NYFF wins again as Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Inherent Vice’ snags centerpiece gala slot

Think you're all that Telluride? Feeling confident in your slate Venice? Fighting for your premiere life Toronto? Well, the New York Film Festival has no plans of sitting on the sidelines in the battle for major premieres this fall movie season. On Wednesday, the Film Society of Lincoln Center revealed that David Fincher's “Gone Girl” will open the festival on Sept. 26. Friday evening it was revealed that another highly anticipated film, Paul Thomas Anderson's “Inherent Vice,” will be the event's centerpiece gala.

Anderson's first film since 2012's “The Master,” “Inherent Vice” is an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's novel about a detective (Joaquin Phoenix) investigating the disappearance of a former girlfriend in 1970 Los Angeles. The American auteur has recruited an incredible cast including Josh Brolin, Martin Short, Jena Malone, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon and Anderson's longtime companion, Maya Rudolph. “Vice” is currently scheduled to open in limited release on Dec. 12 at the height of award season and expand nationwide on Jan. 9 just in time for the Golden Globes on Jan. 11. 

A five-time Oscar nominee, Anderson has no serious track record with debuting his work at one festival or another. “The Master” premiered at Venice, “There Will Be Blood” shocked by sneaking at Fantastic Fest, “Punch-Drunk Love” went to Cannes, “Magnolia” skipped the festival circuit, “Boogie Nights” debuted at Toronto and “Hard Eight” screened at Sundance. During their festival runs, however, “Punch-Drunk Love” and “Boogie Nights” eventually hit New York. This year, it seems, NYFF gets first dibs overall.

Variety reports that “Inherent Vice” will screen at NYFF on Oct. 4. It should be noted, however, that Film Society of Lincoln Center has neither confirmed nor denied the report. Additionally, while “Vice” may have its official world premiere at NYFF, Anderson has a history of showing his films “unofficially” at last-minute screenings across the country or sneaking at an unexpected festival such as Fantastic Fest. Would he play that game with the venerable New York film institution? Well, never say never.

With “Birdman” opening Venice and “Gone Girl” and “Inherent Vice” both at NYFF, the opportunities for major world premieres at Telluride and Toronto are down to a handful at best. More will likely be revealed with Venice and Toronto set to announce their first wave of selections beginning Tuesday morning.

The 52nd annual New York Film Festival runs from Sept. 26 through Oct. 12.