A Most Violent Year
"A Most Violent Year"

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

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:

Big Eyes
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 Burton.


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.