The 51st New York Film Festival is almost upon us folks! Clayton and I have our acceptance letters and will be picking up our press credentials before you know it in a matter of just days now (with P&I screenings starting up bright and early next week on Monday morning), so now’s a pretty good time to start picking out some of the movies to really be excited for at the fest. Last year some of the NYFF highlights included Amour, The Bay, Flight, Frances Ha, Holy Motors, Hyde Park on Hudson, Life of Pi, Not Fade Away, The Paperboy, and Passion, plus of course Lincoln as the Secret Screening. As good as that lineup seemed, this one is poised to be even better, which isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to do. Kudos to the selection committee there, though the final product obviously remains to be seen (aside from some of the titles that have already screened at festivals elsewhere). That being said, I’m very optimistic that this could wind up being one of the best festivals of 2013, if not the best one (since every fest is getting so competitive about buzz this year) of the year.
Below you will find the ten films that I think are the most exciting at the New York Film Festival. By no means are they the only ones of interest at NYFF, but these are the top draws to me. Take a look and stay tuned for our coverage of the fest. It’s going to be a good one! Behold:
10. Bastards– I can’t say I’m overly familiar with Claire Denis‘ filmography, but a film festival is the perfect place to get that rectified slowly, right? This is purportedly one of her more accessible flicks, so it seems almost meant to be. I’m not sure what to expect, but I’m certainly prepared for anything.
9. About Time– I’ve got a real soft spot for Richard Curtis, so if this is indeed his last outing as a director, you better believe it’s going to be a must see film for me. This romance has the gimmick of time travel, though ultimately I’ll be watching Curtis show people comedically fall in love. He’s very good at what he does, so I’m eager to watch it one more time.
8. Nebraska– I’m usually a bigger fan of Alexander Payne‘s scripts than anything else in his works (though I’d argue The Descendants is wonderful looking), so what does that mean here with the first movie he’s ever directed without having written as well? Regardless, getting to see Bruce Dern‘s much buzzed about performance is what I’m there for. The reviews so far have been good, so I’m eager to see if I concur or not.
7. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty– A huge X factor in the Oscar race, I’ve speculated for a bit now (as you can read here) that this festival bow for Ben Stiller‘s remake is a good sign. As the Centerpiece selection (last year it was Not Fade Away, FYI), it sounds like it’s got a real vote of confidence coming from the programmers of the fest. If it turns out to be a real honest to goodness awards player, I’ll be right there to let you know!
6. All is Lost– If there’s one performance I’m most looking forward to seeing at NYFF, it’s Robert Redford in this flick. He’s fighting for survival on the high seas in what amounts to a one person show, and while that’s perhaps better suited to a festival than a multiplex, I have a feeling that Redford’s march to an Oscar nomination (and who knows…maybe even a win) continues here in the Big Apple. I currently have Redford winning the Academy Award for Best Actor, so this is obviously a must see for me.
5. Captain Phillips– The festival opens with a bang as Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks give us their take of the Somali pirate hostage situation that introduced the world to Richard Phillips. This is the Opening Night selection, which last year was Life of Pi. That turned out pretty well for all involved, right? A few reviews have confirmed that this is a quality flick, but the majority of eyes will be seeing this one for the first time here in New York City.
4. The Immigrant– As a huge fan of Two Lovers, it’s been far too long a wait for James Gray to make another film. Well, the wait is over, and this one appears to be his most ambitious to date. Apparently the Cannes Film Festival folks found it a mixed bag, but I’m waiting to see this one for myself.
3. Blue is the Warmest Color– Ever since Cannes, I’ve had my eye on this nearly three-hour character study. Among my colleagues, it’s one of the most buzzed about titles making its way to this country, so I’m excited to be able to finally join the conversation. I’ve held off from trying to find out too much about it…I just want to get lost in this purported masterpiece when it screens.
2. Inside Llewyn Davis– I’m not historically a fan of the Coen Brothers, but this new flick of theirs has me very intrigued (the festival crowd seems to be big on it, as they always are for the Coens). I’m not certain that this will actually do it for me, but the trailer has stayed in my brain more than any of Joel and Ethan’s movies have in the past. We’ll see what that means in a few weeks…
1. Her– Something about this new film from Spike Jonze just has me absolutely dying to see it. This is the Closing Night film, which last year was Flight, so perhaps once again an iffy Oscar contender will get a big boost? I speculated about that here, but I’ll find out for sure when it screens during the fest.
Honorable Mentions: Child of God (James Franco directing an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy noir), Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch makes Tilda Swinton a vampire), The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki‘s new bit of animation is a biopic about a fighter plane designer and his final film), and the various four-hour long films (At Berkeley, etc) that will test my film critic resolve.
And of course, there’s the Secret Screening, which everyone is currently speculating to be Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street. I have a hunch though that it’s not going to be that (there’s also a rumor going around that it’s not even going to be ready in time for an October screening anywhere, let alone NYFF) and instead one of the films supposedly not playing at any festival, like American Hustle for example, will be what winds up showing (unless they decide to swipe Foxcatcher from AFI Fest, though something like that seems unlikely this year. Keep an eye out for Saving Mr. Banks too as an option). Watch me be wrong and a completely random choice like The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her eschewing a world premiere) or even Nymphomaniac is selected, but I certainly wouldn’t mind if that went down. Either way, we’ll win as film lovers. The one thing to keep in mind about the screening is that it has historically been a world premiere, so NYFF will be getting something no one’s seen before, regardless of what it ends up being.
Stay tuned for all The Awards Circuit’s coverage of the 51st New York Film Festival. It’s going to be even better than last year.
–Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!