The Venice Film Festival has a proven track record for delivering Oscar contenders. Last year, the line-up for the storied showcase included Best Picture hopefuls Dune and The Power of the Dog, as well as Spencer, The Lost Daughter and Parallel Mothers, all three of which earned their leading ladies—Kristen Stewart, Olivia Colman and Penélope Cruz—Best Actress nods.
Due to land on the Lido this time around for the festival’s 79th edition? The long-delayed Marilyn Monroe biopic starring Ana de Armas as the ’50s bombshell, Olivia Wilde’s eerie new thriller centred on Harry Styles and Florence Pugh, and a Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell-led coming-of-age saga following two teenage cannibals. Ahead of opening night on 31 August, these are the 11 releases to look out for.
Taking the prestigious opening slot is Noah Baumbach, whose first project since Marriage Story is this zany adaptation of Don DeLillo’s seminal novel about a Hitler Studies professor (Adam Driver) and his beleaguered wife (Greta Gerwig) whose lives are threatened by an airborne toxic event. Expect razor sharp dialogue and lashings of existential dread.
Could this sweeping, semi-autobiographical mood piece tracking a journalist and documentarian’s journey home to Mexico to grapple with a familial crisis be Alejandro G Iñárritu’s Roma? Considering the auteur’s status as a bonafide Oscars favourite (he won back to back Best Director statuettes for his last two features, 2014’s Birdman and 2015’s The Revenant), it seems more than likely.
After more than a decade of rewrites, recastings and swirling controversy, Andrew Dominik’s evocative tearjerker finally arrives on screen, with Ana de Armas disappearing entirely into the role of Marilyn Monroe as she struggles to cope under the glare of the spotlight. Add Bobby Cannavale as her second husband Joe DiMaggio, Adrien Brody as her third husband Arthur Miller, meticulous production design, stunning costumes and luminous cinematography, and you have a potential awards season juggernaut.
Florian Zeller’s follow-up to the ruminative, heartbreaking The Father is another cinematic rendering of one of his critically-acclaimed plays from his trilogy about fraught family dynamics: the tale of a striver, played by the charming Hugh Jackman, whose idyllic life with his partner and baby is upended by the arrival of his ex-wife and depressed teenage son. Rounding out the predictably starry cast? Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby and Anthony Hopkins, whose masterful performance in the director’s feature debut secured him a Best Actor Oscar.
Don’t Worry Darling
A candy-coloured mind-bender set in a utopian commune in the Californian desert, Olivia Wilde’s psychological chiller sees Florence Pugh and Harry Styles embody a picture-perfect ’50s couple whose unbridled passion for one another turns to suspicion when the former begins to fear that something sinister lurks beneath their carefree existence. Prepare for jump scares, glorious interiors, spectacular fashion and Chris Pine as the menacing mastermind behind the whole operation.
The Eternal Daughter
Frequent collaborators and lifelong friends Joanna Hogg and Tilda Swinton reunite for this riveting, Martin Scorsese-produced mystery charting an artist and her elderly mother’s journey back to the dilapidated manor that was once their home. As long-buried secrets emerge, they find themselves haunted by their past and everything they’ve left behind.
Bones And All
Luca Guadagnino brings his lyrical, painterly touch to Camille DeAngelis’s compelling novel about a pair of drifters who dabble in cannibalism, fall in love and embark on an epic cross-country road trip. Taking on the lead role is Waves breakout Taylor Russell, aided by eternal heartthrob Timothée Chalamet in his first collaboration with the director since Call Me By Your Name.
From The Wrestler to Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky’s obsession with dramatic physical transformations has always been apparent, but his latest drama features the most startling one yet: Brendan Fraser’s metamorphosis into a reclusive English teacher suffering from severe obesity. Having lost touch with his teenage daughter (Sadie Sink) after abandoning his family for a male lover who later died, prompting him to binge eat out of pain, we follow him as he attempts to rebuild his relationship with her in a bid to redeem himself.
Three-time Oscar nominee Todd Field’s first film in 16 years is this symphonic account of a renowned conductor, played by a barnstorming Cate Blanchett, who is days away from recording a new piece of work which is set to take her career to thrilling new heights. Its enigmatic teaser—which shows the actor exhaling plumes of smoke—has been enough to send our expectations soaring.
Legendary screenwriter and director Paul Schrader is showing no signs of slowing down. The proof? When he arrives on the Lido to accept his Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, the auteur will also be premiering his beguiling new crime thriller. At its centre is Joel Edgerton as the titular horticulturist whose employer (Sigourney Weaver) orders him to take her troubled great niece (Quintessa Swindell) on as an apprentice, a move which has disastrous consequences for everyone involved.
The Banshees of Inisherin
An absurdist tragicomedy which plays out on the windswept hillsides, beaches and pubs of western Ireland, Martin McDonagh’s ’20s-set character study casts Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two friends who find themselves at an impasse when the latter suddenly cuts off contact with the former. His decision prompts a town-wide schism and, eventually, a descent into violence that echoes the Irish Civil War, which rages on in the background.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.