2019 Oscars at a Glance: Venice Film Festival 2018 Wrap-Up

The Sisters Brothers
Credit: Magali Bragard / Annapurna Pictures
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The 2018 Venice Film Festival is in the books. The festival offered up a ton of Oscar hopefuls, and while in past years we’ve seen films like The Leisure Seeker, mother!, Suburbicon, and The Light Between Oceans get their Oscar chances slashed by medicore or bad reviews, we didn’t really have that this year. Not every film received all fresh reviews, but none of them totally struck out.

The coveted Golden Lion award went to Alfonso Cuaron’s newest film, Roma, which was one of the better reviewed films of the festival with a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes right now. The film will screen later this week at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Now going into a rundown for the rest of the competition there, starting with Paul Greengrass’ 22 July. The film has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes right now most reviews were lukewarm. At Eternity’s Gate, the new Vincent Van Gogh film, is at 80% with mostly positive reviews overall, with Willem Dafoe’s portrayal of Van Gogh being the highlight. Netflix’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes with some reviewers praising the story, acting, and direction of the piece.

Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite is one of the higher rated of the bunch with 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and big love for the three leading ladies: Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, and in particular, Olivia Colman. First Man was the opening film, and for the most part was a hit with 90% on Rotten Tomatoes with comparisons to Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff being made, both of which were Best Picture nominees in their respective years.

Peterloo, Mike Leigh’s newest film, is one of the more lukewarm reception-wise with a 65% from Rotten Tomatoes. Attention to period and the last half hour of the piece were credited as masterful, but the rest has been called a bore. The new dark comedy western The Sisters Brothers is at 92% with praise mostly in the story and acting departments, with John C. Reilly getting most of the praise.

Where we did see one film disappoint from high expectations, though, was Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria. The direction and cast were praised somewhat, but the critics are pretty divided on this one with 53% on Rotten Tomatoes. Sure, we’ve seen films like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close be nominated with mixed reviews, but the more apt comparison here is Nocturnal Animals, which also polarized critics, and that film ended up doing well at some awards ceremonies, but being absent from others.

Vox Lux was a surprise hit and is technically the best reviewed of the bunch with 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, the only film at Venice to earn that. Natalie Portman’s portrayal of a punk rock star drew comparisons to her Oscar-winning work on Black Swan, so that’s something to keep in mind. And finally, Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star is Born received mostly positive reviews with a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics hail Lady Gaga’s first major film role as one to look out for in the Best Actress category, and Cooper may well earn a couple of nods for his work in front of, as well as behind, the camera.

Really, the big takeaways from the festival are Netflix’s films getting great receptions, Suspiria failing to live up to the hype, the period pieces being well received for the most part, and musicals like Vox Lux and A Star is Born delighting the crowd. Most of these films are also screening at TIFF later this week, so those Rotten Tomatoes scores will fluctuate one way or the other after that.