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Glamour, guts and George Clooney at this year’s Venice Film Festival

Top Hollywood talent and auteur directors will be vying for the Golden Lion at the world’s oldest film festival which is seen as a launch pad for the industry’s award season after premiering Academy winners in its last four editions.

Space drama “Gravity”, clergy sex abuse film “Spotlight” and last year’s musical “La La Land” secured Oscars after featuring in the festival, ”Venice is really the start of the Oscar season,” Ariston Anderson, a film critic said. She explained there are several films this year she thinks might go on to get award season buzz.”We have Paul Schrader a maser story teller coming with “First Reformed”, we have George Clooney, always an awards-favourite, teaming up with the Coen brothers with “Suburbicon”, it looks like it’s going to be very exciting, Darren Aronofsky is bringing Jennifer Lawrence into the horror realm with ‘Mother’, we have Alexander Payne opening the festival with ‘Downsizing’, it’s always been kind of a lucky charm the Venice opening spot, we will see if that continues through the awards season.”

The festival’s 74th edition opens with Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing”, a satire starring Matt Damon about a couple who decide to shrink themselves to four inches tall. The rich selection of U.S. and international movies also includes Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!”, starring Lawrence and Javier Bardem, Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” and Stephen Frears’ “Victoria and Abdul”, with Judi Dench as the 19th century queen, which screens in the out-of-competition section. Current affairs also feature in the line-up with the Ai Weiwei’s highly anticipated “Human Flow”, “I think it sends a very strong statement,” Anderson said, adding that bringing the film to Venice was a statement as well.

One of the highlights this year is Clooney’s return to Venice with “Suburbicon”, a dark comedy starring Damon and Julianne Moore. Clooney, who tied the knot in a huge celebrity wedding in Venice in 2014, has since made Italy his second home. ”George Clooney is really the face of Venice. He loves Venice so much, he got married here, he’s had all of his best hits here … so it’s really not Venice without Clooney.” Anderson said.

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