season") kicks off with the arrival of three major film festivals: Telluride, the Venice International Film Festival (this year celebrating its 75th anniversary), and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF, to its friends). Sunday morning brought the last of those three festivals to a close, and this year's slate of awards contenders into a sharper focus. Among those films benefitting the most from their festival premieres were Bradley Cooper's A Star Is Born remake, Yorgos Lanthimos's The Favourite, and Alfonso Cuarón's stunning black-and-white period drama Roma, which now rank among 2018's very best films.

The three festivals produced plenty of additional highlights—and several minor and major disappointments. To help you sort through the results, we have summarized the reactions from critics to over 60 major festival debuts, including new films (and a few TV shows) from Damien Chazelle, the Coen brothers, Orson Welles (!), Paul Greengrass, Luca Guadagnino, Steve McQueen, Jacques Audiard, Sebastián Lelio, Julian Schnabel, Sam Esmail, Zhang Yimou, Errol Morris, Jason Reitman, Michael Moore, Olivier Assayas, Neil Jordan, Mike Leigh, Xavier Dolan, and more. They are listed alphabetically within a few different categories below, from most to least successful.

Major award winners

TIFF - People's Choice Award
Green Book Watch trailer
Drama | USA | Directed by Peter Farrelly
In theaters November 21

movie still

2017 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 88
2016 La La Land 93
2015 Room 86
2014 The Imitation Game 73
2013 12 Years a Slave 96
Recent People's Choice Winners

Director Peter Farrelly continues his move away from the unbridled comedies of his past (Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary) with this based-on-a-true-story tale of a bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) hired to drive a pianist (Mahershala Ali) on a concert tour through the American South in 1962. The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee believes “Farrelly, so used to orchestrating extreme audience reactions with his comedies, shows that he’s equally adept with not just the funnier moments in Green Book but the quieter dramatic beats as well.” Everyone seems to admire the performances. Writing for The Playlist , Victor Stiff praises the leads (“Mortensen and Ali put on a hell of a show, delivering memorable characters capable of tickling funny bones and yanking on heartstrings") as well as the movie as a whole (“Green Book is an on-the-nose social commentary that is told with such craftsmanship, earnestness, and comedic expertise that you’re still excited to go along for the ride").

Though it was decently reviewed, no one was expecting Green Book to leave Toronto with the festival's top award on Sunday morning—yet it did, besting buzzy, massively acclaimed films like A Star Is Born and If Beale Street Could Talk. Why is this important? People's Choice winners (voted on by TIFF attendees, rather than a jury) almost always go on to collect an Oscar best picture nomination. That was the case in all but one of the past 10 years, with the sole exception coming in 2011, when a foreign-language film won the TIFF award.

Venice - Golden Lion (1st Place)
Roma Watch trailer
Drama | Mexico | Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
In theaters December 14

movie still

2017 The Shape of Water 87
2016 The Woman Who Left 83
2015 From Afar 73
2014 A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence 81
2013 Sacro GRA 64
Recent Golden Lion Winners

The best reviewed movie of the fall festival season, the winner of the Golden Lion in Venice, and currently the film with the best Metascore of 2018, Alfonso Cuarón’s first feature in five years is love letter to the woman who helped raise him and to his childhood neighborhood in Mexico City. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw believes Roma to be Cuarón’s best film, a “thrilling, engrossing and moving picture with a richly personal story to tell, beautifully and dynamically shot in pellucid black and white.” In his notes on the Telluride Film Festival for The N.Y. Times, A.O. Scott writes, “From the raw material of memory he’s made something that nearly erases the difference between artifice and life, as well as the distance between past and present. It’s pure now, and it will never get old.” It seems increasingly likely that Roma will become the 11th foreign-language film to be nominated for a best picture Oscar. Will it be the first to actually win the award?

Venice - Grand Jury Prize (2nd Place)
The Favourite Watch trailer
Drama | UK/Ireland/USA | Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos
In theaters November 23

movie still

2017 Foxtrot 90
2016 Nocturnal Animals 67
2015 Anomalisa 88
2014 The Look of Silence 92
2013 Stray Dogs 84
Recent Grand Jury Prize Winners

Yorgos Lanthimos (The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Lobster) took home the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize in Venice for his unique look at Queen Anne’s court in 18th century England. Olivia Colman’s performance as the frail Queen earned her the Volpi Cup for Best Actress, but Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz also earned praise as her conniving companions. IndieWire’s Michael Nordine calls the three actors a “majestic triumvirate” and the film a “crowning achievement” for Lanthimos. John Bleasdale of CineVue believes it’s his “most accessible and enjoyable film to date,” and, according to Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson, “Lanthimos has made a film one could almost call commercial, and yet he hasn’t lost his signature idiosyncrasy. He’s only expanded his repertoire, with the help of three inspired muses.”

Venice - Silver Lion (Best Director)
The Sisters Brothers Watch trailer
Western | France/Belgium/Romania/Spain | Directed by Jacques Audiard
In theaters September 21

movie still

Jacques Audiard's follow-up to his Palme d'Or-winning Dheepan is an adaptation of Patrick Dewitt's acclaimed western novel. Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly star as Charlie and Eli Sisters, two hired guns roaming Oregon and California in 1851 at the behest of the Commodore (Rutger Hauer). Their latest target is Riz Ahmed’s Hermann Kermit Warm, a chemist who claims to have a formula for finding hidden gold. Audiard's first English-language film is a “brilliant postmodern western of true wit,” according to John Bleasdale of CineVue. The Playlist’s similarly admiring Rodrigo Perez finds it intimate, funny and poignant, while TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde believes it’s “one of the year’s best films.”

Other highlights

22 July Watch trailer
Drama | Norway/Iceland | Directed by Paul Greengrass
In theaters (and on Netflix) October 10

movie still

The latest from director Paul Greengrass is a return to the docudrama form of Bloody Sunday, United 93, and Captain Phillips, and reviews out of Venice were mostly good, though there were a few complaints. Time Out’s Phil de Semlyen believes this “sober, multi-stranded recreation” of the terrorist attack that took place in Norway on July 22, 2011, killing 77 people, “lacks the impact of those stark masterpieces.” Unlike director Erik Poppe’s Norwegian film U-July 22, which premiered to good reviews at the Berlin International Film Festival, Greengrass tackles the aftermath of the event, documenting how Norway deals with the terrorist in its courts, resulting in a film Tim Grierson of Screen Daily claims is an “absorbing, thought-provoking exploration of how individuals and a society try to rebuild in the wake of terrorism.”

At Eternity's Gate Watch trailer
Drama | USA/France | Directed by Julian Schnabel
In theaters November 16

movie still

Willem Dafoe won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at Venice 75 for his portrayal of Vincent van Gogh in this immersive portrait of the painter by filmmaker Julien Schnabel, a painter himself. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw believes it’s a “strong, valuable and intelligent performance from Dafoe, capably captured by Schnabel. In his review for THR, David Rooney praises Dafoe’s “dangerous urgency,” as well as Schnabel’s efforts to represent Van Gogh’s unique style, “That tactile density, judged as clumsy and unrefined by most observers in van Gogh’s lifetime, finds a visual and tonal correlation in Schnabel’s approach that invests this distinctive biographical drama with an invigorating, coarse vitality.” Writing for TheWrap, William Bibbiani praises Dafoe’s “towering, vulnerable performance,” and Schnabel's ability to create a “natural, immersive motion picture that conveys the experience of being, living with, and painting like Vincent Van Gogh.” Lastly, Indiewire’s Michael Nordine proclaims Gate an “unconventional biopic that, at its best, is a masterwork worthy of Van Gogh.”

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Watch trailer
Western | USA | Directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
In theaters (and on Netflix) November 16

movie still

The new film from Joel and Ethan Coen was originally conceived as a Netflix series. Now it’s a six-part anthology feature film (though still headed to Netflix) set in the American West. Condensing the material into a film turned out to be a good idea, resulting in a best screenplay award in Venice. Still, it might be a relatively lesser work for the Coens. In her review for The Playlist, Jessica Kiang suggests as much: “Taken individually, there are cherishable moments and performances scattered throughout The Ballad of Buster Scruggs like so many flecks of gold amid the silt. But as a whole, the film has to be chalked down to a perplexingly minor addition to one of the most beloved cinematic canons of our time.” It’s an opinion echoed by IndieWire’s Eric Kohn, who writes, “It amounts to an intermittently funny, gorgeous, and patience-trying 130 minutes, but fans will find plenty of gems in this messy assemblage of Coen brothers motifs.”

However, Robbie Collin gives the film five out of five stars in his review for The Telegraph, claiming it’s a “dazzling mosey through the creeks and canyons of the Coenesque, whose scattershot format and by turns bizarre and macabre sense of humour belies a formal ingenuity and surgical control of tone that keeps the viewer perpetually off-guard.”

The Biggest Little Farm
Documentary | USA | Directed by John Chester

movie still

In this documentary, John Chester and his wife Molly document their risky, seven-year endeavor of moving an hour outside of Los Angeles to start their own farm. The film benefits from John’s experience as a cinematographer, resulting in what Indiewire’s Eric Kohn describes as a “gorgeous and often devastating look at good intentions slamming into harsh practical challenges” and the “rare eco-friendly documentary that reaches beyond the celebratory formula to explore the application of its environmental message in detail.” Todd McCarthy of THR adds, “Once the film drops its initial idealization of back-to-the-land fantasies in favor of a more realistic assessment of the challenges involved, it becomes genuinely involving and heartening.”

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Watch trailer
Drama/Comedy | USA | Directed by Marielle Heller
In theaters October 19

movie still

Marielle Heller’s follow-up to her celebrated debut, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, is based on another unique piece of writing: Lee Israel’s memoir about forging letters from famous authors in order to pay her rent. Melissa McCarthy delivers what some reviewers are calling a career-best (and possibly Oscar-worthy) performance as Israel, while Richard E. Grant plays her confidant, Jack, and Jane Curtain, Dolly Wells, and Anna Deavere Smith have supporting roles in a film Variety’s Peter Debruge claims is an “unexpectedly profound, incredibly true dramedy.” Writing for Screen Daily, Tim Grierson describes Heller’s approach as “gentle, even sympathetic, taking the time to show how Lee reached this point in her life,” and Eric Kohn of IndieWire believes McCarthy “elevates the material at every opportunity, and whenever the camera lingers on her expressions, she’s a study in contradictions — tough and tender all at once, unsure which side of that spectrum to unleash.”

Ever After (Endzeit)
Horror | Germany | Directed by Carolina Hellsgård

movie still

Director Carolina Hellsgård’s second feature is a zombie movie, but, according to critics, it’s not your typical zombie movie. With women in every major creative role (German author and illustrator Olivia Vieweg adapts her own 2011 graphic novel), the German film follows Vivi and Eva as they fight to find safety from the infected hordes. CineVue’s Christopher Machell finds it “imperfect but fascinating,” and Jared Mobarak of The Film Stage is impressed by how “Hellsgård and Vieweg put these familiar characters and ubiquitous premise into a mythology that’s wholly unique.”

Fahrenheit 11/9 Watch trailer
Documentary | USA | Directed by Michael Moore
In theaters September 21

movie still

Michael Moore (Where to Invade Next) is back with his particular brand of documentary, and this time he’s taking on Donald Trump, the water crisis in Flint, the Parkland school shooting, and both political parties, with a title that echoes his Palme d’Or-winning documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. The new film may not fully cohere, but that doesn't mean critics don't like it. “Moore isn’t making one movie here — he’s making a whole bunch of them, all colliding at once, in a sprawling quest to save America and highlight Trump’s biggest threats,” writes Eric Kohn of IndieWire. Vulture’s David Edelstein believes the film “isn’t his smoothest film, but it’s his fullest and most original, and Victor Stiff of The Playlist claims Moore “deftly mixes hope and heartbreak in a soul-stirring blend guaranteed to have people talking.”

First Man Watch trailer
Drama | USA | Directed by Damien Chazelle
In theaters October 12

movie still

Damien Chazelle directs his La La Land star, Ryan Gosling, in this adaptation of James R. Hansen’s book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong. Described as an “immersive, immaculately crafted, often spectacular and satisfyingly old-fashioned epic” by Jessica Kiang of The Playlist, the film focuses on Armstrong’s experience leading up to and then commanding the Apollo 11 mission. Not all critics fell for Chazelle’s approach, but enough did to cement the film's place among this year's major Oscar contenders. Time’s Stephanie Zacharek finds the movie “too fussed-over for such a low-key hero,” but Owen Gleiberman of Variety believes Chazelle’s “audacious strategy is to make a movie so revelatory in its realism, so gritty in its physicality, that it becomes a drama of thrillingly hellbent danger and obsession.”

Fistful of Dirt
Drama | USA | Directed by Sebastián Silva

movie still

The new film by eclectic filmmaker Sebastián Silva (The Maid, Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus, Nasty Baby) follows 10-year-old Yei (Julio Gastón Ramos) in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on the island of Puerto Rico. Initially a neorealist portrait, the movie swerves into magical realism before its midway point. Peter Debruge of Variety praises the “terrific” performance of newcomer Ramos. Similarly, THR’s Stephen Faber claims “this utterly honest and engaging young actor holds the entire movie on his shoulders.”

Free Solo
Documentary | USA | Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin

movie still

The new documentary from Meru directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin is a portrait of climber Alex Honold as he prepares to ascend Yosemite’s El Capitan without a rope. If that sounds like a thrilling film, well, it pretty much is. Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson believes it’s “one of the year’s more arresting character studies,” and in his review for IndieWire, David Ehrlich notes, “Free Solo is smart to point behind the camera and feed off the genuine concern these directors have for their subject (Chin often appears onscreen), because the mountain footage — however incredible it might be — is only half of the story.”

Gloria Bell
Drama | USA/Chile | Directed by Sebastián Lelio

movie still

Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman) has done it again. Remaking his own 2013 film Gloria in English (for his second English-language film, following Disobedience), the Chilean/Argentine director's latest work is another high-scoring success. The story has moved from Santiago to Los Angeles, and Julianne Moore takes over the title role from Paulina García, who won best actress at the Berlin Film Festival for her portrayal of a divorcée looking for more out of life than being a grandmother. The film “comfortably banishes any fears of some neutered US remake,” according to Gwilym Mumford of The Guardian. Comparing the two lead actresses in his review for Indiewire, Eric Kohn writes, “Moore brings a feistier interpretation to the character than Garcia’s understated version, with more raised eyebrows and telling half-smiles. But both actresses ground the character in a kind of authenticity that provides the movie with a continuing emotional resonance.”

The Hate U Give Watch trailer
Drama | USA | Directed by George Tillman Jr
In theaters October 5

movie still

Adapted by Audrey Wells from Angie Thomas’ novel, the latest from director George Tillman Jr. (The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete) stars Amanda Stenberg (Everything, Everything) as Starr Carter, a young girl living in a poor neighborhood but going to school at a rich prep school. She finds strength in her voice when her childhood best friend Khalil (Algee Smith) is gunned down by a cop. Critics praised Stenberg’s performance, as well as the supporting cast of Regina Hall, Common, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae, and Russell Hornsby. Indiewire’s Kate Erbland believes “Stenberg, who is always good and somehow gets better with every role, is surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that keeps the film and its many messages ticking right along,” and Alissa Wilkinson of Vox writes, “While art that ably functions as a primer to important social matters can often fall flat in its storytelling, The Hate U Give is as moving, funny, and riveting as its narrator, Starr — and the new movie based on the novel succeeds at least as much as, if not better than, its source material.”

High Life
Sci-fi/Adventure | Germany/France/USA/UK/Poland | Directed by Claire Denis

movie still

High Life represents several firsts for French filmmaker Claire Denis (Let the Sunshine In, Bastards): It's her English-language debut, and her first science fiction film. It's also a rather unique example of the latter. Starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, and André Benjamin as criminals on a mysterious mission in deep space, High Life is a “pensive and profound study of human life on the brink of the apocalypse,” in the opinion of Indiewire’s David Ehrlich. In Variety, Jessica Kiang has more praise: “At once a grand departure and the same film Denis has been making all her life, High Life deals in a kind of metaphorical colonization, in the violence inherent in interpersonal relations between men and women, and in the perversity of (especially female) desire. But it also goes further in sorrowfulness than Denis has gone before.”

Homecoming
TV | USA | Directed by Sam Esmail
Debuts November 2 on Prime Video

movie still

Based on the hit Gimlet Media fiction podcast of the same name, Amazon's upcoming psychological thriller about a secretive, experimental program for American war veterans comes from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail (who directs all 10 episodes) and stars Julia Roberts in her first regular TV role. The strong cast also includes Sissy Spacek, Bobby Cannavale, Shea Whigham, Dermot Mulroney, Stephan James, and Alex Karpovsky. The opening four episodes premiered at TIFF, and critics very much liked what they saw. In his "A–" review for Indiewire, Ben Travers calls Homecoming "a creepy, fun thriller and a gripping, human drama." The only hiccup might be Esmail's tendency "to pull every directing trick out of his hat," which can be "overwhelming," according to Variety's Caroline Framke. But THR's Tim Goodman approves of Esmail's stylistic decisions, noting that "there is something deeply, mysteriously off in the story and so the visuals are working in creative (and sometimes funny) ways to express that."

If Beale Street Could Talk Watch trailer
Drama | USA | Directed by Barry Jenkins
In theaters November 30

movie still

Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to his best picture Oscar winner, Moonlight, is an adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel about Tish (Kiki Layne), a woman in Harlem who fights to prove her imprisoned fiancé’s innocence while carrying their first child. Once again, critics are impressed. Vanity Fair’s K. Austin Collins claims this is Jenkins’ “finest work: an experience so rapt with an aura of love that even as it trawls the dark, the film is somehow bright.” Sarah Kurchak of CoS believes it’s a “film so clearly made with passion, devotion, and love that it inspires the same in those who watch it and become absorbed by it." And Benjamin Lee of The Guardian writes, “Given the film’s unabashed belief in love, it’s satisfying to feel so much while watching it. Sensorily and emotionally, it’s an almost overwhelming experience.”

In Fabric
Horror | UK | Directed by Peter Strickland

movie still

The new film from director Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio, The Duke of Burgundy) is another clever riff on giallo-style horror. A cursed dress is at the center of this tale that Justin Chang of the L.A. Times describes as a “wonderfully weird exercise in genre fetishization.” Screen Daily’s Stephen Whitty finds it “perverse (and often perversely funny),” and Indiewire’s David Ehrlich writes in his "B+" review, “As much of a loving ode to the transformative power of fine clothing as it is a cheeky condemnation of the consumerism that drives people to buy it, Strickland’s long-awaited new delight might lack the cohesion of his previous film, but In Fabric is cut from the same cloth.”

Mid90s Watch trailer
Comedy | USA | Directed by Jonah Hill
In theaters October 19

movie still

Jonah Hill’s mostly successful feature directorial debut follows Stevie (Sunny Suljic, The Killing of a Sacred Deer), a 13-year old in Los Angeles who finds relief from a difficult home life by skateboarding with his new friends. The Playlist’s Jason Bailey claims it’s “so busy displaying the appropriate needle drops and cinematic influences that it never discovers an emotional heartbeat of its own,” but John DeFore of THR believes it’s a “gem that feels simultaneously informed by its author's adolescence and the product of a serious artist's observational distance.”

Monrovia, Indiana
Documentary | USA | Directed by Frederick Wiseman
In theaters October 26

movie still

After documenting the workings of the New York Public Library in Ex Libris, Frederick Wiseman turns his camera on a small town in rural America. Rory O’Connor of The Film Stage finds “much to savor,” in this look at the “hard, under-appreciated work that is constantly being done by small social organizations and local councils.” And Slant Magazine’s Chuck Bowen believes Wiseman “renders the citizens of Monrovia with the same rapturous, lucid eye that he reserves for other subjects.”

My Brilliant Friend
TV | Italy/Belgium | Directed by Saverio Costanzo
Debuts November 18 on HBO

movie still

HBO's upcoming Italian-language drama (the cable network's first foreign-language original series) is adapted from Elena Ferrante's acclaimed four-book Neapolitan series about an elderly woman who chronicles six decades of her friendship/rivalry with another woman after the latter mysteriously disappears. Making its world premiere (appropriately enough) in Venice with its first two episodes, the lavishly produced drama gets off to an "extraordinarily promising" start, according to THR TV critic Dan Fienberg. He thinks the opening hours suggest a series that will adhere closely to the books, and he praises the two young amateur leads, who were discovered via an open casting call. Variety's Daniel D'Addario also finds the first episodes (and the leads' performances) "impressive."

Non-Fiction (Doubles Vies)
Comedy | France | Directed by Olivier Assayas

movie still

Olivier Assayas' follow-up to Personal Shopper is a comedy set in the Parisian literary world. Starring Juliette Binoche, Guillaume Canet, and Vincent Macaigne, the film is a “witty, resonant, richly perceptive portrait of people caught in the throes of a fast-changing country,” according to THR’s Jon Frosch. And TheWrap Alonso Duralde claims it is “Assayas’ talkiest film to date, but it’s also probably his funniest.”

The Old Man and the Gun Watch trailer
Drama/Comedy | USA | Directed by David Lowery
In theaters September 28

movie still

David Lowery (A Ghost Story) directs a loose adaptation of David Grann’s 2003 piece in The New Yorker about Forrest Tucker, a career criminal who escaped multiple prisons, including San Quentin, and pulled off a string of heists well into his 70s. Playing Tucker is Robert Redford in what the actor has claimed will be his final screen performance, and he appears to be going out with a winner. “The Redford charm is abundant in The Old Man & the Gun, his familiar mix of cunning and kindness, an arrogance that lets you in on the fun,” writes Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair. THR’s Todd McCarthy loves this “warm and gritty tale,” particularly the relationship between Redford and Sissy Spacek, which “fills the film out with a distinctive allure” and “makes one regret they’d never worked together before.”

The Other Side of the Wind Watch trailer
Drama/Comedy | USA/France/Iran | Directed by Orson Welles
Streaming on Netflix November 2

movie still

Orson Welles began filming The Other Side of the Wind in 1970, and production would continue intermittently for six years. By the time of Welles’ death, it was still not complete, but in March of 2017 efforts began in earnest to finish the film afters years of stalled attempts. The result streams on Netflix in November, and you need not fear that it's a disaster. Starring John Huston as J.J. Hannaford, a legendary filmmaker trying to make a comeback (not unlike Welles himself), the finished product is “a fascinating sprawl of technique, chaos, personality, and legacy,” writes TheWrap’s Robert Abele, who calls it “a truly kinetic dispatch from a giant in twilight, and, in keeping with Welles’ oeuvre, another inventively realized, no-holds-barred investigation of a complicated man and the environment that made him.” Eric Kohn of Indiewire adds, “The result is messy and meandering, but always in that distinctive Wellesian way that proves his talent was unparalleled even when it fell apart.”

Shadow (Ying)
Action/Drama | China | Directed by Zhang Yimou

movie still

After the disappointment of The Great Wall, Zhang Yimou returns to the heights of House of Flying Daggers and Hero with this wuxia film based on the Chinese legend of the Three Kingdoms. Leonard Goi of The Film Stage declares Shadow to be a “beautifully mounted period piece that ranks among his most captivating offerings.” THR’s Boyd van Hoeij makes the bold claim that this is “probably the most stunningly beautiful film Zhang has made,” and Jessica Kiang of Variety believes it “matches Zhang’s best work for the sheer voracious elegance of the images and possibly surpasses much of it for inventiveness.”

Sorry for Your Loss
TV | USA | Directed by James Ponsoldt, Allison Anders, Jessica Yu
Debuts September 18 on Facebook Watch

movie still

We now live in a world where even Facebook is debuting new content at TIFF. (Your move, Pinterest.) Elizabeth Olsen, Kelly Marie Tran, and Janet McTeer star in this half-hour drama about a woman attempting to cope with the death of her husband. The series comes from Z: The Beginning of Everything wrtier Kit Steinkellner, while James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) directs multiple episodes, including the four that screened at the festival. (Those same four episodes debut Tuesday on Facebook.) And most critics clicked "Like" on what they saw, admiring the show's construction and performances even while acknowledging that the subject matter can be tough. The only critic so far who dislikes the series is Indiewire's Ben Travers, who finds the opening episodes shallow and inauthentic.

A Star Is Born Watch trailer
Drama/Musical | USA | Directed by Bradley Cooper
In theaters October 5

movie still

This fourth version of A Star Is Born brings the story into the worlds of country music and modern pop stardom with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga as the leads, and it appears the result is headed for awards-season ubiquity. Cooper’s directorial debut is “exceptional” and “one of the best, most satisfying movies of 2018,” according to Kevin Lallym of Film Journal International. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman finds it “rapturous and swooning, but also delicate and intimate and luminous.” And in his festival diary for the L.A. Times, Justin Chang writes, “Gorgeously shot, lighted and scored, and acted by both leads with an incandescence that feels fully lived in, Cooper’s movie seduces you almost immediately. It doesn’t promise the shock of the new, but from the first frame it casts a spell, the kind that lets you know immediately that you’re in good hands.”

Suspiria Watch trailer
Horror/Thriller | Italy | Directed by Luca Guadagnino
In theaters October 26

movie still

Luca Guadagnino’s re-imagining of Dario Argento’s Suspiria elicited a vast range of responses from critics, with strong opinions both for and against the film. First, the negatives. Time’s Stephanie Zacharek finds the film “bland, grisly, boring and silly,” and believes “Guadagnino is tripped up by his own ambitions.” Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian admits Guadagnino’s follow-up to Call Me by Your Name is “undoubtedly a labour of love for Guadagnino, an interesting variation on a theme, a cerebral act of connoisseurship. Yet storytelling pulse is missing and so is the scream of fear.”

On the whole, however, critics seem to approve of the remake, David Ehrlich of IndieWire claims it’s a film of “rare and unfettered madness, and it leaves behind a scalding message that’s written in pain and blood: The future will be a nightmare if we can’t take responsibility for the past.” Jessica Kiang anticipates the post-premiere fallout in her review for The Playlist: “Suspiria, (to an almost alarming thematic degree as well as everything else) is this Venice’s “mother!” in that it will rip the critical corpus apart from the chest out, will likely receive an F Cinemascore and will get a review here that is essentially me writhing around on its slick, gory parquet floors scrawling superlatives on the wall-mirrors in its blood and bashing myself to livid euphoric oblivion against my own distorted reflection. (I loved it, in case I’m not clear).”

They'll Love Me When I'm Dead
Documentary | USA | Directed by Morgan Neville
Streaming on Netflix November 2

movie still

After the critical and box office success of Won’t You Be My Neighbor, it’s shaping up to be another good year for Academy Award-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom). His new documentary is a companion piece to Orson Welles' posthumously completed film The Other Side of the Wind (both stream on Netflix beginning November 2nd), covering the final 15 years of the director’s life and the making of that film. Writing for The Playlist, Kimber Myers calls the film a “cinephile’s treasure, providing deep insight into Welles as both a filmmaker and a person. And Screen Daily’s Jonathan Romney suggests the “virtue of Neville’s film is that it leaves you eager to see Wind and make up your own mind – although Wind itself is a topic on which the critical jury may be out for years.”

Vox Lux
Drama/Musical | USA | Directed by Brady Corbet

movie still

Brady Corbet’s follow-up to The Childhood of a Leader is a “a truly unique power-pop epic” in the eyes of CineVue’s John Bleasdale. Natalie Portman stars as Celeste, a modern pop star whose career begins in tragedy as a teenager (young Celeste is played by The Killing of a Sacred Deer’s Raffey Cassidy). In her review for The Playlist, Jessica Kiang suggests, “Vox Lux, in which the flaws are so unapologetic they’re almost virtues, displays a lot of the same preoccupations as ‘Childhood’ but is a far better film, glitchy yet absorbing, panicky yet strangely wise.” And Screen Daily’s Jonathan Romney claims, “Like the film or not, approve or not, Vox Lux shows that Corbet is the real thing, and the song he’s singing is very much his own.”

Widows Watch trailer
Drama/Thriller | UK/USA | Directed by Steve McQueen
In theaters November 16

movie still

Steve McQueen’s first feature since 2013’s 12 Years a Slave tells the story of four women who team up to settle the debt their dead husbands left behind. Adapted by Gillian Flynn and McQueen from a British television series and starring Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, and Cynthia Erivo, this Chicago-set heist movie is “gripping, corrosive and superbly acted,” according to Justin Chang of the LA Times. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn believes McQueen has “made a first-rate genre exercise that doubles as a treatise on race and gender, juggling dramatic payoff with heavier themes. Widows embraces its trashy, melodramatic twists while deepening their potential.” McQueen’s direction also impresses Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson: “McQueen doesn’t overwhelm the snaking plot with overly elaborate filmmaking; the movie has a confident style without preening or showiness.” And Christopher Schobert of The Film Stage predicts it will “go down as one of the year’s most pleasurable, cathartic cinematic treats.”

Minor disappointments

American Dharma
Documentary | USA/UK | Directed by Errol Morris

movie still

The controversial new documentary by Errol Morris profiles former Breitbart chairman and Trump advisor Steven K. Bannon. Much like he did in The Fog of War and The Unknown Known, Morris organizes the film around a one-on-one interview, but a majority of critics feel it’s the least successful of these films. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman believes Morris “doesn’t question Bannon, let alone push him to the wall,” and “when Morris gets around to challenging Bannon (once every 20 minutes or so), Bannon ducks the question, and that’s that.” THR’s Deborah Young is more complimentary, writing, “The scariest thing about American Dharma, the quality that makes it the most disturbing movie of the year, stems from its continuing ambiguity: It’s never clear who has the upper hand.” However, Alissa Wilkinson of Vox claims Morris’ film is successful: “In Morris’s hands, the subject of American Dharma is no destroyer. He’s a farce. He is, by the end, rendered nearly pitiable: a deluded figure with fantasies of grandeur and little substance beneath the grandiose clichés — a grown man, desperately play-acting at being the tragic hero he saw in the movies.”

Beautiful Boy Watch trailer
Drama | USA | Directed by Felix Van Groeningen
In theaters October 12

movie still

Based on the best-selling memoirs by David and Nic Sheff and starring Steve Carell as David and Timothée Chalamet as Nic, the latest from Belgian director Felix Van Groeningen (The Broken Circle Breakdown), chronicles Nic’s struggles with addiction over several years in a time-jumping narrative many critics found distracting. Amy Ryan and Maura Tierney co-star as Vicki Sheff and Karen Barbour in a film anchored by “strong, committed performances and the upsetting ring of reality,” according to Fionnuala Halligan of Screen Daily. But even the less enthusiastic reviews seem to find something to like, such as Todd McCarthy’s for THR, who calls Boy a “one-note, prosaic, on-the-nose look at drug addiction” but admits the film is “most interesting when it simply provides the opportunity to watch Chalamet.”

Ben Is Back Watch trailer
Drama | USA | Directed by Peter Hedges
In theaters December 7

movie still

Peter Hedges (Pieces of April, Dan in Real Life) directs his son, Lucas Hedges, in this look at opioid addiction. Taking place over 24 hours, the film focuses on the relationship between Ben and his mother (Julia Roberts) when the former returns home unexpectedly on Christmas Eve morning. Critics didn't love the film, but did like pieces of it. Wendy Ide of Screen Daily praises the film’s “perceptive writing” and “impressive performances,” while The Playlist’s Jordan Ruimy writes, “Even as the script slowly loses its focus, Ben Is Back at least leaves a lasting impression from its two incredible leads and their unforgettable performances.”

Boy Erased Watch trailer
Drama | USA | Directed by Joel Edgerton
In theaters November 2

movie still

Based on Garrard Conley’s memoir, Joel Edgerton’s directorial follow-up to The Gift tells the story of Jared (the omnipresent Lucas Hedges), who at the age of 19 is sent to a conversion therapy program by his Baptist minister father (Russell Crowe) and more understanding mother (Nicole Kidman) after being outed to his family. Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson believes this “fine trio work in rich concert, elevating the fairly standard-issue material to poignant highs,” but Benjamin Lee of The Guardian claims the film is “a cold study rather than a humane movie, the eventual emotional confrontations carrying little weight.”

Destroyer
Drama/Thriller | USA | Directed by Karyn Kusama
In theaters December 25

movie still

Karyn Kusama’s follow-up to The Invitation stars Nicole Kidman as LAPD detective Erin Bell. As a young cop, Bell was placed in an undercover job that went bad. When her past reemerges in her present, she must deal with the demons still troubling her. Critics like Manohla Dargis of The New York Times ere impressed by Kidman’s performance and transformation: “On first sight, Ms. Kidman looks close to unrecognizable, her face carefully mottled and leathered, and her eyes ringed in a red hue you could call Permanent Hangover. The performance is so great, though, that soon enough you’re watching it, not the makeover.” However, Screen Daily’s Tim Grierson believes Kusama often miscalculates Destroyer’s sense of its own profundity, and Benjamin Lee of The Guardian agrees: “It’s a mechanical noir dressed up as something more substantial and this is especially felt in an ending that drowns in unearned profundity.”

Donnybrook
Drama | USA | Directed by Tim Sutton

movie still

Tim Sutton veers form the impressionistic filmmaking of Pavilion, Memphis, and Dark Night into straightforward storytelling with this adaptation of Frank Bill’s novel. The divisive film follows two men, an ex-marine (Jamie Bell) and a violent drug dealer (Frank Grillo) as they make their way to the Donnybrook, a bare-knuckle cage fight where the last man standing wins $100,000. For THR’s Keith Uhlich, it’s a “movie to which the term ‘derivative’ entirely applies, a repellent mixture of Malick-like dreaminess, Scorsese-esque brutality and the lurid shock/schlock of William Faulkner in Sanctuary mode.” On the other hand, Rodrigo Perez of The Playlist finds Donnybrook to be a “stunning, often flooring masterwork about desperation ... a brutal elegy for those living on the forgotten fringes of America.”

The Fall of the American Empire
Comedy | Canada | Directed by Denys Arcand

movie still

With his latest film, Denys Arcand completes his informal trilogy examining Quebec society. What began in 1986 as a discussion about sex in The Decline of the American Empire and continued with an examination of death in The Barbarian Invasions, ends with an investigation of money built around new characters, focusing on a 36-year-old with a PhD in philosophy who suddenly finds himself flush with money. Quality-wise, Fall appears to fall in between those two films: It's not bad, but it's also not great. Still, THR’s John DeFore finds this “Pretty Woman for socialists,” to be “diverting and agreeably left-leaning.” And in his review for Screen Daily, Allan Hunter writes, “There are flaws in The Fall Of The American Empire, but it still works thanks to the thought-provoking material in the screenplay, some sharp lines and the quality of the performances.”

Freaks
Sci-fi/Drama/Thriller | Canada | Directed by Adam B. Stein and Zach Lipovsky

movie still

Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein's genre-bending feature is “a small-scale, intriguing superhero indie with a killer hook,” according to Christopher Machell of CineVue. The story revolves around a protective father, played by Emile Hirsch, and Chloe (Lexy Kolker), his 7-year-old daughter who is itching to experience life outside their rundown house. In her review for The Verge, Tasha Robinson writes, “Where Freaks really excels is its structure, which allows for a steady flow of reveals, right up to the final moments. Even once the basic scenario becomes clear — sometimes via startling reveals the audience will absorb before the characters, and sometimes via tautly directed action — there’s still a lot about the world left to learn." But Indiewire's David Ehrlich feels that the filmmaker's approach generates "mundane results."

The Front Runner Watch trailer
Drama | USA | Directed by Jason Reitman
In theaters November 6

movie still

After a pair of duds (Labor Day and Men, Women & Children), Jason Reitman looks to be back on track with his two 2018 releases—Tully and this look at the fall of Senator Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman), the one-time favorite to win the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. (Spoiler alert: He didn't get the nomination.) Still, it's not an unequivocal success. THR’s Stephen Faber finds The Front Runner “both provocative and somewhat disappointing,” but Jared Mobarak of The Film Stage believes it’s the “best-directed film of Reitman’s career, every facet proving almost impeccable.” And Screen Daily’s Allan Hunter claims the film “captures the moral dilemmas and changing attitudes inspired by the Hart story with sprawling, Altmanesque brio.”

The Great Buster: A Celebration
Documentary | USA | Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
In theaters October 5

movie still

Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon) celebrates the life and career of Buster Keaton in this documentary that won a special award for Best Documentary on Cinema in Venice. THR’s Todd McCarthy of finds Buster “lovely and sharp-minded,” but Jay Weissberg of Variety sees a “by-the-book documentary of the great comedian’s life and career clearly designed as an appetizer before the classic films are reissued.”

Greta
Drama/Thriller | USA/Ireland | Directed by Neil Jordan

movie still

The latest from director Neil Jordan (Byzantium, Ondine, The Crying Game) is a psychological thriller that delves into the relationship between a naive young woman (Chloë Grace Moretz) and the mysterious widow (Isabelle Huppert) who befriends her. The film divided critics at TIFF. Barry Hertz of The Globe & Mail claims it’s a “jumbled mess, to put it mildly." But Indiewire’s Kate Erbland believes Jordan “opts to turn the cliché and overwrought into unexpected B-movie joy.” And Fionnuala Halligan of Screen Daily praises Huppert: “A stupendously game Isabelle Huppert gives audiences yet another reason to venerate her as she raises arched eyebrows to new heights in this silly, funny, camp pulp thriller.”

Halloween Watch trailer
Horror | USA | Directed by David Gordon Green
In theaters October 19

movie still

Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode in this direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 original. Directed by David Gordon Green (Stronger, Pineapple Express) from a script he wrote with Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride, the film divided critics when it premiered at TIFF, though it's certainly far better than other recent films in the series. The AV Club’s A.A. Dowd claims it’s “just another pale imitation, another bad Halloween sequel watering down the fear factor of the original,” and Variety’s Peter Debruge labels it an “act of fan service disguised as a horror movie.” Sarah Kurchak of CoS writes, “Unfortunately, it stops short of being one of those fan works that holds its own against the original. It’s decent. It has its moments. It’s enjoyable enough as supplementary material.” Among the movie’s defenders is E. Oliver Whitney of ScreenCrush, who writes, “Green serves up everything we love about the first Halloween, completely playing off our nostalgia for the slasher classic, and to me, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Her Smell Watch trailer
Drama | USA | Directed by Alex Ross Perry

movie still

Following Listen Up Philip and Queen of Earth, the third collaboration between writer-director Alex Ross Perry and actor Elizabeth Moss is their most divisive. A portrait of a noxious lead singer of a punk band, Perry’s “sixth feature is truly a painful sit for the first 80 minutes, after which a measure of redemption arrives. But it’s too little far too late,” according to Todd McCarthy of THR. However, Screen Daily’s Wendy Ide believes the ending works: “Her Smell is frequently rambling and incoherent, often uncomfortable and it suffers from the indulgent running time. But the filmmaking is nothing if not uncompromising and the highs, when they arrive, are piercing and pure enough to keep the audience hooked for the duration.”

Hold the Dark Watch trailer
Adventure/Thriller | USA | Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Streaming on Netflix September 28

movie still

Unlike his previous films (the critically acclaimed Blue Ruin and Green Room), critics split on the latest from director Jeremy Saulnier. This Netflix adaptation of William Giraldi’s novel follows a wolf expert (Jeffrey Wright) to northern Alaska, where he tries to track down the wolves that killed the son of a grieving mother (Riley Keough) whose soldier husband (Alexander Skarsgård) is about to return from war. TheWrap’s Sam Fragoso notes that the script “lacks the moment-to-moment fluidity of Saulnier’s previous projects” and “marks the first time Saulnier has directed but not written, and the disconnect is felt.” However, Tim Grierson of Screen Daily believes “Saulnier has crafted his most mature effort to date, mixing his love for pulp fiction with a sombre examination of the inexplicable evil all around us.”

Hotel Mumbai
Drama/Thriller | Australia | Directed by Anthony Maras

movie still

The feature debut of director Anthony Maras dramatizes the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. With a cast that includes Dev Patel and Armie Hammer, the film is “both gripping in its execution — although a two-hours-plus running time feels a bit stretched — and totally bland in what it’s trying to say,” according to Jordan Mintzer of THR. But Screen Daily‘s Sarah Ward finds it to be an “equally tense and touching approach” the attacks, and both a “ripped-from-the-headlines recreation and an emotive vehicle for its high-profile cast.”

Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy
Drama | Canada/USA/UK | Directed by Justin Kelly

movie still

Director Justin Kelly (I Am Michael) tackles the true story of writer Laura Albert’s creation of JT Leroy, a pen name she imagines into being. A teenage boy surviving as a truck stop sex worker, JT is eventually brought into the public eye by Albert’s sister-in-law Savannah. the 2016 documentary Author: The JT Leroy Story explored the story, but Kelly’s account has Laura Dern as Albert and Kristen Stewart as Savannah. Christopher Schobert of The Film Stage believes “while the film may not count as a complete success, the performances are worthy of great praise.”

Maya
Drama | France | Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve

movie still

The latest from acclaimed director Mia Hansen-Løve (Things to Come, Eden) follows a war correspondent recently released from captivity in Syria. Unable to rebuild his life in Paris, he visits his childhood home in India and strikes up a relationship with his godfather’s 17-year-old daughter. While Maya may not be her best film, THR’s Jordan Mintzer feels it’s “still very much a Hansen-Love affair: from its gentle and meandering narrative to its fine sense of detail to its tender chronicle of a character gradually overcoming trauma and seeing life anew.”

The Mountain
Drama | USA | Directed by Rick Alverson

movie still

Set in 1950s America, the new film from divisive director Rick Alverson (The Comedy, Entertainment) follows a young man (Tye Sheridan) and a renowned lobotomist (Jeff Goldblum) as they tour asylums, eventually meeting the leader (Denis Lavant) of a growing New Age movement. CineVue’s John Bleasdale is mixed on the movie overall, but thinks Goldblum’s “performance is brilliant, made up of equal measure charisma, brilliance, quackery, lechery and topped up with clinking glasses of booze.” Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian sees a “film with real cinematic language, but that does not say anything very convincing or substantial.” But Indiewire’s Eric Kohn believes it’s a “beautiful, challenging, and altogether singular portrait of America’s fractured identity.”

The Nightingale
Drama/Thriller | Australia | Directed by Jennifer Kent

movie still

Jennifer Kent’s follow-up to her debut feature, The Babadook, is a gritty and violent revenge tale set in 1829 Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen’s Land). Kent took home the Special Jury Prize in Venice, and Baykali Ganambarr won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor for his portrayal of Billy, an aboriginal tracker who helps Clare (Aisling Franciosi), a young convict, find the man who ruined her life. Despite the awards, Nightingale isn't exactly a critical success. In his review for Screen Daily, Jonathan Romney writes, “Unfortunately, ambitious as it is, this historical revenge drama represents a step backwards in storytelling prowess from her dazzling debut.” But Variety’s Guy Lodge sees a “both-barrels-blazing statement of intent from a filmmaker determined not to be limited or labeled by the popular meme-ification of her debut, with the muscular formal grasp to match her ambitious reach.”

Peterloo Watch trailer
Drama | UK/USA | Directed by Mike Leigh
In theaters November 9

movie still

Critics tend to love the work of director Mike Leigh, but they aren't so enthusiastic about his long-awaited follow-up to 2014’s Mr. Turner. The new film dramatizes the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, a bloody incident that occurred in St. Peter’s Field in Manchester, England when local magistrates set sabre-armed cavalry on a crowd of 80,000 who were gathered to demand parliamentary reform. A disappointed Stephen Dalton of THR calls it a “a prosaic, cumbersome misfire which mistakes bigness for greatness,” while Ben Croll of IndieWire similarly deems it a “bland docudrama.” But praise comes from The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, who claims it’s a “richly intelligent, passionate movie,” and A.O. Scott of The New York Times, who writes, “Its intention is less to commemorate a bygone tragedy than to illuminate the unfinished business of justice and the endlessness of the struggle for democracy.”

The Quietude
Drama/Thriller | Argentina | Directed by Pablo Trapero

movie still

Pablo Trapero’s follow-up to The Clan stars Bérénice Bejo and Martina Gusman as sisters who are reunited after years apart. Set in country house near Buenos Aires, the film is a “beautifully crafted multilayered drama,” and Trapero’s “most enjoyable film in years,” according to Jay Weissberg of Variety. Less enthusiastic is THR’s Deborah Young, who believes “Trapero’s ambitious attempt to strike a unique tone somewhere between serious drama and humorous daytime TV falls awkwardly flat.”

Quincy Watch trailer
Documentary/Music | USA | Directed by Alan Hicks and Rashida Jones
Streaming on Netflix September 21

movie still

Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks profile the former's father, musician-producer Quincy Jones, in what Indiewire’s Jude Dry calls a “jaunty stroll through the last half-century of music history, and a fitting tribute to a living legend.” But in his review of the upcoming Netflix film for THR, Stephen Dalton expresses a different opinion: “It ultimately feels like an extended love letter from a famous daughter to her super-famous dad. The sentiment is sweet enough, but a few more messy, gossipy, off-key notes might have given this overly sunny symphony more jazzy depth.”

Sunset
Drama | Hungary/France | Directed by László Nemes

movie still

László Nemes' follow-up to Son of Saul, which won an Oscar for best foreign language film, perplexed many critics. Set in 1913 Budapest, the film follows Irisz Leiter (Juli Jakab) on a mysterious quest as civilization crumbles around her. The film didn’t work for Variety’s Jay Weissberg, who writes, “The chaos is there but without the coherence necessary to balance sensorial turmoil with genuine meaning.” However, IndieWire’s Michael Nordine believes Nemes’ “sophomore feature is both astonishingly beautiful and profoundly sorrowful: It unfolds like a cross between a memory and a dream, the kind so vivid you’ll swear it was real as you hang on to every half-remembered detail.”

The duds

Charlie Says
Drama | USA | Directed by Mary Harron

movie still

I Shot Andy Warhol and American Psycho director Mary Harron attempts to dive into the mind of another killer with this look at Charles Manson, played by Matt Smith, and the three women—Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Susan Atkins—who were convicted along with him for the Manson Family Murders. The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin believes “Smith is horribly miscast, with none of the magnetism or menace required to make the young women’s devotion feel like something more complex than a deeply stupid choice.” Demetrios Matheou of Screen Daily agrees, writing, “Skimpy psychological insight, a clumsy structure and what turns out to be a miscast Smith all contribute towards what seems like a wasted opportunity.”

The Death and Life of John F. Donovan
Drama | Canada | Directed by Xavier Dolan

movie still

Though it won the Cannes Grand Prix, usually approving critics were underwhelmed by Xavier Dolan's recent film It’s Only the End of the World, and many hoped the actor-writer-director would get back on track with his English-language debut. Unfortunately, a cast list that includes Kit Harington, Jacob Tremblay, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, Thandie Newton, and Kathy Bates might be the only impressive thing about his newest film. The story revolves around the correspondence of a young man with an American television star, as well as a Dolan staple: combustible mother-son relationships. Peter Debruge of Variety claims the result is a “work of stunning technique eclipsed by its increasingly jaw-dropping solipsism.” And The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee agrees, noting that the director “revisits issues important to him and his work but with little care for what anyone else might find entertaining, engaging or even coherent to anyone but Xavier Dolan.”

Dragged Across Concrete
Drama/Thriller | Canada/USA | Directed by S. Craig Zahler

movie still

The latest ultra-violent (though not as violent as Bone Tomahawk or Brawl in Cell Block 99) offering from writer-director S. Craig Zahler is his first movie to get more mixed reviews than positive. Concrete stars Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson as suspended cops who, in order to pay their bills, decide to become criminals and rob a bank. THR’s David Rooney warns, “In most respects, Dragged Across Concrete is a low-energy, long-winded disappointment." And in his review for The Guardian, Damon Wise claims Zahler “has a way with action, and the set pieces are inventive and nasty, with an unflinching eye for violence.... But after three movies, his increasingly morose characters’ world-weariness is becoming wearying in itself.”

Kursk
Drama | Belgium/Luxembourg | Directed by Thomas Vinterberg

movie still

Director Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt, Far from the Madding Crowd) continues his transition away from Dogma 95-style filmmaking with what THR’s Keith Uhlich claims is a “competent, by-the-numbers action melodrama, adapted from reporter Robert Moore's 2002 book, A Time to Die.” To dramatize the events surrounding the 2000 K-141 Kursk submarine disaster, Vinterberg uses an impressive cast (Matthias Schoenaerts, Léa Seydoux, Colin Firth, Max von Sydow), but, in the opinion of The Playlist’s Rodrigo Perez, the film “suffers from an uninvolving distance even if it’s competently made.”

Life Itself Watch trailer
Drama | USA/Spain | Directed by Dan Fogelman
In theaters September 21

movie still

This return to the big screen for This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman received some of the worst reviews of the fall festival season. Often compared to a soap opera, this multi-generational love story that centers on a couple played by Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde is “messy and manic, offering glib comments on profound subjects and succumbing to shameless sentimentality,” according to Allan Hunter of Screen Daily. Writing for Variety, Jessica Kiang finds it “sentimental and sprawling, which are not necessarily bad things, but also manipulative and contrived, which very much are.” And The Guardian’s Gwilym Mumford labels it a “flashy but fraudulent treatise on love, loss and – yup – life itself.”

Our Time (Nuestro Tiempo)
Drama | Mexico,/France/Germany/Denmark/Sweden | Directed by Carlos Reygadas

movie still

Silent Light and Post Tenebras Lux director Carlos Reygadas’s latest film is his worst. Casting himself as the lead, as well as his wife and his children, in a story about an open marriage threatened by jealousy, the film, in the opinion of Variety’s Jay Weissberg, is a “maddeningly over-indulgent bid at self-analysis on screen that even the director’s shrink might find banal.” In his similarly disapproving review for Indiewire, Michael Nordine admits that Reygadas is a “brilliant filmmaker, but also a maddening one,” and this time “the filmmaker’s navel-gazing tendencies slowly take over, making it clear that this is a movie by Reygadas, for Reygadas, and exists to please an audience of one.”

Out of Blue
Drama | UK | Directed by Carol Morley

movie still

This loose adaptation of Martin Amis' 1997 novel Night Train by Carol Morley stars Patricia Clarkson as a detective investigating the mysterious death of an astrophysicist (Mamie Gummer). It's not a total disaster, but it's also not a success. CineVue’s Christopher Machell believes the film “works as a stylish, psychological neo-noir, but significantly less so as metaphysical rumination,” and Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian finds it to be a “puzzle, an enigma, an indefinitely receding mirage of a movie.”

Outlaw King Watch trailer
Drama/Action | UK | Directed by David Mackenzie
In theaters (and on Netflix) November 9

movie still

The opening film of the Toronto International Film Festival garnered more attention for Chris Pine’s nudity than its overall quality, but it did have a few fans. The historial epic reunites the star with his Hell or High Water director, David Mackenzie, to tell the story of Robert the Bruce and his rebellion against England’s occupation of Scotland. Screen Daily’s Wendy Ide finds “much to enjoy in this big, brawling ruck of an action movie,” and Justin Chang of the LA Times describes the movie as a “juicy slab of cinematic red meat, a symphony of mud, blood and viscera set to a soundtrack of thundering hoofbeats and howls of vengeance.” However, Variety’s Peter Debruge believes “on one hand, Outlaw King feels terribly oversimplified, while on the other, it still fails to connect on a basic character level.”

Comments (0)

    New in Metacritic Reports

    1. November 2018
      DVD/Blu-ray Release Calendar: November 2018 Image
      Published: November 1, 2018
    2. 15 Films to See in November Image
      Published: October 29, 2018
    3. What to Watch Now on Netflix Image
      Published: October 25, 2018
    4. What to Watch Now on HBO Go and HBO Now Image
      Published: October 23, 2018
    5. What to Watch Now on Starz Image
      Published: October 23, 2018
    6. Horror Movie Franchises, Ranked Image
      Published: October 22, 2018
    7. What to Watch Now on Hulu Image
      Published: October 17, 2018
    8. What to Watch Now on Prime Video Image
      Published: October 16, 2018

    What Our Users Are Talking About

    1. /feature/dvd-blu-ray-release-calendar-november-2018 Image
      DVD/Blu-ray Release Calendar: November 2018
      November 1, 2018 - 3 comments
      1. eli_fjr : Looks great. Read »
      2. ChaiPaniEtc : How I can subscribe to this calendar to stay updated about the release dates? Read »
      3. ChaiPaniEtc : How I can subscribe to this calendar to stay updated about the release dates? Read »
    2. /feature/november-2018-movie-preview Image
      15 Films to See in November
      October 29, 2018 - 1 comment
      1. eli_fjr : Creed II Widows Read »
    3. /feature/better-call-saul-season-4-finale-reviews-winner Image
      Episode Review: Better Call Saul Season 4 Finale
      October 8, 2018 - 6 comments
      1. TheMetacritiqer : Amazing, we're so fortunate to see a continuation of the style of breaking bad Read »
      2. Giopy : MASTERPIECE Read »
    4. /feature/metacritic-must-play-games Image
      New on Metacritic: Must-Play Games
      September 12, 2018 - 2 comments
      1. Qdarks : How do we view the must plays games prior to 2018? Read »
    5. /feature/new-free-games-playstation-xbox-pc-switch Image
      This Month's Free Games
      October 30, 2018 - 7 comments
      1. Mpire934 : these aren't all of the PS4 ones Read »
    6. /feature/tv-premiere-dates Image
      2018-19 TV Premiere Calendar
      August 14, 2018 - 181 comments
      1. LigeiaTepes : Return to Amish airs Sunday, November 18 at 10/9c on TLC Read »
      2. rcianci : Are the people who update this page on vacation? Read »