Most Ever Films for the 51st New York Film Festival; Joaquin Phoenix in Her Captures Closing Night Honors
By: Ellis Nassour
More Main Slate films than ever before will greet fans of the 51st New York Film Festival, September 27 – October 13. Familiar names and faces abound in the lineup of 35 features. The 17-day Fest, one of the most respected world-wide, celebrates the best in world cinema, featuring top films from celebrated filmmakers as well as those from emerging talent.
Spike Jonze’s magical, melancholy comedy of the near future, Her [Warner Bros., opening commercially in mid-December] has just nabbed Closing Night honors. Quirky, but always-watchable three-time Oscar nominee, and Golden Globe and Emmy winner Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, Walk the Line, Gladiator), co-starring with four-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams, Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde, is a lonely writer who develops a connection with his "advanced operating system" (voice of Scarlett Johansson), which leads to existential complications.
Already-announced opening the Festival is two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks, one of moviedom’s biggest, most dependable box office stalwarts, in Paul Greengrass’ edge-of-the-seat thriller Captain Phillips [Columbia Pictures, opening October 11], based on the 2009 Somali pirate capture of a U.S. cargo ship.
The Centerpiece attraction is Ben Stiller, co-starring with Kristen Wiig, and Oscar winners Sean Penn and – playing Mitt’s mom, an actress who’s played some memorable moms, Oscar-winner Shirley MacLaine in James Thurber’s classic comic fable about a mild-mannered man who lives vicariously through heroic daydreams, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [20th Century Fox, opening Christmas], which he also directed.
Diverse is the apt description for this year’s arrivals, many of which took awards at Cannes, Berlin, and Sundance. The U.S. will dominate with 12 films. There’ll be fare from 16 other countries and territories, including, of course, France and the U.K.
Along with first timers, there are filmmakers returning for their fifth, sixth, even seventh time. A-List names include Joel and Ethan Coen with their 60s Greenwich Village folk music scene comedy, Inside Llewyn Davis [Columbia, opening early December], headlining Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, John Goodman, and Stark Sands; Jim Jarmusch’s take on the vampire genre, Only Lovers Left Alive (Sony Pictures Classics), starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston (Midnight in Paris, The Avengers) as a centuries-old couple watching time go by; and Alexander Payne’s spin on a father-son (Bruce Dern, Will Forte) road trip to claim a prize, Nebraska (Paramount).
Eagerly-anticipated features include Richard Curtis’ time-travel rom-com, About Time [Universal], starring Lindsay Duncan, Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, and Bill Nighy; Robert Redford in All Is Lost [Roadside Attractions], giving a near-wordless performance as he valiantly tries to keep his yacht afloat after a collision with an abandoned shipping container; and James Franco not only as co-star (with Tim Blake Nelson, and Jim Parrack, TV’s True Blood) but branching out as co-writer and director, in the adaption of Cormac McCarthy’s 1973 uncompromisingly graphic American Gothic tale of a 60s Tennessee sociopath.
Also, newsworthy are The Invisible Woman [Sony Pictures Classics], directed by Ralph Fennes, starring as Charles Dickens, revealing his long-term affair with a young actress; and Roger Michell’s bittersweet melodrama, Le Week-End (Music Box Films), centered on a middle class English couple who weekend in Paris, starring U.K. national treasures, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan.
General public tickets go on sale September 8. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.com.