As Cannes came to a close earlier this summer, speculation and predictions
immediately loomed for what was in store for the the major
festivals of the
very early fall (or, in some cases technically the very late summer). The 71th
edition of the Venice Film Festival will run August 27 to
September 6th, while Toronto will celebrate its 39th edition September 4-14. Telluride goes down in between on Labor Day
weekend. Add to that the 52nd New York Film Festival, which comes two weeks after Toronto and has as of late always nabbed a few major world premieres (“Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Captain Phillips,” “The Social Network”), and we’re likely going to see a massive chunk of 2014’s best cinematic offerings all premiering within a six week time span.
The interesting thing this year is that there’s been some open conflict between some of these fests, as Toronto made a bold move in deciding that if filmmakers want one of its prestigious opening weekend slots, it must be a world or North American premiere. Which basically means they have to pick between Telluride or Toronto (whereas in the past many films have double-dipped).
Wherever the films end up premiering, though, it’s promises to be quite the collective lineup. David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson, Tim Burton, Todd Haynes, Angelina Jolie, David Gordon Green, Werner Herzog, Noah Baumbach and Stephen Daldry all have films in the potential mix. And that’s just the tip
of the iceberg.
So let the serious speculation begin: Which films
will be the mammoths of the fall festival circuit? Here’s a list of 40
possibilities, all new movies that haven’t played anywhere
yet, and seem at least reasonable bets to make their festival debuts at one of the noted four fests (in alphabetical order):
Before I Go To Sleep
Who Made It: Rowan Joffe (“Brighton Rock”)
Who’s In It: Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, who seem like they are in everything together these days.
Where It Might Premiere: Toronto. It’s out in theaters September 12th and I doubt this is Venice’s cup of tea, so basically this would be press junket for before they go to theaters.
The Gist: “Before I Go Sleep” reunites Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth after “The Railway Man,” debuted in Toronto last year. This oughta given them back-to-back trips to Canadian red carpets, this time in an adaptation of S.J. Watson’s 2011 bestselling novel. It follows a woman who wakes up every day, remembering nothing as a result of a traumatic accident in her past. Until one day, a truth emerges and she’s forced to question everyone around her. Though it sounds pretty genre for festival play, but the star power alone should get it into TIFF.
Watch the trailer below:
Who Made It: Tim Burton. And despite that, it actually looks like it could be good!
Who’s In It: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Danny Huston, Krysten Ritter
Where It Might Premiere: Venice and/or Toronto make sense… Although given its Christmas release date, maybe distributor The Weinstein Company will hold out altogether (though we doubt it).
The Gist: Burton has gotten a
lot of flack as of late thanks to big budget,
critically panned films like “Alice in Wonderland” and “Dark Shadows.”
But he’s making a return to fantasy-free, low-budget fare here
— really for the first time since 1994’s “Ed Wood” (which is perhaps
his most critically acclaimed film). With a script from “Wood”
screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, “Big Eyes” takes on
the true story of husband and wife artists Walter and Margaret Keane
(Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams), the former of whom rose to fame in
1950s for his paintings of big-eyed kids. It sure sounds great on paper,
and here’s hoping it makes us completely
forget about “Dark Shadows” and anticipate a whole new era of work from
Who Made It: Alejandro González Iñárritu, in a major change of tone.
Who’s In It: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan
Where It Might Premiere: We’d guess Venice, with Toronto and New York to follow (its in theaters care of Fox Searchlight October 17th).
The Gist: Inarritu’s past films have mostly headed to the Cannes Film Festival — and they’ve also mostly
been grim, foreign-language dramas that tackle issues of global and
social importance. His “Birdman,” on the other hand, is a comedy. Starring Michael
Keaton as an actor trying to regain his former glory on Broadway when
his days playing a famous superhero have long been gone, the film is already getting major buzz thanks to its trailer, and would surely be a hot ticket at whatever festival it makes its way to.
Who Made It: Todd Haynes, in his first feature film since 2007’s “I’m Not There”
Who’s In It: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson (swoons all around)
Where It Might Premiere: Venice, for starters. If it’s ready at least (it finished shooting at the end of April)
The Gist: Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel “The Price of Salt,” the film marks a double return for Todd Haynes: To the 1950s of “Far From Heaven,” and to the queer content of most of his earlier films. The film follows the relationship between two very different women in 1950s New York. A young woman in her 20s, Therese (Mara) is working in a department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, moneyed marriage. Everything unravels, and with this director and cast, we could not be more excited to see how.
Who Made It: Fatih Akin, the German director behind “Head On” and “The Edge of Heaven”
Who’s In It: Tahar Rahim, Akin Gazi, Simon Abkarian
Where It Might Premiere: Venice seems like a lock at this point.
The Gist: Not much is known about Akin’s first film since 2009’s “Soul Kitchen” (try Googling it and you’ll find a “the plot is undisclosed at this time” over and over), but maybe that’s a good thing. The director rarely disappoints, and his co-screenwriter Mardik Martin comes with a fun fact that should be enough to hold us over until Venice likely offers us a synopsis: This his first feature film script in over 34 years. His last? “Raging Bull.”
Who Made It: Michael R. Roskam (“Bullhead”)
Who’s In It: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts
Where It Might Premiere: We’d wage our bets on Toronto.
The Gist: The final work we’ll see from the late James Gandolfini, the film formerly known as “Animal Rescue” is the English language debut of “Bullhead” director Roskham, and follows an ex-con who finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry. It’s set for release via Fox Searchlight on September 12th, suggesting heavily it will make its one and only festival stop at Toronto just before (though Fox Searchlight does love showing their films at Telluride).
Who Made It: Mia Hansen-Love (“Goodbye First Love”)
Who’s In It: Felix De Givry, Brady Corbet, Greta Gerwig, Golshifteh Farahani
Where It Might Premiere: Venice would be our guess.
The Gist: Following the life of a French DJ who’s credited with inventing “French house” — a type of French electronic music that became popular in the 1990s — everyone seemed pretty sure this would be at Cannes, but it wasn’t ready in time. That sets the stage for a fall festival debut, which is good news for fans of the up and coming French filmmaker (this time teaming up with American actors Greta Gerwig and Brady Corbet).
Every Thing Will Be Fine
Who Made It: Wim Wenders
Who’s In It: James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Where It Might Premiere: Venice, maybe? Though it’s a Canadian co-production, which could help things swing Toronto’s way.
The Gist: Following up his remarkably successful, Oscar
nominated 3D documentary “Pina,” Wenders returns to narrative
filmmaking, but we’ll still be wearing the 3D glasses. From a script by
Bjorn Olaf Johannessen, the film tells the story of a writer (James Franco),
who loses control of his life after a car accident which kills a young
boy. It follows him over a period of 12 years as he tries to find
self-forgiveness, with Rachel McAdams (in a role originally set for Sarah
Polley) playing his girlfriend Kate. While clearly the plot does not
sound like your typical 3D fare, leave it to Wenders to offer us an
entirely new utilization of the format (as he did with “Pina”).
Far From The Madding Crowd
Who Made It: Thomas Vinterberg
Who’s In It: Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenarts, Juno Temp
Where It Might Premiere: Fox Searchlight has delayed the release of the film until next May, though rumor has it that the film will make a fall festival debut anyway. Maybe just quietly at Telluride?
The Gist: Vinterberg is coming off his Academy Award-nominated “The Hunt” in
this promising adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 19th century classic
— headlined by the ever reliable Carey Mulligan. She stars as a woman who inherits a
large farm and becomes romantically entangled with three men (Michael
Sheen, Tom Sturridge and Matthias Schoenaerts), and given Vinterberg has proven
adept at drawing out career best performances from his cast (Mads
Mikkelsen took home top acting honors at Cannes for his showstopping
turn in “The Hunt”), this could be quite the showcase for Mulligan (and everyone else involved, for that matter).
Who Made It: David Fincher
Who’s In It: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit
Where It Might Premiere: This smells like the kind of film New York could steal away from its earlier competition, as it did with Fincher’s “The Social Network.”
The Gist: One of the most anticipated films of the year, “Gone Girl” is adapted from Gillian Flynn’s massive bestseller (by Flynn herself) about a man suspected of killing his missing wife, and could probably do just fine without any festival play. But hey, you could have said the same about “Gravity” last year. And given its October 3rd release date, the timing is perfect to drum up some quick buzz and momentum, especially if it’s as strong as the people involved would suggest on paper.
Check out the recent trailer:
The Imitation Game
Who Made It: Morten Tyldum
Who’s In It: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance
Where It Might Premiere: Toronto sounds about right.
The Gist: After directing Norwegian films “Buddy”
and “Headhunters,” the latter being the highest-grossing Norwegian film
of all time, Tyldum has a lot to prove with “The Imitation Game.” With a
bigger budget, the backing of Harvey Weinstein, and a cast boasting the
unstoppable Benedict Cumberbatch, the film is about the British
mathematician Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) who was a successful
cryptographer during World II and was later prosecuted for his
homosexuality. The film also stars Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode,
and seems like the kind of thing made for awards season. Which would make Toronto a pretty perfect launching pad.
Who Made It: Paul Thomas Anderson
Who’s In It: Joaquin Phoenix, Benicio Del Toro, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Owen Wilson and Jena Malone.
Where It Might Premiere: Venice, a la “The Master”?
The Gist: Paul Thomas Anderson’s hugely anticipated follow-up to “The Master” would clearly be at the top
of almost anyone’s to-see list at whatever festival it hits. The director
has been in post-production on the film since the fall, though he tends
to take his time and the film’s release date isn’t until December. So
he’ll avoid the festival circuit altogether (which he basically did with
“There Will Be Blood” — save a quick stop at Fantastic Fest). But either way, we’ll be first in line when his
adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel makes its debut.
Who Made It: David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers,” “Fred Claus”)
Who’s In It: Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton, Vera Farmiga
Where It Might Premiere: Toronto.
The Gist: This looks like Oscar bait, straight up (save maybe the director’s past credits). And the first time Robert Downey Jr has even attempted that kind of film in some time (he got a nod for “Tropic Thunder,” but that didn’t seem so intentional). Toronto is always a great place to start a campaign, and that’s where we suspect we’ll first see Downey Jr. as a big city lawyer who returns to his childhood home where his father (Duvall), the town’s judge, is suspected of murder.
Kill The Messenger
Who Made It: Michael Cuesta
Who’s In It: Jeremy Renner, Michael Sheen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt
Where It Might Premiere: Toronto.
Gist: Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb (played by Renner in the film), “Kill The Messenger” follows a reporter who becomes the target of a smear campaign that drives him to the point of suicide after he exposes the CIA’s role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua and importing cocaine into California. Out in October (via Focus Features), this seems like a pretty safe bet for Toronto.
Who Made It: Anton Corbijn
Who’s In It: Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley
Where It Might Premiere: Perhaps Venice, where Corbijn’s “The American” debuted in 2010
The Gist: Robert Pattinson continues his quest to make us forget about “Twilight” by hooking up with yet another accomplished director, this time Anton Corbijn. In “Life,” he’s portraying a photographer for Life Magazine is assigned to shoot pictures of James Dean (played by Dane DeHaan). In Corbijn’s hands, this has a whole lot of promise, and given it’s been in post production since March, it would make sense. Though it would make for the director’s second festival debut of the year — his “A Most Wanted Man” debuted at Sundance in January, and is hitting theaters this month.
The Look of Silence
Who Made It: Joshua Oppenheimer
Where It Might Premiere: Toronto would be our bet.
The Gist: Oppenheimer, who was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year for “The Act of Killing,” has been working on a follow-up to the film for some time, and it has been rumored to be heading for the fall festival circuit. Oppenheimer has said the “The Act of Killing” was always meant to be the first film of a pair, and “The Look of Silence” is that other half. The movie is said to have a more straightforward approach to the reenactments of “The Act of Killing,” offering a different perspective on the same issue.
Who Made It: Justin Kurzel (“The Snowtown Murders”)
Who’s In It: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jack Reynor, David Thewlis
Where It Might Premiere: Set for release at Christmas, maybe this is the kind of film that could quietly make a Telluride debut and skip the others?
The Gist: Shakespeare’s Scottish play about General Macbeth gets another cinematic adaptation, this time with none other than Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in the leads. Director Justin Kurzel has yet to prove himself on this scale. Considering his project attracted those actors (and the Weinsteins) it seems safe to suggest he’s about to. Definitely something the Weinsteins are hoping will gain awards traction, it could hold out for a theatrical release. But it’s been in post since April, so it should likely be ready if they decide to go the festival route.
Who Made It: David Gordon Green
Who’s In It: Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Chris Messina
Where It Might Premiere: Venice, where Gordon Green’s “Joe” debuted last year?
The Gist: David Gordon Green has been remarkably prolific as of late, with two films out in the past year. Which makes it all the more likely that “Manglehorn” — a Texas-set story of an ex-con trying to go straight — his the festival circuit this Fall. It’s been wrapped since the end of last year, after all. And it could offer the kind of comeback performance from Al Pacino that any festival would be surely be happy to debut.
Men, Women & Children
Who Made It: Jason Reitman
Who’s In It: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie DeWitt, Emma Thompson, Judy Greer, Kaitlyn Dever, Ansel Elgort
Where It Might Premiere: Reitman has almost always done a Telluride/Toronto debut, but these new rules might be problematic, even for a member of the family that the street surrounding Toronto’s festival center is named after.
The Gist: Adapted from Chad Kultgen’s book, Jason Reitman’s follow-up to last year’s somewhat tepidly received “Labor Day” is a comedic drama that looks at a suburban family in the internet era. It’s got a very notable cast, including a looking-for-redemption Adam Sandler (who could also receive some from a potential festival candidate not on this list, Thomas McCarthy’s “The Cobbler”).
Who Made It: Liv Ullmann
Who’s In It: Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton
Where It Might Premiere: Venice?
The Gist: Adapted from the 1888 play, the film follows the titular character (Chastain), the daughter of the Count who attempts to seduce her father’s valet, Jean (Farrell). Chastain has basically been on a roll since we first heard of her, so we find it hard to doubt her choices, and the fact that the legendary Ullmann is behind the camera certainly doesn’t hurt. So really it would be pretty shocking if the film — which is done — doesn’t premiere at one festival or another.
A Most Violent Year
Who Made It: JC Chandor
Who’s In It: Oscar Issac, Jessica Chastain (again!), Alessandro Nivola, David Oyelowo, Albert Brooks, Catalina Sandino Moreno.
Where It Might Premiere: Could go any which way, but Chandor has risen so quickly in the ranks that they’ll be fighting over this way.
The Gist: After garnering a screenplay Oscar nomination for the vastly underrated 2011
Wall Street drama “Margin Call”, Chandor returned last year with a
subtler, but nonetheless acclaimed film, “All is Lost,” starring a silent Robert Redford. It got snubbed by Oscar, so perhaps the third time is the charm with the highly anticipated crime drama “A Most Violent Year,” later this year. With Isaac and Chastain, no less, in front of the camera, it focuses on 1981—one of the most violent years in New York City’s history (hence the title).
My Old Lady
Who Made It: Israel Horovitz
Who’s In It: Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas, Dominique Pinon
Where It Might Premiere: Has Toronto written all over it.
The Gist: The ever-popular Maggie Smith stars in the directorial debut of Israel Horovitz, a film about an American (Kline) who inherits an apartment in Paris that comes with an unexpected resident (Smith). The film is in the can and ready to find some of the same box office that has met Smith with “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Quartet,” the latter of which premiered in Toronto. Fun fact: Smith and Kristin Scott Thomas play mother and daughter in the film, the second time they’ve done so after “Keeping Mum.”
Who Made It: Dan Gilroy
Who’s In It: Jake Gyllenhaal, Bill Paxton, Rene Russo
Where It Might Premiere: Toronto
The Gist: After a bidding war broke out from footage shown at Cannes (Open Road won it, in the end), buzz has been big for “Nightcrawler,” which follows a young man (Gyllenhaal) who stumbles upon the underground world of L.A. freelance crime journalism. Directed by the younger brother of “Michael Clayton” director Tony Gilroy, it makes complete sense that it will pop up on the festival circuit, with Toronto definitely the safe predictive bet.
Who Made It: Ramin Bahrani
Who’s In It: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, Tim Guinee
Where It Might Premiere: Like his last film “At Any Price” in Venice?
The Gist: Andrew Garfield is out of his Spiderman suit and in “99 Homes,” Ramin Bahrani’s attempt to make up for the tepid response of his last film “At Any Price.” The film follows a father who struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real estate broker who’s the source of his frustration. And beyond Garfield, it stars Michael Shannon and Laura Dern, which is alone enough reason to be curious about a film.
Who Made It: Christian Petzold
Who’s In It: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Uwe Preuss, Nina Kunzendorf
Where It Might Premiere: Venice.
The Gist: German director Petzold follows up his universally acclaimed 2012 film “Barbara” with “Phoenix,” the story of a Holocaust survivor who comes home to try and find out if her husband betrayed her. With Petzold’s “Barbara” Nina Hoss in the lead, this sounds like it could be quite the showcase, the kind of highly anticipated world cinema any of these festivals would be happy to have.
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting On Existence
Who Made It: Roy Andersson
Who’s In It: Holger Andersson, Nisse Vestblom
Where It Might Premiere: Venice.
The Gist: Everyone seemed certain this was heading to Cannes this year, but it didn’t turn up, making it all the more anticipated for the fall festival circuit (where it surely will debut in Venice?). After all, Swedish director Roy Andersson has only
made four feature films over the span of his 45 year career, so
it’s safe to say a new one will be the kind of event any festival will want to
host. From his 1970 romance film “A Swedish Love Story” to his 2000
feature “Songs from the Second Floor,” Andersson is world cinema royalty, and he will finally be
making his way back to the screen with “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch
Reflecting on Existence.” Focused on two men, a salesman and a guy who’s
not-exactly-with-it, the film’s premise is relatively vague. Still,
based on Andersson’s track record it’s undeniably something to look
Queen of the Desert
Who Made It: Werner Herzog
Who’s In It: James Franco, Robert Pattinson, Nicole Kidman
Where It Might Premiere: Another likely bet for Venice. It’s been in post since March, so it all seems likely.
The Gist: Um, so James Franco and Robert Pattinson are starring in a Werner Herzog film. About Gertrude Bell. Who is played by Nicole Kidman. That’s all you need.
La Rançon de la Gloire
Who Made It: Xavier Beauvois
Who’s In It: Peter Coyote, Nadine Labaki, Olivier Rabourdin, Chiara Mastroianni
Where It Might Premiere: Venice would make sense.
The Gist: While many
of the films on this list have A-list American stars to give them an
extra push in the right direction, some of them rely entirely on their
offbeat storytelling. One such film in particular is Xavier Beauvois’ “La Rançon de la Gloire”
a film about a cash-struck man in 1970s Europe who has been recently
released from prison and gets the brilliant idea to kidnap the corpse of
revered comedic actor Charlie Chaplin in order to sell it back to his
family for a hefty ransom. It would mark Beavois’s first film after his award winning “Of Gods and Men” in 2010, and
we’d be happy to see what he has in store.
Who Made It: Jon Stewart (yes, that Jon Stewart)
Who’s In It: Gael García Bernal, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Dimitri Leonidas
Where It Might Premiere: Toronto seems to make the most sense (he showed footage for buyers there last year, and it has a Canadian connection).
The Gist: “The Daily Show” might arrive on the festival circuit should
host Jon Stewart make his way there with his directorial
debut, “Rosewater.” The comic took a leave of absence from his day job
July of last year. Written by Stewart, Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molly, and based on
Maziar Bahari’s 2011 memoir “Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of
Love, Captivity, and Survival,” the film centers on an Iranian-Canadian
journalist (Bernal) detained in Tehran for over 100 days during the 2009
presidential election in Iran.
Squirrels To The Nuts
Who Made It: Peter
Who’s In It: Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, Will Forte and Cybill
Where It Might Premiere: Toronto?
The Gist: It’s been well over a decade since
seminal American filmmaker (and sometime Indiewire blogger) Bogdonavich directed a narrative feature, and even as he’s remained busy
with journalistic pursuits and documentary work, it’s hard not to
wonder what sort of stories the man behind “The Last Picture Show” could
tell today. Wonder no longer: Aided by producers Wes Anderson and Noah
Baumbach, “Squirrels to the Nuts” finds Bogdonavich returning to the
screwball comedy genre that he explored so well with the likes of “Paper
Moon” and “What’s Up, Doc?” in the early seventies. With a high-profile
cast, in addition to a screenplay co-written by Bogdonavich and
ex-wife Louise Stratten, the project — in which Wilson plays a Broadway
director who falls in love with a prostitute — holds the potential to
realize some of Bodgdonavich’s old school charm with a fresh set of
faces. It wrapped shooting almost a year ago, so it’s definitely good to go.
Who Made It: Theodore Melfi
Who’s In It: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd
Where It Might Premiere: Toronto or Telluride.
The Gist: From his own Blacklisted script,
filmmaker Theodore Melfi makes his directorial debut with “St. Vincent
De Van Nuys,” which finds none other than Bill Murray playing the the
title character, a misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran who
becomes an unlikely mentor to the boy who lives next door (it could very well net Murray his second Oscar nomination). Melissa
McCarthy plays the boy’s mother, while Naomi Watts turns up as a Russian
prostitute who develops a close relationship with St. Vincent. The
script was compared to the likes of “As Good As It Gets” and “Silver
Linings Playbook,” so it could very well be an Oscar trick up The Weinstein Company’s sleeve this year.
Watch the trailer below and see for yourself:
Who Made It: Saul Dibb
Who’s In It: Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Riley, Margot Robbie, Ruth Wilson
Where It Might Premiere: Toronto or Telluride
The Gist: Based on the novel of the same name
set in 1940s France, the source material has a pretty dramatic
backstory: the Jewish-Russian born author Irene Nemirovsky planned a
five-novel cycle beginning in 1940, just as forces overran northern
France. In the summer of 1942, Nemirovsky, who had converted to
Catholicism, was shipped to Auschwitz and the two completed parts of
Nemirovsky’s planned cycle were discovered only six decades later.
Though a film based on Nemirovsky’s story sounds compelling, so does the
book which Nemirovsky finished, on which the film is based. “Suite
Francaise” tells the story of a woman who falls for a
German officer posted in the town as she awaits her prison-of-war
husband’s return. The cast, with Williams playing the woman
opposite Schoenaerts as her lover, should bring this strong
material to life. Given it’s a
Weinstein Company release, the Oscar push has more or less already started, and Telluride or Toronto would both be nice places to make it official.
The Theory of Everything
Who Made It: James Marsh
Who’s In It: Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson
Where It Might Premiere: We’d bet Toronto.
The Gist: A look at the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking (Redmayne) and his wife (Jones), this is definitely a film with awards season hopes, and given how competitive this season is, it’ll likely need a festival boost. But here’s hoping if that happens, it delivers, and gives Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones the awards attention that has escape their worthy performances in the past.
Who Made It: Rupert Goold
Who’s In It: Jonah Hill, James Franco, Maria Dizzia, Felicity Jones (again!)
Where It Might Premiere: Sounds like Toronto to us.
The Gist: James Franco makes his third and final appearance on this list in this drama centered around the relationship between journalist Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) and Christian Longo (Franco), an FBI Most Wanted List murderer who for years lived outside the U.S. under Finkel’s name. It’s a pretty intriguing project, and the first dramatic pairing of Hill and Franco, reunited after “This is the End.” The big question mark is director Goold, who is making his debut here after directing a couple of British Shakespeare adaptations for television. Which is kind of intriguing in itself.
Who Made It: Benoit Jacquot
Who’s In It: Chiara Mastroianni, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Catherine Deneuve (!)
Where It Might Premiere: Venice.
The Gist: Not much is known about the film other than it pairs mother and daughter Mastroianni and Deneuve with Charlotte Gainsbourg, but that is more than enough to get us excited for Jacquot’s follow-up for “Farewell My Queen,” which seems all but certain to debut in Venice.
Who Made It: Stephen Daldry
Who’s In It: Rooney Mara, Martin Sheen, Wagner Moura, Selton Mello
Where It Might Premiere: Toronto seems like a good fit.
The Gist: Stephen Daldry’s latest is based on Andy Mulligan’s novel, and follows three Brazilian kids who make a discovery in a garbage dump and then soon find themselves running from the cops and trying to right a wrong. Kids plus Daldry has equaled Oscar noms in the past with “Billy Elliot” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” and in fact, Daldry has yet to have a film not be nominated for either best picture or best director. So why not kick off his attempt to continue that streak in the awards season launching ground of Toronto?
Who Made It: Angelina Jolie
Who’s In It: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Glesson, Garret Hedlund, Jai Courtney
Where It Might Premiere: Tough call. It could hold out for its Christmas release, or just play Telluride, or be one of New York’s big gets. Either way: this will be a big deal.
The Gist: From a script by the Coen Brothers, Angelina Jolie steps behind the camera for this chronicle of the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II. The film has a whole lot of things going for it, and if it’s as good as it could be, having festival reviews drum up buzz would definitely be worth it. Jolie is a big sell in front of the camera, but this is the kind of film that’s going to need critical support and awards season love to turn into a hit.
While We’re Young or Untitled Public School Project
Who Made Them: Noah Baumbach
Who’s In Them: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfriend are in “Young,” while “Untitled” stars Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke and Rob Yang
Where They Might Premiere: Maybe one, maybe both, maybe neither could premiere at pretty much any of the four festivals under discussion.
The Gist: Two years after “Frances Ha” debuted on the fall festival circuit, Noah Baumbach
re-teams with “Greenberg” star Ben Stiller for a $10 million Scott Rudin
production (“While We’re Young”) about an uptight documentary filmmaker (wait, Ben Stiller
playing someone uptight?) and his wife (Naomi Watts) who try to loosen
up a bit by befriending a free spirited younger couple (Adam Driver and
Amanda Seyfried). It’s a great cast, and Baumbach is clearly on a roll
as of late. The film doesn’t have a release date yet (but is in post-production) — and Baumbach
also is in post-production on “Untitled Public School Project” with
Greta Gerwig — but one way or another, we’ll get us some more Baumbach
(or double the Baumbach) by year’s end — and maybe on the festival circuit as well?
Who Made It: Jean-Marc Vallée
Who’s In It: Reese Witherspoon, Gaby Hoffmann, Laura Dern
Where It Might Premiere: Telluride or Toronto
The Gist: Jean-Marc Vallée follows up his Oscar-winning Toronto Film Fest debut “Dallas Buyers Club” with another attempt at awards season ranks: “Wild,” an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about one woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent catastrophe. Reese Witherspoon — desperately seeking a hit as of late — stars, and Fox Searchlight has already picked it up for a December release. A stop on the festival circuit beforehand seems like a safe bet.