VENICE: Jury duty – award predictions and preferences

Posted by · 11:51 am · September 10th, 2010

The Venice Competition lineup officially wrapped today with one of its lightest and most mainstream selections, “Barney’s Version” (reviewed this morning).

With only the out-of-competition closing film “The Tempest” left to screen before I head back to London tomorrow evening, allow me a moment to sift through the runners and riders for the festival prizes – at the same time as Quentin Tarantino and his (hopefully) merry band of jurors much be contemplating the same thing.

They have good reason to be merry: as a friend and I agreed this morning, festival director Marco Mueller has assembled a truly outstanding Competition field this year – thoughtfully balanced in terms of highbrow and middlebrow, genre and esoterica, veteran auteurs and younger ascending talents.

(More thoughts, plus Golden Lion predictions and wishes, after the cut.)

While this year’s lackluster Cannes selection featured too many dry, sub-par works from oft-tapped filmmakers, Venice took bolder steps, admitting previously bubbling-under talents like Kelly Reichardt and Pablo Larrain into the big boys’ club, and broadening the genre palette to include a wild samurai epic, a high-camp comedy and, well, whatever the hell “A Sad Trumpet Ballad” was. All that, and they bucked festival convention by picking a knockout opening film. What more can you ask for?

Needless to say, as with any festival, the 24-film selection still featured its fair share of stinkers: we found out why Cannes organizers allegedly turned down “Miral” (though they also apparently rejected “Meek’s Cutoff” in favour of “Fair Game,” so let’s not congratulate them too heartily), and the regular four-film quota of Italian entries was a total bust this year. Still, even unmitigated bombs like the aforementioned “Ballad” and Monte Hellman’s shoddy Lynch-lite puzzler “Road to Nowhere” were eccentric enough to garner adherents: consensus failures have been few this year.

All of which makes predicting tomorrow’s awards – always a fool’s errand in any festival – especially difficult: with the standard so high, critical favor hasn’t lined up behind any one contender, but remains fairly scattered. (Not that critical consensus means anything to festival juries, as last year’s broadly acclaimed but wholly unawarded Venice favourite “Lourdes” can tell you.)

Among English-speaking press, at least, affection seems to be mostly split between Aleksei Fedorchenko’s “Silent Souls,” Pablo Larrain’s “Post Mortem,” Kelly Reichardt’s “Meek’s Cutoff” and Athina Rachel Tsangari’s “Attenberg,” with “Black Swan” still retaining much of its early heat – and any one of those would be a highly credible Golden Lion champ. “Black Venus,” generally deemed (sight unseen) the film to beat at the start of the festival, has proved a more polarizing proposition than expected, but that can often work in a film’s favor at festivals.

I can imagine any combination of the above films taking the top awards, and things don’t clear up further down the list either. As was the case at Cannes, the Best Actress competition looks particularly feisty, with acclaimed “Venus” newcomer Yahima Torres facing off against starrier competition from the likes of Natalie Portman, Catherine Deneuve and Michelle Williams. Best Actor, by contrast, presents a leaner slate of options, but while this morning’s very warm reception for Paul Giamatti suggests he’s the one to beat, I’m sticking to my crackpot theory that Tarantino will tempt controversy by rewarding Vincent Gallo for his onscreen ubiquity at the Lido this year. I hope I’m wrong.

So, let’s call this thing. My dream outcome is listed first, with my highly uncertain predictions following.


Golden Lion: “Meek’s Cutoff”

Silver Lion (Best Director): Pablo Larrain, “Post Mortem”

Special Jury Prize: “Black Swan”

Best Actor: Alfredo Castro, “Post Mortem”

Best Actress: Catherine Deneuve, “Potiche”

Best Screenplay: Athina Rachel Tsangari, “Attenberg”

Technical Prize: Christopher Blauvelt, “Meek’s Cutoff”


Golden Lion: “Silent Souls”
(Alternates: “Post Mortem,” “Meek’s Cutoff,” “Black Venus”)

Silver Lion (Best Director): Pablo Larrain, “Post Mortem”
(Alternates: Aleksei Fedorchenko, “Silent Souls,” Kelly Reichardt, “Meek’s Cutoff,” Takashi Miike, “13 Assassins”)

Special Jury Prize: “Attenberg”
(Alternates: “Silent Souls,” “Post Mortem,” “Meek’s Cutoff”)

Best Actor: Vincent Gallo, “Essential Killing”
(Alternates: Paul Giamatti, “Barney’s Version,” Alfredo Castro, “Post Mortem,” Ascanio Celestini, “The Black Sheep”)

Best Actress: Yahima Torres, “Black Venus”
(Alternates: Michelle Williams, “Meek’s Cutoff,” Catherine Deneuve, “Potiche,” Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”)

Best Screenplay: Michael Konyves, “Barney’s Version”
(Alternates: “Silent Souls,” “Potiche,” “The Black Sheep”)

Technical Prize: Mark Lee, “Norwegian Wood”
(Alternates: “Meek’s Cutoff,” “A Sad Trumpet Ballad,” “Black Swan”)

→ 16 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

16 responses so far

  • 1 9-10-2010 at 12:03 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Stupid question: What’s the difference between the Golden Lion and the Special Jury Prize?

  • 2 9-10-2010 at 12:47 pm

    Markku said...

    The Jury Prize (as in Cannes) is essentially the 2nd prize, the runner-up to the Best Film.

  • 3 9-10-2010 at 12:53 pm

    han said...

    Cannes: Palme d’or > Grand Prix > the Jury Prize
    Venice: Golden Lion > Silver Lion (Director) > Special Jury Prize

  • 4 9-10-2010 at 12:53 pm

    Squirrelman said...

    That’s weird.

    At Venice, the Jury Prize is for 2nd place, but at Cannes, the Jury Prize is for 3rd place.

    Whatever. Carry On.

  • 5 9-10-2010 at 1:10 pm

    Ibad said...

    Tarantino’s obsessed with Miike, and he could also get his way with the other Japanese fav Norwegian Wood (better reviewed than 19 Assassins or whatever). I can see that getting the Special Jury Prize. As for Actor…I could totally see Vincent Gallo, either him or Giamatti. I think Actress would be the easiest place to reward Meek’s Crossing, especially if Black Venus gets the top prize (which I can see). The Lorrain prediction sounds solid. What about Somewhere?

  • 6 9-10-2010 at 1:17 pm

    Leocdc said...

    It’d be so cool for me, as a Chilean cinephile, and for my country Chile, to Post-mortem win some awards this year, even more considering this year we celebrate our 200th anniversary and that this has been one crazy year for all my compatriots (Eartquake, the trapped miners and our just around the corner bicentenary).

    Greetings from our beloved country and thanks for the daily update about the festivals around the globe.

  • 7 9-10-2010 at 2:45 pm

    interstellar said...

    the silver lion is not less important than the golden lion: it’s just the name of the Best Direction Award, just like the volpi cup is the best actor/actress award.

  • 8 9-10-2010 at 4:41 pm

    Cal said...

    I agree that Torres is the favourite, although I’m kind of surprised that you thought that Deneuve was “better”. I loved Catherine, but was totally bowled over by Yahima.

    It would make my day if “Meek’s Cutoff” won the Golden Lion, but it doesn’t seem likely.

  • 9 9-10-2010 at 6:56 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    My predictions:

    Golden Lion: Meek’s Cutoff. Alt: 13 Assasins
    Jury Prize: Black Swan. Alt: Black Venus.
    Silver Lion: Takashi Miike, 13 Assassins. Alt: Pablo Larrain, Post Morten
    Volpi Cup – Best Actor: Alfredo Castro, Post Morten. Alt: Paul Giamatti, Barney’s Version.
    Volpi Cup – Best Actress: Catherine Deneuve, Potiche. Alt: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
    Screenplay: Silent Souls. Alt: Attenberg
    Technical Award: Meek’s Cutoff. Alt: Norwedian Wood.

  • 10 9-10-2010 at 7:25 pm

    Glenn said...

    Wouldn’t Tarantino being the head of the jury err on the side of a big win for “13 Assassins” (like “Oldboy” at Cannes when he presided over the jury there).

  • 11 9-10-2010 at 8:55 pm

    Jacob S. said...

    Nothing for “The Way Back”? I’m under the impression that Tarantino likes grand epics – he certainly praised “Avatar” for being that.

    Also, I hope he officially announces his next project after the festival.

  • 12 9-11-2010 at 12:43 am

    Bertolt Brecht said...

    @Jacob- The Way Back didn’t screen at Venice, it screened at Telluride.

    The Golden Lion rarely goes to a good film (Still Life did in 2006, but look at the winners around it – Lebanon/The Wrestler/Lust, Caution/Brokeback Mountain etc — extremely conventional, even mediocre films). I’d love to see Road to Nowhere get the award, but it seems most people were confused or angered by it, so it seems unlikely, despite the connection between Hellman and Tarantino.

  • 13 9-11-2010 at 2:22 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Brecht: Road to Nowhere isn´t upsetting — it´s sloppy junk.

    Cal: I´d actually place both Portman and Williams above Torres too — she´s strong, but I think the performance is immensely assisted by the politics of the film. Best Actress is a deep race.

    Ibad: I´m actually hearing rumours that suggest I may have underestimated the jury´s regard for Somewhere.

    Glenn and others: I thought about Miike, but it seems almost too predictable for Tarantino to favour him, even given his influence on Cannes 2004.

  • 14 9-11-2010 at 4:16 am

    aurélie said...

    Deneuve rocks the Sue Sylvester tracksuit

    Guy Lodge :
    with arnaud desplechin in the jury….it can happen, deneuve as best actress

  • 15 9-11-2010 at 8:29 am

    marco70go said...

    @Guy: thanks for pointing out what exactly Road to Nowhere is;
    @Brecht: calling Still Life a good film and The Wrestler, Lebanon and Brokeback Mountain “conventional to mediocre” is being plain snobbish.
    That said, there is one thing who must never be underestimated: being a member of a jury at a movie festival rarely means being good at judging movies: more often than not, jury members work in movies but don’t watch (that many) movies, so they’re very easily favorably surprised by stuff who looks “new and artsy and revolutionary” to them, but that is actually not.