With the fall festival season only two months away, speculation has begun as to what will play at Venice, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Many are betting that Alfonso Cuaron's space epic "Gravity," starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, who enjoys spending time at his Italian villa, and Paul Greengrass' "Captain Phillips," starring Tom Hanks as the real-life cargo ship captain who conducted tense negotiations with Somali pirates in 2009, will be part of the lineup.
Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" could show up there, too; that film, which recently released an array of new images, stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti and more based on the book by and true-life story of Solomon Northrup, a freed black man who was sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War United States. Fox Searchlight has a history of showing such films as "Black Swan" at Venice, but it may be early for a film slated to open limited as late as December 27--which bespeaks not wanting box office performance to be a measure of the film's awards merit.
Meanwhile, Terrence Malick's currently untitled production -- previously called "Lawless" -- which centers on the Austin music scene, could land at Venice, where he filmmaker last debuted "To the Wonder." ("The Tree of Life" premiered at Cannes.) The film starring Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, and Michael Fassbender also features two intersecting love affairs, sexual obsession and betrayal. But rumors abound of actors not completing their scenes, so when the filmmaker will be finished on this or his other parallel ongoing production, "Knight of Cups," starring another sprawling cast including Portman, Christian Bale, Teresa Palmer and Joel Kinnaman, is anyone's guess.
The Weinstein's "August: Osage County," starring heavyhitters Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in John Wells' adaptation of Tracey Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play, just had its release date pushed back from November to December 25 (along with Nicole Kidman starrer "Grace of Monaco" -- now hitting theaters November 27). Do these later dates indicate the Oscar-friendly films will skip the early fall fests? Not necessarily. It's more likely that TWC wants to give a prime family viewing and Academy-targeted holiday slot to "August: Osage County."
What we know for sure is that Paul Schrader's provocative "The Canyons," starring Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen as wayward Hollywood twentysomethings, will screen out of competition at the fest; the director is heading the Orizzonti jury this year.