Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Toby Jones, Rhys Ifans
Again, Venice can be useful for amassing awards buzz, and given that "Serena" 1) re-teams the "Silver Linings Playbook" duo of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence and 2) Doesn't yet have a U.S. distributor, Venice would be the perfect launching pad for this. The film wrapped over a year ago, and director Bier was at the festival last year with "Love Is All You Need." The only thing giving us pause is the total lack of buzz on the picture. But with the film looking to roll out internationally from the end of September, it'll surely show up either here or at TIFF.
"Oldboy" (dir. Spike Lee)
Cast: Josh Brolin, Sharlto Copley, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L Jackson
The films in the category above are more than enough to fill the English-language quotient of the festival after it slimmed down (there were only four English-language movies in competition last year, and only a dozen of the total 60), so any others that haven't been so strongly rumored should be taken with something of a pinch of salt. But with Spike Lee being such a favorite at Venice -- two of his last three movies premiered there, and he got a lifetime achievement prize last year -- one shouldn't rule out an appearance from "Oldboy," his return to studio fare for the first time since "Miracle At St. Anna." As a remake of Park Chan-Wook's beloved film, there's a lot of curiosity around the film, and an October release would set it up nicely.
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Noah Taylor, Wallace Shawn
After a banner year in 2011 with 'TInker Tailor,' "Shame," "Wuthering Heights" and others, British cinema was barely present on the Lido last year. But with the likes of "Under The Skin" and "A Most Wanted Man" in the mix, there could be a revival this time around, and another strong candidate to join them could be "The Double." Richard Ayoade's follow-up to the acclaimed "Submarine." That film premiered at TIFF, and that seems likely this time around, but given his rising star status, and the impressive cast he's assembled for his Dostoyefsky adaptation, he's likely to be on many other festival wish-lists too. Star Jesse Eisenberg's presence in likely competition film "Night Moves" isn't likely to be a problem -- but perhaps if "An Enemy" gets in first, its thunder could be stolen.
"The Rover" (dir. David Michod)
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Guy Pearce, Scoot McNairy, Nash Edgerton
It hasn't yet been mentioned by Variety or many others, but we've heard whispers that this post-apocalyptic Australian picture has been targeting a possible Venice bow. Having been the toast of Sundance with "Animal Kingdom," Michod's latest would certainly be a coup even without Robert Pattinson in the cast. But that said, the film didn't wrap too long ago, and there's little tradition in recent years of Australian cinema ending up at the festival. TIFF may be a better bet for this one.
"In The Basement" (dir. Ulrich Seidl)
With his "Paradise" trilogy now done, having completed the major festival trifecta of Cannes, Venice and Berlin, suddenly-prolific Austrian helmer could be forgiven for taking something of a breather. But in fact, he's spent several years working on this documentary about the relationship between his countrymen and his their cellars. It's allegedly close to completion, and with Seidl having won the Silver Lion for "Dog Days" in 2001, and the Special Jury Prize last year for "Paradise: Faith," there's every chance he might return to the Lido if the film's ready in time (though we suspect it's likely to feature in a sidebar).
"The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby" (dir. Ned Benson)
Cast: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Viola Davis, Isabelle Huppert
As we said pre-Cannes, the two-part nature of this film (showing the dissolution of a relationship from the perspective of the wife and the husband, as played by Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy) makes it an irresistible proposition for a festival, even without the superb cast that first-time director Ned Benson has assembled (also including Viola Davis, Isabelle Huppert, Ciaran Hinds, William Hurt, Archie Panjabi, Jess Weixler, Nina Arianda and Bill Hader). It's relatively rare for first-time American helmers to debut in competition at Venice, but like last year's "Disconnect," this could be a special out-of-competition presentation, unless Telluride or TIFF have already staked their claim.
Harvey Weinstein has high hopes for this documentary about the reclusive author of "Catcher In The Rye," and having touted it at Cannes, we're sure he'll use one of the fall festival to launch it ahead of awards season. Given the boost given to "Bad 25" and "Stories We Tell" on the Lido last year, Venice is a good a place as any, although our gut says that Telluride could be more likely.
"White Bird In A Blizzard" (dir. Gregg Araki)
Cast: Eva Green, Shailene Woodley, Christopher Meloni, Gabourey Sidibe
While not as associated with the festival as someone like Spike Lee, Gregg Araki has had some of his greatest successes in Venice, with "The Doom Generation" and "Mysterious Skin" unspooling on the Lido (he also served as Orrizonti jury president a few years back). With "White Bird In A Blizzard," his latest, looking to be on the more critically-respectable side of his output, and being a European production, it would make a lot of sense for him to return this year. The film should be ready, so the biggest question is whether it makes the cut with a lot of English-language pictures already out there.
"Open Windows" (dir. Nacho Vigalondo)
Cast: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell, Ivan Gonzalez
While it has less of an emphasis on midnight-type fare than many festivals, there's always a couple of more genre-y movies among the line-up at Venice, and one definite potential would be "Open Windows." The English-language debut of hotly-tipped "Time Crimes" helmer Nacho Vigalondo, it's a concept found-footage horror filmed entirely through a laptop camera, with a decidedly odd cast. It seems a strong possibility for TIFF Midnight Madness and/or Fantastic Fest -- the bigger question is whether Vigalondo would be on Venice's radar, especially after underwhelming and underseen second feature "Extraterrestrial."
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara
Ron Howard's films tend not to be festival fare, but with its Formula 1 subject matter, his promising biopic of James Hunt and Niki Lauda could probably benefit from a launch at a European festival rather than in F1-apathetic North America. With the film rolling out in Europe from September 13th, it seems assured that it'll play at TIFF, but don't rule out an out-of-competition slot on the Lido.
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, Tom Felton, Jessica Lange
The period drama possibilities are looking relatively thin on the ground for the festival this year, 'Twelve Years A Slave" aside, but with the movie opening in the U.S. in September, this adaptation of "Therese Raquin" looks likely to figure into the festival season at some point. We suspect it'll be overruled by higher-profile competition when it comes to a Venice slot, so TIFF feels more likely.
Cast: James McAvoy, Imogen Poots, Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent
This anarchic Irvine Welsh-adapted take on "Bad Lieutenant" has been done for a while, and we're hearing good things, but the release has been held back until the end of September in the U.K., which could point to a festival bow of some kind. It doesn't immediately strike us as a Venice kind of movie, but stranger things have happened. Though perhaps a more raucous midnight crowd in Austin or Toronto will be a better fit.
"At Berkeley" (dir. Frederick Wiseman)
The veteran documentarian Frederick Wiseman is something of a staple on the fall festival circuit, and premiered "La Danse" and "Crazy Horse" in Venice in 2009 and 2011. His latest, several years in the making, focuses on the Californian university, and while that might make a U.S. bow more logical, we're pretty sure it'll feature somewhere on the Lido.