All the Beauty and the Banshees: A Venice Report

Before 2017, the Golden Lion winner (the Venice Film Festival’s top prize) rarely lined up with movies that received Best Picture nominations at the Oscars. In fact, you would have had to go back to 2005 and Brokeback Mountain. Then from 2017-2020 – every nominee did (The Shape of Water, Roma, Joker, Nomadland). Last year’s Happening did not. So it stands to reason that the eyes of prognosticators were heavily trained on today’s ceremony.

The jury’s selection was a bit of a surprise with the documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. Not because it wasn’t acclaimed… it absolutely was. It’s unexpected because this is the only the second doc to take Venice’s biggest award. And that dates back to 1946. My guess is that this won’t translate to an Academy BP nod, but there’s no question it helps Beauty look good in the eyes of Oscar’s documentary branch.

France’s Saint Omer took the Grand Jury Prize (essentially second place). It will hope to follow in the footsteps of last year’s victor The Hand of God, which made the final cut in International Feature Film. Like Bloodshed, it’s also playing in Toronto where it hopes to grow the buzz.

The Silver Lion (the equivalent of Best Director) was bestowed upon Luca Guadagnino for Bones and All. The horror romance garnered loud cheers from the Italian faithful. Taylor Russell, who co-stars with Timothee Chalamet, picked up the Marcello Mastroianni Award, which is for an emerging performer. Though the genre doesn’t lend itself well to Academy attention, I wouldn’t sleep on this picture.

Best Screenplay went to Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin, which made a splash with its premiere and established itself as a firm candidate for possibilities throughout the coming season. The Banshees appreciation also included Colin Farrell as Best Actor. This is significant considering he beat out heavy hitters like Brendan Fraser (The Whale) and Hugh Jackman (The Son).

Finally, Cate Blanchett rather predictably took Best Actress for TAR. Get used to seeing her name at every awards show from now until the early months of 2023.

And there you have it! As a side note, I’m deep into screenings at Toronto. I’m trying to post as much as possible with any breaks I have, but that’s quite a challenge (anyone who’s attended a film festival will get it). Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. This is my first TIFF and I’m continuously pinching myself. It’s not everyday you see Daniel Craig, Jennifer Lawrence, Billy Eichner, Judd Apatow, Paul Raci, Finn Wolfhard, and Sterling K. Brown within a 24 hour period. I’ll report back soon on all the happenings of awards season!

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