‘Roma’ roars to a Golden Lion win at Venice and ‘The Favourite’ is royally rewarded as is star Olivia Colman

Alfonso Cuaron claimed the coveted Golden Lion at the 75th Venice International Film Festival for his much-lauded “Roma,” a semi-biographical black-and-white neo-realist depiction of middle-class Mexico in the ‘70s. He previously launched “Gravity” at the same event in 2013, which would win seven Academy Awards.

What made this year’s moment extra-sweet was that jury president and buddy Guillermo del Toro handed him the honor. Last year, del Toro was the one who roared his way to a Golden Lion with “The Shape of Water,“ which would also end up with a Best Picture Oscar. Similarly, Alejandro G. Inarritu – who together with the other two directors are known in Hollywood as the Three Amigos — showed his “Birdman” in Venice in 2014, and would go on to Best Picture glory as well — even if he doesn’t have his own Golden Lion yet. Perhaps “Roma” will follow suit, especially if Netflix considers a theatrical run.

The Favourite,”about royal intrigue in the court of England’s Queen Anne, lived up to its name as it took the Silver Lion grand jury prize. Olivia Colman, who plays the sickly ruler in the sly period piece directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Lobster”), won the Volpi Cup for best actress. Willem Dafoe won the same prize as best actor as the tortured artist Vincent Van Gogh in Julian Schnabel’s  unconventional biopic, “At Eternity’s Gate,” after earning enthusiastic  critical response. And the Silver Lion Best Director honor went Jacques Audiard for his Western “The Sisters Brothers.”

Joel and Ethan Cohn took best screenplay for the anthology-style Western,”The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” Jennifer Kent (“The Babbadook”), the lone women director with a film in competition, was presented with a special grand jury prize for her violent revenge film, “The Nightingale.”

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