The lineup for this year's 79th Venice International Film Festival is arguably one of the strongest in recent memory, with new works by lauded directors such as Darren Aronofsky, Noah Baumbach, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Todd Field, Luca Guadagnino, and Joanna Hogg, among others, and premieres of breathlessly anticipated films like Blonde and Don't Worry Darling.
Running from Aug. 31 to Sept. 10, the festival features 24 films that are screening in competition, 18 films playing in Orizzonti, nine in Orizzonti Extra, and more than a dozen showing out of competition — not to mention countless shorts and virtual art that will be showcased on the Lido.
Below, A.frame has selected 15 of the most must-see films from this year's all-around unmissable slate.
The Banshees of Inisherin
Martin McDonagh returns to Venice five years after winning the Golden Osella for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. (That movie would go on to earn seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and win two.) The Banshees of Inisherin reunites McDonagh with his In Bruges stars, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who play best friends who inexplicably fall out. (Watch the trailer.)
When it's showing: The Banshee of Inisherin has screenings on Sept. 5-6.
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
Four-time Oscar winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman and The Revenant) enters the fest's competition for the third time with Bardo, about a Mexican journalist who suffers an existential crisis when he returns home after winning a prestigious award. The movie has already been acquired by Netflix and is expected to be released in theaters and on the streamer later this year.
When it's showing: Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths has screenings on Sept. 1-2.
The pseudo-biopic of Marilyn Monroe has already generated plenty of takes ahead of its premieres at Venice. Adapted by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) from Joyce Carol Oates' book of the same name, Blonde casts Ana de Armas as the titular bombshell and is sure to leave all of Italy abuzz. (Watch the trailer.)
When it's showing: Blonde has screenings on Sept. 8-9.
Bones and All
Luca Guadagnino first competed at Venice with his directorial debut, The Protagonists, in 1999 and has returned numerous times over the years, most recently with 2018's Suspiria. His latest is Bones and All, a coming-of-age cannibal love story that reunites the director with his Call Me by Your Name star, Timothée Chalamet. (Watch the trailer.)
When it's showing: Bones and All has screenings on Sept. 2-3.
Don't Worry Darling
Olivia Wilde's second feature, the highly anticipated Don't Worry Darling, will have its world premiere out of competition at the Venice Film Festival. The movie's starry cast is led by Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, playing a couple who moves to an idyllic community with a sinister underbelly. (Watch the trailer.)
When it's showing: Don't Worry Darling has screenings on Sept. 5-6.
The Eternal Daughter
Joanna Hogg is competing at Venice for the first time with The Eternal Daughter. (Her last film, The Souvenir: Part II, debuted at Cannes.) Inspired by Hogg's own relationship with her mother, the film is about an artist (Tilda Swinton) who must confront her past when she visits an old family home with her elderly mother.
When it's showing: The Eternal Daughter has screenings from Sept. 5-7.
A decade after winning the festival's special jury prize for 2011's Terraferma, director Emanuele Crialese returns to Venice with this drama about a mother (played by Penélope Cruz) who moves to Rome with her husband and children in the 1970s. There, she struggles with her loveless marriage and with connecting to her eldest child and his newfound identity.
When it's showing: L’immensità has screenings on Sept. 4-5.
Japanese writer-director Kôji Fukada — who won Cannes' Un Certain Regard prize with 2016's Fuchi ni tatsu — is making his Venice debut with Love Life, a film about a woman whose peaceful life with her son and husband is turned upside down after a tragic accident reunites her with her son's long-lost father.
When it's showing: Love Life has screenings from Sept. 4-6.
Monica marks Italian filmmaker Andrea Pallaoro's fourth feature and his third consecutive film to compete at Venice. Trace Lysette stars in the title role of Monica, a woman who returns home for the first time since she was a teenager to reconnect with her family. Patricia Clarkson, Emily Browning, and Adriana Barraza also star.
When it's showing: Monica has screenings from Sept. 2-4.
Upon the release of his grindhouse horror flick, X, director Ti West revealed that he secretly shot a prequel, Pearl, which premieres out of competition at Venice. Set decades before X, Mia Goth reprises her role as Pearl, a murderous young woman who will do anything to become a star. (Watch the trailer.)
When it's showing: Pearl has screenings on Sept. 3 and again on Sept. 10.
French director and documentarian Alice Diop is making her Lido debut with her narrative feature debut, Saint Omer, about a young novelist (Kayije Kagame) who attends the trial of a woman accused of killing her 15-month-old baby. It's a film about motherhood and mythology and the myths we tell ourselves about being a mom.
When it's showing: Saint Omer has screenings from Sept. 6-8.
Florian Zeller's The Father premiered at Sundance in 2020 and went on to earn six Oscar nominations and win two: Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins and Best Adapted Screenplay for Zeller. He's bringing The Son to Venice, starring Hugh Jackman as a man whose life is upended when his ex-wife and teenage son turn up. Vanessa Kirby, Laura Dern, and Hopkins also star.
When it's showing: The Son has screenings on Sept. 7-8.
Three-time Oscar nominee Todd Field (In the Bedroom and Little Children) is competing at Venice for the first time with his first feature in 16 years. TÁR stars Cate Blanchett as the eponymous Lydia Tár, a world-famous composer and the first-ever female chief conductor of a German orchestra. (Watch the trailer.)
When it's showing: TÁR has screenings from Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
Oscar nominee Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) is making his grand return to Venice with The Whale. (This is the filmmaker's fifth time at Venice and first since debuting mother! in 2017.) Based on a play by Samuel D. Hunter, the drama follows a reclusive English teacher (Brendan Fraser) who attempts to reconnect with his teenage daughter (Sadie Sink).
When it's showing: The Whale has screenings from Sept. 3-5.
Noah Baumbach, who last traveled to Venice with 2019's Marriage Story, is back on the Lido with White Noise, adapted from the Don DeLillo novel of the same name. Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig star in the family dramedy about the "universal mysteries of love, death, and the possibility of happiness in an uncertain world." (Watch the trailer.)
When it's showing: White Noise opens the festival on Aug. 31 and screens again on Sept. 1.