The 79th Venice Film Festival has its work cut out.
This year’s Cannes Film Festival set the bar high with a combination of flashy Hollywood blockbusters — Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis — and buzzy art house and independent films, including Ruben Östlund’s socially satiric Palme d’Or Winner Triangle of Sadness, David Cronenberg’s freaky sci-fi dystopia Crimes of the Future, and Park Chan-wook’s mystery masterpiece Decision to Leave.
If Venice is to retain its crown as the go-to festival for awards-season contenders — last year’s Lido lineup included Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, which went on to win this year’s Oscar for best director, as well as Denis Villeneuve’s six-fold Oscar winner Dune — it will have to match Cannes with just the right mix of prestige auteur titles and red carpet glamour.
Venice will formally unveil its 2022 lineup on July 26. Here are the hottest contenders that could make the cut.
Bones and All
Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All is all but guaranteed to premiere in Venice. It re-teams the Italian director with his Call Me By Your Name Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet, whose appearance on the Dune red carpet last year drove Venice crowds wild. David Kajganich, who penned Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash and Suspiria, both of which premiered in Venice, adapted the script for Bones and All from the novel by Camille DeAngelis. Waves breakout Taylor Russell stars as Maren, a young woman living on the margins of society who falls in love with Lee (Chalamet), an intense and disenfranchised drifter. Together they set out on a thousand-mile odyssey through the back roads, hidden passages and trap doors of Ronald Reagan’s America. Jessica Harper, Chloë Sevigny, Michael Stuhlbarg and Mark Rylance co-star. MGM has worldwide rights, with United Artists releasing in the U.S. and Vision Distribution handling Bones and All‘s Italian bow.
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
Alejandro González Iñárritu, who used the 2014 Venice Film Festival as a launchpad for his eventual Oscar best picture winner Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, could return to the Lido with another ambitious, and long-titled, drama. Iñárritu’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths marks the director’s return to Mexico, 22 years after his 2000 feature debut Amores Perros. The film is billed as a nostalgic comedy set against an epic personal journey of a Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker (Daniel Giménez Cacho) who returns home to work through an existential crisis. The director’s first feature since The Revenant, Bardo is set in Iñárritu’s hometown of Mexico City and was shot on 65mm. Netflix, which has snatched up worldwide rights to the film, could follow the same promotional playbook it used for Roma, from Iñárritu’s amigo Alfonso Cuarón, which premiered (and won) in Venice in 2018, kicking off an awards campaign that ended with three Oscars.
Three years after Marriage Story landed on the Lido on its way to becoming a major presence in the 2020 awards season (it won one of its six Oscar nominations), Noah Baumbach looks almost certain to return with his next feature with Netflix. Based on Don DeLillo’s breakout 1985 novel — the first time Baumbach hasn’t worked from his own original idea — the film, following a dramatic year in the life of a professor in the mid-West, packs a Venice-worthy ensemble, including Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, Andre Benjamin, Alessandro Nivola, Jodie Turner-Smith and Don Cheadle.
The Eternal Daughter
While she was on the main jury in 2020, British auteur Joanna Hogg is yet to bring one of her films to Venice (her last, The Souvenir Part 2, bowed at Cannes 2021). But The Eternal Daughter could change all that. Once again reuniting Hogg with Tilda Swinton and A24, the ghost story — shot in secret during lockdown — adds some further prestige punch thanks to producers including one Martin Scorsese and Irish banner Element Pictures, which was behind The Favourite and Normal People. Following a middle-aged daughter and her elderly mother who must confront long-buried secrets when they return to their once-grand former family home, the film also stars Carly-Sophia Davies, Joseph Mydell and Alfie Sankey-Green also star.
Given the very recent awards pedigree behind it, this feature seems tailor-made to bow on the Lido and is well expected to make the trip. The follow-up to Florian Zeller’s mind-twisting debut feature The Father, which in 2021 won the Oscar for best-adapted screenplay and saw Anthony Hopkins claim best actor, The Son — also adapted from Zeller’s own stage play — packs an A-list cast in Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern and Vanessa Kirby. Hopkins also returns for a second shot with the fast-rising French filmmaker. And linking it to last year’s festival, The Son is being produced by See-Saw, the Brit/Australian banner behind 2021 Venice Festival and 2022 awards season darling The Power of the Dog. Sony Pictures Classic has rights.
Darren Aronofsky’s last Venice visit — for 2017’s Mother! — was a bit of a disaster. Critics hated his mystery horror mash-up, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, and the film quickly sunk after its Lido debut. But Venice still has a soft spot for Aronofsky: 2008’s The Wrestler won the Golden Lion, and both The Fountain (2006) and Black Swan (2010) debuted in Venice, making the festival an ideal spot for the director’s return. Aronofsky’s latest stars Sadie Sink, Brendan Fraser and Samantha Morton in the story of a reclusive English teacher suffering from severe obesity who attempts, one last time, to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter. A24 has worldwide rights.
German-Turkish auteur Fatih Akin (Head-On, In The Fade) has brought two features to Venice to date: 2009’s audience favorite Soul Kitchen and the 2014 period drama The Cut. Rheingold, a hotly anticipated biopic of German ex-convict turned hip-hop entrepreneur Giwar Hajabi, could make it three. Starring Emilio Sakraya, Rheingold is being released in Germany by Warner Bros. and sold worldwide by MUBI’s The Match Factory.
Blonde, a fictionalized chronicle of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe from New Zealand director Andrew Dominik, featuring Knives Out and No Time to Die star Ana de Armas as Monroe, would fit nicely into the star-driven auteur slot filled last year by Pablo Larraín’s Kristen Stewart-as-Lady-Di drama Spencer. Based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel, Blonde co-stars include Bobby Cannavale, Adrien Brody and Caspar Phillipson. Dominik so far has just one Venice appearance to his name: the 2007 Western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Netflix, who has worldwide rights, would love for Blonde to be his second, setting up the film, and de Armas, for an awards run next year.
The investigative drama, which follows New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor as they break the sexual assault stories that helped launch the #MeToo movement, was rumored to be in the mix for Cannes. But the latest feature from German multi-hyphenate Maria Schrader, coming hot off her Emmy win for Netflix’s Unorthodox and critical and commercial acclaim for her sci-fi rom-com I’m Your Man, would be a nice fit for Venice. Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan star as Twohey and Kantor, the reporters who exposed disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, in a cast that also includes Jennifer Ehle, Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher and Samantha Morton. Universal Pictures has worldwide rights.
Susanna Nicchiarelli’s follow-up to her 2020 Venice competition entry Miss Marx looks set for a Lido bow. The period drama is a biography of St. Clare of Assisi, who, after hearing St. Francis preach, left her wealthy family to become a nun. My Brilliant Friend star Margherita Mazzucco plays the protagonist. Rai Cinema has rights.
Other People’s Children
French director Rebecca Zlotowski has to date been a Cannes favorite: Her 2019 feature An Easy Girl screened in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, 2010’s Dear Prudence was a Critics’ Week title, and 2013’s Grand Central also premiered on the Croisette. But after her latest, Other People’s Children, didn’t show up on the Cannes 2022 lineup, speculation began to swirl that the film could be heading to Venice instead. The drama stars Belgium’s Virginie Efira (Elle, Benedetta) as a childless woman who forms a deep bond with her boyfriend’s young daughter.
Italian director Andrea Pallaoro, whose 2017 drama Hannah, starring Charlotte Rampling, was part of the Venice competition in 2017 and whose 2013 debut Medeas screened in the festival’s Horizons sidebar, is set to return to the Lido with his English-language debut. The family drama stars Trace Lysette as a woman who returns home to care for her dying mother. Patricia Clarkson, Adriana Barraza and Emily Browning co-star. The Exchange and UTA Independent Film Group are handling world sales.