Hollywood's big pre-Awards festival AFI Fest is set to kick off this Thursday, November 1 and ScreenAnarchy has got you covered. We've got a three-part 10 to Watch preview series for you beginning now with a look at some of the bigger titles in the Galas and Special Screenings sections that are hoping to get some early Oscar buzz out of the fest. Don't forget, AFI Fest is free to attend. You can check out the ticketing details on AFI Fest's website.
Director Sacha Gervasi is probably best known for directing the wonderful and hilarious 2008 documentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil. Before that, Gervasi also wrote Steven Spielberg's The Terminal. Gervasi is finally back in the director's chair for Black Swan co-writer John J. McLaughlin's adaptation of Stephen Rebello's book. Set against the backdrop of the production of Psycho, this film focuses on the famous director's (played by Anthony Hopkins) relationship with his wife Alma (played here by Helen Mirren). The star studded supporting cast also includes Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Michael Stuhlbarg, James D'Arcy, and Ralph Macchio. Yes Karate Kid Ralph Macchio. Fox Searchlight is distributing the film in limited release beginning November 23.
The AFI Fest closer is just a tiny biopic about an obscure historical figure by some unknown filmmakers and actors. The subject: Abraham Lincoln. The star: Daniel Day Lewis. The director: Steven Spielberg. The film is written by Munich scribe Tony Kushner and co-stars Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, and Tommy Lee Jones. Disney/Touchstone will roll out the film November 9.
Read Jason Gorber's Review
ON THE ROAD
Walter Salles's (The Motorcycle Diaries) ambitious and mostly successful Keruac-daptation of one of the most important American novels makes a stop by AFI Fest for some gala fanfare as it chugs towards awards season and its December 21 release date from IFC/Sundance Selects.
Read Ryland Aldrich's Review
LIFE OF PI
Director Ang Lee and screenwriter David Magee (Finding Neverland) have teamed up to bring Yann Martel's imaginative novel to big 3D screens. With an interesting cast that includes Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Rafe Spall, and Gérard Depardieu, expectations are high for a film that will have to hit on something other than star power (at least in the states). The film debuted last month at New York Film Festival where reactions were a bit mixed. Fox is bringing the film to theaters on November 21.
Read Christopher Bourne's Review
RUST AND BONE
Jacques Audiard's much anticipated follow-up to A Prophet has received generally positive reviews since its debut at Cannes last summer. Most of the buzz has been for the incredible performances by Marion Cotillard and Bullhead's Matthias Schoenaerts. France has decided to play it safe and forgo submitting this film for the Foreign Language Oscar, going instead with The Intouchables. Sony Pictures Classics will release Rust and Bone in limited fashion on November 23.
Read Brian Clark's Review
One of the definite audience faves at last month's Fantastic Fest (and pretty much anywhere else it has played) is Leos Carax's wild and wonderful 24 hour Parisian head trip. While this was never going to get France's nod for the Oscar, we can all maintain the tiniest sliver of hope the distributor Indomina will mount a campaign to have the film's star Denis Lavant compete for Best Actor. It's not bloody likely, but damn he deserves it. The film is already rolling out across America but will play AFI Fest before it opens in LA on November 16. Go see this film!
Read Brian Clark's Review
Another Fantastic Fest entry making its way to LA via AFI Fest is Rodney Ascher's The Shining conspiracy docu. Any fans of Kubrick or solid documentaries should check it out. IFC will be releasing this one at some future date.
Read James Marsh's Review
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
While I personally have some major problems with the screenplay/story in David O. Russell's (The Fighter) latest, I can't deny that everyone else seems completely oblivious to these problems and is touting the Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence mental illness love story for Oscar glory. Decide for yourself when it hits AFI Fest or catch it from The Weinstein Co. when they release it on November 21.
Read Jason Gorber's Review
There won't be a dry eye in the theater for Juan Antonio Bayona's tsunami drama starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. Though it received some flak at TIFF for only focusing on the white peoples' problems, Summit is readying an awards run when it hits screens on December 21.
Read Kurt Halfyard's Review
GINGER AND ROSA
Hailed for its cinematography by DP Robbie Ryan (best known as Andrea Arnold's DP on Fish Tank and Wuthering Heights), this story of two girls in 1960s London stars Elle Fanning and Alice Englert (daughter of Jane Campion). Christina Hendricks, Annette Bening, Timothy Spall, and Oliver Platt co-star. Newcomer A24 Films has US distribution rights to the film.
Read Dustin Chang's Review
We'll be back tomorrow with a look at 10 films in the World Cinema section.