By Sean Boelman
After the big fall festivals — Telluride, Venice, and TIFF — smaller, regional festivals tend to showcase some of the highlights that audiences will see pop up in awards season. The Chicago International Film Festival, as always, has a great lineup for 2022, featuring some of the best movies you will see all year. Here are some of the films we think you won’t want to miss:
Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO is the type of film that you just have to experience, and you will never forget the day you saw it — whether you like it or not. Following a donkey who drifts through the world interacting with various people, it’s a modern take on Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar. The message about animal cruelty is extraordinarily urrgent and impactful, but thankfully, the film is entirely sensitive and restrained with its approach. It’s a mind-blowing work of cinema that you won’t want to miss.
Marie Kreutzer’s Corsage is the Austrian selection for Best International Feature, and it is one of the strongest contenders thus far. A gorgeous but slightly anachronistic biopic of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the film is both a ton of fun to watch and engages nicely with its feminist themes. The crafts are some of the best of the year, and Vicky Krieps gives a career-best performance in the leading role, absolutely captivating the audience every time she is on screen.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
In addition to being a showcase for some of the Best International Feature submissions, CIFF also serves as a showcase for A-list contenders in other categories, such as Best Documentary. The presumed frontrunner in the category is All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, the newest film from director Laura Poitras (Citizenfour), and Chicago audiences will get the opportunity to see the film early at the festival. Functioning both as a biography of photographer and activist Nan Goldin and an exposé of the opioid epidemic, it’s a moving, harrowing documentary, much like the rest of the work Poitras has done in the past.
The Banshees of Inisherin
Although it will be opening in theaters pretty soon, don’t miss the chance to see Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin with an audience that can love it just as much as you. Boosted by two great performances from Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson and some gorgeous cinematography by Ben Davis, McDonagh is firing on all cylinders here with a pitch-black comedy about friendship. It’s much more subtle than McDonagh’s recent output but no less sharp.
Top Gun: Maverick is the highest-grossing movie of the year so far, so the entire country has been left with the need for speed. Another Naval aviator drama has come along to fill that desire: J.D. Dillard’s Devotion. Based on the true story of Jesse Brown, the first Black fighter pilot to complete the U.S. Navy’s basic flight training program, it’s an inspiring watch. It is led by Jonathan Majors (in attendance to receive one of the festival’s top honors) and Glen Powell (who also starred in Top Gun: Maverick), who do an exceptional job in their roles.
This is just a sampling of the many films playing at the festival, and it was hard to narrow it down to just five recommendations. With several different sections offering some of the best fall cinema has to offer, you’re sure to find something to love.
The 2022 Chicago International Film Festival runs October 12-23.
The Snake Hole
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