The Venice Film Festival, which annually launches the fall film fest — and therefore the Oscar — season, has always drawn plenty of Oscar hopefuls. Indeed, over just the past decade, four of the 10 eventual best picture winners — Birdman, Spotlight, The Shape of Water and Nomadland — started their march to the Dolby on the Lido, just like plenty of other eventual nominees and winners. But the lineup for the 79th edition of the world’s oldest film fest — which will run Aug. 31-Sept. 10, and the main competition jury of which will be presided over by Julianne Moore — is as jampacked with gold-seekers as any ever.
Netflix titles are not welcome at Europe’s only higher-profile film fest, in Cannes, because the service will not commit to giving them a theatrical release before streaming them on its platform. But this is not a problem for Venice, which last year unveiled The Power of the Dog and The Hand of God (the former took home the best director prize and the latter was nominated for best international feature) and this year has allocated four of its 23 competition slots for films from the streamer.
Indeed, Venice will open with White Noise, the latest work of Noah Baumbach, who debuted his last film, Marriage Story (also a Netflix title), at the fest (Laura Dern wound up winning the best supporting actress Oscar). The Adam Driver/Greta Gerwig-starrer is apparently strong enough that the New York Film Festival will open with the project, too. Netflix also comes to Venice with Bardo, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s first feature since The Revenant, which brought him his second best director Oscar (just a year after he won his first for the aforementioned Birdman); Andrew Dominik’s Blonde, which is said to feature a knockout turn by Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe; and Romain Gavras’ French-language Athena.
Other Oscar-buzzed competition titles include Focus’ Tar, which stars Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and is the first feature directed by Todd Field since Little Children 16 years ago; Florian Zeller’s follow-up to The Father, for which Anthony Hopkins won the best actor Oscar, The Son, which stars Hugh Jackman and, like the earlier film, is being handled by Sony Classics; A24’s The Whale, which is said to be a strong comeback vehicle for Brendan Fraser and was helmed by Darren Aronofsky, who previously brought eventual Oscar nominee The Wrestler and Oscar winner Black Swan to the fest; UAR’s Bones & All, which reunites Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino with his Call Me By Your Name star Timothee Chalamet; Martin McDonagh’s Colin Farrell/Brendan Gleeson two-hander The Banshees of Inisherin, which Searchlight hopes will follow a similar trajectory to McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which premiered at the fest and wound up bagging two acting Oscars; and All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, a Neon documentary feature from Citizenfour Oscar winner Laura Poitras.