Thursday, April 18, 2024

How The 2023 Fall Film Festivals Are Shaping The Best Picture Race

With yesterday’s announcement of the Gala & Special Screenings lineup for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and now the lineup for the 80th edition of the Venice Film Festival, the fall film festival season is starting to take shape. We are beginning to see which films will have their world premieres at which festivals while we try to formulate what may or may not go to Telluride (the lineup for the Colorado-based film festival does not get announced until the day the festival begins). Of course, we pay attention to this so much because this is where many of this year’s Oscar contenders will start their awards season narratives. Looking at the last decade, here are how many Best Picture nominees came from the fall film festivals (Venice, Telluride, Toronto, New York, or AFI Film Festival):

2022: 5/10
2021: 4/10
2020: 1/8 (pandemic year)
2019: 5/9
2018: 4/8
2017: 4/9
2016: 5/9
2015: 5/8
2014: 5/8
2013: 6/9

So as you can see, you can expect to see roughly 50% of this year’s Best Picture nominees come from one of these festivals. Looking at some of the films the Next Best Picture team is currently predicting for Best Picture, here are the titles we have accounted for so far…

Anatomy Of A Fall
Asteroid City
Killers Of The Flower Moon
May December
The Zone Of Interest

Past Lives


The Holdovers

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse

Bob Marley: One Love
Dune: Part Two
Freud’s Last Session
Horizon: An American Saga
Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Rob Peace
The Actor
The Bikeriders
The Book Of Clarence
The Boy And The Heron
The Boys In The Boat
The Burial
The Collaboration
The Color Purple
The Iron Claw
The Nickel Boys
The Outrun
The Piano Lesson

Next Goal Wins
One Life
Pain Hustlers
Seven Veils

Hit Man
Io Capitano
Poor Things
The Killer

Remember, not all of these will be Best Picture contenders, and some films not mentioned may have their world premiere at one of the fall film festivals and surprise us by entering the Best Picture conversation. However, it’s interesting to note Emerald Fennell’s “Saltburn,” Jeff Nichols’ “The Bikeriders,” Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” and Blitz Bazawule’s “The Color Purple” still have no world premiere status at any of the festivals, with the latter possibly getting pushed to 2024 altogether.

Hypothetically, suppose four of this year’s Best Picture nominees come from before the fall film festivals take place. In that case, it’s reasonable to assume the four would come from either “Air,” “Anatomy Of A Fall,” “Barbie,” “Killers Of The Flower Moon,” “Oppenheimer,” “Past Lives” and/or “Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse.” Let’s assume there’s one other film released in November/December without a fall film festival run in the lineup, such as “Dune: Part Two” or “The Color Purple.” However, if either of these moves to 2024, this will open up the possibilities tremendously for many titles. As of today, the collective top ten predicted nominees for Best Picture voted on by the NBP team include:

Anatomy Of A Fall
The Color Purple
Dune: Part Two
The Holdovers
Killers Of The Flower Moon
Past Lives
The Zone Of Interest

Assuming “Saltburn” shows up at one of the fall film festivals, this hypothetical Best Picture lineup would include only three titles that had their world premieres at the fall film festivals. This would represent the lowest number of nominees from Venice, Telluride, TIFF, and/or NYFF this last decade. Based on the current trends of the number being somewhere between 4-6, expect to see this change.

New York has yet to announce what their Closing Night film might be. Still, given how wrong I was in thinking Martin Scorsese’s “Killers Of The Flower Moon” would resurface at NYFF in the Opening Night slot before its theatrical release (it’s now expected to show up for the 50th anniversary of the Telluride Film Festival, given Scorsese’s long-standing relationship with the festival), it could be anything! I remain reasonably confident Denis Villeneuve’s epic second half of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi masterpiece “Dune: Part Two” will not show up at any of the fall film festivals this year, unlike the first film, as it not only won’t have its cast on hand to promote it but the second film doesn’t need the fall film festival pre-buzz boost the first film needed. However, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of “Napoleon” standing in as the giant, spectacle-driven production at either NYFF or as a later addition for TIFF. New York is still expected to have a few surprises in store for us, with the possibility of Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy And The Heron” showing up alongside

Everyone pretty much expected Michael Mann’s “Ferrari,” Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro,” Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things,” Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla” and David Fincher’s “The Killer” would have their world premiers at this year’s Venice Film Festival. What many of us did not expect was to gain a new Best Picture contender (on paper) with Ava DuVernay’s “Origin” starring Aunjanue Ellis, Niecy Nash-Betts, Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Nick Offerman, Connie Nielsen, and Audra McDonald. This is another title from Netflix, who already has Todd Haynes’ “May December,” “The Killer,” “Maestro,” Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin’s “Nyad,” and George C. Wolfe’s “Rustin” all still slated to come out this year. While Warner Bros. is debating pushing off the theatrical releases for “Dune: Part Two” and “The Color Purple,” as is Disney with the Searchlight titleĀ “Next Goal Wins” (“Poor Things” just got delayed minutes after posting this article to December 8th, 2023 from its original September 8th release date) due to the ongoing WGA/SAG-AFTRA strikes, Netflix, and the other streamers, are proceeding business as usual. This leads me to believe Emerald Fennell’s much-anticipated follow-up film to her Oscar-winning “Promising Young Woman,” “Saltburn” (distributed by Amazon Studios), could still have its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival. Or perhaps it will be the Closing Night Film for NYFF?

There’s still large amounts of uncertainty hovering over this awards season due to the strikes for a film can have its world premiere at one of these festivals and still get pushed to 2024. The tactic would be beyond bizarre, and one can only wonder why any studio wouldn’t simply want to come to the negotiation table and pay the writers and actors what they’re asking for rather than destroying whatever audience trust has been built back up post-pandemic (and just experienced a sensational high this past weekend with the dual theatrical release of “Barbenheimer“). Regardless of how the Best Picture race may start to form, we can all take pleasure in knowing most of these films will be released before the calendar year is over, and we cannot wait to see a great deal many of them!

Whatever happens, be on the lookout for half or so of the Best Picture lineup to come from films that have their world premieres at the fall film festivals. Which six films max do you think they will be? Please let us know in the comments section below or over on our Twitter account and be sure to check out our latest Oscar predictions here. Thank you!

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Matt Neglia
Matt Neglia
Obsessed about the Oscars, Criterion Collection and all things film 24/7. Critics Choice Member.

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