Ward joined Screen International in 2015 as an Australia-based critic. She also writes for ArtsHub, Concrete Playground, Metro Magazine and Screen Education, is a contributor to SBS, and is heard on ABC radio.
1. Call Me By Your Name
Dir: Luca Guadagnino
Just as the entrancing notes of the Psychedelic Furs’ ‘Love My Way’ float through the Italian night in Call Me By Your Name, so too does the seductive, summertime-set romance’s own charms. And there are plenty of them. Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer follow their hearts — and capture the audience’s — as the teenager and graduate student finding themselves in each other’s arms. Michael Stuhlbarg oozes gentle wisdom. And Guadagnino’s love of swelling feelings that burst against stunning backdrops is once again on show.
CONTACT: Sony Pictures
2. The Florida Project
Dir: Sean Baker
Intimate yet wide-ranging like Tangerine before it, The Florida Project is exuberant, empathetic and impassioned in its keenly observed account of life on Orlando’s margins.
CONTACT: Protagonist Pictures
3. The Shape Of Water
Dir: Guillermo del Toro
There is nothing monstrous about del Toro’s visually sumptuous, emotionally spellbinding love story — a creature-feature romance that splashes about with enchanting warmth and an open heart.
CONTACT: Fox Searchlight
4. Sweet Country
Dir: Warwick Thornton
Thornton’s ravishing indigenous western offers a quietly blistering portrait of prejudice that is set in the past but speaks clearly and passionately about Australia’s present.
CONTACT: Memento Films International
Dir: Lucrecia Martel
After a nine-year absence, Lucrecia Martel returns with a haunting colonial tale. It is a sensual swirl, mesmerising as it marches to its own inimitable beat — and logic.
CONTACT: The match Factory
Dir: Kitty Green
Taking an infamous murder case, and turning it into a revelatory account of humanity’s urges: that’s no mean feat, but it’s one that Kitty Green achieves with this daring film. She weaves a tapestry of emotions, theories and perceptions around the death of six-year-old pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey, creating a study of trauma’s many echoes.
Dir: Daniel R Palacio
Part cemetery heist film, part slice-of-life drama about Manila’s graveyard-dwelling populace, Underground blends the two in an astonishingly assured fashion. This account of an impoverished family’s troubles stands out thanks to its unflinching gaze, empathetic tone, expert sense of tension and stellar corpse-stealing centrepiece.
CONTACT: Centre Stage Productions