Awards boost at Austin Film Festival

     With the 22nd Annual Austin Film Festival kicking off Friday, the lackluster year of unique, original and meaningful film is about to get a big Texas boost. Typically AFF debuts a few awards contenders, but this year their slate is bigger and better than ever. Headliners like Carol, Youth and Brooklyn are all making their Texas debut in hopes of furthering Oscar possibilities. It’s also a chance for audiences and critics to get a look at films buzzing for next year like Ewan McGregor in Last Days in the Desert, James Franco in Memoria, and even Oscar winner Chris Cooper will be on hand to present his latest work Coming Through the Rye while he accepts the fests big honor.

     The Austin Film Festival is the screenwriter’s festival, focusing on cinematic works that focus on a strong sense of script. Both Franco and Cooper will be attending the festival for multiple events this year, along with television and other writing stars across the globe. While getting to see movies that don’t even have a poster or trailer can be a hit or miss experience, often AFF has nice surprises that you might otherwise miss if not for the local spotlight. For seven days downtown Austin once again focuses on cinema; yet unlike SXSW, AFF is more low key, less hectic with stronger narratives, more prestigious stars on screen, not to mention ideal weather.

Headliners like Carol, Youth and Brooklyn are all making their Texas debut in hopes of furthering Oscar possibilities.

     While I am going to miss Tom Hardy’s festival opener Legend (I will catch that at a later screening closer to opening day) and Tom Hiddleston’s turn as Hank Williams in I Saw the Light (which was moved to 2016 due to bad reviews), currently there are 11 films on my schedule, many which hold answers to awards season questions I have. Is Cate Blanchett’s performance in Carol worthy of a third Oscar? Can Michael Caine break into the best actor race with his role in Youth? Is Brooklyn more than just a best actress contender? Beyond my burning Oscar questions, I am hoping this year’s AFF lineup helps me expand my top ten list, which currently stands at only 5 A-/A grades.

     One of the films I am most interested The 33, directed Patricia Riggin. The true story of the 33 Argentinian minors trapped boasts an impressive international cast including Juliette Binoche and Antonio Banderas. Evan smaller genre films like Man Up starring Lake Bell and Simon Pegg look more interesting than your typical romantic comedy. Still all eyes are on Todd Haynes Carol which has been making waves since its debut at Cannes earlier in the year. Both Rooney Mara and Blanchett are expected to figure prominently into the awards derby this year. AFF kicks off Friday October 30th and lasts until Nov 5th. You can still purchases passes at austinfilmfestival.com

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