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Five fall film festival favorites

Venice Film Festival (VFF), Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Telluride Film Festival (TFF) — all part of the highly publicized fall festival season.

Seen as a test for films vying for industry awards and public interest, these festivals allow critics and audiences to provide early reactions to highly anticipated films before their wide releases.

With the season in full swing, here are five notable films to keep an eye on.

“The Banshees of Inisherin”

The latest film from Martin McDonagh, director of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “The Banshees of Inisherin” has been one of the most critically acclaimed films of the season.

Previous collaborators Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play two men whose friendship is suddenly brought to an end in 1920s Ireland. After its VFF premiere, the film won the Golden Osella for Best Screenplay, with Colin Farrell also receiving the Volpi Cup for Best Actor.

Describing the film’s tonal balancing act, entertainment journalist Richard Lawson wrote in Vanity Fair, “It’s a curious thing, watching these two rough men in a rough place bicker over something as squishy as hurt feelings over a friendship — and for McDonagh to be the one staging it. But McDonagh adds, as he’s wont to do, a nasty twist.”

“The Banshees of Inisherin” releases in theaters Oct. 21 from Searchlight Pictures.

“Bones & All”

Featuring one of the most audacious premises of the year, “Bones & All” is the newest from “Call Me by Your Name” director Luca Guadagnino. The film follows two cannibalistic teenagers, portrayed by Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet, as they fall in love and travel across the U.S.

Despite its bizarre description, the film has been well-received, winning the Silver Lion at VFF in addition to the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Russell’s performance.

Reviewing the film for Time, journalist Stephanie Zacharek summed up the film by saying, “‘Bones and All’ is fastidiously romantic. It’s so carefully made, and so lovely to look at, even at its grisliest, that it ends up seeming a little remote, rather than a movie that draws you close.”

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“Bones & All” releases to theaters Nov. 23 from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

“The Fabelmans”

Easily the most anticipated moment of the fall festivals was the unveiling of legendary director Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans,” a semi-autobiographical film about a young boy discovering his love for film in post-World War II America.

The film features an ensemble cast including Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Gabriel LaBelle and Judd Hirsch. It received a rapturous response at its TIFF premiere, winning the coveted People’s Choice Award and receiving many proclamations placing it at the front of the race for Best Picture at next year’s Academy Awards.

“This is someone who has gifted the public killer sharks, rampaging dinosaurs, alien ambassadors, high melodramas, rollicking old-fashioned adventures, spills, chills and spectacle galore,” said journalist David Fear of Rolling Stone. “The most thrilling thing he could have given us, however, turns out to be a young man with a movie camera, and the chance for an older, wiser man to finally turn that camera on himself.”

“The Fabelmans” comes to theaters Nov. 23 from Universal Pictures.


Another critical darling from VFF is “Tár,” director Todd Field’s first film in 16 years. Cate Blanchett portrays an accomplished composer who faces a personal crisis after disturbing allegations are brought against her.

Blanchett’s performance has been called a career-best by many critics, winning her the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at VFF.

Reviewing the film for The Hollywood Reporter, journalist David Rooney wrote, “‘Tár’ is a mesmerizing character study, its fine-grained details extending with needling precision into the shadowy recesses between its oblique scenes. The key talking point will be Cate Blanchett’s astonishing performance — flinty, commandingly self-possessed and ever so slowly splintering under pressure.”

“Tár” comes to theaters Oct. 7 courtesy of Focus Features.

"The Whale"

“The Whale”

A six-minute standing ovation greeted Brendan Fraser following the VFF premiere of Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale.”

Fraser, who plays a 600-pound man attempting to reconcile with his daughter after a series of personal tragedies, has been the major talking point of the film, winning the Actor Award at TIFF. Aronofsky, best known for films like “Black Swan” and “Requiem for a Dream,” also took home three awards at VFF.

Writing of Fraser for New York Post, journalist Johnny Olekasinski said, “As an adult action star, his characters had the wide eyes of kids making exciting new discoveries. Charlie has that same twinkle when he speaks of his teen daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink), who loathes him and whom he desperately tries to reconnect with while he’s still alive.”

“The Whale” releases in theaters Dec. 9 from A24.