After premiering three major Academy Award winners in a row, the world’s oldest film fest is once again Hollywood’s awards-season launchpad.
The past few years, while Toronto bickered with Telluride over which festival could screen which premiere when and where, Venice — after some decidedly lackluster editions — took the high road and worked on improving. The result? It’s back on top after a scorecard that saw successful Oscar wins for Venice premieres three years in a row: Gravity, Birdman and, last year, Spotlight. Hollywood has taken notice. The festival is filled with studio titles this year, which means the red carpet will be filled with A-list talent. The four premieres that already are garnering awards buzz:
With Venice proving to be a good luck charm at the Oscars, one young contender seems to be taking the hint. Damien Chazelle is following up his 2014 best picture nominee Whiplash with festival opener La La Land. The musical stars Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist who falls in love with an aspiring actress (Emma Stone). The Venice committee, after watching the film, immediately offered Lionsgate the opening slot. “I was so honored to get the invitation to open Venice,” says Chazelle. “It’s the kind of place that seems to belong in a dream. That’s the feeling I wanted to capture with this movie: the way things look and sound in a dream, the magic and the romance of it all.”
Chazelle adds that it was a natural choice to follow up his critically acclaimed Whiplash with the challenging genre of the musical. “The thing I love about musicals is that everything is possible. You can combine all the arts — music, dance, painting, theater — to collectively produce an emotion that can’t be conveyed by words,” he says. “I wanted to try and make a film that told an honest, intimate story but also allowed for that kind of big-screen moviemaking.”
Festival director Alberto Barbera believes that the film, a tribute to old Hollywood musicals, is a natural candidate for the Oscars. “It has all the elements,” he says. “It’s a wonderful story, a classic film. It’s extremely well done with two outstanding lead performances. You have to go back to the ’60s and ’70s to see something that is similar to those performances. It has beautiful music, beautiful dance performances. Everything in the film is definitely outstanding.”
While Lionsgate is planning a big launch at the festival, unfortunately Gosling will not be present, as he couldn’t escape filming duties for Blade Runner 2. Stone will be back in Venice after her 2014 success withBirdman led her to an Oscar nomination.
Read full article on Hollywood Reporter.