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Annual Top Films Lists

Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2016: #16. Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon

The Neon Demon

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writers: Mary Laws, Nicolas Winding Refn

Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn, who has since attained cult status thanks to the success of 2011’s Drive (which snagged a Best Director award at Cannes), struck divisive chords with his 2013 follow-up Only God Forgives, which was booed at Cannes and resulted in a documentary about the experience the following year from Refn’s wife, Liv Corfixen (My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn). In a response to critiques of misogyny in his narratives, Refn returns with the Los Angeles set The Neon Demon, a femme centric horror film written by Mary Laws and co-financed by Wild Bunch and Gaumont (explaining its eligibility for our foreign films list). Starring a notable cast consisting of Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Keanu Reeves and Refn favorite Christina Hendricks, the director describes it as a ‘horror film about vicious beauty,’ concerning an aspiring model who meets a group of women willing to do extreme things to be successful (which sounds a bit like the 2014 film Starry Eyes, but we’re sure Refn has plenty of surprises in store). Also, the film is lensed by Natasha Braier, whose worked with a number of notable directors, including David Michod on The Rover (2014), Claudia Llosa on The Milk of Sorrow (2009) and Lucia Puenzo on XXY (2007).

Cast: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Alessandro Nivola, Desmond Harrington, Bella Heathcoate

Production Co./Producers: Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval, Space Rocket Films, Vendian Entertainment Bold Films, Gaumont

U.S. Distributor: Amazon Studios (domestic) Gaumont (international)

Release Date: With financing and distribution duties assigned to outfits such as Wild Bunch and Gaumont, we’re assuming Refn has a fighting chance of returning to Cannes with this provocative English language international co-production.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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