The Soho House cinema team’s top film festival picks

The Soho House cinema team’s top film festival picks | Soho House

From Venice to Toronto, here’s a definitive list of the ones worth watching – coming soon to our Houses around the world

Monday 25 September 2023   By Soho House

Film festival season is the most exciting time of year for our cinema team and, while this year has been bittersweet with Hollywood on pause due to the SAG-AFTRA strikes, the line-up did not disappoint. 

Over the past few weeks, Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals have been premiering the most anticipated blockbuster releases, many of which are already frontrunners for Academy Awards, should awards season go ahead in early 2024. 

From Bradley Cooper’s directorial return with Maestro and Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, to Dumb Money – the drama based on 2021’s GameStop vs Wall Street saga – and the visually stunning Poor Things starring Emma Stone, here are the standout films coming to our Houses soon

The Soho House cinema team’s top film festival picks | Soho House

Top: Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo star in Poor Things
Above: Colman Domingo plays the lead role in Rustin


Telluride Film Festival
Jo Addy, Global Film Director

Settling into our seats for the world premiere at Telluride of Rustin, we were surprised with a special introduction from Barack Obama. It was in 2013 that the then President, in a posthumous gesture, bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon Bayard Rustin. Though not as widely recognised as figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr. or John Lewis, Rustin’s role in orchestrating the historic 1963 March on Washington was equally instrumental. This captivating biopic skillfully narrates his remarkable journey, with Colman Domingo delivering a compelling portrayal of Rustin’s life and contributions.

Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi – celebrated for their Oscar®-winning documentaries – have entered the domain of narrative filmmaking with their latest film, Nyad. The story revolves around Diana Nyad’s audacious quest to swim from Cuba to Florida. After a failed attempt in her thirties, she makes an inspiring return to the sea at the age of 60, embarking on a remarkable journey of determination and resilience. Annette Bening’s portrayal of Nyad and Jodie Foster’s depiction of her coach and closest confidante, Bonnie Stoll, are an absolute delight.

Anatomy Of A Fall 
Anatomy Of A Fall, crowned with this year’s Palme d’Or at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, is a gripping courtroom drama delving deep into the disintegration of a marriage and the complex dynamics of a mother-son relationship. The Hollywood Reporter are lauding Sandra Hüller as Actress of the Year – and it’s well deserved, as her performance in this film is truly remarkable.

Poor Things 
In this visually stunning film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, a young woman (the brilliant Emma Stone) is brought back to life by an unconventional scientist who embarks on a thrilling adventure with a lawyer comically played by Mark Ruffalo. Unburdened by the biases of her era, she becomes resolute in her mission to champion equality and liberation. Barbie and Poor Things are going to be competing in all the craft categories this awards season.

Opinions among the Telluride audience were polarised when it came to Saltburn, but I loved every second of this bonkers film. Set in the mid-2000s, it tells the story of a young college student who becomes infatuated with his aristocratic classmate and his eccentric family, and gets invited to stay over the summer holidays. Written and directed by Emerald Fennell, the film boasts an ensemble cast featuring Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Carey Mulligan, Alison Oliver and Archie Madekwe, with a brilliant soundtrack. ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’, anyone?

The Soho House cinema team’s top film festival picks | Soho House

Above: Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi in Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla


Venice Film Festival
Toby King, Head of UK Cinema Programming

Bradley Cooper’s return to the director’s chair following the hugely popular A Star Is Born is the long gestating biopic on the prolific composer Leonard Bernstein, Maestro. A project that was at one time going to be helmed by Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, both are on board here in producing roles. The influences of these cinematic heavyweights are here, but Cooper flexes his own style as a director and as the composer himself to deliver a unique, powerful and moving portrayal of Bernstein, his work, and the complicated relationship with his wife, the actress Felicia Montealegre, portrayed in a remarkable performance by Carey Mulligan. 

The Killer 
David Fincher returns to the thriller genre with this razor-sharp hitman movie, The Killer. Michael Fassbender stars as the eponymous killer as we meet him staking out his target at a prestigious Paris hotel. The killer’s narration talks us through his clinical processes until a freak occurrence causes the hit to go disastrously wrong. He then finds he’s the target and, following an attack on the one person he cares about the most, embarks on a no-holds-barred revenge mission. Few filmmakers have the style and panache of Fincher, and he is on top form in this riveting and hugely enjoyable thriller, with Fassbender reminding us that he’s still one of the great screen actors around. 
In a similar vein to Maestro, Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla also explores the dynamic between high-profile male creatives and their partners. Cailee Spaeny stars and won The Volpi Cup for Best Actress, as Priscilla, wife of Elvis. The film follows the couple from their initial meeting when she was only 14, and throughout their relationship and marriage. A relationship that was problematic in ways that are unique to dating the most famous man on the planet, there are also universal themes and depictions of young womanhood that Coppola has explored throughout her career with great nuance, honesty, empathy, and style. 
Hit Man
A more lighthearted take on the hitman genre is Hit Man, a truly charming (and sort of true story) comedy-drama from Richard Linklater. Glen Powell plays Gary Johnson, a very normal guy who has a part-time job assisting the police with tech operations for undercover stings. When an undercover agent is suspended, Johnson steps up and quickly discovers himself to be highly effective as an undercover hitman, exposing the criminal intent of his would-be clients. The plot thickens when he meets Madison, a young woman who wants to hire him to bump off her husband. A romance ensues, but Madison falls for the hitman, and in a way, so has Johnson. A ‘laugh out loud’ script and joyous chemistry between the cast make this an enjoyable and unpredictable comedy. 

Evil Does Not Exist
Japanese filmmaker Ryûsuke Hamaguchi won the Oscar® for Best International Feature Film last year, and his awards journey starts again with the wonderful Evil Does Not Exist, which won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival. The movie is set in a rural community a few hours’ drive from Tokyo in a region renowned for its clean water supply. When a conglomerate looks to develop a glamping site in the area, the locals are tasked with convincing the developers to rethink their strategy or their harmonious way of life could be upturned forever.

The Soho House cinema team’s top film festival picks | Soho House

Above: Bradley Cooper directed and also stars in Maestro, playing composer Leonard Bernstein 


Toronto International Film Festival
Lisa Ogdie, Head of North America Cinema Programming

His Three Daughters 
His best film to date, Azazel Jacobs’ His Three Daughters follows three sisters as they cope with their father’s final days in his battle with cancer. Carrie Coon, Natasha Lyonne and Elizabeth Olsen are exceptional, and Jacobs’ minimal aesthetic allows the performances to shine. Currently without a distributor, I’m hoping wider audiences will at least have the chance to see this film on the festival circuit. I’m definitely looking forward to Jacobs’ future projects.

The Zone Of Interest 
One of my favourite directors, Jonathan Glazer, returns with his first feature in 10 years. The powerful and affecting The Zone Of Interest is loosely adapted from Martin Amis’s novel of the same name. It’s really best to know as little as possible going in, but we follow a family as they settle into a new home. Sandra Hüller is phenomenal, and Mica Levi’s superb score sets the tone.

Dream Scenario 
I’ve been following Norwegian filmmaker Kristoffer Borgli’s surreal, thought-provoking short films for a number of years, and his feature Sick Of Myself, which debuted at Cannes in 2022 is great. Borgli is interested in fame in its various capacities, and particularly how that translates to social media and our digital world. Navigating a newfound sense of fame is exactly what Nicolas Cage’s character Paul Matthews is trying to do in Borgli’s latest, Dream Scenario. Matthews is a shy, frustrated professor who spent most of his life fading into the background when suddenly he starts appearing in everyone’s dreams. The film owes a lot to Charlie Kaufman, but Borgli has an adept sense of people and everyone’s desire to be loved or at least to grab people’s attention, if only for a moment… regardless of the consequences.

If you’re familiar with Michel Franco’s work, you understand the intensity with which he conveys some of the hard truths about humanity. He explores the choices we make and how those choices are shaped by our relationships and the world at large. His latest film Memory takes a somewhat smaller approach. Jessica Chastain stars as a single mother with a family and past that are challenging. She encounters a man, played by Peter Sarsgaard, and their lives become intertwined. Sarsgaard won the Best Actor prize at Venice, and both he and Chastain deliver heartbreaking performances. We all hurt one another, intentionally or not, but it’s how we persevere that’s important.

Dumb Money 
Based on the recent 2021 GameStop phenomenon, Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money is a fun ride. Even if it does feel a little too soon, Paul Dano is great, and the rest of the all-star cast is enjoyable. But as billionaires only seem to be getting richer and the masses continue to fight for a living wage, the film left me wondering if we’ve really learnt anything at all and how exactly we can enact lasting change.

Visit our screenings page to see what’s on at our Houses around the world.