Oscar contenders ‘Carnage’ and ‘The Descendants’ bookend New York Film Festival

The New York Film Festival is becoming an increasingly important stop on the way to the Oscars. This year’s lineup is full of potential contenders for the top awards, including several films which are already among the top picks in our Best Picture predictions roundup. 


The 49th edition of the festival opens on Sept. 30 with the world premiere of Roman Polanski‘s “Carnage.” The Oscar-winning director (“The Pianist,” 2004) worked with Yasmin Reza to adapt her 2009 Tony-winning play “God of Carnage” about two sets of parents who clash after their children have a fight at school. Two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster and nominee John C. Reilly play the coarser pair while Oscar champs Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz are the seemingly more refined set.

Closing out the festival on Oct. 16 is  Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants.” Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash adapted the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings. A wealthy man (George Clooney) struggles to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife slips into a coma following a boating accident and he discovers she had been unfaithful to him. Payne is slated to be the subject of a one-on-one On Cinema conversation.

My Week with Marilyn” is set to be showcased as the Centerpiece of the festival on Oct. 9. This first feature from Simon Curtis (“Cranford”) is based on a memoir by Colin Clark and follows the one week he spent escorting Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) around Britain while she filmed “The Prince and the Showgirl” with Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). Two years ago, “Precious” was featured in this slot and went on to contend for six Oscars. 

Also being give the gala treatment will be two films that debuted to bravos at Cannes. For “The Skin I Live In,” Pedro Almodovar adpated Thierry Jonquet‘s novel “Tarantula” about a surgeon (Antonio Banderas) compelled to invent a new kind of skin after his wife was burned to death in an automobile accident. “The Artist” is a black-and-white silent film from France that tells the story of a fading actor (Jean Dujardin) and a rising actress (Berenice Bojo) at the end of the silent film era.

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A Dangerous Method” from David Cronenberg will debut at Venice before coming to Gotham. Oscar-winning writer Christopher Hampton adapated his 2002 stage play “The Talking Cure” which was based on John Kerr‘s 1993 biography “A Most Dangerous Method.” The film follows the relationship between fledgling psychiatrist Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and the young woman — Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) — who comes between them.

Fassbender also reunites with “Hunger” director Steve McQueen for Shame” in which he plays a sexual compulsive whose life becomes even more complicated when his younger sister (Carey Mulligan) moves in with him. 

Martha Marcy May Marlene” was a hit at Sundance, with Sean Durkin winning Best Director for his debut film — the harrowing story of a woman (Elizabeth Olsen) struggling to return to her family after escaping a cult. Recent Indie Spirit winner and Oscar nominee John Hawkes (“Winter’s Bone”) co-stars. 

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