The 79th edition of the Venice International Film Festival came to a close Saturday evening as the jury gathered to hand out prizes to the films in competition in a ceremony hosted by Rocio Munoz Morales.
The jury, led by Julianne Moore, is selecting the winners from 23 films in competition that included many Oscar hopefuls. The Oscar-winner presided over a jury that included French director Audrey Diwan, whose film “Happening” won the Golden Lion last year, author Kazuo Ishiguro (“Never Let Me Go”) and Iranian actor Leila Hatami (“A Separation”). Also on the main jury were Italian director Leonardo Di Costanzo (“The Inner Cage”) Argentinian filmmaker Mariano Cohn (“Official Competition”) and Rodrigo Sorogoyen (“The Candidate”).
Premiering in competition at Venice has launched many successful Oscar campaigns in recent years, leading to nominations and even wins. Seven times in the last nine years the best director Oscar has gone to a film that world premiered at the festival, including Chloé Zhao, Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro G. Iñarritu, twice, Guillermo del Toro and Damien Chazelle. It’s also debuted a handful future best picture winners like “Nomadland,” “The Shape of Water” and “Birdman.”
The festival cemented several films, actors and directors, as strong awards contenders for the season to come. Brendan Fraser moved many to tears for his portrayal of Charlie, a reclusive English teacher who weighs 600 pounds and is attempting to mend things with his estranged, cruel daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink) in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale.” Cate Blanchett also got universal raves for her turn in Todd Field’s “TÁR,” an intelligent drama about a renowned conductor at the top of her game in the world of international whose reputation suddenly comes under threat.
Aside from awards, it was a Venice for the books, with high glamour from Timothée Chalamet, who stunned in a red backless halter neck from Haider Ackermann, and Florence Pugh, looking the part of a movie star in a sheer tulle off the shoulder Valentino that slyly evoked both classic romanticism and playful modernity, and high drama, mostly around Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling.” The behind-the-scenes intrigue on Wilde’s film led to some excessive silliness as the world watched the cast’s every move for clues, from where people were seated, to who looked at who during the premiere.
Chris Pine even became an unlikely meme for various shots of him looking zoned out at a press conference. Then came “spit-gate” where onlookers turned into amateur sleuths trying to determine whether or not Harry Styles spit on Pine before the world premiere of the film (he didn’t). As ever, Venice gets people talking.
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr
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