When Challengers, the Zendaya-starring tennis drama from director Luca Guadagnino, was pulled from Venice's opening night slot due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, many wondered what sort of presence Hollywood would have at the world's oldest film festival. But the line-up for the 80th edition of the Venice International Film Festival promises new offerings from some of the most renowned auteurs working today — and starring the likes of Jessica Chastain, Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and more.
The latter stars may be absent from the red carpets during the festival, but from Aug. 30 to Sept. 9, they will shine on-screen on the Lido. In lieu of Challengers, Venice will open with Italian director Edoardo De Angelis' historical drama, Comandante, and close with Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona's survival thriller, Society of the Snow. The full slate includes 21 films in competition, with 27 more bowing in the Horizons and Horizons Extra competition, and 20 titles premiering out of competition.
Not to be outdone by last year's illustrious line-up — which included future Best Picture nominees like The Banshees of Inisherin and TÁR — A.frame has rounded up 10 of our most anticipated films screening at this year's Venice International Film Festival.
Bradley Cooper premiered his directorial debut, 2018's A Star Is Born, at Venice, with the film going on to receive eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Cooper. He now returns to the Lido with his follow-up, which is equally ambitious: In Maestro, Cooper portrays the legendary composer Leonard Bernstein, opposite Carey Mulligan as his wife, actress and activist Felicia Montealegre. The cast also includes Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke and Sarah Silverman, with prosthetics courtesy of two-time Oscar-winning makeup artist Kazu Hiro (Bombshell and Darkest Hour).
Oscar winner Sofia Coppola has only bowed one of her films at Venice — 2010's highly underrated Somewhere — opting instead to unveil most of her movies at Cannes. Arriving in the wake of Baz Luhrmann's maximalist magnum opus Elvis, Priscilla is told in the point of view of its titular Presley, with all of Coppola's aesthetic accoutrements. The drama is based on Priscilla Presley's 1985 memoir, Elvis & Me, and stars Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla and Jacob Elordi as the King of Rock and Roll.
Arriving five years after Ava Duvernay's last big screen offering, Disney's A Wrinkle in Time, her latest feature feels like something of a return to form for the Oscar-nominated filmmaker. Origin is based on Isabel Wilkerson's Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, and stars Oscar nominees Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (King Richard) and Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), along with Jon Bernthal, Niecy Nash-Betts, Audra McDonald, Nick Offerman, and Connie Nielsen. When Origin premieres at Venice, DuVernay will make history as the first African American woman in competition.
The last time David Fincher was at Venice, he was premiering 1999's Fight Club. He returns to the Lido nearly a quarter of a century later with an adaptation of the French graphic novels by Alexis Nolent and illustrated by Luc Jacamon. The Killer has been a longtime passion project for the three-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker, who first signed on to direct in 2007. Michael Fassbender plays the eponymous assassin, with Tilda Swinton co-starring and an original score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who won their first Oscars for composing the score for Fincher's The Social Network).
Evil Does Not Exist
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi hasn't eased off the gas since Drive My Car won the Oscar for Best International Feature Film, while earning three additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Directing for Hamaguchi, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Hamaguchi and Takamasa Ôe. The Japanese filmmaker has two new films playing in festivals this fall: First, Aku wa sonzai shinai (Evil Does Not Exist), about a father and daughter who take on Tokyo developers to save their village, will bow at Venice. Then in October, Hamaguchi will debut his second surprise film, Gift, at Film Festival Gent in Belgium.
Yorgos Lanthimos, a three-time Oscar nominee for The Lobster and The Favourite, puts an idiosyncratic spin on the story of Frankenstein's monster in Poor Things, which stars frequent collaborator Emma Stone (herself a three-time Oscar nominee who won Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in 2016's La La Land) as a young woman brought back to life by a mad scientist. Lanthimos directs from a script by Tony McNamara, who previously penned The Favourite, with a cast that includes Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Christopher Abbott, Jerrod Carmichael, and Margaret Qualley.
After directing Natalie Portman to an Oscar nomination in Jackie and Kristen Stewart to one for Spencer, Pablo Larraín takes a break from his ladies to helm something entirely different: El Conde (The Count), a dark comedy in which Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is revealed to be a 250-year-old vampire who has decided it's finally time to die. (Jaime Vadell plays Pinochet in the film.) El Conde harkens back to the Chilean filmmaker's earlier work — Tony Manero (2008), Post Mortem (2010), and No (2012), which formed an unofficial trilogy of films about life under Pinochet's dictatorship.
Michael Mann, the Oscar-nominated writer, producer and director of The Insider, hasn't released a film since 2015's Blackhat. (Though, he eased the gap with last year's Heat 2 novel.) Now, after eight years, Mann returns with a biopic about Enzo Ferrari, the Italian race car driver-turned-automobile entrepreneur — although the film has been in the works for far longer. Mann first began developing Ferrari in 2000. At one point, Christian Bale was slated to play Enzo, and then Hugh Jackman. Ultimately, two-time Oscar nominee Adam Driver landed the title role. He stars alongside Oscar winner Penélope Cruz as his wife Laura, and a cast that includes Shailene Woodley, Jack O'Connell, and Patrick Dempsey.
Housekeeping for Beginners
North Macedonia-born, Australia-raised filmmaker Goran Stolevski has broken out with three film releases in three years: His feature debut was 2022's You Won't Be Alone, a witchy 19th-century folk tale. He followed that with Of an Age, a gay love story told in two parts. His latest is Housekeeping for Beginners (Domakinstvo Za Pocetnici), about a queer Macedonian woman left to begrudgingly raise her late partner's children, starring Anamaria Marinca, Alina Serban, and Samson Selim. The film will debut in the Orizzonti (Horizons) Competition, which will mark Stolevski's biggest debut to date and an exciting new chapter for a queer filmmaker on the rise.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar
This year's out-of-competition titles hail from filmmakers as diverse as William Friedkin, Richard Linklater and Harmony Korine. Among the offerings is Wes Anderson's second release this year, a 39-minute short film based on the Roald Dahl story of the same name, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. The adventure comedy marks Anderson's second Dahl adaptation following 2009's Oscar-nominated, stop-motion animated Fantastic Mr. Fox — although Henry Sugar will be live action. Ralph Fiennes stars as Dahl and Benedict Cumberbatch plays Henry Sugar, with a cast that also includes Dev Patel, Richard Ayoade and Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley.