Venice Festival: 15 Films That Could Make the Lido Cut
This year's lineup could put Cannes to shame with several star-studded features and potential award contenders rumored to be on the Venice short list.
The Cannes film festival was low on star wattage and critical acclaim this year — despite praise for Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War and Capernaum from Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki — shifting this year's focus, again, to Venice.
The Italian festival is on a major hit streak, having picked the best-picture Oscar winner three of the last four years, with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman, Thomas McCarthy's Spolight and last year's The Shape of Water from Guillermo del Toro (not to mention Damien Chazelle’s La La Land , which won several Oscars but not for best picture, or Martin McDonagh's crossover hit Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri from last year).
Expectations are high ahead of the 2018 festival, with many of the this year's award hopefuls expected to make a big splash in Venice. Here's THR's look at possible titles to screen on the Venice Lido.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Barry Jenkins' follow-up to his Oscar-winning Moonlight (which did not premiere in Venice), is another adaptation of a black literary masterpiece, in this case, James Baldwin's novel about a pregnant woman whose boyfriend is imprisoned for a rape he did not commit after an accusation by a racist cop. Regina King, Colman Domingo, Pedro Pascal, Diego Luna, and Dave Franco star with Annapurna producing with Plan B.
The Sisters Brothers
Jacques Audiard's Western, starring Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as assassin duo Eli and Charlie Sisters Brothers in pursuit of a gold prospector (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) in 1850s Oregon, was widely tipped to premiere in Cannes. Instead, the English-language debut from the director of A Prophet and Rust and Bone seems a shoe-in for Venice competition.
Peterloo Arguably Cannes' biggest snub this year was rejecting Mike Leigh's period epic on the events that led to the Manchester Massacre, the 1819 protest to extend voting rights that ended in the deaths of 15 people with more than 700 wounded. Venice looks set to welcome the Amazon-backed drama, as it did when Cannes passed on Leigh's Vera Drake in 2004 (the film went on to win the Golden Lion and pick up three Oscar nominations).
Damien Chazelle could return to the site of his La La Land triumph with this ambitious look at the life of astronaut Neil Armstrong (played by La La Land's Ryan Gosling) and the space mission that led to him becoming, on July 20, 1969, the first man to walk on the moon. Claire Foy stars as Armstrong's wife Janet.
Another surprise ommission in Cannes was Luca Guadagnino's follow-up to the Oscar winner Call Me by Your Name: A remake of Dario Argento's horror classic, starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton, Suspiria is one of the hottest titles of the year, and Venice will be eager to welcome the Italian director if Suspiria is ready in time.
After premiering The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer in Cannes, Yorgos Lanthimos, the Greek master of weird, may be heading to Venice with his latest, a period drama set in 18th century England and starring Olivia Colman as a frail Queen Anne who lets her friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) rule in her stead. But Abigal, an ambitious new servant (Emma Stone), arrives, taking Sarah's place as a the Queen's companion.
Olivier Assayas' drama, set in the Parisian publishing world, stars Juliette Binoche and Guillaume Canet. After the success of Cannes titles Personal Shopper and The Clouds of Sils Maria (which also starred Binoche), Venice would be eager to accept Assayas into the Lido fold.
The English-language debut of Belgian director Felix Van Groeningen (Broken Circle Breakdown) is an adaptation of David Scheff’s memoir about witnessing his son struggle with meth addiction. Call Me By Your Name's Timothee Chalamet plays the son, Steve Carell the father. Yet another Amazon Studios production, Beautiful Boy has a fall release date, making it an ideal candidate for a Venice/Toronto bow.
The Beach Bum
Harmony Korine's first feature since Spring Breakers sees the director return to Florida to follow another group of hard-partying outcasts living on the fringe, in this case Matthew McConaughey as the stoner Moondog, the beach bum of the title, a nomadic poet struggling to publish his work (and thus cash in on an inheritance that will let him continue his hedonistic life). Zac Efron and Snopp Dogg co-star.
The Death and Life of John F. Donovan
Cannes favorite Xavier Dolan didn't make it to the Croisette with his English-language debut but the star-packed feature (Natalie Portman, Kit Harington, Jacob Tremblay, Susan Sarandon) looks like a lock for Venice, if the logistics — including the pricey junket —can be worked out. The plot centers around the tragic relationship between a famous TV star (Harington) and an 11-year-old boy (Tremblay), who looks back on the correspondence they shared a decade after the star's death.
If it's finished —a major "if" when it comes to the work of Terrence Malick — the latest from The Tree of Life and The Thin Red Line director could be heading to Venice, where his To the Wonder premiered in 2012. The historical drama looks like a welcome departure from Malick's recent celebrity-and-industry-obsessed work (Song to Song, Knight of Cups). August Diehl stars as Franz Jagerstatter, a conscientious objector who was executed by the Nazis for refusing to fight on their behalf in World War II.
Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes' sophomore effort is, if anything, even more ambitious than his Oscar-winning debut Son of Saul (which premiered in Cannes). Nemes reportely withdrew the film from Cannes to go back to the editing room and refashion this look at the decline of the Austro-Hungarian empire, through the lens of a woman who returns to Budapest after being raised in an orphanage. Taking up a job at a hat store owned by her late parents, she uncovers a family secret. Susanne Wuest (Goodnight Mommy) stars.
Work Without Author
After the unfortunate farce that was 2010's The Tourist, German filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is back on the familar historical ground of his debut, The Lives of Others, with Work Without Author. A look at an East German artist who escapes the GDR to West Germany but remains tormented by his childhood under the Nazis and the communist regime. Tom Schilling tops an all-star German cast that includes Paula Beer, Oliver Masucci, Sebastian Koch, Saskia Rosendahl and Lars Eidinger.
Claire Denis' first English-language feature (and first ever science fiction film), wasn't ready for Cannes but is targetting a Lido landing. Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche star in this spacey drama about a group of criminals sent on a mission into a black hole. Add in a subplot involving bizzare sexual experimentation and you have an irresistable mix for Denis fans.
Another film tipped to premiere in Cannes — Japanese director Naomi Kawase is a Croisette regular — Vision didn't make the cut this time. While she's never been to the Lido, Venice might relish the opportunity to snatch up a Cannes favorite. Kawase's allogorical fantasies aren't for everyone, but the extra star power of Juliette Binoche — who stars as a journalist on the hunt for a mysterious herb that grows every 997 years — could tip the balance in favor of Vision.