Venice Predictions

With the release of a second teaser trailer of Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" this morning, we got another look at one of the most anticipated films of the year. And with the picture already slated for an October 13th release, for some traveling film critics and fans, and those prepared to head to Italy, the Venice Film Festival could be where the film makes its world premiere, with artistic director Alberto Barbera suggesting a few weeks back that Anderson was heading to the Lido for the fest, which kicks off on August 29th.

With the announcement of the opening film due any day now -- it was on June 21st last year and today, the fest announced their lineup of rare and restored films that will unspool -- and "The Master" trailer reminding us that its one of the candidates, it seemed like a good opportunity to look at the possible contenders for a place at one of the world's most prestigious festivals.

Venice has seen a change in leadership this year, with longtime artistic director Marco Mueller leaving for the Rome Film Festival, and former head Alberto Barbera returning, and so there's likely to be something of a break in the way things have gone in the last few years -- it's already been announced that the size of the festival is being cut down significantly, for a quality-over-quantity approach, with only 50 movies in total, 18 of which will be in competition. But it's still possible to take a good stab at what might be there. Fingers crossed, we'll be there again this year to deliver our verdict, and we'll be back with news as soon as word comes in officially, but for now, you can check out our guesses below.   

Strong Possibilities

First Look: Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams In Brian Depalma's Passion
"To The Wonder"/"The Master"/"Passion" (dir. Terrence Malick/Paul Thomas Anderson/Brian DePalma)
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams (x2)/Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams/Noomi Rapace
The new films by Terrence Malick and Paul Thomas Anderson were rumored for Cannes, but failed to make an appearance, which certainly started to stir rumors about appearances on the Lido, and when new boss Alberto Barbera named the two, along with Brian DePalma's erotic thriller "Passion", as "likely candidates" a few months back, they seem like pretty good bets. De Palma won Best Director at the fest last time at bat, for the near-unwatchable "Redacted," and while his film didn't start shooting til earlier this year, we're sure he'll be able to make the cutoff (footage was already screening for buyers at Cannes). Anderson's a Venice first-timer, and Malick hasn't been since "Badlands," but given that Barbera's out to make his mark, there'd be no better way of doing so than by bagging the duo. That being said, both filmmakers aren't prone to be doing the expected, so don't be entirely surprised if one -- or indeed both -- aren't done, or decide to skip the festival route.

"Anna Karenina" (dir. Joe Wright)
Cast: Keira Knightley, Aaron Johnson, Jude Law, Kelly MacDonald, Domnhal Gleeson, Alicia Vikander
Five years on from "Atonement," which premiered at Venice, we suspect that Joe Wright's reteaming with Keira Knightley is a very strong candidate for an in-competition slot. The film's set for release in the U.K. on September 7th, so a launch at Venice is likely as important for Working Title as it was for "Atonement" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" in recent years, and the film is a starry prestige effort, but with an unorthodox, expressionistic take, which would seem to make it perfect for the festival. Indeed, if it doesn't appear, then something's likely gone very wrong along the way.

"Argo"/"Gangster Squad" (dir. Ben Affleck/Ruben Fleischer)
Cast: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Scoot McNairy/Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Emma Stone
Warner Bros. have used the festival in the last three years for out of competition springboards for their adult, commercial early fall fare, with "The Informant!," "The Town" and "Contagion" all premiering on the Lido since 2009. This year they've got two major contenders, and either one could be a possibility. "Gangster Squad" opens first, on September 7th, right on the heels of the festival, but it seems to be a commercial picture first and foremost, so we wonder if the studio might rather hang on for Ben Affleck's "Argo," which is released in October, and seems to be more in line with the fare from previous years, especially as Barbera has talked about the festival being "more sober" than last year. We wouldn't be surprised either way, but we're almost certain we'll get one or the other (and whichever one doesn't make it to Italy, will surely land at TIFF).

"Something In The Air" (dir. Olivier Assayas)
Cast: Lola Creton, Dolores Chaplin, Johnny Flynn, India Menuez
One of the biggest surprise absences from the Cannes line-up was Oliver Assayas' latest, a 1970s-set tale of a student caught up in revolutionary violence in Europe, set in France, Italy and the U.K. Being such a staple on the Croisette, we can only assume that it wasn't done, and barring any serious problems, we'd certainly expect to see it in Venice. The director is no stranger to the fest either. His 1986 debut "Desordre" won the Critics Prize there, and his 1997 documentary on Hou Hsiao-Hsien also bowed there in 1997, and even if it's been a while, the film being partly shot in Italy can only help his cause. That being said, Toronto and Rome might also be possibilities.