51st New York Film Festival Possibilities

nyff2013Each year, folks like me try to predict what might wind up screening at major film festivals, with special attention paid of course to Cannes and Toronto (which obviously just announced their slate). At the same time, we seem to sometimes lose sight of the New York Film Festival. Having attended NYFF last year and seen the World Premieres of Flight, Life of Pi, and Not Fade Away along with the secret screening debut of Lincoln, I know firsthand that this is a fest not to discount. When the festival gets underway, people tend to try and guess the secret screening (which was Hugo the first time around), but I’m going to just try and predict what major flicks are going to wind up playing at the 51st New York Film Festival. The festival this year runs from September 27 to October 13, so this isn’t an imminent fest, but it’s one worth pondering, as it could very well be a staging ground again for the Oscar race.

In addition to those aforementioned debuts, the festival also played high profile titles like Amour, Frances Ha, Hyde Park on Hudson, and The Paperboy, plus smaller things like The Bay, Berberian Sound Studio, Bwakaw, and Room 237, so it’s impossible to fully predict what’s going to run at the fest, but it’s going to be fun to try at least.

Below you’ll find 15 possible entries to the festival, along with my thoughts on how likely their debuts are going to be. I didn’t include certain high profile contenders like Labor Day (which is at Toronto), but aside from those I tried to include all of the major films that have a chance to show in New York. I’m sure there are a ton of indies that we’re just not aware of that could wind up taking certain spots, but for the prime slots, I think the upcoming titles in this piece are in the pole positions. Take a gander:

All Is LostRobert Redford basically gives a silent performance in J.C. Chandor‘s one man show and apparently kills. The only thing keeping me from assuming this is highly likely to play in a prominent is that NYFF tends to like films that have multiple stars whenever possible as their main offerings. It could certainly still show at the fest, but perhaps not as a Centerpiece.

American Hustle– I was very surprised to see David O. Russell‘s new film not among the Toronto debuts, but that makes me think that this could wind up being one of the top flicks to play in New York. Maybe they’ll skip the festival route entirely, but I doubt that. Keep an eye on this one…

Blue is the Warmest Color– Last year’s Palme d’Or winner Amour showed at the festival, so assuming the release date isn’t too wonky, it would make sense for this one to play as well. It won’t be in a high profile slot, but my guess is that it’ll be there all the same.

Captain Phillips– After not being among the titles at Toronto, could this Tom Hanks flick be an Opening or Closing Night selection for New York? My guess is maybe, though it could wind up somewhere like Telluride too. It’s possibly going to skip fests and go straight for audiences, but more than likely someone will scoop it up.

The Counselor– I don’t actually think that Ridley Scott‘s film will go the festival route, but if it does, perhaps being the Closing Night film in New York would be a solid spot for it. More likely though, the movie will opt to skip the circuit and hope to build acclaim through press screenings and audience interest.

Foxcatcher– Assuming it gets picked up soon, Bennett Miller‘s passion project is 100% going to play at a festival, the question is just which one. If it’s not Telluride, New York is a great spot for it to unspool at. I’d say the odds of it happening are about 50/50 right now.

Grace of Monaco– This is a shot in the dark, but since Hyde Park on Hudson played last year, I wonder if this might be a cinematic cousin of that and play this year? Nicole Kidman also was around in 2012 (but for The Paperboy), so she’d bring the requisite star power…

Inside Llewyn Davis– This might be the title that makes the most sense to play, since it’s about a moment in time in New York City. The Coen Brothers seem like the sort to charm my colleagues at the fest too, so unless something odd happens, expect this one at NYFF.

The Monuments Men– I think George Clooney‘s latest is a possible player, but it also could opt to skip festivals entirely, play AFI Fest, or maybe even Telluride instead. NYFF is definitely on its radar, and I’m sure the festival would be thrilled to have it, but they’ll have competition for it.

Nebraska– After a slightly muted Cannes reception, Alexander Payne‘s new work should be looking for another festival to rehab its image a bit. If not Telluride, I’d expect it to play in New York. Hell, it might even wind up doing both. Time will tell there, obviously…

OldboySpike Lee is a filmmaker who’s work should always be welcome at NYFF, though it might be a bit too close to its release date to make sense. Still, if that can be worked out, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see it play. The recent trailer has folks excited, so that only helps its cause.

Saving Mr. Banks– AFI Fest seems destined to get this Disney movie about Disney, but if not, I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see it here in New York. It could also skip festivals entirely (perhaps the most likely and wisest route for the flick), but if that doesn’t happen, NYFF will be in play.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty– I’m not sure Ben Stiller‘s return to directing will take a chance on festivals, but if this remake is truly a cut above like some rumors have suggested, then this would be the place to give it a debut. I’m sort of expecting to see it here, but I’m not guaranteeing it or anything of the sort.

Twelve Years a Slave– The change in release date has taken Steve McQueen‘s new movie from an almost sure bet to play NYFF to just a likely one. Toronto swooped in for the kill, but this still feels like a high profile New York debut regardless of that. Time will obviously tell though…

The Wolf of Wall Street– Another title that makes a ton of sense to debut at NYFF, this could even wind up being the “Secret Screening”. Martin Scorsese went that route two years ago with Hugo, so this New York centric flick should show up prominently at the fest somehow.

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!