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The Fall Festival 50: Our Wishlist For The Venice, Telluride And Toronto Film Festivals

by The Playlist Staff
June 30, 2014 3:48 PM
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Birdman” (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough and Naomi Watts
Synopsis: An actor best known for playing a superhero in movies tries to mount a Broadway adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story.
Last We Heard: With that cast, a terrific trailer, and with further slightly contradictory rumors about a) a 40-minute tracking shot and b) the whole film, shot by seamless-extended-take master Emmanuel Lubezki (“Gravity”), is being edited to seem like a continuous shot, yes, we have to say anticipation for this one is at fever pitch. Inarritu is a director who has somewhat divided the Playlist staff in the past, but we are all aboard the “Birdman” train, and the festival circuit has never had such qualms anyway. And with an October 17th release date, really the chief question is which fest will snag it. Early money’s on Venice (it was rumored for Cannes so should be well and truly ready; “21 Grams” bowed there before “Babel” and “Biutiful” both went to Cannes, so it seems favored) though TIFF is also possible.

Jon Stewart Then They Came For Me Rosewater

“Rosewater” (Jon Stewart)
Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Dimitri Leonidas, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Jason Jones
Synopsis: An Iranian journalist is arrested and tortured in prison for more than a hundred days.
Last We Heard: For a relatively low-budget drama, there’s no better way to get publicity than by having your filmmaker take months off his day job presenting “The Daily Show” to direct. As a result, “Rosewater,” the directorial debut of Jon Stewart, is already on the lips of many, and that’s before it starts to make the festival rounds that it’s certain to do. We hear that the film is already locked in for TIFF: given the new regulations the festival has set in about Telluride premieres, it’s probably unlikely to make a trip to the mountains too, but it’s not totally unfeasible either.

"Suite Francaise"
"Suite Francaise"

Suite Francaise” (Saul Dibb)
Cast: Michelle Williams, Kristin Scott Thomas, Matthias Schoenaerts, Sam Riley, Margot Robbie and Ruth Wilson
Synopsis: Based on a novel that took sixty years to be published after the author Irène Némirovsky’s death in Auschwitz, the story is an epic romance between a French woman and a German soldier, set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied France.
Last We Heard: Reportedly test screened already back in April, this Weinstein film, that positively drips with prestige appeal, should be ready for Venice, with the only real question mark being its relatively untested writer/director Saul Dibb, whose “The Duchess” was also a lavish period spectacle starring an established young actress in Keira Knightley, alongside Ralph Fiennes, no less, and went nowhere. He’ll be a fall fest first-timer therefore, but we’d wager the Weinsteins will want to get this one’s Oscar chances rolling, having teased it at their Cannes presentation already.

Far From The Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd” (Thomas Vinterberg)
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenarts, Juno Temple
Synopsis: Based on the Thomas Hardy classic previously memorably filmed by John Schlesinger and starring Julie Christie, the story is of a willful young woman who inherits a large farm and has three very different men vie for her affections.
Last We Heard: Another of the anticipated films we’d hoped to see at Cannes, Thomas Vinterberg’s follow-up to his tremendous “The Hunt” is surely now a lock for a fall festival bow. Venice would seem most likely to fit this project’s Euro-arthouse appeal; could it do for Carey Mulligan there what “The Hunt” did for Mikkelsen in Cannes? Strong support, particularly from “Rust and Bone” star Schoenarts who may just be the romantic lead of the season (he’s also in “Suite Francaise”) can only help. It isn’t due to hit theaters until early next May, but Fox Searchlight premiered “Belle” at TIFF before holding it to the same date, so that doesn’t necessarily mean much.

Imitation Game, Benedict Cumberbatch

The Imitation Game” (Morten Tyldum,)
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Mark Strong and Charles Dance
Synopsis: The true story of Alan Turing, the mathematics genius who helped invent the computer and crack the Enigma code during World War II, only to be hounded for his homosexuality, later committing suicide.
Last We Heard: The tragic story of the brilliant Turing alone would have us agog for this film, but this huge British cast, the director of “Headhunters” stepping up to the big leagues, and a November 21st release date (prime Oscar season) suggests the Weinsteins are pretty high on it too--enough to justify the cool $7 miller price tag. With Cumberbatch so far a star without a lead movie role commensurate to his buzz (“The Fifth Estate” was horrible), this is a good proving ground for him too--we’re almost sure we’ll see this one turn up at TIFF.

Wild Reese Witherspoon

Wild” (Jean-Marc Vallee)
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Gaby Hoffmann, Kevin Rankin and Michiel Huisman
Synopsis: Based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, the film follows a woman who experiences the death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage and decides to embark on a solo 1000-mile trek of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Last We Heard: Fox Searchlight slotted this in a very awards-friendly December 2nd release date, and Jean-Marc Vallee, of course, coached his last film’s stars, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto of “Dallas Buyers Club” to Oscar glory, so expect producers to follow that film’s template as closely as possible, with one eye to getting Witherspoon her second Oscar. And yes, “Dallas Buyers Club” bowed at TIFF 2013, so we expect “Wild” to show up there this year.

Miss Julie

“Miss Julie” (Liv Ullman)
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton
Synopsis: A wealthy young woman begins an affair with a servant in her father’s employ in Ireland in the 1890s.
Last We Heard: Scandinavian actress and Bergman collaborator Liv Ullman steps behind the camera for the first time in fourteen years with this adaptation of August Strindberg’s legendary play, and she couldn’t have asked for a better, or festival-friendlier, cast for the occasion, thanks to Chastain, Farrell and Morton. The film’s set for an early September release in Ullman’s native Norway, which would seem to make a bow at Venice and/or TIFF all but a certainty.

A Most Violent Year

A Most Violent Year” (JC Chandor)
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks, Alessandro Nivola, David Oyelowo and Catalina Sandino Moreno
Synopsis: Set in New York in 1981, the most violent year in the city's history, it’s the story of a Latino immigrant businessman trying to find success in the gasoline business who runs into underworld dealings and his wife Anna, whose connections may be of some help.
Last We Heard: Promised for an awards season run, Chandor’s follow-up to the terrific, bruising “All is Lost” is one to watch. And with Chastain and Isaac (widely felt to have been snubbed last year for an Oscar nomination for “Inside Llewyn Davis”) heading up this intriguing-sounding story, the question isn’t whether A24 will pursue an Oscar campaign, but what type. Any of the three fall fests would very gladly take this and its attendant stars and buzz, and Chandor has previously only bowed in Sundance and Cannes, so no fall precedent set yet.

Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything” (James Marsh)
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Emily Watson, David Thewlis Charlie Cox, Harry Lloyd, Tom Prior, Charlotte Hope, Maxine Peake and Adam Godley
Synopsis: The story of how famous physicist Stephen Hawking found something to live for, in the shape of Jane Wilde, his future wife following his diagnosis with Motor Neurone Disease and a prognosis of just a few years to live.
Last We Heard: Primed for a November 7th release and coming from British powerhouse stable Working Title, the new film from James Marsh (“Man on Wire,” “Shadow Dancer”) is a likelihood for a fall festival bow. Its biopic structure and potential crowdpleaser appeal hints at Toronto rather than Venice, but that’s a pretty unreliable rule of thumb, and changing all the time, so we won’t call it just yet.

Child 44 Gary Oldman Tom Hardy

Child 44” (Daniel Espinosa)
Cast: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine, Fares Fares and Vincent Cassel
Synopsis: Based on Tom Rob Smith’s bestseller (and the first in a trilogy) and set in 1950s Soviet Russia, it’s the story of an MGB agent who investigates a child murder and finds himself, and his frosty relationship with his wife, changing as a result.
Last We Heard: Rumored for an October release in some parts of Europe, rising star Espinosa’s film, based on a script by crime writer Richard Price, has the pedigree on all levels to be something pretty special, and a potential mainstream hit. We’ve heard little about it recently, and if it were immediately going wide in an early fall slot we’d have expected a few more promotional pieces perhaps, so it’s possible this is being treated as an awards contender, in which case a festival berth is a distinct possibility.

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  • Hush hush | July 21, 2014 4:40 PMReply

    You should place some of your bets on San Sebastian who may rob some of your predictions to Venice....

  • benutty | July 7, 2014 1:39 PMReply

    "Isaac (widely felt to have been snubbed last year for an Oscar nomination for “Inside Llewyn Davis”)"

    not true; give it up, Playlist

  • Grapevine | July 5, 2014 9:37 AMReply

    Gone Girl will be the opener to the NYFF - it can't be the centerpiece or closing with an Oct 3rd release.

  • The Fanciful Norwegian | July 5, 2014 9:14 AMReply

    A few possibilities from Greater China: Wang Xiaoshuai's THE INTRUDER (finished shooting in late '13), Johnnie To's DON'T GO BREAKING MY HEART 2 and DESIGN FOR LIVING (the former is done, the latter started shooting in late April and should be either finished or close to it), Gu Changwei's LOVE IN THE CLOUD (due out in October), Alex Law and Mabel Cheung's A TALE OF THREE CITIES, Jiang Wen's GONE WITH THE BULLETS, part one of John Woo's THE CROSSING, Tsui Hark's TRACKS IN THE SNOWY FOREST. The last four are all December releases—for now, anyway—but should be ready in time for Venice/Toronto if they decide to take them there; I expect some will be held for Berlin or possibly Rome.

  • a m | July 4, 2014 1:43 PMReply

    Wow, so many of these sound really intriguing. That Herzog film, damn.

  • Miss Anon | July 3, 2014 1:36 PMReply

    Great list but how have you missed MAPS TO THE STARS (Moore, Pattinson, Cusack) or STILL ALICE (again, Moore, Baldwin and Stewart/Killer Films). Killer is known for producing festival darlings and Cronenberg is from Canada - I would hedge he even gets a gala opening night at TIFF (plus Moore won a Palm D'Or for her work in MAPS at Cannes). Seems like a glaring oversight.

  • Miss Anon | July 3, 2014 1:36 PMReply

    Great list but how have you missed MAPS TO THE STARS (Moore, Pattinson, Cusack) or STILL ALICE (again, Moore, Baldwin and Stewart/Killer Films). Killer is known for producing festival darlings and Cronenberg is from Canada - I would hedge he even gets a gala opening night at TIFF (plus Moore won a Palm D'Or for her work in MAPS at Cannes). Seems like a glaring oversight.

  • Gerard Kennelly | July 2, 2014 5:56 AMReply

    best supporting actress 2015 predictions

    Julie Estelle the raid 2
    watts birdman
    thierry the zero theorem
    rapace the drop
    farmiga the judge
    winstead kill the messenger
    green sin city dame kill for
    chastain interstellar
    rudolph inherent vice
    poots knight cups
    hoss a most wanted man
    streep into the woods
    Lorelei Linklater boyhood

  • Gerard Kennelly | July 2, 2014 5:50 AMReply

    best supporting actor 2015 predictions

    brolin inherent vice
    hopkins noah
    winstone the gunman
    oldman child 44
    bale knight cups
    thewlis the zero theorem
    brooks a most violent year
    shannon 99 homes
    kilmer untitled terrence malick project
    odowd calvary
    dafoe a most wanted man
    duvall the judge
    gandolfini the drop
    mendelsohn starred up
    shia fury
    hawke boyhood
    hoffman armstrong
    dehaan life
    farrell solace
    considine macbeth
    liotta kill the messenger
    norton birdman

  • Gerard Kennelly | July 2, 2014 5:44 AMReply

    best actress 2015 predictions

    chastain a most violent year
    witherspoon wild
    cotillard macbeth
    adams big eyes
    mara carol
    pike gone girl
    bissett welcome to new york
    woodley fault in stars
    rapace child 44
    mulligan far from madding crowd
    stone untitled Cameron crowe project
    hathaway interstellar
    johnson fifty shades grey
    portman jane got gun
    chastain miss julie
    cotillard two days one night
    bejo the search
    williams suite francaise
    mcadams a most wanted man

  • Gerard Kennelly | July 2, 2014 5:37 AMReply

    best actor 2015 predictions

    fassbender Macbeth
    fiennes grand Budapest
    crowe noah
    carrel foxcatcher
    boseman get on up
    hardy the drop
    depardieu welcome to new york
    affleck gone girl
    renner kill the messenger
    downey jr the judge
    keaton birdman
    penn the gunman
    oconnell unbroken
    phoenix inherent vice
    mcconaughey interstellar
    pitt fury
    cooper untitled cameron crowe project
    hoffman most wanted man
    depp black mass
    foster armstrong
    hopkins solace
    gyllenhaal enemy
    bale knight cups
    farrell miss julie
    sandler the cobbler
    hanks hologram for the king
    clarke everest
    garfield 99 homes
    isaac a most violent year
    hardy krays biopic
    waltz zero theorem
    pacino manglehorn
    oconnell starred up

  • colton | July 1, 2014 2:11 PMReply

    You mean KGB not MGB for Child 44

  • colton | July 1, 2014 6:32 PM

    Oh, sorry. Thanks for the correction.

  • kpkwrtr | July 1, 2014 3:14 PM

    No, Colton, MGB is correct given the period in which the author set the story. Officially known as the Ministry For State Security, the MGB existed from sometime in the mid-1930's to the early 1950's when the organization was folded into the newly-formed KGB.

  • tiana | July 1, 2014 8:23 AMReply

    I think still alice(based on best selling novel by Lisa genova) directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer could screen at one of these festivals and starring julianne moore, Kristen stewart,kate Bosworth,hunter parrish and alec Baldwin.

  • Sanker from India | June 30, 2014 11:02 PMReply

    Sorry for the nitpicking. I absolutely love this list after the superherocentric articles of recent times. It's actually trainspotting screenwriter john hodge, not author. Trainspotting the book has Irvine welsh as it's author.
    I love you guys! Will be referring to this list many times over the next few months!!

  • Jess | July 1, 2014 10:22 AM

    You're right, of course Sanker. We've corrected the slip in the text, and thanks!

  • BEF | June 30, 2014 8:55 PMReply

    Great list! I hope Michael Mann's film stays as "Black Hat" or anything else ... "Cyber" is so bad, the only ones that could be potentially worse would be "The Internet" or "World Wide Web"

  • ger heard ken L E | July 2, 2014 5:26 AM

    hemsworth in a techno thriller ??????

    PARANOiA was a disaster

  • mark | June 30, 2014 6:55 PMReply

    I really hope Inherent Vice is better than The Master. That was just a bad film. I heard mixed things about the script on deadline

  • Franka | June 30, 2014 6:43 PMReply

    Great list. So many potential films coming soon!

  • DG | June 30, 2014 4:41 PMReply

    Also I wonder if Inherent Vice will play surprise screenings before Venice the way that The Master did in 2011. I think it plaed after midnight shows of The Shining?

  • DG | June 30, 2014 4:38 PMReply

    Wtf is that pic next to the Inherent Vice synopsis?

  • brad pitt 54321 | July 2, 2014 5:28 AM

    online so far there are on set pics of

    joaquin phoenix

    pregnant nurse maya rudolph

    and an actor that looks so like river phoenix it is scary

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