The AFI Film Fest has announced the Centerpiece Galas. Both The Disaster Artist and Hostiles are going to get a boost, but Call Me by Your Name really did not need the fest to showcase since it’s been doing pretty well so far. Hostiles is a moody, redemptive western anchored by a great performance by Christian Bale. It will stand out this year because it is one of the few films in the race that qualifies as an epic.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME — The new film from Sony Pictures Classics by Luca Guadagnino is a sensual and transcendent tale of first love, based on the acclaimed novel by André Aciman. It’s the summer of 1983 in the north of Italy, and Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious 17-year-old American-Italian boy, spends his days in his family’s 17th-century villa, transcribing and playing classical music, reading and flirting with his friend Marzia (Esther Garrel). Elio enjoys a close relationship with his father (Michael Stuhlbarg), an eminent professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture, and his mother Annella (Amira Casar), a translator, who favor him with the fruits of high culture in a setting that overflows with natural delights. While Elio’s sophistication and intellectual gifts suggest he is already a fully-fledged adult, there is much that yet remains innocent and unformed about him, particularly about matters of the heart. One day, Oliver (Armie Hammer), a charming American scholar working on his doctorate, arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio’s father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of the setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.
THE DISASTER ARTIST — Director James Franco reimagines the tragicomic true story of aspiring filmmaker and infamous Hollywood outsider Tommy Wiseau — an artist whose passion was as sincere as his methods were questionable — as a celebration of friendship, artistic expression and dreams pursued against insurmountable odds. Based on Greg Sestero’s bestselling tell-all about the making of Wiseau’s cult-classic disaster piece THE ROOM (“The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made”), THE DISASTER ARTIST is a hilarious and welcome reminder that there is more than one way to become a legend — and no limit to what you can achieve when you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. Franco directs, produces and stars in the film, delivering a transformative performance as Wiseau in this A24 release.
HOSTILES — Set in 1892 at the cusp of the Industrial Revolution, the buffalo gone, America’s indigenous population vanquished and the frontier rapidly disappearing into settlements and cities, two bitter adversaries of the Indian Wars are forced into a final, unexpected encounter. Cavalry Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale), a former war hero turned jailer, and Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), a Northern Cheyenne war chief turned prisoner, are forced to partake in a hollow publicity stunt to bolster the personal and political fortunes of Blocker’s commanding officer. Stuck in Fort Berringer, a miserable New Mexican prison outpost, Yellow Hawk is to be released to Blocker and returned to the Cheyenne homeland in Montana. It’s a particularly cynical gambit, as Yellow Hawk is dying and upon his death, his family will be imprisoned on a reservation. A belligerent Blocker believes the Chief should die in prison and is threatened with court martial when he refuses to accompany his enemy home. The plan is set in motion and Blocker, his men, Yellow Hawk and his family become complicated traveling companions. Not long after their departure, the group happens upon Rosalee Quaid (Rosamund Pike), a traumatized survivor of a Comanche massacre, and she reluctantly joins. Blocker, Yellow Hawk and Quaid turn into the unlikely heart of HOSTILES. They are tenacious fighters who have been shaped by suffering, violence and loss. Compelled to work together to endure and survive a 1,000-mile journey of Odyssey-like proportions, they’re forced to confront their preconceived notions of one another, and realize that the worst of their differences were created by forces beyond their control. Their transformation from a place of antagonism and fear to one of compassion and tolerance is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and our capacity for change. HOSTILES features cinematography by AFI Conservatory alumnus Masanobu Takayanagi (Class of 2002).