Tag Archives: Jake Gyllenhaal

Highlights From Tom Ford’s TIFF Interview About His New Film, “Nocturnal Animals”

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Anjli Patel

Nocturnal Animals, the second feature length film directed by Tom Ford, centers on a man’s cathartic, vengeful healing process in the aftermath of a great love lost. Taking the form of a story-within-a-story, Ford employs precise visuals — a skill mastered in his day job as a fashion designer — to segue from one story to the other.

Set simultaneously in the upper echelons of Los Angeles and barren West Texas, these distinct backdrops symbolize the great divide that Susan, Amy Adams’ art dealer character, perceives between her and Edward, her novelist ex-husband played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Susan’s inability to reconcile her needs and desires is the cause of her unhappiness and the couple’s demise. However, nearly two decades later when she has long since moved on with her life, Susan is forced to come to terms with that relationship when she unexpectedly receives a novel written by Edward and dedicated to her.

The film is emotionally gripping and at times difficult to watch, a departure from the melancholy A Single Man, Ford’s directorial debut, which seven years ago also premiered in North America at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Last week following the second screening of Nocturnal Animals, Ford sat down with Cameron Bailey, the artistic director of TIFF, to discuss the film at length. Below are highlights from their conversation.

Ford on the role of style in his films:

“I think because of my other life [as a fashion designer] people usually gravitate to style. In filmmaking unless [style] serves a purpose and helps tell the story, it’s not important. Substance is for me what’s important.”

Ford on the take home message of the film:

“When you find someone in your life, someone that’s important to you, someone who you connect to, don’t let them go. Hold on.”

Ford on fueling consumption:

“Style really has to serve a character, and so there is a real purpose for Susan’s very pristine, cold life. I think it’s something that our society and our culture constantly tells you, ‘this is going to make you happy; you’ll be happy if you have this, you’ll be happy if you have that’ and in my other life I am one of those people responsible for doing that, but I’m very divided about it. I grew up in New Mexico in a much simpler way. Whenever I can, I escape to my house there, to the desert, to the sky, and I feel much more in touch with the earth, and the planet, and why we’re here. And so it is something that I struggle with.”

Ford on the West Texas narrative in the film:

“I have a couple of lives. I grew up in Texas. I know West Texas very well. I have so many cousins there. I lead a life in Los Angeles, in London, but I also have a ranch in New Mexico. I ride horses, I have cattle, I know that world very well, and what I wanted to do was contrast those two worlds — Susan’s slick, cold world is colored in a way that is very blue-toned, it’s very cold. Yet when we have color in her world, it’s quite sharp and quite garish, whereas the inner novel is green, the colors are different, they’re deeper, they’re richer, and then of course her flashback. I think often when many of us remember the past, it’s very vivid and warm because we have a tendency, at least I do, to remember the past in a nostalgic way.”

Ford on Amy Adams:

“Editing Amy, there is not a bad take, a bad moment. She does so much with her face, she is a spectacular actress. … I would say [Amy is] one of the best actresses working today who can tell — she telegraphs with her face what she’s feeling. And I find Amy’s eyes incredibly soulful. … If you know Amy and look into her eyes, you can’t help but feel something, and I wanted that to really come through in the part of Susan.”

Ford on the art in the opening scene:

“All of the art in the film is real. The original artists let us use their work. I usually don’t like a film about the art world where the art is fake because somehow it doesn’t have the same emotion that real art does. [The art in the opening scene] is the one and only piece of art that I created because I had to imagine myself, ‘okay, I’m an artist, and what is it that I want to say.’ I’ve lived in Europe for the last 27 years, so I decided, ‘alright, I’ll tell a European perspective of where America is today.’

I think America used to be thought of as kind of a country of beautiful, tanned, tits and ass, Farah Fawcett in a little red swimsuit, all teeth and hair, and I think a lot of the world today thinks of America as gluttonous, overfed, aging, decaying in a sense. And that was my original intention, which is why these women are wearing little bits and pieces of Americana. So I wanted to create a sort of absurd, conceptual art because Amy then later says everything is junk, our culture is junk.

However, that completely changed. I shot these women — they were the most beautiful people. They were so free, they were so excited, they were so happy, they were so joyful, and I fell in love with them. I fell in love with everything about them. And I realized after I shot them that in a sense they were a microcosm of what I was trying to say about the world. … They’re so glad to be here, and it’s because they have let go of our perception of what they’re supposed to be, and that is what is trapping Amy’s character Susan — she’s trying so hard to be what she thinks she is supposed to be, and she’s miserable. And these women were so joyful because they’ve let go of that. They’ve let go of this idea of what we’re supposed to be. And so [the art] became something quite different in the film.”

(Source: http://www.papermag.com)

Photo by Joe Schildhorn/BFA.com

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Which movies are in the running for the 2017 Oscars?

 

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La La Land with Ryan Gossling and Emma Stone is already a favorite to win the 2017 Oscar for Best Picture. (Photo courtesy of SND)

LOS ANGELES, Sept 25 ― What were the films and who were the actors who stood out at the latest film festivals? In the wake of the Venice, Toronto and Telluride festivals, here is an update on the movies and players potentially in the running for the 2017 Oscars.

In the period from September to December, the pace of superhero epic and action blockbuster releases slows down to make way for potential Oscar-winning works. This year is no exception with studios and distributors preparing to launch the movies they feel stand the best chance in the 89th Academy Awards at a time when they will still be fresh in the minds of the 2017 jury. What are the movies that will benefit from this Hollywood marketing strategy?

Top favourite ‘La La Land’

Having won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, La La Land is now a serious contender for the 2017 Oscar for Best Picture. The Canadian accolade should not be overlooked. In fact it is a more than reliable indicator for the likely winner of a much-coveted gold statuette, having been awarded to such previous Oscar winners as Twelve Years a Slave, The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire and American Beauty.

But it would be unwise to bet on the musical comedy which features Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling without evaluating the chances of some of the other movies that have come to light in the latest festivals: notably Manchester by the Sea, which is buoyed by a remarkable performance by Casey Affleck, Jeff Nichols’ Loving, Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, Nocturnal Animals by Tom Ford, which won the Silver Lion at the 73rd Venice Mostra, and the biopic of Jackie Kennedy, Jackie, which could harvest a second Oscar for Natalie Portman.

However, competition for Best Actress in a Leading Role looks set to be fierce this year. Having garnered an award in Venice, Emma Stone has every chance of gaining a nomination. Ruth Negga (Loving), Amy Adams (Arrival), Viola Davis (Fences) and Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures) are other likely contenders, as is French actress Isabelle Huppert for her much-noted performance in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle. As for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals), Denzel Washington (Fences), Dev Patel (Lion) and Tom Hanks (Sully) could all be in the running.

A more diverse Oscars?

Several films that stand to be selected could also turn the page on the controversy surrounding the 2016 Oscars which was judged to be too “white.” Even if The Birth of a Nation does not currently look to be a competitor, the film which tells the story of a slave revolt may nonetheless be nominated. Other films that look likely to garner nominations include Moonlight, which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival. The story of an African-American growing up in a Miami neighbourhood has already been hailed as major work of independent cinema.

Hidden Figures which casts Octavia Spencer and Taraji P. Henson as mathematicians who, in spite of being overshadowed by their male colleagues, contributed to the success of the Apollo space program, and Denzel Washington’s Fences, which features Viola Davis, have also been tipped for Oscar nominations.

However, we will still have to wait close to five months to see which way the jury votes in the 2017 Academy Awards which will be held on February 26 in Los Angeles. The nominations for the Oscars will be announced on January 24. ― AFP-Relaxnews

(Source: http://www.themalaymailonline.com)

FILM REVIEW: Nocturnal Animals (Ford, 2016): USA

Viewed by Larry Gleeson at Venice Film Festival.

 

Fashion Designer and Film Director Tom premiered his new film, Nocturnal Animals, at the Sala Grande Theater during the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. Nocturnal Animals received the Silver Lion – Grand Jury Prize (generally considered runner-up to the Golden Lion – Best Film). This was Ford’s second feature film. His first film was the critically acclaimed, A Single Man (2009) starring Colin Firth. Firth receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his efforts.

 

Nocturnal Animals, is a tale of redemption, revenge, love and cruelty. Ford opens the film with a strong musical score to reveal rotund, morbidly obese girls dancing topless upon pedestals seemingly pretending to be debutantes. Adding to the fanfare special effect confetti drops down and through the frame. All-American girls showcasing their goods and talents. Bordering on the macabre, the tone for the film has been set.

 

Hollywood, A-lister Amy Adams plays a real-life West Texas debutante, Susan Morrow, who lives an unfulfilling life of daunting privilege with her handsome husband, Hutton Morrow, played by Armie Hammer. As Hutton prepares for yet another last-minute weekend high-finance business meeting in New York relationship fissures widen. A pensive Susan reflects on the state of her union with Hutton after a ‘not-so-discreet’ phone conversation from Hutton’s elevator arriving at a penthouse suite amid feminine gaiety as she opens a plain, white, mail shipping box. Susan opens the box to a black and white manuscript titled, “Nocturnal Animals,” by Edward Sheffield, Susan’s former husband and first true love.

 

In dramatic fashion, Ford begins a journey into the past yet grounded in the present as the manuscript opens up a world fictional, yet etched within Susan’s consciousness. Using parallel storylines, present and fictional coupled with flashbacks to when Edward and Susan first met and the ensuing courtship and short-lived marriage. Laura Linney, plays Susan’s West Texas Republican mother, and delivers some of the film’s more memorable lines during a martini lunch where she unleashes her verbal diatribe lambasting Susan for even considering a marriage to “weak’ Edward. Notwithstanding, however, the real storytelling takes place within the pages of the manuscript. Self-reflective and dramatic the narrative is full of conflict and escalating tensions as a husband and wife, Tony and Laura Hastings, played respectively by Jake Gyllenhaal and Isla Fisher, travel at night across rural West Texas with their teenage daughter, India, played by Ellie Bamber. Without even as much as a lit billboard, out of a pitch dark blackness a vehicle approaches the family’s suburban mid-sized car at a high-rate of speed. The car is driven erratically and its occupants are behaving wildly as they pass. Not too much to worry about until they decide to force the Hastings car off the road. Mayhem ensues as the hellions carjack the Hastings vehicle with the women inside leaving Tony on the side of the road in the dark by his lonesome. Soon a vehicle returns to pick up Tony. He’s informed he gang leader wants to make amends and that Laura and India want Tony brought to where they are being held hostage. Fearing the worst Tony manages to escape and eventually makes his way to a law enforcement office to make an abduction/missing persons report to lawman Bobby Andes, played by Michael Shannon. Susan is shocked and awed at the power of Edward’s writing and the visceral strength of Edward’s character, Tony. By the end of the manuscript, Susan’s life perspective has shifted as she and Edward make plans to meet.

Unquestionably, Ford delivers an emotional and psychological thriller with Nocturnal Animals. Superb acting, exquisite production values and strong storytelling are the film’s hallmarks. Shane Valentino (Straight Outta Compton) handled the film’s production design. Seamus McGarvey (Godzilla, Atonement, The Avengers) provided the cinematography. Costuming was assembled by Arianne Phillips (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Walk The Line, 3:10 To Yuma). Abel Korzeniowski (A Single Man, We) orchestrated the music. Along with directing Ford takes a screenplay writing credit along with Austin Wright, the author of “Tony and Susan,”  for writing the novel the film is based on. Nevertheless, the Casting Director, Francine Maisler (The Revenant, Birdman, The Big Short, 12 Years a Slave) and performances by the actors are above and beyond. This is a Don’t Miss film waiting for Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences nominations. The Oscars.

TRAILER: Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals

From writer/director Tom Ford comes a haunting romantic thriller of shocking intimacy and gripping tension that explores the thin lines between love and cruelty, and revenge and redemption. Academy Award nominees Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star as a divorced couple discovering dark truths about each other and themselves in Nocturnal Animals.

A Focus Features presentation of a Fade To Black production. A Tom Ford Film. Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal. Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Karl Glusman, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen. Casting by Francine Maisler, CSA. Costume Designer, Arianne Phillips. Music, Abel Korzeniowski. Film Editor, Joan Sobel, ACE. Production Designer, Shane Valentino. Director of Photography, Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC. Co-Producer, Diane L. Sabatini. Based upon the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright. Produced by Tom Ford, p.g.a., Robert Salerno, p.g.a. Screenplay by Tom Ford. Directed by Tom Ford. A Focus Features Release.

(Excerpt from Nocturnal Animals Press Notes)

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS
(ctr l-r.) Academy Award nominees Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon star as Tony Hastings and Bobby Andes in writer/director Tom Ford’s romantic thriller NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, a Universal Pictures International release. Credit: Merrick Morton/Universal Pictures International

Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals

From writer/director Tom Ford comes a haunting romantic thriller of shocking intimacy and gripping tension that explores the thin lines between love and cruelty, and revenge and redemption. Academy Award nominees Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star as a divorced couple discovering dark truths about each other and themselves in Nocturnal Animals.

Susan Morrow (portrayed by Ms. Adams) lives an incredibly privileged yet unfulfilled life with her husband Hutton Morrow (Armie Hammer). One weekend, as Hutton departs on one of his too-frequent business trips, Susan receives an unsolicited package that has been left in her mailbox. It is a novel, “Nocturnal Animals,” written by her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Mr. Gyllenhaal), with whom she has had no contact for years. Edward’s note accompanying the manuscript encourages Susan to read the work and then to contact him during his visit to the city. Alone at night, in bed, Susan begins reading. The novel is dedicated to her…

…but its content is violent and devastating, as Edward tells the tale of Tony Hastings (also portrayed by Mr. Gyllenhaal). Driving across a lonely stretch of Texas one night, Tony and his family are harassed by a trio of joyriders, and forced off the road into a confrontation initiated by the gang’s ringleader, the disturbingly insinuating Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Tony is all but powerless to act as his family is kidnapped and he is left stranded. When day breaks, Tony manages to reach the police for help, and laconic Lieutenant Bobby Andes (Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon) takes on the case. Andes forges a strong connection with the distraught Tony, and dedicates himself to pursuing the suspects once Tony’s worst fears are realized…

Moved by Edward’s writing, Susan cannot help but reminisce over the most private moments from her own love story with the author. Trying to look within herself and beyond the glossy surface of the life and career that she has made, Susan increasingly interprets the book as a tale of revenge, a tale that forces her to re-evaluate the choices that she has made, and re-awakens a love that she feared was lost – as the story builds to a reckoning that will define both the novel’s hero and her own.

 

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(l-r.) Academy Award nominees Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon star as Tony Hastings and Bobby Andes in writer/director Tom Ford’s romantic thriller NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, a Universal Pictures International release. Credit: Merrick Morton/Universal Pictures International

 

This is a beautifully shot film. With credits being overlaid, the spectacular opening sequence, complete with confetti special effects, not only sets the tone for a splendid cinematic experience, it also provides psychological value into Amy Adams’ character, Susan while illuminating the film’s contextual structure and framework. Furthermore, I can’t say, I’ve seen a better cast film. Jake Gyllenhaal continues to expand his acting repertoire as Edward. Michael Shannon turns in a powerful, tour de force performance as a cancer-striken Texas lawman. Laura Linney nails the role of aristocratic mother to Adam’s Susan – delivering a few of the film’s most memorable lines. But the actor that caught my attention above and beyond was Aaron Taylor-Johnson as a wild, log-haired, maniaical, hellion leading the vicious roadside assault inside Edward’s novel. In addition, Armie Hammer, Isla Fisher, Michael Sheen, Andrea Riseborough, and Karl Glusman all give compelling performances. My hat off to Francine Maisler for her casting.

For a second directorial effort, Ford makes a phenomenal leap. His first effort, A Single Man, starring Colin Firth, is an exceptionally solid film. Most enjoyable with considerable depth. Notwithstanding, Nocturnal Animals is a whole other beast – it’s powerful storytelling with strong production values encapsulated in a style that spans genres utilizing techniques in the form of cross-cutting, parallel story lines, flashbacks and real-time moments without confusion. Brilliant work!

A must see film…

 

A Focus Features presentation of a Fade To Black production. A Tom Ford Film. Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal. Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Karl Glusman, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen. Casting by Francine Maisler, CSA. Costume Designer, Arianne Phillips. Music, Abel Korzeniowski. Film Editor, Joan Sobel, ACE. Production Designer, Shane Valentino. Director of Photography, Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC. Co-Producer, Diane L. Sabatini. Based upon the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright. Produced by Tom Ford, p.g.a., Robert Salerno, p.g.a. Screenplay by Tom Ford. Directed by Tom Ford. A Focus Features Release.

(Excerpt from Nocturnal Animals Press Notes)

 

Why the Venice Film Fest Matters More to Oscar (Sorry, Toronto)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Ariston Anderson

After premiering three major Academy Award winners in a row, the world’s oldest film fest is once again Hollywood’s awards-season launchpad.

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The past few years, while Toronto bickered with Telluride over which festival could screen which premiere when and where, Venice — after some decidedly lackluster editions — took the high road and worked on improving. The result? It’s back on top after a scorecard that saw successful Oscar wins for Venice premieres three years in a row: Gravity, Birdman and, last year, Spotlight. Hollywood has taken notice. The festival is filled with studio titles this year, which means the red carpet will be filled with A-list talent. The four premieres that already are garnering awards buzz:

La La Land’s Oscar Launch

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With Venice proving to be a good luck charm at the Oscars, one young contender seems to be taking the hint. Damien Chazelle is following up his 2014 best picture nominee Whiplash with festival opener La La Land. The musical stars Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist who falls in love with an aspiring actress (Emma Stone). The Venice committee, after watching the film, immediately offered Lionsgate the opening slot. “I was so honored to get the invitation to open Venice,” says Chazelle. “It’s the kind of place that seems to belong in a dream. That’s the feeling I wanted to capture with this movie: the way things look and sound in a dream, the magic and the romance of it all.”

Chazelle adds that it was a natural choice to follow up his critically acclaimed Whiplash with the challenging genre of the musical. “The thing I love about musicals is that everything is possible. You can combine all the arts — music, dance, painting, theater —  to collectively produce an emotion that can’t be conveyed by words,” he says. “I wanted to try and make a film that told an honest, intimate story but also allowed for that kind of big-screen moviemaking.”

Festival director Alberto Barbera believes that the film, a tribute to old Hollywood musicals, is a natural candidate for the Oscars. “It has all the elements,” he says. “It’s a wonderful story, a classic film. It’s extremely well done with two outstanding lead performances. You have to go back to the ’60s and ’70s to see something that is similar to those performances. It has beautiful music, beautiful dance performances. Everything in the film is definitely outstanding.”

While Lionsgate is planning a big launch at the festival, unfortunately Gosling will not be present, as he couldn’t escape filming duties for Blade Runner 2. Stone will be back in Venice after her 2014 success with Birdman led her to an Oscar nomination.

Mel’s Big Comeback

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After a public meltdown of epic proportions, Mel Gibson retreated from the spotlight, putting his work behind the camera on hold. Now Venice is premiering his first directorial effort since Apocalypto (2006). Never one to retreat from challenging topics, Gibson explores the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), the first conscientious objector awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, in the World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge.

“The movie is special,” says Stuart Ford, CEO of IM Global, which co-financed the film, putting up approximately half of the budget. “Audiences can look forward to a picture that is both an old-school, action-packed wartime epic and also an intelligent and very moving present day statement on the nature of conflict and forgiveness.”

Barbera firmly believes the film marks Gibson’s comeback. “There is a high expectation of course after the previous films and all the issues around his bizarre attitude. I didn’t know what I was going to say when I saw the film,” he says. “I was quite surprised because it is a beautiful, classic war film about a courageous hero and the capability to put one’s own life before others. I think it’s proved that he’s a really great director and I hope that it will forgive some mistakes that he did and some unacceptable behaviors in the past.”

Paolo Sorrentino’s TV Debut

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It’s not just films that are having their moment in Venice. HBO’s launch of Olive Kitteridge in Venice led it to pick up eight Emmy awards last year. As more and more acclaimed cinema directors make the leap into longform TV, all eyes will be on Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino’s TV debut The Young Pope, starring Jude Law as a fictional American pope who is conservative, politically conniving, and incredibly self-reflective. The production is a joint effort of HBO, Sky and Canal Plus.

The Young Pope is a 10-part series but at the same time is a collection of 10 movies, each of them with Sorrentino’s unique flair and enthusiasm in innovating visual storytelling, featuring an inimitable top-notch technical and quality style and starring an outstanding international cast,” says Andrea Scrosati, executive vp programming of Sky Italia says. “So there could not be a more suitable venue than the Venice Film Festival to premiere the first two episodes of this show, and this choice confirms, if any additional proof were needed, that the distinction between cinema and television no longer exists: It all comes down to storytelling.”

FremantleMedia International, which is handling sales, has, not surprisingly, already begun closing deals ahead of the Venice launch. “Jude Law plays a hyper-contemporary and conservative pope, revolutionary, a fundamentalist who goes through life with an absolute faith and devotion to God,” says Lorenzo Mieli, CEO of FremantleMedia Italy. “And all the while he continuously poses to himself and to us the question we are all compelled to ask at least once in our lives: What do we mean exactly when we talk about faith and God? Stories and themes like these inevitably involve a wide audience from each country.”

Sorrentino agrees with the potential wide appeal of the series. “Beyond the interest for the Vatican, a closed and mysterious place, the series turns its attention to the Vatican’s inhabitants,” he says. “I think that the audience, regardless of where they’re from, will be captivated by the human and spiritual lives of these people.”

And with the American election coming up, Sorrentino believes that the candidates could also heed the advice of The Young Pope. “There is always danger around the corner,” he says. “The private biography of a leader can influence his choices for the collective interest of the people and that these choices could be dangerous and ineffective.”

Focus Features’ $20 Million Gamble

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Last year, Focus Features paid a reported $20 million for Nocturnal Animals, Tom Ford’s sophomore directorial effort.

Now, Focus is planning on betting a big chunk of their Oscar-campaign money on the dark romance based on Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan and starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal. Adams plays an art gallery owner who receives her ex-husband’s violent manuscript in the mail, which she interprets as a threatening tale of revenge and regret. It plays out as a story within a story as Isla Fisher plays Adams in novel form.

Could the L.A.-set noir finally deliver Amy Adams and/or Jake Gyllenhaal their long-awaited Oscars? Focus hopes so, with many more categories to push for. “The film will be one of the highlights of Venice,” says Barbera. “Both Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal could start an Oscar campaign from Venice, definitely.”

 

(Source:www.hollywoodreporter.com)