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Looking Back on Last Year’s Festival Circuit

Next week, I depart for the Telluride Film Festival. After the Sundance Film Festival having gone virtual back in January and the Tribeca Film Festival being a local fest, this is my first festival trip of the year. Then, once I return from Telluride, I’ll be departing for the Toronto International Film Festival. Then, it’ll be time to settle in back here for the New York Film Festival. As these 2022 festivals get closer, I wanted to look back on what the season was like last year. Could 2021 inform 2022? Probably not, but knowledge is power, so let us refresh our memories…

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on what NYFF, Telluride, and TIFF contained, plus the Venice Film Festival. Of course, the Sundance Film Festival notably debuted CODA, which wound up winning Best Picture at the Oscars, but this year’s Sundance lineup is unlikely to have a Best Picture nominee (as it currently stands). In any event, the fall part of festival season is when things really kick into gear, so that’s where our attention will be today.

Venice kicked things off with a pretty strong lineup. Playing at the fest were the likes of The Card Counter, Dune, The Hand of God, Happening, The Last Duel, Last Night in Soho, The Lost Daughter, Parallel Mothers, The Power of the Dog, and Spencer. Everything listed there was, at least to one degree or another, up for notable Academy Award consideration. Halloween Kills also played there, but that was, let’s say…not a contender.

Coming out of Venice 78, we had two future Best Picture nominees (Dune and The Power of the Dog), the eventual Best Director winner (Jane Campion), and a below the line behemoth (Dune), This certainly was a strong start to festival season, without question.

Telluride came next and was no slouch, either. Just look at this sample of what was in their lineup. They had Belfast, C’mon C’mon, Cyrano, Flee, The Hand of God, A Hero, King Richard, The Lost Daughter, Petite Maman, The Power of the Dog, Red Rocket, The Rescue, and Spencer. That’s a quality grouping, even if Oscar snubbed some of these (while going hard for others). That doesn’t even take into account other selections like The Automat, Bergman Island, Cow, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Julia, and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

The 48th installment of Telluride was pretty loaded, with three Best Picture nominees (Belfast, King Richard, and The Power of the Dog), alongside our Best Actor winner (Will Smith), Best Director (Campion), and Best Original Screenplay (Kenneth Branagh) winners too. To be sure, this was more evidence that this particular fest is a very specific Oscar tastemaker.

TIFF continued the evolution of the season, and I was even on the ground in Toronto for the fest. By far, this one has the largest lineup, so just look at all that played TIFF in 2021. There was Belfast, Bergman Island, Dear Evan Hansen, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Last Night in Soho, The Survivor, The Worst Person in the World, and more, just in terms of Gala presentations. They also had Attica, Drive My Car, Dune, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Flee, The Guilty, A Hero, The Humans, I’m Your Man, Jockey, Julia, Petite Maman, The Power of the Dog, The Rescue, Spencer, The Starling, and Where Is Anne Frank. Loaded, right?

Toronto clearly has had plenty of Academy Award success in the past, and that continued here. Four Best Picture nominees (Belfast, Drive My Car, Dune, and The Power of the Dog) led the charge, but also our Best Actress winner (Jessica Chastain), alongside Best Director (Campion), Best Original Screenplay (Branagh), and Best International Feature (Drive My Car). So, there’s a reason why so many of us flock up north for this fest.

NYFF

Finally, NYFF wrapped things up by unveiling The Tragedy of Macbeth. They also had Benedetta, Bergman Island, C’mon C’mon, Drive My Car, Dune, Flee, The French Dispatch, The Lost Daughter, Parallel Mothers, Petite Maman, The Power of the Dog, Red Rocket, Titane, and The Worst Person in the World.

New York had three Best Picture nominees (Drive My Car, Dune, and The Power of the Dog), alongside our previously mentioned wins in Director fro Campion and International Feature for Drive My Car. While it might seem a touch thinner, Oscar-wise, it was still a quality fest, with plenty of awards contenders contained within.

So, can we take anything from what those lineups looked like and apply to this year? Well, mostly no. We already know what’s playing everywhere but Telluride (that news is a week away), so it’s a matter of seeing them and knowing how they land. Once the films aren’t just hypotheticals, it’s easier to tell where the similarities and differences reside. Still, it’s a way to get excited for these movies, along with the season on the whole. So, sit tight for more…

Stay tuned to see how the 2022 fall film festival season will go!

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Written by Joey Magidson

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