The Venice Film Festival wraps up tomorrow with its much-anticipated awards ceremony. As with Cannes and other film festivals, it’s almost impossible to accurately predict what the jury, led by Annette Bening, will reward. Nevertheless, here are our guesses based on critic and audience reviews and the general buzz on the Lido. Last year’s Best Actress winner here was Emma Stone for La La Land, who went on to win the Oscar. The winners will be announced in the closing ceremony Saturday, September 9th.
Marcello Mastrioanni Award (Best Newcomer)
Charlie Plummer, Lean on Pete
Plummer earned excellent reviews for his turn as Charley in this wonderful coming-of-age film. He was vulnerable, raw and utterly believable. He should walk away with this prize unless the brilliant kid from Custody or any of Kechiche’s young leads in Maktoub get it. But our money is on Plummer.
Volpi Cup for Best Actor
Denis Menochet, Custody
Menochet is menacing, convincing and touching as a troubled, violent father who can’t control his temper and ends up losing his children’s love. He commands the screen in Custody and is able to convey a wide range of emotions. His final long scene is both heartbreaking and terrifying. He stands a great shot at nabbing the Volpi.
Volpi Cup for Best Actress
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Charlotte Rampling, Hannah
Both McDormand and Rampling stand excellent chances to snatch the Volpi. If the jury follows last year’s internal rule of not awarding more than one award to a single film, we suspect Rampling walks away with the Volpi whereas McDormand’s film (Three Billboards) gets the Screenplay Prize – similar to what happened last year when Emma Stone won Actress while Portman’s Jackie won Screenplay.
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
This seems like a relatively safe bet. The film was the highest scoring among both Italian critics and the festival’s audience panel, with many praising the film’s hilarious lines and powerful dialogue. This prize usually goes to films with memorable lines and Three Billboards is full of them. It can also be a way to reward McDormand’s film if Rampling gets the Volpi.
Best Director (Silver Lion)
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
Del Toro brought the festival’s most visually dazzling and inventive films. The Shape of Water was critically acclaimed in Venice and scored the highest among the festival’s International Critics. This award would be an award for the film overall, given how beloved it was by almost everyone who watched it.
Grand Jury Prize
Ex Libris: The New York Public Library.
This 3-hour-plus doc received major acclaim in Venice circles and is widely seen as due for a prize. Whereas Cannes usually shies away from awarding docs, other fests – including Berlin which awarded the Golden Bear to Fire at Sea – don’t have an issue with this. Given it’s a doc, the jury may feel they want to reward it here and leave the Golden Lion for a narrative film. In this case…
The Israeli film was hailed as a masterpiece by several festival goers and publications and is considered to be a potential Foreign Language entry by Israel. Haunting, powerful and emotionally intense, it’s the best film we’ve seen at Venice this year. Whether it wins the big prize or not, it’s such a rewarding viewing experience that you shouldn’t miss at TIFF where it will premiere in North America. It gets our vote.