51st New York Film Festival Begins Unreeling Biggest Film Roster
Ever September 27
By: Ellis Nassour
One of the most prestigious exhibitions of the best in world cinema, featuring top films from celebrated filmmakers as well as emerging talent, gets underway Thursday – October 13 at the 51st New York Film Festival, screening 35 Main Slate films, more than ever. The 17-day fest features A-List stars, directors, documentaries, classic revivals, shorts, a Jean-Luc Goddard retrospective, gala tributes, and more.
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.
The NYFF 51 reels off Thursday with 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 theatrically October 11], based on the 2009 Somali pirate capture of a U.S. cargo ship.
This year’s galas celebrate the careers of actress and soon-to-be director [she’s helming the adaptation of Dutch novelist Herman Koch’s, The Dinner] Cate Blanchett, October 2, and actor/director Ralph Fiennes, October 9.
Since her breakthrough in Oscar and Lucinda in 1997, opposite Fiennes, coincidentally, Blanchett has consistently mesmerized audiences with some of the boldest screen performances of the past 20 years. A recipient of five Lead and Supporting Oscar nominations [one of each in 2008] and a Supporting win for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator (2004), this year she’s captivated moviegoers with her stunning portrayal of a society grand dame in downfall in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, a role that’s generated Oscar buzz. Her evening, with sponsorship from ELLE, will feature an onstage conversation and more.
Fiennes, who burst into public consciousness with his harrowing Oscar-nominated performance in Schindler’s List (1993) and has continued to raise the standard of excellence since, will also participate in an onstage conversation, with support from Esquire. It’ll be followed by one of the more noteworthy films in NYFF51, the U.S. premiere of Fiennes’ latest film, The Invisible Woman, about a mostly unknown affair between Charles Dickens and a young actress.
To purchase tickets and/or a table to each gala night’s VIP dinner that precedes the tributes, contact GalaRSVP@FilmLinc.com.
As announced, the Centerpiece attraction on October 5 is Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, and Oscar winners Sean Penn and, playing his mom, an actress who’s played some memorable moms, Oscar-winner Shirley MacLaine in a redo of 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 Stiller directed.
The Closing Night attraction will be Spike Jonze’s magical, melancholy comedy of the near future, Her [Warner Bros., opening commercially in mid-December], starring quirky, but always-watchable three-time Oscar nominee, and Golden Globe and Emmy winner Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, Walk the Line, Gladiator), four-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams, Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, and as the voice of the "advanced operating system" he develops, Scarlett Johansson.
Eagerly-anticipated features in NYFF51 include Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis [Columbia Pictures, opening early December], a 60s Greenwich Village folk music scene comedy 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); Alexander Payne’s spin on a father-son (Bruce Dern, named Best Actor at Cannes this year, and Will Forte) road trip, Nebraska (Paramount); and Richard Curtis’ time-travel rom-com, About Time [Universal Picures], starring Lindsay Duncan, Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, and Bill Nighy.
Also screening will be Robert Redford in All Is Lost [Roadside Attractions], giving a near-wordless performance as he valiantly tries to keep his yacht afloat after an at-sea collision; and Roger Michell’s quite watchable bittersweet comedy/drama, Le Week-End (Music Box Films), centered on a decidedly-different Jim Broadbent and brilliant Tony and Drama desk-winning (Private Lives revival) and nominated (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) Lindsay Duncan as a bewildering middle class English couple enjoying an unaffordable anniversary weekend in Paris.
The three-week Goddard retrospective, The Spirit of the Forms, October 9-30, honors the long-heralded beacon of the French New Wave. Included are dozens of films/TV features and shorts from his trailblazing early 60s to his latest feature, Film Socialisme (2010), a very weird compilation that aptly fits the title of the series and requires great focus and patience. Among the films are: Breathless (1960), Contempt (1963), Band of Outsiders (1964), and King Lear (1987). From his TV oeuvre: France/Tour/Détour/Deux Enfants (1979), and the eight-part Histoire(s) du Cinema.
A majority of the Main Slate films screen twice nightly in Alice Tully Hall, the nearby Walter Reade Theatre, theatres at the Elinor Burin Munroe Film Center [across from Tully]. NYFF51 general public tickets, subscription packages, VIP Passes are on sale now. Main Slate screenings in Tully, $20 members /$25 non; other venues, $15/$20. Main Slate opening night, $75/$100; Centerpiece, closing, and galas $50/$75. Other programming, $10/$15. For more information, and about becoming a Film Society members, visit www.filmlinc.com.