They Shoot Oscar Prognosticators, Don't They?

Fall Film Festival Preview

By J. Don Birnam

August 30, 2017

What is this? A school for ants?

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The lineup for the 44th Telluride Film Festival drops on Thursday night, August 31st, and the Venice Film Festival kicked off the official beginning of the awards season on Wednesday afternoon with Alexander Payne’s Downsizing. We are off to the races, folks! Let’s take a look at what we can expect from the next movie premiere-heavy two weeks.

Don’t forget to follow here for live coverage of these festivals as they begin in just a few days! Twitter: @jdonbirnam Instagram: @awards_predix

Venice: A True Beginning to Oscar Season

I began this year’s Oscar coverage last week by noting that, at most, maybe Dunkirk has a Best Picture spot - and with a special preview at TIFF announced now to celebrate the 50th anniversary of IMAX, you know that Warner is making a strong push.

But in just a few days (hours, really) you can bet your horses that the 74th Venice Film Festival will have had something to say about that. Just look at the lineups that last year alone came out of the Lido


So what’s in store there for this year? Their showcase/opener will be Alexander Payne’s movie Downsizing, which includes a star-studded cast from Matt Damon to Kristen Wiig and past-Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, and asks you to imagine what would happen if scientists discover a way to shrink humans to five inches tall.

Other big names that are expected to make big splashes in Italy are Guillermo del Toro with The Shape of Water, a return to the crowd for him after ten or so years of Pan’s Labyrinth? Darren Aronofksy (who always goes there), with his Jennifer Lawrence thriller mother!, and George Clooney in his directorial debut, Suburbicon. The Frances McDormand drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri will also be in Venice. You really have to expect that one of those is going to win Best Picture, if past history is any guidance, and at the very least you’re looking at a list of nominees.

Telluride: Heavy Weight Oscar Contenders

While Venice has had the eventual Best Picture premiere in several times of its last few years, Telluride is no slouch. Last year, I had the privilege of watching the
world premiere of Moonlight there, a movie which of course went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars.

But it’s not just its premieres that make Telluride stand out—they really have their finger on the Academy’s taste. Last year, they also showed La La Land and Arrival, both in North American premieres, and brought back Manchester by the Sea from Sundance. Essentially, then, they showed case all the winners in all major Oscar categories, except for Fences, which gave Viola Davis her Oscar and did not premiere until December.

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