So many lists and awards announcements this week you'd think it was... oh, yes, it is December. Sight and Sound enter the fray now with their top 20 which is a mix of expected auteur worship titles, festival films that may or may not ever actually open. It's also very now. The oldest title here is the great German continuous shot film Victoria (which premiered at festivals last year -- we nominated it for cinematography in 2015) but almost everything else just opened or hasn't opened yet! It's to be expected but also deeply frustrating that distributors never really catch up to film buzz...
Entries in release dates (90)
According to Variety, it's now official: Martin Scorsese's Silence is opening this year after all on December 23rd despite no trailer, no poster, no promotional materials, and a current running time of well over 3 hours. The most curious aspect of this is that Paramount already has an overstuffed plate without it: Arrival should be a major player because it's great, Fences should be a major player if it's any good at all since it has two beloved stars doing award winning roles in the first motion picture based on an August Wilson play, and Florence Foster Jenkins is, I think, underpredicted since it's a handsome production with an unusual angle on the arts that will surely appeal to voters and should expect a boost from Golden Globe attention.
Curiously, despite twelve years of evidence that Oscar voters are definitely preferring films with October or November bows (no December release has won Best Picture since Million Dollar Baby), despite awards bodies pushing their deadlines even earlier this year, distributors are pushing the other way with force...
by Nathaniel R
Look at this cute still from Train Driver's Diary. That's Serbia's submission to the Foreign Language Film Oscar race which was announced yesterday. It won the audience prize at the Moscow Film Festival and tells the story of a retiring train driver training his son to take over. The old man holds an infamous record: the most accidental killings on the job.
Forty-one countries have now made their announcements official including high profile choices like Chile's Neruda which stars Gael García Bernal and could put the auteur Pablo Larraín in contention for yet another nomination to whatever haul his brilliant Jackie picks up.
Spain's submission of Julieta, is even more high profile given Pedro Almodóvar's international statue...
The Oscar Race just got a lot more crowded.
While Natalie Portman may be enjoying the lion's share of buzz for playing the title character in Jackie (her best performance yet) if Fox Searchlight plays their FYC hand correctly the film could be a major player across the Oscar board (Portman and Sarsgard are the only acting possibillities. Greta Gerwig, Max Casella, John Carroll Lynch, John Hurt, and Beth Grant support them well but in extremely limited doses) including especially Costume Design, Director, Screenplay, and Production Design. The Cinematography, Editing, Sound and Original Score are also marvellous but the film is a little out of the box challenging so not everyone is going to respond to it; in its own caged bird way it's as angry as Pablo Larraín's Chilean pictures.
As expected given the festival raves and the film's connections to Darren Aronofsky, Fox Searchlight had first dibs. The deal took longer than expected but they will distribute on December 9th. That puts the film at the end of a flurry of major Oscar contenders opening between October and early December (Fences is the only possibly major player -- that is not a sci-fi/fantasy -- opening after Jackie. It opens Christmas day).
The schedule right now of golden hopefuls:
Oct 7th -Birth of a Nation, The Girl on the Train
Oct 14th -Certain Women, Miss Hokusai (animated feature)
Oct 21st -Moonlight, The Handmaiden (if there were justice in the world but alas, South Korea didn't select it as their Oscar bid)
Oct 28th -Eagle Huntress (documentary)
Nov 4th -Loving, Doctor Strange, Bleed For This
Nov 11th -Arrival, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Elle
Nov 18th -Manchester by the Sea, Nocturnal Animals, Fantastic Beasts
Nov 23rd (Wed) Allied, Moana (animated feature), Rules Don't Apply
Nov 25th - Lion
Dec 2nd - La La Land
Dec 9th - Jackie, Miss Sloane, The Salesman (Asgar Farhadi)
Dec 16th - Rogue One, Collateral Beauty, The Founder, and Neruda (also by Pablo Larraín)
Dec 21st (Wed) - Assassin's Creed, Passengers, Sing! (animated feature)
Dec 23rd - A Monster Calls
Dec 25th (Sun) - Fences, Toni Erdmann (foreign film submission)
Qualifying Releases: Hidden Figures, The Red Turtle, and ???
The Fall Film Festivals (Venice, Toronto, Telluride, New York and London) are almost upon us. Or at least the announcements of their programmes are. TIFF announces next Tuesday, Venice at the end of of July. New York announced its opening night selection this week, Ava DuVernay’s The 13th, a documentary about the high incarceration rate, particularly of African Americans, in the United States.
The title refers to the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”
The film mixes archival footage - from the civil rights movement, Ku Klux Klan to the Black Lives Matter movement - with modern day commentary to present the ramifications of the amendment and the history of racial inequality in the US. It’s an apt choice for all that’s unfolding in 2016. The 13th will be released in cinemas and on Netflix on October 7th.
Meanwhile lists are also being made for what other movies will appear on the festival circuit. London will open with Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom, and Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe will have its European premiere there, meaning it will debut somewhere on this side of the Atlantic first. Let’s speculate what else could play at New York, based on precedent that is arbitrary and will probably mean nothing in the end. But it’s fun to speculate:
• Damien Chazelle’s La La Land - this film, with the beloved trailer, will open Venice. Another Emma Stone film, Birdman, opened Venice and closed New York, it could happen again.
• Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk - because Life of Pi opened NYFF in 2012.
• Martin Scorsese's Silence - remember when Hugo started its Oscar campaign with a surprise screening in New York in 2011?
• Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals - the rumour is that it will play in competition at Venice. Come to New York soon after, Tom. We'd like to see Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal together in a movie, too.
• Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By the Sea - there’s always a Sundance movie that makes it to NYFF, Whiplash and Brooklyn being the last two examples.
• Robert Zemeckis’ Allied - his last two films, The Walk and Flight, both played at NYFF before opening nationwide.
That's just a few titles, we will know much more in the next few weeks. Are you planning to attend any of the fall film festivals?