4 Must-Watch Movies From The 2019 Venice Film Festival

With this year’s Venice Film Festival finally wrapped up, the 11-day movie festival saw numerous movies screened in different categories. But it goes without saying that the most anticipated category is the main festival competition, which saw some of the year’s most anticipated release.

The catch of the Venice Film Festival is that it serves as a predictive tool for films that might get nominated or even win at the Academy Awards, which will be held at February 9, 2020 (The Shape of Water won the Golden Lion before finally winning the Academy Award’s Best Picture)

Here are DAMAN’s picks for the upcoming movies you should watch out for—the top contenders at the festival’s 76th edition:

1. Ad Astra

Ad Astra follows astronaut Major Roy McBride, played by Brad Pitt, who is sent to space in search of his lost father who he barely knows apart from hearing his stories. After a series of unexplained cosmic rays that threaten life on Earth, it is believed that his father, played by Tommy Lee Jones, might be responsible for the events since he went AWOL years earlier. Alongside Pitt and Jones, Ad Astra will star Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, and Donald Sutherland. Xan Brooks of The Guardian called the movie “a superb space-opera” and praises Pitt’s understated performance which “hardly looks like acting at all”, and the movie itself a five out of five. With the movie already called out as being one of the best movies to premier from the festival, we’ll have to see whether James Gray ambition of filming “the most realistic depiction of space travel that’s been put in a movie” is true or not in September.

2. Marriage Story

Romance—like most movie genres—have long developed into bringing up deeper, heavier aspects of the theme. In this Netflix movie, Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson star as a couple Charlie and Nicole as they navigate through their separation and sees them try to raise their 8-year-old son. Charlie is a New York theatre director who is career is on the rise (pretty much like him in Hollywood) but whose work life often comes in the way of his personal life, particularly of those around him such as his wife Nicole (Johansson). Another fun part of the movie is seeing Ray Liotta and Laura Dern facing each other as Charlie and Nicole’s lawyer. If you happen to be one of the movie goers who digs this kind of romantic coming of age drama, than Marriage Story is a must watch.

Also read: The 76th Venice International Film Festival Best-Dressed Men

3. Joker

After its premier, the long awaited and much hyped movie seemed to lived up to its expectation after receiving an 8-minute standing ovation and eventually bringing home the Golden Lion award—the festival’s highest accolade—making it the strongest contender to win an award at the upcoming Academy Awards. In Joker, Todd Philips presents Gotham’s prince of darkness origin story; how Arthur Fleck, an optimistic kind-hearted yet struggling stand-up comedian who’s been treated badly by society, spirals into the homicidal chaotic clown figure notoriously that would become Batman’s eternal archnemesis. From the media buzz its generating, it seems that it will be more than just a movie about the Joker’s upbringing as it delves into also dark territories of human psychology as well as society and politics in what NME’s Greg Wetherall claims as an “instant classic” and a five out of five review.

4. An Officer And A Spy

After the release of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time…in Hollywood”, the world should be remembered that once there was the hottest foreign director living in Hollywood that is Roman Polanski. After his long years of avoiding the spotlight, the controversial director is making his return in this year’s Venice film festival. An Officer and A Spy is a screenplay by Polanski and long time collaborator Robert Harris based on Harris’s 2013 novel of the same name about the Dreyfus affairs. Alfred Dreyfus, portrayed by Louis Garrel, was a Jewish captain in the French general staff who saw his spotless reputation tarnished when he was accused of selling military secrets to the Germans. When he was convicted, Dreyfus was exiled to Devil’s Island off the South American coast. David Sexton from the Evening Standard said that the movie is “an absolute masterclass in how to make a historical film”, and viewers were quick to spot the film as Polanski expression of drawing parallels between his situation with Dreyfus. The movie also received a standing ovation, so it’s safe to say we can expect a strong return from Polanski to the limelight.