5 Things to Know coming out of a big film festival weekend (part one)
The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off this Thursday following the Venice Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival, making it a very busy week for movie lovers and readers of awards season tea leaves. It’s hard to keep track of what exactly is happening with so many new films and what it might mean for this year’s Oscar race (yes, already!), but here are five takeaways. (Part two will unveil after TIFF.)
1. Darren Aronofsky’s mother! will cause a big loud chattering stir: It’s not really so surprising that Darren Aronofsky — auteur of films such as Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan — would make a film that would get people talking. This dark, disquieting psychological thriller, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, is sure to divide audience opinion as it did when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival to a reported mix of cheers and boos and WTF-fast flying tweets from attendees (read all the early takes here). It’s a clear sign that Aronofsky is a filmmaker doing something outrageously different and original. And, as someone who has seen the film, I can confirm it is. It’s probably better to go into the movie knowing as little as possible as there’s plenty of ways to interpret what exactly Aronofsky’s film is about — a portrait of what it’s like to be married to an artist? A reflection on the ills of society and state of the world? — but one thing is for sure: people will be talking (and talking) about this one and the performances are sure to be remembered as we begin our long march to March 2018. (Personally, I will not rest till I get an answer about the lower case “m” and exclamation point in the title from the man himself. Stay tuned.)
2. Former costars Christian Bale and Gary Oldman break out as frontrunners in the best actor race: Batman and Commissioner Gordon may well end up competing for gold if the Telluride Film Festival is any indication. Early reviewers have waxed poetic about Oldman’s (who has shockingly never won an Oscar) impeccable disappearing act into Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour. “I don’t think we’ll ever see anyone else do Churchill this well again unless the man himself comes back from the dead,” writes EW’s critic Chris Nashawaty. Meanwhile, Scott Cooper re-teams with Christian Bale in Hostiles which sees Bale starring as an Army captain in 1892 who must escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory. Cooper and Bale first worked together in the criminallyunderappreciated 2013 film Out of the Furnace and their work together on this one had critics raving. “The biggest draw is watching Bale do so much with seemingly so little. Every gesture feels authentic and real,” Nashawaty writes. “I understand that Westerns are a tough nut to crack for some, but Hostiles is one of the finest examples of the genre since Unforgiven. And just when you thought that you’d seen every weapon that an actor like Bale had in his arsenal, he somehow manages to surprise you yet again.” (You can read more on both of these films here.) Hostiles will arrive at the Toronto International Film Festival without distribution but do not be surprised to see it quickly snatched up and shuffled into this fall’s lineup. (Watch the stirring trailer below!)
3. Angelina Jolie is in the game: At the Telluride Film Festival, Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father — written by Jolie and Loung Ung based on Ung’s 2000 memoir about a young girl’s struggle during the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975-78 — got an enthusiastic standing ovation. The film is set to be released on Sept.15 on Netflix, and has plenty of Oscar prognosticators wondering if Jolie’s film could be a best foreign language entry for Cambodia and beyond. (Not for nothing, if you haven’t watched Jolie’s incredible directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, now is a good time.) And, she’s not the only female actress-turned-director getting some buzz….
4. Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird charms: Greta Gerwig has co-directed and collaborated with others before (with Joe Swanberg on Nights and Weekends and Noah Baumbach on Frances Ha and Mistress America). Her first solo outing behind the camera, Lady Bird — starring Saoirse Ronan as a restless California student who wants to shake off her her provincial trappings for a life on the East Coast — won over the Telluride audiences and looks to take Toronto by storm. Between this and the enthusiastic responses to Annette Bening in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes, Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water and Frances McDormand (in my personal favorite) Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri won’t it be nice that we’re going to have such a female centric fall? (And we haven’t even seen Meryl Streep in Steven Spielberg’s The Post yet!)
5. The Shape of Water is magic: Don’t we all go to the movies hoping to be enchanted? The first Venice audiences to see Guillermo del Toro’s new film were enraptured by this romantic dark fairy tale about a mute woman (Sally Hawkins) who meets a secret government asset, a sea creature, while cleaning at a top secret research lab. Audiences in Telluride were equally smitten. “The good news is The Shape of Water doesn’t disappoint. It’s pure movie magic – weird and wonderful,” writes Chris Nashawaty. Considering the year we’ve had in 2017, couldn’t we all use a little bit of this kind of romantic alchemy?
The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off later this week.