Tuesday, August 03, 2010

NYFF Predictions: Hollywood Vs. Cannes

Helen Mirren in The Tempest

With the announcement only about a week away, its time for some educated guesswork on what will be at this year’s New York Film Festival. Richard Pena and crew have already made two off-key announcements: the festival will open with David Fincher’s The Social Network (aka “The Facebook Movie”) and the centerpiece selection will be Julie Taymour’s The Tempest, which has an all star cast led by Helen Mirren in the title, now gender-bending role.
            The two choices make for interesting news because NYFF has been known to stick away from big stars in favor of international and more obscure pictures, but this caused a series of backlashes last year. Both The Social Network and The Tempest seem to show either outside pressure on the committee or the committee itself, which has now added ex-Vareity film critic Todd McCarthy, has decided to stick more mainstream. The decision also might be effected by the lack of Cannes films desired. This festival was not well received, and although certain films will sure make the NYFF cut, I’m sure the lack of dynamic films has caused the committee to search toward Hollywood films. As always, there are sure to be a handful of Asian and Latin American autuers as well.

So below are my picks for what we will probably see next week:

For Sure In

Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami: Kiarostami is beloved by NYFF and his most mainstream picture to date, at least due to the fact that the film is in English and stars Juliette Binoche, should make it an easy contender.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Like Kiarostami, the Thai director better know as “Joe” is a staple at the festival, and NYFF has had the Palm D’Or winner at the festival for as long as I can remember.
Juliette Binoche in Certified Copy

Film Socialisme, Jean-Luc Godard: If the committee does include a bunch of America star studded pictures, I could see the backhand coming with Jean-Luc Godard’s latest film, which exploded at Cannes like no other due to its simply confounding nature. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Film Socialisme is featured with other classic Godard films to highlight his 50 years in cinema.

Carlos, Olivier Assayas: NYFF is never afraid of epics; Che played two years ago, and all three parts of the Red Riding trilogy last year. Add to the fact that Olivier Assayas is a stape at the festival, and the film is much more accessible than his past films, and you’ve got a guaranteed entry.

Another Year, Mike Leigh: The British auteur is another NYFF favorite, though I could see this one being skipped over for something either less obscure, or perhaps more obscure. Most likely the committee will invite him for another run at the fest.


Poetry, Lee Chang-dong: This Korean film won best screenplay at Cannes this year, and although it did divide some critics, Lee is the kind of auteur that the committee revels behind. It seems like the kind of film a critic like Scott Foundas would champion.

The Housemaid
Housemaid, Im Sang-Soo: Richard Pena is a huge fan of Kim Ki-young’s original 1960 film, as well as Korean cinema in general, so I have a feeling he will try and push this onto the committee.

The Strange Case of Angelica, Manoel de OliveiraL Now at 101 years old, NYFF always seems to crave the latest film by the world’s oldest director.

Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance: This very well received indie-film starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling could make its way to Lincoln Center. I could see this being the equivalent to Precious last year where it’s the film’s performers that influence the committee.

Meek’s Cutoff, Kelly Reichardt: Richard Pena has championed Ms. Reichardt’s last two films, especially Wendy and Lucy, which is why her latest indie-drama, again with Michelle Williams, should make the cut.


Miral, Julian Schnabel: Mr. Schnabel might have made it with his last film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, but Miral, which stars Freida Pinto as a Palestinian woman, might be either too mainstream or too political to attract the same attention this time.

The Illusionist, Sylvain Chome: NYFF 2007 closed with the animated film Persepolis and I see no problem in bringing Sylvian Chome’s follow-up to The Triplets of Belville, which features a lost screenplay by Jacques Tati.

Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life
Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky: If there is another American auteur that NYFF has championed, it is the director of The Wrestler (NYFF 08 Closer) and The Fountain. His new film, a thriller set in the world of New York ballet, might be the kind of dark yet mainstream picture NYFF is hoping to add this year.

Start Praying Now

The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick: Malick’s fifth film, which deals with the beginning of time as well as a family drama starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, has skipped over Cannes, and then Toronto and Venice. I’m sure NYFF would love the attention, but chances are slim on this very special film that Malick will refused to be rushed on. 

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