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The 79th Venice Film Festival officially kicked off the fall Oscar race on Thursday afternoon with Todd Field’s “Tár,” a drama starring Cate Blanchett as a famous composer embroiled in a public scandal. The film was showered with an ecstatic six-minute standing ovation as the audience inside the Sala Grande Theatre kept chanting “Bravo!“
Clutching the hand of festival chief Alberto Barbera, Blanchett took a bow — but the clapping continued and even grew louder. When the applause finally ended, a misty-eyed Blanchett turned to someone on her team and said: “Let’s get a drink.”
Indeed, Blanchett’s work in “Tár” will likely be one of the most toasted performances of Oscar season. The enthusiastic reviews for the film all but guarantee Blanchett will land her eighth Oscar nomination for acting. (She’s already won two Academy Awards — for 2005’s “The Aviator” and 2014’s “Blue Jasmine” — but “Tár” is bound to stir up speculation that she could take home a third statuette in March 2023.)
The buzz for “Tar,” which Focus Features will release in theaters on Nov. 7, was strong even before it premiered. The movie marks a return to directing for Todd Field after a 15-year break. He has said that he wrote the script for Blanchett. At the late afternoon premiere on the Lido, crowds gathered outside the red carpet for a glimpse of “Cate! Cate! Cate!” as they called her, holding up signs and movie posters. Blanchett worked the fan line, quickly signing dozens of autographs before she had to go inside for the movie to start.
The “Tár” supporting cast includes Nina Hoss, Noémie Merlant, Mark Strong, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, Sophie Kauer and Sylvia Flote. Hildur Guðnadóttir, the Icelandic composer whose 2020 original score for “Joker” won the Oscar, worked on the film’s original compositions.
Field, whose acting credits have ranged from Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” to the ABC family drama “Once and Again,” made his directorial debut in 2001 with “In My Bedroom.” The critically acclaimed drama starring Sissy Spacek earned five Oscar nominations, including best picture. His 2006 follow-up “Little Children” received similar awards attention, nabbing three Oscar nods. Both of his feature films have been nominated for adapted screenplay Oscars.
In his rave review of “Tár” out of Venice, Variety’s film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote, “The movie is breathtaking — in its drama, its high-crafted innovation, its vision. It’s a ruthless but intimate tale of art, lust, obsession, and power…The characters in it feel as real as life. (They’re acted to richly drawn perfection down to the smallest role.) You believe, at every moment, in the reality you’re seeing, and it’s extraordinary how that raises the stakes.”
Focus Features will also be screening “Tár” at the upcoming New York Film Festival. Focus has several prospective Oscar contender this year, including James Gray’s “Armageddon Time.” Gray’s drama world premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and will also screen along with “Tár” at the New York Film Festival.
Variety's Ramin Setoodeh and Zach Sharf contributed to this post.