The full line-up for the 68th annual Venice Film Festival was announced Thursday morning in Rome. Part of the Biennale, the festival will run from Aug. 31 to Sept. 10, featuring the world premieres of some of the year's most highly-anticipated movies.
Director Darren Aronofsky, who opened last year's Festival with Black Swan, will chair the grand jury. Last year, the jury awarded its top prize, the Gold Lion, to Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere."
Though most of the world won't get to see these films till they hit wide release, we've picked some of the films we're most excited for.
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" (in competition) Based on the 1974 John le Carre novel of the same title, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" follows British spy George Smiley as he leaves retirement to pursue a Soviet double agent who has infiltrated MI-6 during the Cold War. Starring the consistently superb Gary Oldman, the cast is rounded out by Oscar-winner Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds and Benedict Cumberbatch. The movie was directed by Tomas Alfredson, whose last film, "Let The Right One In," delivered a chilling, gorgeously shot vampire story stripped of cliches.
"Carnage" (in competition) Roman Polanksi's best films leave you with the sense that evil is not just an abstract concept, but rather, a failure in ordinary people that leads inevitably to atrocity. Carnage, based on the Tony Award winning play "God of Carnage," portrays a single evening in which two bourgeois Brooklyn couples (played by Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly) meet to discuss their children's playground fight. Over the course of the night, civilization gives way to primal viciousness, as the characters attack each other brutally. Filmed in real-time, it's thrilling to think of how actors this good will work to break each other down on screen.
"Damsels in Distress" (closing film, out of competition) Director Whit Stillman's first movie since 1998's "Last Days of Disco," "Damsels in Distress" will return to the twitchy, self-conscious twenty-somethings and rapid, erudite dialogue that made Stillman famous. Starring Greta Gerwig, Analeigh Tipton and Adam Brody, "Damsels" tells the tale of two perfume-loving girls at a New England college who decide to volunteer at the Suicide Prevention Center. In an interview with New York Magazine, Stillman said that the film is a ""a freewheeling comedy, full of musical numbers, failed love affairs, and Stillmanian bons mots on everything from Hacky Sack to the sexual proclivities of twelfth-century Cathars." While there are a lot of movies about neurotic intellectuals who talk too fast, few treat their characters with the tenderness Stillman manages.
"A Dangerous Method" (in competition) Despite their 20-year age gap, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung had an intense relationship, both personal and professional, that lasted for six years before dissolving abruptly -- supposedly because of ideological differences over the practice and theory of psychoanalysis. In "A Dangerous Method," director David Cronenberg turns to the story of Sabina Spielrein to explain the rift. Played by Keira Knightley, Spielrein is a young Russian patient who starts an affair with Jung (Michael Fassbender) while under his care, and later, turns to Freud (Viggo Mortensen) for support. Though the trailer plays up the sex and plays down the psychology, with Cronenberg in charge, it's likely the film will be more brutal than sentimental.
"Wilde Salome" (out of competition) Combining documentary and movie, "Wilde Salome," Al Pacino's third turn as a director will explore Oscar Wilde's controversial play about the biblical temptress from multiple angles, in an attempt to better understand both Wilde and the play itself. Wilde Salome will contain a mixture of interview, filmed performance and more, as in Pacino's "Looking For Richard," which examined Shakespeare's "Richard III." Pacino, who has appeared as Herod in several productions of the play over the years, stars alongside Jessica Chastain as Salome and Kevin Anderson as John the Baptist. Pacino is also set to receive the Jaeger-Le Coultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award at the festival.
"W.E." (out of competition): Madonna's first directed feature-length film tells the story of American divorcee Wallis Simpson, the woman who caused the abdication of Edward VIII alongside a contemporary romance.
"The Ides of March" (opening film, in competition): George Clooney stars and directs in a political drama about a presidential candidate on the trail in Ohio during the Democratic primary. With Ryan Gosling, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei.
"Contagion" (out of competition): A biothriller about the global spread of a lethal virus. With Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Demetri Martin, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, and Sanaa Lathan. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.
"Shame" (in competition): Michael Fassbender plays a sex-addicted thirty-something man living in New York whose younger sister, played by Carey Mulligan, comes to stay with him, throwing his life into disarray. Directed by Steve McQueen.
"Poulet aux Prunes, or "Chicken With Plums" (in competition): The latest from author of "Persepolis," Marjane Satrapi, the animated film tracks the last days of violin player Nasser Ali Khan in 1958 Tehran.
Full lineup of films in competition:
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” Tomas Alfredson “Wuthering Heights,” Andrea Arnold “Texas Killing Fields” Ami Canaan Mann “The Ides of March,” George Clooney “Quando la notte,” Cristina Comencini “Terraferma,” Emanuele Crialese “A Dangerous Method,” David Cronenberg “Last Day on Earth,” Abel Ferrara “Killer Joe,” William Friedkin "Un Ete Brulant," Philippe Garrel "Taojie (A Simple Life)," Ann Hui “Hahithalfut (The Exchange),” Eran Kolirin "Yorgos Lanthimos - Alpeis (Alps)," Yorgos Lanthimos “Shame,” Steve McQueen “L’ultimo terrestre,” Gian Alfonso Pacinotti (Gipi) “Carnage,” Roman Polanski “Poulet aux prunes (Chicken With Plums),” Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud “Faust,” Alexander Sokurov “Dark Horse,” Todd Solondz “Himizu,” Sion Sono “Seediq Bale,” Wei Te-sheng
Full lineup of films out of competition:
"Collectif Abounaddara - The End" "Colleftif Abounaddara - Vanguard" "La Folie Almayer," Chantal Akerman "In the Name of the Father," Marco Bellocchio "Evolution" (Megaplex)(3D), Marco Brambilla "Baish Echuanshuo (The Sorcerer And The White Snake)," Tony Ching Siu-Tung "Giochi D’estate (Summer Games)," Rolando Colla "Tamer Ezzat - Tahrir 2011," Ahmad Abdalla, Ayten Amin, Amr Salama (documentary) La Desintegration, Philippe Fauchon The Moth Diaries, Mary Harron "Mildred Pierce," Todd Haynes "Duvidha," Hands Kaul "Vivan las Antipodas!", Victor Kossakovsky (documentary) "Alois Nebel," Tomas Lunak "W.E.," Madonna "Eva," Kike Maillo "Pietro Marcello," Marco Bellocchio (documentary short) "La Meditazione Di Hayez," Mario Martone (short) "Scossa," Francesco Maselli, Carlo Lizzani, Ugo Gregoretti, Nino Russo "La Cle Des Champs," Claude Nuridsany, Marie Perennou "Il Villaggio Di Cartone," Ermanno Olmi "Wilde Salome," Al Pacino "Questo Storia Qua," Alessandro Paris, Sibylle Righetti (documentary) "We Can't Go Home Again," Nicholas Ray "Don't Expect Too Much," Susan Ray (documentary) "India, Matri Bhumi," Roberto Rossellini (documentary) "Tormented," Takashi Shimizu "Contagion," Steven Soderbergh "Damsels in Distress," Whit Stillman "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel," Lisa Immordino Vreeland (documentary) "Joule" (3D), David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi "Spell. The Hypnotist Dog" (3D), David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi "Suite" (3D), David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi
For a full list of films showing at the festival, visit the Venice Biennale website.