Venice Film Festival Preview

So this is it then, the start of awards season proper. Or at least the start of the season when films debut at film festivals and we all start speculating on their chances of walking off with a golden statuette on March 2. And it all kicks off on Wednesday when George Clooney and Sandra Bullock stroll down the red carpet for the world premiere of Gravity, which opens this year’s Venice International Film Festival. The stars will be joined on the red carpet by director Alfonso Cuaron as well as the great and the good of Italian cinema. The trailer has to be one of the best I’ve seen in years and it wouldn’t surprise me if the film goes on to collect a few accolades along the way.

Venice always attracts some high profile actors and this year is no different, although it does seem to be a little overshadowed by Toronto which begins on September 4 (Venice runs to September 7). On Friday, Nicolas Cage arrives in town for a screening of his new film Joe which follows an ex-con who becomes an unlikely role model to a young boy. Also on Friday, Venice screens The Canyons – a film that has already been shown on American TV. No word yet on whether star Lindsay Lohan will be on the Lido.

The Brits arrive on Saturday as Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench bring their new drama Philomena to town. Based on a true story, it follows a woman forced by Irish nuns to give up her child in 1952. Coogan plays the journalist who helps with the search. Helen Mirren’s march to Oscar began at Venice, could Dame Judi do the same?

Also on Saturday, James Franco arrives to promote two films showing as part of this year’s festival. First is Child Of God which he directs and stars in and is about a violent man living on the edges of society. Then on September 1 he joins Emma Roberts and Natt Wolff to promote Palo Alto, a dark drama about a group of teens with a knack for finding trouble. It’s based on a book written by Franco.

On Sunday it’s the night of the big ensemble dramas. Daniel Radcliffe, Elizabeth Olsen, Dane DeHaan and Michael C Hall star in Beat Generation drama, Kill Your Darlings. Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton and Jacki Weaver lead the cast of Parkland, the story of John F Kennedy’s fatal trip to Dallas told from the point of view of the staff at the Parkland Hospital.

Tom Hardy arrives on Monday for the screening of his latest film, Locke, told in real-time and following a man who receives a phone call that puts his family and career in danger. Also on Monday, Terry Gilliam debuts his latest, Zero Theorem, starring Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton and Matt Damon. And we all know how much the Academy loves Waltz at the moment…

More Brits arrive in town on September 3 when Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggatt (Anna) joins Eddie Marsan on the red carpet for the premiere of their comedy-drama Still Life. Unfortunately they’re likely to face a fight for the headlines as Scarlett Johansson promotes her latest, Under The Skin, in which she plays an alien.

Then it’s a quick hop to the Golden Lion Awards on September 7 when we find out which films have impressed jury members Bernardo Bertolucci, Carrie Fisher and Andrea Arnold. Will any of their choices match up with the Academy? We’ll have to see.