Our team of six submitted their ranked choices for best of the festival
The first real Fantastic Fest since 2019 is over, and all that pent up energy of three years missing the best genre fest in the world crescendoed into eight days of filmic mayhem. There were shows, debates, parties, and concerts, but we’re here to talk about the movies.
Most of us saw over 20, and a few caught more than 30, so we worked to distill down the breadth of what we saw into the top five team favorites. Using ranked choice each participant submitted their five films, with first place getting 5 points, second 4, etc., and then the total was added up to give us this year’s picks.
Without further ado, here is the best of the fest.
1. BONES AND ALL
Bones and All is this author’s favorite film of the festival and will definitely end up among my favorites of the year. It was the number one pick for three of the six participants in this ranking.
“The cannibals of Bones and All who thrive out of spite gutturally speak to those whose behavior or way of life has been struck from the acceptable societal norms of Reaganite America. Whether it’s homeless veterans abandoned after Vietnam; neurodivergent individuals who were cast out of state-funded hospitals en masse; or the LGBTQ+ community plagued by HIV/AIDS, all to heterosexual indifference; all were victims shunned and scored to a deadly degree. The result is Luca Guadagnino’s most lush and romantic epic yet, one that recognizes the defiant and terrifying beauty at the heart of pursuing forbidden desires that aren’t our choices to make but are inseparable from who we are as human beings.”
Read Julian’s full review here.
“Vesper is the special kind of film that I’ll find myself recommending to people many years from now as a brilliant example of what independent science fiction can look and feel like with visionary filmmakers like Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper at the helm. It’s getting a real US release from IFC, so I hope a wide audience will get a chance to experience this film for themselves. Seeing it on the big screen at Fantastic Fest certainly allowed it to wash over me and illicit tears of hope, but I imagine Vesper will also play strongly in more intimate venues as well. Fans of independent sci-fi and hope amidst poison should seek out Vesper with a quickness.”
Read Ed’s full review here.
3. Decision to Leave
The team didn’t write a full review of Decision to Leave (yet), so I’ll provide my brief thoughts here.
Park Chan-Wook is a master filmmaker with a classical style who has frequently devoted his talents to depravity, shock, and revenge. Decision to Leave is quite different; still just as controlled and thoughtful, but much more gentle, funny, and touching. It’s a love story that channels Hitchcock more than any of his other films, and mostly eschews action for slow tension building. It’s an incredible film, and quite a departure for Director Park — but a welcome one.
“Several days into a festival, you cry for films that will not only engage you but energize you. A viewing of H4Z4RD is tantamount to having a set of jumper cables hooked up to your chair. Showcasing a technical flex, H4Z4RD is a blackly comic heist thriller, that barrages the senses with thumping beats and fast, frenetic action.”
Read Jon’s full review here.
“Beginning with a Tenet-esque sequence in and out of a theater in the heart of Washington, DC, Hunt plunges audiences into a late Cold War world of snipers, spies, and bloody double-crosses. Drawing from a wide-ranging history of action and procedural films ranging from Heat to Infernal Affairs to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Lee’s debut film breathlessly shifts between expansive and claustrophobic action. Amidst these rapid-fire scenes are dense moments rooted in the intricacies of North/South Korean political relations, scenes that benefit from a more nuanced understanding of decades of geopolitical conflict but successfully land due to the emotional stakes Lee establishes for his central rivals.”
Read Julian’s full review here.
Here are, ranked by amount of points the movie received, everything that was on the team’s list but didn’t make the top five:
Banshees of Inisherin
Project Wolf Hunting
All Jacked Up and Full of Worms
Smoking Causes Coughing
The Five Devils