The 2022 Venice Film Festival (or Biennale) runs from August 31st until September 10th. It promises a typically eclectic line-up of art-house gems and Hollywood heavyweights with Tinseltown's glitziest set to descend on the famously picturesque canals and waterways. Competition, as ever, will be fierce for the festival's most coveted prize, the Golden Lion.
The advent of the Biennale also marks the advent of awards season, success at the Bienale often used as a bellwether of a film's chances at the Oscars. Without further ado, we've curated a list of eight movies that stand a strong chance of making a splash at both Venice and the 2023 Academy Awards.
Olivia Wilde scored a huge hit with her coming-of-age comedy Booksmart, released in 2019. She now levels up to tackle a darkly satirical and paranoid tale of 1950s suburban unrest, calling to mind the cult likes of The Stepford Wives.
The always-excellent Florence Pugh plays a housewife who suspects that her rigorously delineated suburban existence on a new housing development is concealing a dark secret. Pugh cooks up steamy chemistry with Harry Styles, who plays her on-screen husband, while the cast also includes Chris Pine, Wilde herself and Gemma Chan.
Don't Worry Darling (which is screening out of competition at Venice) is released at Cineworld on September 23rd.
Time to break out the swear jar again because Oscar-winning writer-director Martin McDonagh is back in town. The In Bruges and Three Billboards filmmaker is famously uncompromising for mixing salty language with heartfelt emotion and scenes of genuinely shocking provocation. His latest, The Banshees of Inisherin, promises all of that and more.
In Bruges duo Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play two lifelong mates on a remote Irish island who are torn asunder when one of them decides to call time on the friendship. Expect the threat of finger-severing and an excellent supporting cast including Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon.
The Banshees of Inisherin is set for release on October 21st.
3. Empire of Light
Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes downshifts from the extended take chaos of World War I drama 1917 to something altogether more gentle and bittersweet. Empire of Light is set in Brighton in the 1980s and revolves around the town's local arts cinema.
The cast is simply superb. Oscar winner Olivia Colman leads and is ably supported by Colin Firth, Toby Jones and Micheal Ward.
Empire of Light is set for release on January 13th 2023.
Cate Blanchett is one of the most transformative performers in cinema, and her latest role sounds mightily impressive. The Blue Jasmine Oscar winner plays renowned (fictional) conductor Lydia Tár in the new movie from director Todd Field (In the Bedroom; Little Children).
The teaser trailer gives a brief glimpse of Blanchett's ferocity and conviction as she's seen wielding the conductor's baton with gusto. A potential Best Actress frontrunner? We're calling it here.
TÁR is set for release on January 20th 2023.
5. The Whale
The Brendan Fraser renaissance (Brenaissance?) may not be starting with the sadly cancelled Batgirl movie. However, we can anticipate his sure-to-be-moving performance in Darren Aronofsky's The Whale, which is adapted from Samuel D. Hunter's play of the same name.
Fraser plays an obese English teacher who makes a last-ditch attempt to reconnect with his estranged daughter (played by Stranger Things' Sadie Sink). Aronofsky worked wonders in resurrecting Mickey Rourke's screen image with the tender/tough texture of The Wrestler, so can he perform a similar kind of feat with Fraser? We imagine so.
6. Bones & All
Director Luca Guadagnino and actor Timothée Chalamet reunite following their barnstorming success on the Oscar-winning romantic drama Call Me By Your Name. Indeed, romance is still the name of the game in Guadagino's latest, but it's not the conventional kind.
Chalamet plays a cannibalistic drifter who falls for Taylor Russell's conflicted loner in this adaptation of Camille DeAngelis' novel. Expect gore and gushing outpourings of love in equal measure with a supporting appearance from Oscar winner Mark Rylance.
7. The Son
Anthony Hopkins won his second Oscar for his devastating performance as an Alzheimer's-afflicted parent in Florian Zeller's stage adaptation The Father. The writer-director now presents his follow-up movie, itself adapted from the second in a trilogy of plays that also encompasses The Mother (the last of which currently hasn't been made into a movie).
Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern and Vanessa Kirby make up the strong ensemble with Hopkins mooted to be making an appearance.
Director Ti West's ghoulishly gory and inventive X is one of 2022's most entertaining horror offerings. But were you curious as to the backstory of the ailing, ageing and utterly demented serial killer Pearl? As played by actor Mia Goth in unrecognisable old-age make-up, Pearl certainly made a vivid, and grisly, impression.
We now spiral back to the young Pearl's backstory as she gets her first taste for gory carnage. Expect plenty of retro-tastic visual and sonic flourishes in the latest movie from indie horror stalwarts A24, as West again honours the sordid, sleazy spirit of seventies and eighties exploitation horror movies.
Which of these Venice Film Festival entries do you think will emerge as an Oscars contender? Let us know @Cineworld.