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NYFF’s Secret Screening: what could it be?

noah baumbach photo
Yesterday it was announced that there would be a Special Screening at the 52nd New York Film Festival. Last year, the fest didn’t have a “Secret Screening” like it had done the prior two years, so the announcement has immediately led to some speculation about what title will be playing. There’s a highly likely choice, along with some longer shots that I’ll be discussing momentarily, but I just wanted to quickly state for the record…no, there’s no chance that it’s Star Wars: Episode VII. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can move on.

Previously, NYFF has debuted early looks at big Academy Award players that year in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, but this year they’ve done something different in scoring a 2015 release. Depending on how you interpret that, it’s either something literally not coming out until next year, or it’s something that won’t be wide until next year and currently is scheduled for a 2014 Oscar qualifying run. If it’s the latter, more possibilities arise, but if it’s the former…well, I think I know what it’s going to be.

So what films are in contention to play? Well, there are a few rumors out there, but one flick stands tall above the rest due to being from a filmmaker who often plays at NYFF. You’ll see that in the next paragraph, but I just want to reiterate that it’s not going to be something massive in all likelihood. Also, it’s not going to be something that hasn’t finished shooting or even shot yet, so don’t look for Scorsese’s Silence, Spielberg’s Untitled Cold War Project, or Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. They’re just not going to happen.

The most likely title by far is Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young. Baumbach was at the fest two years ago with Frances Ha and is no stranger to NYFF. In fact, he actually shot a small section of the movie at the festival, so it would be a perfect fit in a lot of ways. Many were surprised that it wasn’t in the initial lineup, so it’s very possible that the programmers of the fest were simply waiting to give it this unique spot to showcase itself after a solid debut up at the Toronto Film Festival a week or two ago. The odds heavily favor Baumbach and his cast, which includes Ben Stiller, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Naomi Watts, and Charles Grodin, showing up at NYFF this weekend.

If you’re looking for other options that aren’t at least not completely unlikely, you can point to J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year and Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. The former makes sense since Chandor was there last year with All Is Lost, while the latter has been the hot rumor over the last 24 hours. The former is more likely than the latter, but neither are as likely as While We’re Young. A long shot that might be at least an outside possibility to me is Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending, since it was initially a 2014 release to begin with and could be ready to go. Again though, this isn’t one to bet on, at all.

Huge long shots include Michael Mann’s blackhat, Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Thomas Vinterberg’s Far From the Maddening Crowd. Don’t expect any of those, but to one degree or another you could argue that they have some sort of a snowball’s chance in hell. Mann’s title would fit the profile a little better, but I’m not sure it’s in the cards, so don’t get excited.

In a few days I’ll know firsthand what the film in question is, so stay tuned. Especially if it’s an awards player, I’ll be sure to report in…

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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