Artistic Films to Keep on your Radar

Fancy seeing your favourite artists come to life on screen?
Or diving into realms of captivating art direction?


From Modì's heady 1920s Paris to The Beast's art-house time-warp, we have collected a handful of artsy films. Our curated list includes films that you may have missed from the past year, as well as ones to look out for in 2024. 



Directed by Ellen Kuras, Lee tells the inspiring story of photographer Elizabeth 'Lee' Miller. Originally a fashion model discovered by Condé Nast in 1927, she became an acclaimed war correspondent for Vogue magazine during World War II. Starring Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Josh O'Connor, and Alexander Skarsgård, the biographical film took eight years to make and was adapted from the 1985 biography The Lives of Lee Miller by Antony Penrose. 

During the 1920s, Lee was immortalised on Vogue covers by legends like Edward Steichen and Horst P. Horst, and evolved to be a celebrated Surrealist photographer, and the protégé and lover of Man Ray. But almost a decade later, Lee’s career took a seismic shift as World War II broke out and she became a US war correspondent. This saw her cover the siege of St Malo, the liberation of Paris and of Dachau concentration camp. While the film made its world premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, Lee will be released theatrically in the United Kingdom by Sky Cinema on 13 September 2024.

Kate Winslet in Lee. Credit: Sky



Actor and (our favourite) artist, Johnny Depp, is making his directorial debut with Modì; a film focusing on 72 hours in the life of Bohemian Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani (1884- 1920). With Riccardo Scamarcio in the leading role, and Al Pacino, Antonia Desplat, Stephen Graham and Sally Phillips playing supporting roles, the film's artistic promise is matched by its cast of star-studded talent. 

The feature follows the artist (known as Modì to his friends) through a chaotic series of events in the streets and bars of war-torn Paris in 1916. As the epicentre of Europe's avant-garde scene, Paris' bohemian artists' quarter of Montmartre became Modì's home in 1906. Throughout his career, Modì was an ardent painter and maverick; producing controversial nudes that reflected his penchant for defiance.  Like Johnny, the artist was also an avid drawer and, while he saw many of his works as inferior and destroyed them, his remaining portfolio helped to modernise figurative painting. The film’s date of release is yet to be determined.

Johnny Depp on the set of Modì by Leo Pinter & Sam Sarkar


Uncropped is a docu-film celebrating the work of James Hamilton, one of the great chroniclers of America’s cultural history. For over four decades, Hamilton worked as a staff photographer at prominent publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Observer and the Voice in the 70s and 80s. Directed by DW Young, the film has received numerous awards and favourable reviews. 

A proponent of New York's cultural metropolis, Hamilton documented a lost era of alternative culture; covering the rise of hip hop, feminist street protests, chaotic photoshoots of celebrities in hotel rooms, candid portraiture and practically every rock band that passed through Greenwich Village. He's the man behind iconic portraits of Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, Patti Smith and Liza Minelli, among others. At a moment when nostalgia for print media feels all the more pertinent, Hamilton's intimate works possess a vulnerability that's seemingly absent in today's airbrushed coverage. Uncropped is out now in New York and LA cinemas. 

Patti Smith & Tom Verlaine, 1975 by James Hamilton. Credit: Uncropped


The Beast (La Bête)

For die-hard cinephiles, Criterion has much to offer in terms of art-house films. Their section on the director Bertrand Bonello (best known for his 2014 Saint Laurent biopic about the celebrated French designer), includes Nocturama and House of Pleasures. This new offering however, can be found on AppleTV and, while it's been called out for glossing over elements of its plot line, critics are unanimous in their praise of its sensational set-pieces and cinematic experience. 

Aside from its captivating aesthetics, The Beast stars Léa Seydoux in one of her most enchanting roles. Loosely based on the 1903 Henry James novella, The Beast in the Jungle, it explores the premise of a man whose fear of being hurt prevents him from pursuing the woman he loves. Applying a sci-fi twist, Bonello unravels the story through the eyes of a female character as she encounters her beloved (played by George MacKay) in three separate eras. One act is set in Belle Époque Paris, another in 2014 and the final in 2044- during a dystopian era where humans routinely purge their feelings. In short, The Beast is a romance à la Virginia Woolfe's Orlando. Through superb art direction, it observes the moments in which fate brings two characters together across three contrasting time zones and realities. 


Film still from The Beast, 2023

El Conde

While this film has been on Netflix for a while, its brilliant screenwriting and cinematography would make it a crime if we didn't include it in this list. Almost entirely shot in black and white, El Conde premiered at the 80th Venice International Film Festival where it won the best Screenplay Award, and later received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography.

El Conde (The Count) is a 2023 Chilean black comedy horror film directed by Pablo Larraín. It extends the alt-history of his previous films (Post Mortem, No and The Club), which delve into the impact of Augusto Pinochet's gruesome dictatorship in Chile up until the '90s. In El Conde, Larraín focuses his lens on Pinochet; reimagining him as a vampire who faked his death in 2006 to start his life anew. 

Narrated by none other than his biggest fan, Margaret Thatcher, the tale explores Pinochet’s journey from being an 18th century royalist French soldier, to witnessing the French Revolution and the execution of Marie Antoinette and, finally, escaping to Chile to become the fascist general guilty of numerous human rights abuses. Foregrounded by a macabre diet, confrontations with a nun and vulturous children hungry for their inheritance, the weary Count discovers a bloodthirsty new lease on life. He emerges victorious by the time credits start rolling. 


Film still from El Conde, 2023


Title image. Adrienne (Woman with Bangs), 1917 by Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920)