One of the last major film festivals of the season, the New York Film Festival, kicks off its two-week-plus run on September 28—bringing many of year’s festival favorites to the city, while world-premiering a couple of bigger titles. Though less of an awards campaign stop than Telluride or Toronto, what happens at NYFF can still help clarify the Oscar field. Let’s take a look at where things stand as Lincoln Center gets ready to take focus.
The New Stuff
In years past, NYFF has held world premieres for at least three big titles over the course of the festival. Movies like 20th Century Women, The Lost City of Z, Gone Girl, and Inherent Vice were first seen by the public at Alice Tully Hall—tony films that weren’t necessarily huge Oscar players, but certainly were at “prestige” level.
This year, there are really only two films that fit into that particular category. The opening-night film is Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying, a dramedy about aging Vietnam vets reuniting after many years to attend the funeral of one of man’s son, who was killed in the Iraq war. It is said to be a sequel to Hal Ashby’s 1973 film The Last Detail, though some names and plot details have been changed. The film stars Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, and Laurence Fishburne, all previous Oscar nominees who may be hungry for an overdue win.
Linklater has of course had success at getting to the Oscars before; his screenplays have been nominated three times, and he was shortlisted as a director for Boyhood. I’m not sure Last Flag Flying is as promising, awards-wise, as Boyhood was, but there could still be something there. The film seems both solemn and lively, honoring military service while questioning the motives of war. So that could hit an Academy sweet spot, satisfying both the more conservative oldsters and the younger, leftier types. The film’s best bets are probably the screenplay category or supporting actor, though which actor gets tipped for that is hard to say. (I’d guess Fishburne or Carell.)
Speaking of hard to say, Woody Allen has a new movie premiering at NYFF. It’s a period drama called Wonder Wheel, set in 1950s Coney Island and starring Kate Winslet, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake, and Jim Belushi. Yes, you did read those last two names correctly. Allen has a long and fruitful track record of getting his actors nominations and wins, so it’s entirely possible that Winslet, Temple, or Belushi could be in the mix this year. (Sorry, Justin.) If Winslet’s put in lead, she’d be a big stone to drop into that crowded pond, though the biggest rock of ‘em all, Meryl Streep—starring in Steven Spielberg’s yet-to-be-see Pentagon Papers movie The Papers—is still to come.
Of course, there’s still the matter of Allen’s personal life, which comes up every time he has a movie out (so, every year). Yet the constant controversy does not seem to have dimmed his esteem in the Academy. Wonder Wheel appears to be his most substantial movie since 2013’s Oscar-winning Blue Jasmine, which came two years after Oscar-winning Midnight in Paris, which came three years after Oscar-winning Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which came three years after Oscar-nominated Match Point. So there’s something of a pattern there. If we follow it, it would seem a Woody Allen movie is just about due for some awards recognition.
The Festival Holdovers
Based on anecdotal evidence, Call Me By Your Name, which first premiered all the way back in January on a snowy evening in Park City, Utah, is one of the hottest tickets at NYFF. Which isn’t all that surprising—there are a lotta gays in New York City! That buzz could mean big things for the film, which is making one of its final festival stops before opening in theaters in November. Or it could lead to a lot of people feeling let down, the film falling victim to overhype.
Awards forecasters are all over the place on CMBYN’s chances. Some say it’s a lock for a best picture nomination; others say it’s too small or arty or whatever. I’ve seen Timothée Chalamet on some best actor shortlists and not on others. So who knows! Hopefully NYFF will help settle some of that confusion. But also, awards aren’t everything. Mostly I just want people to like the film, and the response at NYFF—with its sophisticated, progressive attendees—is likely to be positive.
Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird enjoyed a good late-summer run at the Telluride and Toronto festivals, only gaining in stature as it went. So we’ll see how it goes over in New York. I suspect the praise will be as effusive as it’s been elsewhere. (Gerwig will almost certainly overshadow her partner Noah Baumbach, who’s brought his The Meyerowitz Stories to New York from Cannes, before it’s unceremoniously dumped on Netflix in a couple weeks.) After Toronto, Lady Bird suddenly shot up to likely-best-picture-nominee status, as did Saoirse Ronan’s lead performance. I’m not entirely certain that wasn’t just festival fever getting to people’s heads, but Gerwig’s screenplay is definitely in contention, as is Laurie Metcalf’s sterling supporting turn. The film’s bow at NYFF will likely only increase that momentum.
The Florida Project ought to play well in New York, which could give the Sean Baker film’s best awards chance, supporting player Willem Dafoe, a nice boost. I’m very excited to finally see The Rider, director Chloe Zhao’s lauded docu-drama film about a down-on-his luck rodeo man, which I’ve managed to miss at every other festival it’s played at—and where it’s steadily gained a reputation as one of the best films of the year. I don’t think it’s necessarily an Oscar contender, but again: awards aren’t everything! (Even though we often make it seem like they are.)
Past that, I’m excited for more people to see the terrific AIDS activism drama BPM (Beats Per Minute), which won second prize at Cannes. It’s a really special film, which France is submitting as its foreign language Academy Awards selection. The film seemed to play well in Toronto, but its press screening overlapped with Call Me By Your Name, a cruel gay coincidence that kept many potentially friendly journalists away from it. So I’m glad it’s getting another big showcase in Manhattan.
One last outlier is Todd Haynes’s Wonderstruck, which premiered at Cannes to a positive-to-mixed reception, had a similar fate at Telluride, and skipped Toronto. Though he lives in Oregon now, Haynes is beloved by New York; his 2015 film Carol received a positively rapturous response at NYFF. Though it’s very different from Carol, perhaps Wonderstruck will be embraced here too. It is a very New York-y film, after all. And though we East Coasters often groan about Hollywood blindly loving movies about Hollywood, New York loves movies about the magic of New York, too.
Though it’s been a few years since they’ve done it, the New York Film Festival has been known in the past to hold a “secret” screening of film that’s not on the official lineup. Recently, Lincoln and Les Miserables made their world premieres in this fashion, before going on to win Oscars. There’s been no indication that anything is planned this year, but who knows! Daniel Day Lewis was in Lincoln, and he’s got Paul Thomas Anderson’s mysterious fashion world movie set to come out at the end of the year, before he retires and moves back to his home planet. Maybe the New York Film Festival will give him a grand send-off. Or, hey, Hugh Jackman starred in Les Miserables, and he’s in the hotly anticipated (by me, anyway) circus musical The Greatest Showman. Perhaps NYFF will honor its history with one of these actors and give us a sneak peek. It’s doubtful at this point, but here’s hoping.
This News Credit Goes To >> Source link