The Oscars may not be until February 2020 but we can still delve into potential buzz worthy films at this year’s VIFF! Last year saw some VIFF flicks that made the award seasons such as Greta Gerwig’s comedy drama Ladybird and the Oscar winner Call Me by Your Name. This year we see some impactful documentaries, big star biopics to up and coming directors which are bound to get audiences talking.
Taika Waititi – director of What We Do in The Shadows and Thor: Ragnarok stars as Adolf Hitler in this satire comedy. A 10 year old Nazi boy living in Germany during WWI is conflicted by his imaginary friend, the führer himself and his mother (Scarlett Johansson) who is very anti-Nazi. She is secretly hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in the family attic! The aspiring Hitler Youth must confront his blind allegiance to nationalism and challenge is naïve ideals.
Cynthia Erivo stars in the biographical film as the inspiring Harriet Tubman who escaped slavery and led over 300 slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Erivo embodies the strength and importance of the historical figure as she recalls in an interview “I just want people to see her” Enviro isn’t a stranger to impactful roles – she is a Tony, Grammy and Emmy winner for her musical theatre work in The Color Purple. Harriet is going to be a film which is will provide of plenty of history education as well as moving (probably tear jerking) performances.
Another biographical coming your way with the inspiring drama starring Michael. B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Brie Larson. Destin Daniel Cretton (The Glass Castle, Short Term 12) directed and co wrote the screenplay based on the award-winning nonfiction best seller by Bryan Steveston.
Steveston a young lawyer played by Jordan who is on his way to practice in Alabama. He is tasked with a tough case – a death row prisoner (Foxx) who was convicted of murder despite having an air tight alibi. The film looks at the corrupt justice system in America and how one person made a history making battle to bypass political and legal manoeuvring and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter’s innocence.
La Belle Époque
This dramatic comedy from Nicholas Bedo (Mr & Mrs Adelmen) takes on the world of VR to bring back waves of nostalgia. A cynical 70-ish cartoonist Victor (a superb Daniel Auteuill) hires a virtual reality company to take him back to the day of 1974 where he originally met his wife Marianne (Fanny Ardant). In the present day, his marriage is a shambles and Victor is suffering from an existential crisis but in the in this golden-hued past maybe he can revisit the glory days.
A Hidden Life
An epic journey during WWII by director Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) tells the true story of an Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl) who is severely tested as war blankets around Europe and Nazi ideology spreads. With his loving wife Franziska (Valerie Pachner), the two deal with the consequences of standing up to their beliefs against the antisemitic dogma. Malick chooses to tell a story that is heroic, gripping and likely one of the great unknown tales in history.
The star studded cast of Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Anthony Banderas feature in Steven Soderbergh’s dramatization of the Panama Papers expose. Streep stars as a middle class retiree who after having been denied compensation after losing her husband in a ferry accident embarks on a personal investigation into the policies ignoring her claim. The large scandalous paper trail leads to fake insurance systems which link to a Panama City law firm.
Sea of Shadows
With climate change becoming a prominent reminder in the present day, we are more aware of the way human life affects the environment and the fragile nature around us. From executive producer Leonoardo Dicaprio and the makers of The Ivory Game, Richard Lankani’s important documentary follows a team of scientists, high-tech conservationists, journalists and undercover agents as they put their live on the line to save the nearly extinct vaquita porpose. Their home is threatened by Chinese poachers aligned with Mexican drug cartels in pursuit of the totoaba’s swim bladder which fetches outrageous amounts of money in China. The team’s mission is to bring the vicious international crime syndicate to justice and their deadly methods which threaten to destroy all marine life in the region.
The dark psychologically horror (literally – it’s all filmed in black and white) stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as secluded lighthouse keepers off the coast of Maine. Veteren keeper (Dafoe) and his apprentice (Pattinson) eventual have their sanity tested as their stay in the lighthouse continues onwards. The dynamic between the two characters in the film’s nowhere to hide ideology, hooks the viewers in with strong performances and emotional explorations.
These films have potential Oscar nominations all over them! Catch them at VIFF 2019!