Call Me By Your Name has become the year’s most talked-about film of any genre, and a certain Academy Award nominee. The languid, luxuriant, story of the romance between a male grad student and the son of his antiquities professor is set in Italy in the 1980s. Oscar noms for its young star Timothée Chalamet (who is also in the other top film, Lady Bird) and probably for Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg as the father. It could be the second gay-themed film to win Best Picture after last year’s surprising upset by Moonlight.
God’s Own Country is Call Me By My Name’s dark doppelgänger. Director/writer Francis Lee’s feature debut is set on a working-class farm in grim Northern England with miserable Johnny, played by Josh O’Connor, falling for a hunky Romanian migrant worker (Alec Secareanu). Johnny’s father, who has had a stroke, has disdain for his son, and his grandmother only gives him a chilly reserve. Johnny self-medicates via anonymous sex with strangers and by getting blackout drunk. It will undoubtedly be compared to Brokeback Mountain, except this one has a happy ending.
Robin Campillo’s BPM (Beats Per Minute) didn’t make the shortlist for Best Foreign Film for 2018 Academy Awards, but the French drama captures the story of Paris’ ACT UP activists fighting for recognition from the government in the 1990s, but it’s not just a film about how devastating the AIDS crisis was and is, it is a film about what it means to truly embrace life. Argentinian-born Nahuel Pérez Biscayart plays passionate activist Sean Dalmazo. BPM won Cannes Grand Prix, and New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Film.
Dream Boat is a documentary by Tristan Ferland Milewski about a weeklong European cruise for gay men. There’s a passenger from India on his first gay cruise, a Frenchman with disabilities determined to have a good time, a Polish man searching for a soul mate, a Palestinian who has moved to Belgium, and the hot Austrian photographer everyone poses for.
A film befitting its title, South Africa’s The Wound is a rough, challenging film that offers an unflinching look of how once-traditional notions of masculinity can grow increasingly toxic in the hands of those who cling to those outmoded ways rather than accept that things have changed.
In Beach Rats, on the outskirts of Brooklyn, Frankie, an aimless teenager, suffocates from his oppressive family and a mean-spirited group of criminally-minded friends. Struggling with his own identity, he begins to search hookup sites for older men. He begins meeting men at a nearby cruising beach while simultaneously entering into a cautious relationship with a young woman. As Frankie struggles to reconcile his competing desires, his decisions leave him hurtling toward irreparable consequences. Eliza Hittman’s visually stunning film a hit at this year’s Sundance Festival.
Billie Jean King’s epic tennis match with chauvinist Bobby Riggs gets a fresh, funny treatment from Little Miss Sunshine (2006) directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton. When you think of a Sports Biopic, you think of tough-talking coaches making locker room speeches, neglected wives and girlfriends, and victory against all odds. In Battle Of The Sexes, you get a fast-talking Sarah Silverman as an old-school Hollywood agent, and pitch perfect perfect performances from Emma Stone and Steve Carrell.
In A Fantastic Woman, Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Lelio tells a story about a transgender woman whose older lover dies in her arms. Starring luminous Daniela Vega, who began as a creative consultant and later stepped into the starring role, it is a tender tale between Marina (Vega) and Orlando (Francisco Reyes), though their deep connection takes on a tragic poignance once Orlando is gone. Enduring humiliation and violence, Marina remains steadfast in her devotion to Orlando. It honors the human spirit, with a touch of fantasy and a whole lot of charisma.
Last, but not least, Freak Show, directed by Trudie Styler with a screenplay by Patrick J. Clifton and Beth Rigazio is based on the novel of the same name by World Of Wonder’s own James St. James. The film stars Alex Lawther, Abigail Breslin, Bette Midler, AnnaSophia Robb, Ian Nelson, Lorraine Toussaint, Willa Fitzgerald and the fabulous Laverne Cox. The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February and is scheduled to be released on January 12, 2018 by IFC Films. It is the story of Billy Bloom, a bodacious, eccentric teenager, who faces intolerance and persecution at his conservative high school, and decides to fight back on behalf of all the misunderstood freaks of the world by running for homecoming queen against mean girl Breslin. See WOW writer Trey Speegle’s introduction the the Freak Show trailer.