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Best bets at the Halfway Mark in Venice 76.


    Alex Deleon for
With six days down and another five to go most of the big guns have already been fired and many top contenders for Venice lion awards are have been spoken for. This is not however the kind of festival where odds on favorites will necessarily come in first as Venice juries are notorious for rewarding dark horses and unknowns out of the Blue on the day of judgement.  That being said here are a few of my personal favorites based on films seen in the first five days in an exceptionally sagacious competition lineup.
If I had my druthers it would go this  way:
Golden Lion for best film should undoubtedly go to the Roman Polanski's stunning masterpiece, "J'accuse; A Soldier and a Spy", a tremendous  reconsideration of the infamous Dreyfus affair and a blistering condemnation of French antisemitism. Top quality in every department: all the actors more than commendable and the period reconstruction so perfect that it feels more like entering a time warp than a looking back. Bravo Roman!
One problem. The head of Jury, a strident  #MeToo women's libber from Argentina, announced from the start that she is dead set against director Polanski because of alleged sexual misbehavior Forty Two years ago in California.   If the rest of the Venice Jurors override their leader's hard nosed prejudice and give this film the Lion it deserves it will be a gigantic feather in the Venice Festival cap and a clear vindication of festival director Alberto Barbera's artistic judgement in placing this great film in competition this  year.  Way to go, Aberto -- Viva la verità!
Which is not to say that there are no other strong  best film contenders. One, in fact, is Todd Phillips'  astounding  JOKER starting an utterly amazing Joaquin Phoenix in the title role.  I cannot see anyone around even touching Joaquin's feet in the race for Best Actor.  And that goes for the Oscars in February as well.
So I will stick with Polanski for Best film and Cruise along with Phoenix for Best actor in Venice.  A second best actor was Jean Dujardin as the French office who puts his career on the line to expose the high level coverup that has put falsly accused officer Dreyfus on Devils Island. 
The inside track for Best Actress seems more or less nailed down by American actress Kristen Stewart for her gutsy portrayal of actress Jean Seberg who had to go to France to be taken seriously and was hounded to death by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI  in France.
The film SEBERG directed by Benedict Andrews has received mostly so-so reviews for its unfocused meandering around too many subplots but Ms. Stewart's work in the film has been universally praised  For various reasons (mainly being too many boat rides away from The Lido) i managed to miss this key film but, since I have always been a keen Jean Seberg fan from Breathless on up and am glad to see her memory preserved on celluloid I will pick Kristen Stewart, sight unseen. 
         Seberg with Belmondo, in Breathless
   Kristen Stewart as Seberg (l) and Seberg in Breathless (l)

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About Mostra Internazionale d Arte Cinematografica Venice

Oldest festival in the world, MOSTRA is Non-specialised competitive event for features and shorts. Two competing sections and three Prizes: the Golden Lion, the Lion of the Year and the Lion of the Future to best director`s debut film.



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