An 8-Minute Standing Ovation And Award Show Buzz: The Films You Need To See From 2019 Venice Film Festival
When it comes to cinema, few events eclipse the star power of the Venice Film Festival.
The Oscars might see Hollywood A-listers assemble in celebration of the award show’s winners, but Venice Film Festival is for those who revel in the delights of cinema, encapsulating the artistry of directing, acting and cinematography.
Now in its 76th year, the Venice International Film Festival continues to draw a crowd made up of the world’s top models, the Hollywood elite, along with emerging and well-established actors. Unlike Cannes, Venice boasts a more laid-back vibe with screenings that don’t conform to schedule.
While the festival certainly encapsulates an enjoyable Italian energy that seems far more relaxed than others, it goes without saying that the Venice Film Festival and its audience often serve as a predictive tool for determining what films might not only get nominated, but win, at the Academy Awards. Such was the case in 2017, when The Shape of Water took both the Golden Lion and the Academy Award for best picture.
If the news coming out of the festival is anything to go by, it seems a number of films are already generating Oscar-buzz for their lead parts. As Vanity Fair reports, Phoenix’s Joker has generated the most buzz at the festival. “Todd Phillips’s harrowing super-villain origin story took the festival by storm on Saturday, with many placing Phoenix in lead position for best actor,” said the publication. The film garnered an eight-minute standing ovation after its screening, which followed two press screenings which also were met with applause at the end during the closing credits.
(Director: Noah Baumbach)
In this film by Netflix, Scarlett Johansson stars as one half of a couple trying, and failing, to separate as amicably as possible. Johansson already has a stellar career, having won a Tony and a BAFTA, but noticeably absent from her resume is an Oscar nomination and after the reviews she’s receiving for this from Noah Baumbach, that seems likely to change.
The film also stars Adam Driver, who is carving an illustrious career in Hollywood at the moment. Driver plays Charlie, an on-the-rise New York theatre director whose enthusiasm for works often comes in the way of other relationships and the needs of those around him – such as his wife, Nicole (Johansson). The film opens when things have fallen apart in the marriage, and follows the couple as they try to co-parent their 8-year-old son and navigate separation.
(Director: James Gray)
In Ad Astra, Pitt plays Major Roy McBride who is sent to travel out to Neptune in search of his lost father, a man he barely knows. After a series of unexplained cosmic rays begin to threaten life on Earth, Pitt is tasked with bringing them to a halt. It’s believed McBride’s father, played by Tommy Lee Jones, who went AWOL years earlier in space might be responsible for the current crisis.
The Guardian touts the film as a “psychological space-opera” and goes on to say, “Ad Astra is so deadly serious that it verges on the silly; so immaculately staged and sustained that it sweeps us up in its orbit.” Pitt has received rave reviews for his performance, and the film itself is already being heralded as one of the best to come out of the festival.
(Director: Todd Phillips)
In Joker, Todd Phillips presents a revisionist origin story of a character that has fascinated fans and audiences for decades. The film is a dark drama that examines alienation, anti-capitalist protests, urban decay and is helmed most significantly by Joaquin Phoenix who gives an incredibly riveting performance.
Despite his hopes of making it as a stand-up comic, an array of mental illnesses require Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) to take seven kinds of medication that serve to ruin his chances of fulfilling his dreams. Consequently, the film goes on to trace the uncovering of family secrets and his slow decent into homicidal mania.
The film makes numerous additions to Joker lore, including the fact that the Joker’s fits and cackles are attributed to Tourette’s syndrome. Phillips also repositions the character as an accidental vigilante who guns down Wall Street brats in self-defence, inspiring Gotham’s underclass to protest.
In a five-star review from NME, Greg Wetherall called Joker an “instant classic that sees Joaquin Phoenix translate a discombobulating sensation from the screen to your senses, while director Todd Phillips creates a melancholic psychodrama punctuated by splashes of shocking violence.”
(Director: Benedict Andrews)
Benedict Andrews delivers a stunning portrait of the movie star, Jean Seberg, played by Kristen Stewart with trademark intelligence and curiosity. The film details the years when the French-adopted American star was made a prime target of the FBI’s illegal COINTELPRO project, which took invasive and threatening measures to neutralise her support for the Black Panther movement in the late 1960s.