​Well, that’s Venice Film Festival done for another year, marking the official end of summertime. There was, of course, much more to Venice this year than this small sample; it’s having a hard time fending off the surge in influence of the upstart Toronto Film Festival, which overlaps it and has pinched many of what would have been Venice's big films.

However, no other showcase has proved more powerful in recent years than Venice, which has hosted the world premiere of the best picture Oscar winner for the last two years in succession – ​ Spotlight and​ ​Birdman – and the biggest winner, numerically speaking, the year before that, with Gravity.

A highlight of the international film calendar, the Venice Film Festival attracts some of the most renowned talent in the industry. So, without further ado, here are Highsnobiety’s top 10 films to emerge from Venice 2016.

Ha​cksaw Ridge 

Director: Mel Gibson

​Hacksaw Ridge follows WWII American Army medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, as he refuses to kill people and becomes the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Mel never seems to stray far from involving himself in projects which act as vehicles for his faith, which we have to admit is far preferable to him making films about feminism.

The film, as a vehicle for Gibson’s comeback, couldn’t really be more perfect. “Sugar tits” and his occasional anti­semitic, sexist, homophobic comments have been, for the benefit of us all, keeping a low profile of late. In fact we've not really heard a lot from him as a director since his averagel​y received ​Apocalypto. Still, Gibson is a man looking for redemption, and in this redemptive vision he may just have found it. The film’s extraordinary second half sees some excellently exploded skulls and various other shock tactics which manage not to seem too contrived.

The Age of Shadows

Director: Jee­woon Kim

Set in the late​ 1920s, ​The Age of Shadows follows the activities of the Heroic Corps, a violent anti­-Japanese independence organization that existed under the Japanese colonial period in South Korea. It’s been named South Korea’s official submission for the Foreign Language category at the Academy Awards.

We have to say, it’s great to see Jee­woon Kim back on the scene after his box office bomb, The Last Stand... A late­ period Arnold Schwarzenegger shoot ’em up was probably not the best use of the man w​ho directed A​ Tale of Two Sisters. What’s more, Kim’s a filmmaker who has always been at his best when he’s allowed to go totally for broke, making something ordinary and elevating it to visually arresting cinematic gold... Making this subject matter perfect fodder for his magical little mind.


Director: Pablo Larraín

Following the assassination of her husband, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, played by a never­-better Natalie Portman, fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband's historic legacy. The unconventional biopic marks a bold English­ language debut for N​o director Larraín, one of the most daring and prodigious political filmmakers of his generation.

Few actresses portray inner torment quite like Portman – it’s what made her Oscar­-winning turn in ​Black ​Swan so exciting. She instills similar qualities in J​ackie, the protagonist of which copes with her circumstances by wandering the halls of the White House like Danny Torrance in T​he Shining and popping pills as she struggles to cope with the aftermath of JFK’s assassination. ­­­­­­­­­­

Nocturnal Animals

Director: Tom Ford

Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star in the second feature from the fashion designer turned film director (and now Grand Jury Prize Winner) – an acerbic, pitch­ black thriller which follows an art gallery owner who’s haunted by her ex-­husband's novel – something which she interprets as a veiled threat.

Ford has definitely raised his game from the faintly lacklustre, massively over-­designed A​ Single Man of 2009. There is something much more uninhibited about this Venice Film Festival runner up, which combines eerie melodrama with sophistication.

When asked to comment on his new film’s eye­catching opening sequence, which comprises a series of near­ naked, plus­ size women go­go dancing, Ford commented that: “I fell in love with these women: they were so beautiful and free. It’s because they’ve let go of the conventions of what our culture tells us people should look like. That’s also the theme of the film: letting go of what you think you are supposed to be.” ­­­­­­­­­­

La La Land

Director: Damien Chazelle

La La Land follows aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone), who’s desperate to fit in, and smarmy jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) as they fall in love in Los Angeles. Chazelle, the director of ​Whiplash, delivers a musical romance that covers the familiar transition from first love to heartache, via a bunch of love songs and some explicitly artificial sets.

As ​Whiplash proved, Chazelle’s greatest skills stem from his ability to capture the physicality of music; this film, as an ode to classic musicals with a hint of peril, does that charmingly. And although Stone and Gosling are two actors that can individually be perceived to be somewhat insipid, together they’re like Mentos and Diet Coke.


Director: Denis Villeneuve

Stranger Things might have come to an end for now, but that doesn’t mean there’s no more vintage sci-­fi to occupy ourselves with. If your idea of great sci­-fi is B​lade Runner or ​2001: A Space Odyssey, then ​Arrival should be a treat. Unlikely though it is that many will be going to a Denis Villeneuve film expecting an alien shoot ­'em ­up, let’s state for the record, this is definitely not one of them.

From the director of ​Sicario, ​Arrival follows a linguist who is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications. It’s based on the short story "Story of Your Life" by science ­fiction writer Ted Chiang. This is cerebral science fiction coupled with gorgeous and atmospheric cinematography; dancing with huge concepts in a wholly unfussy way.

Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey

Director: Terrence Malick

Malick’s long­ gestating chronicle of all things great and small is a visual feast – even if it doesn’t explain much along the way. The one Venice presented was a 90-­minute edit, subtitled L​ife’s Journey, with a voiceover provided by Cate Blanchett. Also floating around is one half its length, intended for the IMAX cinemas, with Blanchett replaced by Brad Pitt.

In the movie, galactic spaces filled with cosmic matter give way to earthbound landscapes. Malick then swoops even further in, down to microscopic levels – particles all float by in their eye­popping glory. ​Voyage of Time is perhaps best appreciated as an abstract piece.

Did Mr. Malick write these scripts during his 20 year leave of absence? How do you write and direct five movies in three years? Is he just making up for lost time? As long as he continues to remain fully ­invested, creatively­ energized, and eager to shoot, we won't be complaining.

One More Time With Feeling

Director: Andrew Dominik

One year after his teenage son’s death, Nick Cave returns with an album and film that ditches hyper-­literate narratives and instead grapples with an appalling family tragedy. The forensic facts are that in July last year, 15­-year-­old Arthur Cave fell from a cliff in Brighton, having taken LSD for the first time with a school friend.

This film is a reflective narrative of the Prince of Darkness’ grieving process and a raw study of existence. Cave was in the process of writing and recording a new album with his band The Bad Seeds when the accident happened. Unable to contemplate facing the media, he invited his friend, the brilliant Aussie filmmaker Andrew Dominik to document the recording sessions.


Director: François Ozon

Prolific French filmmaker François​ ​Ozon tones down his colorful palette to offer a loose adaptation of the 1932 Ernst Lubitsch drama Broken Lullaby, anchored beautifully by German actor Paula Beer. The movie tells the story of Anna, a young German who mourns the death of Frantz, her fiancé killed in battle, and meets Frenchman Adrien.

One can accuse Ozon of many things, but lack of ideas isn’t one of them. ​Frantz is a heady hall of mirrors that keeps revealing, or at least suggesting new depths and angles. What’s most refreshing is that he changes the entire perspective of the original yarn to put a woman at the core – and Paula Beer’s performance as Anna is without doubt the film’s biggest strength.

The Woman Who Left

Director: Lav Diaz

The Woman Who Left, a black-­and-­white revenge thriller lasting 228-minutes, won the Golden Lion at Venice this year. Barely six months after serenading the Berlinale with the eight-­hour ​A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery, Diaz’s latest focuses on the struggle of a schoolteacher reintegrating into society after 30 years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.

The protagonist (Charo Santos­Concio) returns to her ancestral home and discovers that her husband has died; her daughter has departed for a new life in another town; and her eldest son has disappeared into the big smoke of Manila. Her mild facade begins to crack as she deliberately plots her revenge against the ex­-boyfriend who, out of a jealous rage, paid someone to frame her 30 years ago. Every shot is brimming with condensed emotions and human empathy, whether in the depiction of the characters' existence throughout, or the tragic shots of Manila's gloomy cityscape.

Now check out these 5 movies to get you ready for Fall.

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