Look for Matt Damon to turn up on the Lido this year on August 30. That’s because he stars in writer-director Alexander Payne’s comedy “Downsizing,” which will open the Venice International Film Festival, in competition. And Paramount is putting its money down that Payne’s latest will come out of the fall festival season as one of the top contenders in this year’s Oscars race. Payne also directed Oscar contenders “Sideways” and “Nebraska.”
Damon plays an ordinary suburbanite who convinces his wife (Kristen Wiig) to go small– and buy into a richer lifestyle. So they get shrunk. Laura Dern, Christoph Waltz and Jason Sudeikis costar.
Paramount may well decide to take Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” to Venice as well, if not Italy resident George Clooney’s “Suburbicon.” Venice is the first of the fall festivals to launch the official awards season, with Telluride and Toronto on its heels. All are jockeying, along with London and New York, for top world premieres.
Venice has a strong track record for pushing eventual Oscar winners into awards campaign mode, from Aronofsky’s “Black Swan,” Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity” and A.G. Inarritu’s “Birdman” to Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” last year.