“Wonderstruck” from Todd Haynes is the Centerpiece of the 2017 New York Film Festival


Earlier today, the New York Film Festival teased us all with another announcement in regard to their 2017 slate. This follows on the heels a few weeks ago of picking Richard Linklater’s new movie Last Flag Flying as the Opening Night selection. The Centerpiece has now been selected by the powers that be, and it’s none other than Wonderstruck, the new film from Todd Haynes. I’ll confess, like I did last year, to this not being one I had pegged for NYFF, or at least not one of the main galas, but this certainly makes it a contender to pay more attention to. It was on my radar as a Oscar player before, but it’s definitely going to be getting some extra consideration from me now.

For those wondering more about this flick, here’s just a taste. The film tells the story of a young boy in the Midwest while telling simultaneously the tale of a young girl in New York from fifty years ago as they both seek the same mysterious connection. One segment is done completely silently, which should perk up some cinephiles. It’s apparently very visual, relying more on images than story. Todd Haynes directs the script that Brian Selznick penned, adapting his own novel. The cast includes Oakes Fegley, Julianne Moore, Millicent Simmonds, Michelle Williams, Damian Young, and more. Cinematography is by the legendary Edward Lachman, while Carter Burwell does the score. Reviews are the Cannes Film Festival, where it debuted, were solid, though not quite out and out raves.

Much like I said back when discussing the Opening Night selection of The 13th, as well as last year when talking about 20th Century Women, or the year before when Steve Jobs got picked for this spot, getting to be one of the top three at NYFF is a big deal for any wannabe contender. The Centerpiece slot is usually a bit more of a wild card, but it’s had a fairly solid relationship with the Academy. Over the last almost two decades, there have been both hits and misses, but by and large it’s usually things Oscar would look kindly upon. Just look at what last couple of picks for the middle of the fest were…20th Century Women, Steve Jobs, while the year before that was Inherent Vice. Enough said on the wild card part for the latter, though it did wind up with some nominations, while the former was a clear cut Oscar hopeful. Below you can see what the past years have looked like with this particular slot at NYFF, since 2000:

2016 – 20th Century Women
2015 – Steve Jobs
2014 – Inherent Vice
2013 – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
2012 – Not Fade Away
2011 – My Week with Marilyn
2010 – The Tempest
2009 – Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
2008 – Changeling
2007 – No Country for Old Men
2006 – Volver
2005 – Breakfast on Pluto
2004 – Bad Education
2003 – The Fog of War
2002 – Punch-Drunk Love
2001 – Mulholland Drive
2000 – Pollack

As you can see from that little look above, there’s some flops for sure, but a Best Picture winner as well, so that’s something. As a general rule, you tend to see the more overt players do well here, while the ones that seem like long shots stay as such. Interestingly enough, once again Wonderstruck seems like the sort of thing to be right in between, so we’ll have to see which way it winds up leaning when the time comes. If all goes well for the movie, look for it to compete across the board, though that remains to be seen, obviously..


For the moment, we have two of the big three slots filled for the New York Film Festival. I’m very eager to see what the fest puts in the Closing Night spot, as there’s room for a really big awards vehicle there. I’ll keep my hunches to myself for now, but perhaps when it gets closer I’ll say what I’m thinking. Honestly, I had thought that Woody’s Allen’s new flick Wonder Wheel made sense for this gala. At the current moment, Wonderstruck has gotten a nice bump in buzz and could be one of the bigger players to come out of NYFF this time around if all goes according to plan. Sit tight for more on the festival and the film itself in the coming weeks…

Stay tuned for much more on Wonderstruck and NYFF when we have it!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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