When the two most recent winners of the Best Directing Oscar are on a film festival jury together, you pay attention to their picks.
That was the case at the 78th Venice International Film Festival, which just wrapped last weekend. Also joining Bong Joon Ho and Chloé Zhao as jurors were Academy members Cynthia Erivo (the actress, singer and songwriter with an Emmy, Grammy and Tony under her belt—and two Oscar nominations to boot) and Alexander Nanau (the creator of last year’s doc sensation Collective, which became the rare nonfiction film to earn an Oscar nomination outside of the documentary category as an International Feature Film contender, too). That’s quite a dream team.
Together, they watched the 21 movies in competition, then hashed out which ones deserved the festival’s top prizes. A few of their picks are below—you might see some familiar names.
Italian writer and director Paolo Sorrentino received the Grand Jury Prize for The Hand of God (out Nov. 24). Sweeping and gorgeous dramas are his thing: Remember seven years ago when he won the Best International Feature Film Oscar for The Great Beauty?
Academy member Maggie Gyllenhaal wrote and directed her first movie this year, and it seems she’s off to quite a start. Already, she was awarded the festival’s top screenwriting prize, the Golden Osella, for The Lost Daughter’s screenplay. In it, Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson and Jessie Buckley all wrestle with the unique glories and challenges of motherhood. The Lost Daughter will be released in theaters on Dec. 17.
Moms are on more than one filmmaker’s mind: Motherhood is a central theme of Pedro Almodóvar’s new movie, too, suitably titled Parallel Mothers (out Dec. 24). The Spanish director has cast frequent collaborator Penélope Cruz in the leading role again. And for her work in their eighth film together, she won the Venice Volpi Cup for Best Actress.
Finally, Jane Campion is a name on the Venice champions list—and it’s a name we never get tired of hearing. Thirty years ago, she became the second-ever woman nominated for Best Director. And at Venice, her talents were again recognized with the Silver Lion for Best Director, for her much buzzed about Western, The Power of the Dog (out Nov. 17).
But fun was had outside of the competitive selection, too. Dune (which seems like everyone’s most anticipated big-screen blockbuster as it prepares for its Oct. 22 release) screened with no interest in trophies, as did The Last Duel (out Oct. 15), Last Night in Soho (out Oct. 29) and Halloween Kills (out Oct. 15), the new entry in the ongoing Michael Myers nightmare. In fact, franchise star Jamie Lee Curtis was in attendance at the festival—not just for that screening, but also to receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.