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Venice Film Festival: Brad Pitt space drama Ad Astra among line-up

Brad Pitt’s space drama Ad Astra, along with Timothée Chalamet and Robert Pattinson’s Shakespearean drama The King, are among the movies which will have their world premiere at the Venice Film Festival which begins in late August.

Director Steven Soderbergh’s Panama Papers movie The Laundromat, which stars Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman, is also on the festival’s line up.

Haifaa Al-Mansour, who is the first female director to shoot a movie in Saudia Arabia, will screen her new film The Perfect Candidate at the festival.

Controversially, Roman Polanski’s latest An Officer and a Spy will also play at Venice. Polanski was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last year because of his 1977 rape conviction. He’s taking legal action in an attempt to be reinstated.

Venice, along with Toronto and Telluride, is a festival where awards hopefuls have often launched their campaigns. In recent years, Oscar best picture winners including The Shape of Water and Birdman have been screened for the first time at the Italian festival.

This year’s event is being seen as one with a fewer number of Oscar hopefuls in the line-up compared to 2018, where the world premieres included A Star Is Born, First Man, and The Favourite.

Telluride, which takes place in Colorado at the end of August, doesn’t confirm its line up until just before it starts. Some Oscar tipped films including Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in The Aeronauts, and Queen & Slim – which stars Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya – haven’t yet been confirmed for any festivals.

Toronto revealed some of the films that will be shown there earlier this week.

Here’s a round-up of some of this year’s potential awards contenders so far, along with details of which Festivals they’ll be shown at.

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Ad Astra

Still from Ad Astra

What you need to know: This space drama stars Brad Pitt as an astronaut on a mission to find his father, and to save the earth from a devastating threat.

The buzz: The film was originally spoken of as a contender for last year’s awards season, so many are hoping it will be worth the wait.

Festival appearances: It will have its world premiere at Venice, and may then go to Telluride.

Oscar hopes: If it hits the same notes as the Oscar-winning Gravity, it could feature in not just technical categories, but in performance ones too.

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The King

Still from The King

What you need to know: It brings together a group of Shakespeare’s historical plays into one film.

The buzz: It has an impressive ensemble cast – Ben Mendelsohn as Henry IV, Timothee Chalamet as Henry V, and Joel Edgerton as Falstaff.

Festival appearances: It will have its world premiere at Venice.

Oscar hopes: Shakespearean stories have long been a favourite with the Academy.

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The Laundromat

Still from The Laundromat

What you need to know: It’s a Steven Soderbergh directed story about the journalistic uncovering of the Panama Papers scandal about alleged financial wrongdoing on a massive scale.

The buzz: It has a very buzzy cast, with the likes of Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman among others.

Festival appearances: After its world premiere at Venice, it will go on to be shown at Toronto

Oscar hopes: Soderbergh directs, produces, was the cinematographer for, and edited the film. So he has more chances than most!

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Marriage Story

Still from Marriage Story

What you need to know: It’s very much under wraps at the moment, but reportedly is about two characters played by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver divorcing.

The buzz: Writer/director Noah Baumbach has attracted a strong cast, and he’s seen as a big talent.

Festival appearances: It will have its world premiere at Venice. It is also on Toronto’s lineup, and looks certain to also screen at Telluride.

Oscar hopes: So much is still unknown about the film at this stage, it’s hard to say.

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Still from Joker

What you need to know: It’s an origin story from Gotham City as failed stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) evolves into feared villain The Joker.

The buzz: The trailer has met with huge approval, and has been viewed online more than 50 million times.

Festival appearances: The world premiere will be at Venice, and it will also play at Toronto.

Oscar hopes: Joaquin Phoenix has been nominated three times but never won. Could he become the second Joker actor to take home a statuette after the late Heath Ledger?

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Here are some other potential awards favourites which aren’t currently scheduled to play Venice but have already been announced for other film festivals:

Jojo Rabbit

A still from Jojo Rabbit

What you need to know: It’s a dark comedy set during World War II about a young German boy who has an imaginary friend in the form of an idiotic Adolf Hitler, and who discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic.

The buzz: Director Taika Waititi (who also plays Hitler) has won plaudits for his previous comedies What We Do in the Shadows and Thor: Ragnarok.

Festival appearances: It’ll have its world premiere at Toronto, after what is likely to have been strong competition from Venice and Telluride.

Oscar hopes: If it connects with audiences it could well become a frontrunner for best picture.

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Still from Judy

What you need to know: Set 30 years after Judy Garland played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, this biopic – which stars Renee Zellweger – reflects the highs and lows of the actress’s career.

The buzz: The trailer shows how well Garland’s life has been captured.

Festival appearances: It’ll have its Canadian premiere at Toronto, so looks extremely likely to appear a few days earlier at the Telluride Film Festival.

Oscar hopes: A much-loved Hollywood actress playing a much loved Hollywood icon clearly has the potential to land Zellweger best actress recognition.

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