What do films such as Spotlight, Birdman, Gravity, The Danish Girl, A Single Man and Black Swan have in common? These flicks have received Oscar nods for acting and directing, and sealed themselves in the top 10 lists of many a film buff. But before the masses were introduced to Lili Elbe's journey (The Danish Girl) and a fashion designer's film debut (A Single Man), these films had the privilege of debuting at the Venice Film Festival.
Now in its 73rd run, this year's festival will see acclaimed names return to the Italian stage. Of the 19 films in competition for this year's Golden Lion, Tom Ford makes second stab into filmmaking with Nocturnal Animals, Alicia Vikander will tug at our heartstrings yet again in The Light Between the Oceans and Natalie Portman will continue to disappear into her role as Jackie Kennedy in Jackie. Well, here's hoping. It's no doubt that Hollywood's leading ladies will steal the stage at Venice this year. Stay ahead of the curve and take note.
1. Amy Adams
Lois Lane's going to be really busy in Venice. As if romancing Kal-El in Batman v Superman wasn't enough, Amy Adams will be liaising with more extra-terrestrials in Arrival, a sci-fi film where she plays a linguist recruited by the military to translate alien communications. It also stars Jeremy Renner (Marvel's Avengers) and Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland). In addition to that, she'll star opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Tom Ford's second directorial effort, Nocturnal Animals. Playing a divorcee whose life is turned upside down due to her ex-husband's novel, we expect another top-notch performance, this time guided by Ford's stylish and meticulous direction.
2. Emma Stone
We've seen #WomanCrushWednesday Emma Stone belt out Natasha Bedingfield's Pocket Full of Sunshine in teen flick EasyA. We'll see Stone show off her vocal chops again in La La Land. This musical movie with co-star Ryan Gosling — whose Goofy-led, ukulele rendition of You Always Hurt The Ones You Love in Blue Valentine was equally adorable and heart-wrenching — will no doubt set the mood at Venice as the film chosen for opening night. Set in modern day Los Angeles, we'll see Stone as an aspiring actress who's navigating the city with song and dance.
3. Alicia Vikander
This Swedish export has been thrilling the screens with her deliberate subtleties. After dramatic roles in Ex-Machina and The Danish Girl and adrenaline pumping takes in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Jason Bourne, Vikander takes on the trials of a complicated motherhood in post-WWI drama The Light Between Oceans. Directed by Derek Cianfrance (who brought you the tear-jerker Blue Valentine), Vikander plays one half of a couple (the other half's Michael Fassbender) who finds an infant who washes ashore, only to meet the baby's birth mother years later. Sob.
4. Natalie Portman
Portman has had the privilege of playing a child assassin (Leon: The Professional), a stripper (Closer) and a queen from a galaxy far, far away (Star Wars). This time, she takes another huge weight on her shoulders as Jackie Kennedy in Jackie, a drama following the iconic First Lady's life before and after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. She's also a double bill this festival season, starring in French-Belgian drama Planetarium opposite Lily-Rose Depp.
5. Lily-Rose Depp
Never has a supernatural film looked so sensual and stylish. Well, Planetarium is set in France in the '30s, and stars Dior ambassador Natalie Portman and Chanel's new girl crush Lily-Rose Depp. Playing American sisters whose spiritual and psychic natures attract the attention of film producer, we'll get to see more mature themes come out of Depp's small but growing resume in the arts. Watching the trailer, we can't help but notice the subtle battle for most pronounced cheekbones between the two.
The 2016 Venice Film Festival runs from 31 August to 10 September. For more stories on the festival, click here.