Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Oscars 2016: Venice and Toronto Film Festival Lineups

Hello, Bloggers, we are finally off to the races. The awards races, that is. Two very key film festivals, the Venice and Toronto International Film Festival, have announced their lineups and since those sights are where buzz starts to build, I figured I'd offer my own insight as to what might be legitimate contenders this year. Here we go:

Now, one film that will be premiering at both festivals that had me unsure whether it'd be a serious player is Black Mass with Johnny Depp. Right now, I'm predicting Depp as a dark horse in the Best Actor race but if it gets any rave reviews coming out of both festivals, I might end up putting Depp in my final five. Also, the film Spotlight starring Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Billy Crudup, and Stanley Tucci about a real-life sex abuse scandal covered by the Boston Globe will premiere at both festivals. A good sign for that film. The topical biopic The Danish Girl will also premiere at both festivals, confirming its status as a highly buzzed Oscar contender that'll likely have Eddie Redmayne gunning for Oscar #2. Interestingly, Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba, will also premiere at both festivals. Because it is being by distributed by Netflix and newly founded distributor Bleecker Street, I figured it would have trouble competing with the big wigs (Weinstein, Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, etc.). But it could be the "little movie that could" a la Beasts of the Southern Wild. 

But there are some contenders that haven't been announced on the lineup of both festivals that have me a little concerned about them: Adam Jones, Tulip Fever, The Light Between Oceans, Macbeth, Suffragette, and I Saw The Light. Because the first three have Alicia Vikander,  I'm guessing they don't want her to compete with herself since she will already be in the running for The Danish Girl. It's like how Michael Fassbender already has Steve Jobs premiering at the New York Film Festival so with Macbeth and Light Between Oceans not premiering at Venice or Toronto, he won't have to compete against himself and risk getting a vote split. I would express my concerns about The Revenant, but that won't be completed in time for the festival circuit because they're still finishing up. There is also Bridge of Spies, but it's Spielberg and Tom Hanks. They don't need the buzz. That's why Joy doesn't need to do the festival circuit. It has David O. Russell re-teaming with Jennifer Lawrence. They don't really need the buzz. I was a little surprised Carol isn't making it to Toronto, but it already garnered its buzz at Cannes and won Best Actress for Rooney Mara with Cate Blanchett getting rave reviews. The only question is whether it peaks too early.

But some of the contenders in Toronto that seem to be taking shape are the biopic Trumbo about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston, The Martian, which could be this year's Gravity, Sicario starring Emily Blunt, the LGBT biopic Freeheld starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page, Legend starring Tom Hardy, and Youth starring Michael Caine.

If I had to pick which festival was more key in garnering buzz, it would likely be Toronto. I remember last year, I thought The Judge and Men, Women, and Children would be viable contenders. But after they screened at Toronto and the reviews came in, they both stumbled out. Plus, The Imitation Game won the People's Choice Award at last year's festival and that went on to have 1-7 record on Oscar night. So while Venice is key, the real apex is Toronto.

So those are my thoughts on what now seems like more viable awards contenders. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Also, here are lists of the full lineups of both festivals:

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/jul/29/venice-film-festival-2015-full-lineup

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/jul/28/toronto-film-festival-2015-full-lineup