10 Movies to See at the 2018 Chicago International Film Festival

From a Chicago crime epic to a profile of a Trump castaway

October 9, 2018 9:00 am

Tomorrow, film fanatics the world over will descend on our city for the 54th annual Chicago International Film Festival.

Over the course of 12 days, some 123 films from every corner of the globe will be screened, many for the first time on U.S. soil.

Unless you plan on coming down with one hell of a mysterious illness, you will not be able to catch them all.

So we dug up the 10 films most worth your time, from a sprawling Chicago crime epic to Orson Welles’s long-awaited final film to a provocative profile of a Trump administration castaway.

Passes are still available (it’s $140 for 10 screenings or $265 for 20), and you can also buy advance tickets to all the films a la carte.

See you at the cineplex.

Widows (Steve McQueen)
Suspense queen Gillian Flynn penned the script for this topical adaptation of an early-’80s British miniseries, which sees McQueen directing for the first time since 12 Years a Slave. The ensemble cast led by Viola Davis, Liam Neeson and Get Out‘s Daniel Kaluuya is sure to impress, as is the gender-flipping plot: set in contemporary Chicago, a motley crew of vengeful women are out to finish a bank heist that left their husbands dead. October 13, 7:00 p.m.

The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles)
Consider this “new” movie a monumental achievement: 48 years after Orson Welles started filming and 33 years after his passing, we’re finally going to witness the auteur’s last motion picture. The very meta mockumentary stars the equally legendary John Huston as a director trying to finish his ambitious final film. October 21, 2:30 p.m.

Beautiful Boy (Felix Van Groeningen)
Based on a pair of successful memoirs by father-son duo David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy is a heartbreaking portrait of addiction, tracing a father’s years-long effort to rescue his son from amphetamine usage. It’s a well-suited first English-language feature for Belgian director Van Groeningen; his previous films (Belgica, Broken Circle Breakdown) aren’t exactly heartwarmers. October 10th, 6:30, 6:45 and 7:00 p.m.

Wildlife (Paul Dano)
Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, Little Miss Sunshine) goes behind the camera for the first time to direct Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan in this bleak melodrama about a family in crisis. Set in the 1960s, the film centers on an only child whose father grows increasingly morose and detached after moving the family to Montana. October 16, 6:00 p.m.

The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Dark-humor maestro Lanthimos (The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Lobster) turns his back on the dystopian near-futures we’ve come to regard as his signature backdrop in favor of a period piece focusing on the rivalry between two cousins trying to win the favor of the Queen in 18th-century England. Expect hilarious bouts of back-stabbing, derision and general subterfuge. October 18th, 8:45 p.m. 

American Dharma (Errol Morris)
America’s documentarian non-pareil, whose previous scalps include getting a man off death row (The Thin Blue Line) and stirring biographies of Donald Rumsfeld and Robert S. McNamara, takes on former Trump confidante Steve Bannon in his latest film, a tightly edited 90-minute doc that comprises a single interview in an airplane hangar. The film has received waves of criticism for humanizing the iconoclastic media mogul; we think Morris has earned the right for you to make that distinction yourself. October 20, 5:00 p.m.; October 21, 12:00 p.m.

Green Book (Peter Farrelly)
Peter Farrelly — of, yes, Farrelly Brothers fame (Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber) — tries his hand at drama with this real-life tale of the relationship between a virtuousic pianist (Mahershala Ali) and his rough-around-the-edges bodyguard (Viggo Mortensen) as they tour the American South in the 1960s. Put it on your Best Picture shortlist now. October 20, 8:00 p.m.

At Eternity’s Gate (Julian Schnabel)
The always-superb Willem Dafoe plays Vincent Van Gogh in this appropriately abstract and reverential biopic from Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), himself an acclaimed painter. October 19, 8:30 p.m.

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu)
This year’s Palme d’Ore winner at Cannes, Shoplifters centers on an impoverished Tokyo family that subsists on — you guessed it — petty crime. Things take a turn for the dramatic when they realize that an orphaned girl they’ve taken in as their daughter is the subject of a nationally televised kidnapping case. In the hands of Kore-eda, who many have considered the spiritual successor to Yazujiro Ozu, expect a deliberately paced, beautifully shot and intensely humane work of cinema. October 16, 8:30 p.m.; October 17, 8:15 p.m.

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
Caurón’s eighth feature film returns to his roots: Mexico City of the 1970s. The film explores issues both familial and societal — failed marriages; the country’s deeply stratified socioeconomic structure — over its ambitious 135-minute running time. Expect the scope of his recent films (Gravity, Children of Men) along with the deeply personal touch of his early ones (Y Tu Mamá También). The film won the grand prize Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival. October 16, 8:15 p.m.

Main image by Timothy M. Schmidt / Chicago International Film Festival


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