Venice and Toronto pave the way for awards season

The starting gun has been fired on the 2016 film awards season, with the announcement of the line-ups of two of the most prestigious festivals. The overlapping events in Venice and Toronto are often used as launch-pads for films that distributors hope will feature among the nominees for awards from the Golden Globes to the BAFTAs and Oscars.

Eddie Redmayne in Tom Hooper's The Danish Girl
Eddie Redmayne in Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl

Last year’s Oscar winner for Best Actor Eddie Redmayne could find himself back in the running in the New Year, playing a transgender pioneer in The Danish Girl, directed by Tom Hooper, who won the Academy’s Best Director prize for The King’s Speech. The film will receive its world premiere at Venice, as will Baltasar Kormakur’s mountain drama Everest, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, which opens the festival. The two most recent Venice openers, Birdman and Gravity, both went on to win the Best Picture Oscar.

A number of films premiering at Venice will go on to feature at Toronto too, including Cary Fukunaga’s child-soldier drama Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba, Atom Egoyan’s Remember, in which Christopher Plummer plays a holocaust survivor out for revenge, and Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight, featuring Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo as reporters who uncover a child abuse scandal in the Catholic church.

Venice will also see Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart appear in the futuristic Equals and Tilda Swinton will be seen in the thriller A Bigger Splash, alongside Ralph Fiennes.

Charlie Kaufman’s animated Anomalisa will also be in the running for the Golden Lion.

Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as lovers in Freeheld
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as lovers in Freeheld

Toronto will open with Dallas Cowboys Club director Jean-Marc Vallee’s Demolition, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts and will premier Sir Ridley Scott’s space epic The Martian, with Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain. The Program, Stephen Frears’ Lance Armstrong biopic, featuring Ben Foster in the title role, will also premier at the festival, as will the gay rights drama Stonewall, from the Independence Day director Roland Emmerich. Another gay-themed film, Freeheld, in which Julianne Moore and Ellen Page play a couple, will get its first outing in Toronto, alongside the drama Forsaken, starring father-and-son pair Donald and Kiefer Sutherland, and the gangster film Legend, in which Tom Hardy plays both Ronald and Reggie Kray. Another film bound to cause waves is the latest non-fiction feature from Michael Moore, Where To Invade Next.

Toronto, which is less worried about securing world premieres for its films, will also be giving north American audiences – and many awards voters – their first chance to see films that struck a chord at Cannes, including Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, Denis Villeneuve’s crime thriller Sicario, Jacques Audiard’s Palme d’Or-winning Dheepan, the Grand Jury Prize winner Son of Saul, Yorgos Lanthimos’s surreal romance The Lobster and Joachim Trier’s Louder than Bombs.

Venice runs from the 2nd to the 12th of September; Toronto takes place between the 10th and 20th.