With the big kick-off festivals behind us (Telluride, TIFF, and NYFF), and more than a few weeks away from AFI Film Fest, the regional film festivals are hoping to snag a few Oscar voters to discover the fall’s best films.

This weekend, Awards Circuit will be traveling to the Middleburg Film Festival for the second consecutive year.  The Virginia-based festival is full of high-profile screenings, stars, and some of the industries top talents.

Thursday will launch the festival with an early screening of Andy Serkis’ directorial debut “Breathe,” a film that Bleecker Street is hoping to find love on the awards circuit.  Stars Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy are trying to sneak in the Lead Actor and Supporting Actress races respectively.

The official opening film from Focus Features, “Darkest Hour” from Joe Wright, will have lots to offer with writer Anthony McCarten attending for a Q&A.  As the frontrunner in Best Actor, Gary Oldman will look to gather more passionate voters on his side.  We’ll be speaking with voters and movie-goers about their feelings regarding the film’s supporting players, in particular, Ben Mendelsohn and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Friday will have lots of intimate events, surrounding writing and music.  Academy Award nominee James Ivory will be present in the Boxwood Winery & Library at the Salamander Resort where he’ll be discussing “Call Me By Your Name,” which screens right after.  The 90-year-old screenwriter is currently on the main contenders for the Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

In the afternoon, we’ll witness and Wine & Conversation Master Class with Academy Award-nominated composers Nicholas Britell (“Moonlight”) and Marco Beltrami (“3:10 to Yuma”).  Britell worked on “Battle of the Sexes,” which opened in September, and will screen at the festival on Sunday.

Immediately following, renowned Washington Post Critic Anne Hornaday will have a book signing for her new work “Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies.”  All these events will be taking place while festival-goers get first looks at “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” with Annette Bening, “In the Fade” with Diane Kruger, “Wonderstruck” with Julianne Moore, “A Fantastic Woman” with Daniela Vega, and “Happy End” with Isabelle Huppert.  Films with Q&A’s include “Last Flag Flying” from Richard Linklater, “Mudbound” from Dee Rees, and a Sneak Preview screening of “Hostiles” from Scott Cooper.  All films are looking to cement their place in the Oscar race.

Saturday will open up with NEON’s “I, Tonya” from Craig Gillespie before a conversation with Dee Rees takes place.  Composer Britell will get a tribute in the afternoon immediately following a Wine & Conversation titled “Talk Back to the Critics.”

Before the Centerpiece selection “Lady Bird” premieres with writer/director Greta Gerwig in attendance, the Virginia town will get looks at “Novitiate” with Melissa Leo (with a Q&A), “The Divine Order” from Switzerland, and the documentary “Joan Didion: Center Will Not Hold.”

Sunday will close the festival up with the Oscar frontrunner “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” from Martin McDonagh.  If any of the festival attendees missed “The Leisure Seeker,” “Music Got Me Here” or “The Square,” they’ll be more showings for them to indulge.  To juice things up, the festival will be holding a preview of the new season of “American Crime Story” titled “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.”

The Sheila Johnson festival is quickly becoming a highlight of regional film festivals, putting together an impeccable lineup of indie, foreign, and studio films.

The Middleburg Film Festival runs from Oct. 19 to Oct. 22.  Tickets are currently on sale.

Check out the newest OSCAR PREDICTIONS and see where these films rank!



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