After revealing its centerpieces earlier this month, the Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced the full slate for the 2015 New York Film Festival and the big news is Steven Spielberg is back. That's right, after debuting “Lincoln” at the fest just three years ago, America”s greatest living filmmaker returns with his latest thriller, “Bridge of Spies.”
“Spies” finds Tom Hanks portraying James B. Donovan, a lawyer who was recruited to negotiate the release of an U.S. pilot whose U2 spy plane was shot down in the Soviet Union in 1962. If there was any question previously, this certainly puts the Touchstone Pictures release in the awards season conversation.
As for the rest of the slate there is only one new world premiere, “Don”t Blink: Robert Frank” (the entire festival only has four at the moment), and lots of movies that originally debuted at Cannes. In fact, 13 of the festival”s 26 selections first screened at France”s fabled fest. That”s not that unusual for NYFF, but its certainly significantly more than last year.
The lineup also has much more of an international flavor than recent editions with only 12 movies primarily in the English language. Then again, NYFF prides itself as an auteur festival and it has some major ones heading to Lincoln Center including the aforementioned Spielberg, Danny Boyle, Robert Zemeckis, Michael Moore, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Todd Haynes, Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Yorgos Lanthimos, Michel Gondry and Jia Zhangke, among others.
There is also still a chance a late addition sneak will be added to the lineup, but for the moment this is New York”s slate. Let”s take a look, shall we?
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Lowdown: A perfect fit for NYFF, “Walk” is the true story of Philippe Petit attempt to cross from one of the World Trade Center towers to the other. Word is its a visual wonder, but we're worried about star Joseph Gordon-Levitt's scary French accent.
In theaters: Oct. 9
Director: Danny Boyle
Lowdown: Boyle teams up with uber-producer Scott Rudin for the first time in this buzzed about biopic about the mercurial Apple co-founder (Michael Fassbender). It's also rumored to be playing Telluride and opens only a few days after its NYFF screening.
In theaters: Oct. 3
Director: Don Cheadle
Lowdown: Cheadle's directorial debut has already been picked up by Sony Classics. The biopic finds Cheadle playing legendary jazz musician Miles Davis and could be a late entry into the Oscar race.
In theaters: Potentially 2015, likely 2016.
“Arabian Nights: Volume 1, The Restless One”
“Arabian Nights: Volume 2, The Desolate One”
“Arabian Nights: Volume 3, The Enchanted One”
Director: Miguel Gomes
Lowdown: Gomes' three-part movie clocks in at 381 minutes uncut and earned somewhat mixed reviews at Cannes competing in the Directors Fortnight.
Director: Hou Hsiao-hsien
Lowdown: Don't get me started on this one. It's already the most overrated film of 2015.
“Bridge of Spies”
Director: Steven Spielberg
Lowdown: Spielberg reunites with Tom Hanks for the fourth time in this Cold War era thriller. This is actually the second film in a row Spielberg has debuted at NYFF after “Lincoln.”
In theaters: Oct. 16
Director: John Crowley
Lowdown: Fox Searchlight picked up this tearjerker at Sundance and it has an excellent shot of landing a best picture nomination. Also, like fellow NYFF entry “Carol,” features a female protagonist who works in a New York City department store in 1952 (and, no, it does not appear to be the same store). [My review]
In theaters: Nov. 6 (limited)
Director: Todd Haynes
Lowdown: At Cannes the Oscar player won over the critics and Rooney Mara won Best Actress from the Jury. Now, The Weinstein Company is picking and choosing where it brings the period drama next. A Telluride berth is rumored, but they are skipping Toronto in favor of NYFF. Hey, it worked well for “Birdman” last year. [My review]
In theaters: Nov. 20 (limited release)
“Cemetery of Splendour”
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Lowdown: Weerasethakul's follow up to Palm d'Or winner “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” earned slightly less enthusiastic reviews at Cannes, but still had its fans.
Director: Thomas Bidegain
Lowdown: Effectively a remake of “The Searchers” set in modern day France, this drama earned strong notices at Cannes even if most of the press didn't have time to see it. Don't be surprised if the New York critics go nuts for it.
“Don”t Blink: Robert Frank”
Director: Laura Israel
Lowdown: A world premiere, this documentary focuses on the life and work of noted photographer and documentarian Robert Frank.
Director: Michael Almereyda
Lowdown: After this stylized “true story” drama was a film screened at Sundance, at least three different people remarked to this writer, “That is such a New York Film Festival movie.” Eight months later it's announced as part of the main slate. Sometimes these festivals program themselves.
In theaters: Oct. 16 (limited)
“The Forbidden Room”
Directors: Guy Maddin & Evan Johnson
Lowdown: A well regarded thriller that's played a ton of different festivals since debuting at Sundance in January, but NYFF still wanted it. That's a major compliment.
“In the Shadow of Women (L”Ombre des femmes)”
Director: Philippe Garrel
Lowdown: French auteur Garrel brings his moderately highly regarded Cannes drama across the Atlantic to NYFF. Yep, another Cannes title.
“Journey to the Shore (Kishibe no tabi)”
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Lowdown: Kurosawa won the directing honor in the Un Certain Regard category at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival for this drama.
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Lowdown: Lanthimos's very dark comedy won a Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival where it was highly regarded even if many believed the second half was not as brilliant as the first. And after “True Detective” season two we can absolutely say it's the best thing you'll see Colin Farrell in this year.
In theaters: TBD, but Alchemy is expected to release it sometime this Fall for awards season consideration.
Director: Rebecca Miller
Lowdown: Miller's follow up to 2009's “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” is already slated to premiere at Toronto. The fact the Bill Hader and Greta Gerwig “comedy” is now playing NYFF likely means its not one of “those” Toronto titles (and we're sure you can figure out what that means).
“The Measure of a Man (La Loi du marché)”
Director: Stéphane Brizé
Lowdown: Another well received Cannes player. This one focuses on a man struggling to find a job (Vincent London) in an economy where self worth is almost an after thought.
Director: Nanni Moretti
Lowdown: Moretti's semi-autobiographical drama had is share of supporters in Cannes. It will also likely be Italy's Oscar submission for the Best Foreign Language Film.
In theaters: TBD, Alchemy has U.S. rights and when and if it hits theaters will likely depend on an Oscar nomination.
“Microbe & Gasoline (Microbe et Gasoil)”
Director: Michel Gondry
Lowdown: This French language coming of age story already opened in France this past July to positive, but low-key reviews. Slightly strange NYFF would program it, but since it hasn't played any festivals let alone English-language tests they might see it as something of a Gondry coup.
“Mountains May Depart”
Director: Jia Zhangke
Lowdown: One of my favorite films from the 2015 Cannes Film Festival continues its trek at festivals around the world. Check out my capsule review here.
In theaters: TBD, but will depend if its China's submission in the Foreign Language Film category for the 2016 Academy Awards and if its eventually nominated.
“My Golden Days (Trois Souvenirs de ma jeunesse)”
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Lowdown: Oh no! It's another movie from Desplechin! The director of one of the worst movies at a major film festival I've ever seen, “Jimmy P.” The good news is “Golden Days” received much better notices when it debuted in Directors Fortnight at Cannes this past May.
In theaters: TBD, but Magnolia Pictures picked it up so likely in 2016.
“No Home Movie”
Director: Chantal Akerman
Lowdown: Akerman's doc focuses on her mother, an Auschwitz survivor who passed away in 2014. It just debuted at the Locarno Film Festival a few days ago.
“Right Now, Wrong Then”
Director: Hong Sangsoo
Lowdown: The highly regarded Korean filmmaker returns to NYFF with a new drama that will first debut tomorrow at Locarno.
“The Treasure (Comoara)”
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
Lowdown: The acclaimed Romanian director of “Police, Adjective” brought “The Treasure” to Cannes where it won an official prize in Un Certain Regard. Now the well received drama finds itself with another impressive invite which could help it find some sort of U.S. distribution.
“Where To Invade Next”
Director: Michael Moore
Lowdown: Moore's latest doc was something of a well kept secret until the filmmaker teased something was coming right before Toronto unveiled its slate. With warhawks circling around Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “Invade” may be even, um, more timely than anyone involved expected it to be. The movie is still looking for a distributor, but the fact it's screening at NYFF after debuting at TIFF is a good sign.
The 2015 New York Film Festival runs September 25 through October 11.