Download: Venice Dispatch - That's a Wrap
ALL HAIL QUEEN JULIANNE.
The awards of the 79th Venice Film Festival were handed out tonight and they were fabulous. It was a conspicuously American/Anglophone list of winners, yes, but they covered just about all the greatest films (meaning my personal favorites) of the festival, with not one bad pick among them. Of the 8 categories, I only corrected predicted one winner, but FOUR of my “should win” fantasies came true. Allow me to say this jury has TASTE. Let’s take a look.
Best Young Performer: Taylor Russell (BONES AND ALL)
Great choice! I shouldn’t have worried about the age thing because Russell’s performance is simply undeniable. There’s every reason why BONES AND ALL, a film where the protagonists literally feast on human corpses, shouldn’t work as a romance, and yet it did. And that has so much to do with the humanity and warmth she brings to this trickiest of roles. She deserved this.
Best Screenplay: THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
This is the one category I correctly predicted and again, no complaints. McDonagh’s screenplay is a rare tragicomic feat that gets both sentiments just right. Although Irish island life from the 1920’s might be a completely foreign concept to most of us, everything about this film feels so real and heartfelt, you can’t help but fall in love. And this jury clearly LOVED it because…
Best Actor: Colin Farrell (THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN)
See, I did NOT expect there to be double awardage with a lineup this strong, but here we are. Farrell (and Gleeson) was also my pick, his performance delivers both the endearing, clueless charm of a slacker and the gravitas of a man awakened brilliantly. I wouldn’t be too worried about Fraser’s campaign going forward, but this win probably launched Farrell squarely into the Best Actor race. Him and Gleeson should really be co-leads, though, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett (TÁR)
For the third time, my pick aligned with Julie’s (see, we’re BFFs now) as Madam Blanchett took home her second Coppa Volpi (following I’M NOT THERE in 2007) for her towering performance in TÁR. Now it is notable that the jury did not love this film enough to award it one of the top prizes, but Blanchett’s performance is in any case worthy of this honor. Even from 6 months away, that third Oscar is looking more and more likely.
Best Director: Luca Guadagnino (BONES AND ALL)
Magically, as if the jury took a peek at my wish list, a personal favorite triumphed for the fourth time tonight. And now we all know Julianne Moore is freakyyy! BONES AND ALL, for the millionth time, is not for everybody, but those who fall for it will fall hard. This jury sure did, giving it a second, very prominent prize over plenty of strong competitors – and it might be their greatest pick of all. There’s true genius in the way Guadagnino envisioned and made this violent, frightening, repellent, ultimately moving film. It’s such a ballsy, unconventional work of art I salute the jury for seeing and embracing it.
Special Jury Prize: NO BEARS
As I noted in my predictions, Panahi’s film is a bit of a mystery to me. I would not claim to have gotten all it has to say, but I very much appreciate its thoughtfulness and how it trusts the viewer’s intelligence to not make things easier for them. Not a film I loved but I have great respect for it – not least because of the difficult circumstances under which it was made.
Grand Jury Prize: SAINT OMER
Ok, so my #1 film of the festival did not win the Golden Lion, but you know what, for a black female director making her narrative feature debut to win both the Best First Film Award AND the Grand Jury Prize of the Venice Film Festival is pretty rad. Like BONES AND ALL, SAINT OMER deals with a shocking, uncomfortable subject matter, but at its heart it’s about something infinitely tender and human. I’m so happy the jury saw that as well. A hugely deserved win.
Golden Lion: ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED
In the end, Moore and her jurors picked something EVERYBODY could love. And fair play to them, Laura Poitras’ film is an involving, inspiring document about an artist-activist’s life. On a technical level it’s expertly put together, and the spirit of fight and hope it portrays is infectious. The decision to crown a documentary the best film at an A-list festival is also a major statement. Oscars next?
So that’s it for the 79th Venice Film Festival. It’s been a wonderful edition and I’m thrilled to have found a soulmate in Julianne Moore. Make sure to check out these films she singled out when you can – they’re really good. Until next time, over and out!