"Cloud Atlas" (dir. The Wachowskis & Tom Tykwer)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, Hugo Weaving
Even though we've been burnt by the Wachowskis many, many times before, we're increasingly excited by their adaptation of David Mitchell's novel, co-directed by Tom Tykwer. For one, the source material is great. For another, word out of test screenings and showings for buyers at Cannes has been very strong. But a Venice appearance? We'd be quite surprised. A big budget, sci-fi flick from blockbuster filmmakers seems an odd festival fit. And considering the possibility of the project being so divisive, a high-profile festival bow is potentially risky. This is all a gut feeling -- it's possibly the most likely of this section to make it in -- but we'd be very surprised if it was seen anywhere before it starts rolling out in Europe and elsewhere in October.
"Zero Dark Thirty" (dir. Kathryn Bigelow)
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Jennifer Ehle, Jason Clarke, Harold Perrineau, Edgar Ramirez
A premiere at Venice back in 2008 started the train that ended up with Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards almost 18 months later. So in a way, a triumphant homecoming to the Lido would make perfect sense. But again, filming started late on the project, with shooting only wrapping up a month or so ago. And furthermore, the release date was pushed back to avoid accusations of interference with the U.S. elections in November, and to premiere before then would be to risk kicking off the debates all over again. Again, we suspect this'll be kept under wraps until at least Thanksgiving.
"Inside Llewyn Davis" (dir. Joel & Ethan Coen)
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Garret Hedlund, Adam Driver, John Goodman, F. Murray Abraham
While they've been Cannes regulars of late, the Coen Brothers did open Venice in 2008 with "Burn After Reading," and any festival would be glad to have a new film by them. But again, August may be a bit soon, even by their standards -- indeed, there's no guarantee at this point that it'll show up before 2013 in theaters. If it does go the festival route, TIFF or NYFF are probably better bets, or it could follow the path of "True Grit" and bypass them entirely.