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Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” Is The 2019 New York Film Festival Centerpiece Selection

Earlier this week, the New York Film Festival teased us all with their first very announcement in regard to the 2019 version of their slate. We begun by finding out that their Opening Night Selection would be The Irishman from Martin Scorsese. Well, the Centerpiece choice has now been selected by the NYFF tastemakers. What might it be, you’re asking? Well, in an announcement on Tuesday, we found out that it’s none other than Marriage Story, the other hotly anticipated Netflix film, this one from Noah Baumbach.

In case some of you were wondering about this flick, here is a bit of a taste, straight from the festival. Their press release from Tuesday includes this:

Film at Lincoln Center announces Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story as Centerpiece of the 57th New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13), making its New York premiere at Alice Tully Hall on Friday, October 4, 2019. Marriage Story will be released in select theaters and on Netflix later this year.

Noah Baumbach’s new film is about the rapid tangling and gradual untangling of impetuosity, resentment, and abiding love between a married couple negotiating their divorce and the custody of their son. Adam Driver is Charlie, a 100-percent New York experimental theater director; Scarlett Johansson is Nicole, his principal actress and soon-to-be L.A.-based ex-wife. Their “amicable” breakup devolves, one painful rash response and hostile counter-response at a time, into a legal battlefield, led on Nicole’s side by Laura Dern and on Charlie’s side by “nice” Alan Alda and “not-so-nice” Ray Liotta. What is so remarkable about Marriage Story is its frank understanding of the emotional fluctuations between Charlie and Nicole: they are both short-sighted, both occasionally petty, both vindictive, and both loving. The film is as harrowing as it is hilarious as it is deeply moving. With Merritt Wever and Julie Hagerty as Nicole’s sister and mom, and Azhy Robertson as their beloved son, Henry.

“What amazed me about Marriage Story is the way that Noah keeps the many conflicting emotions between his characters flowing into and around and under and over each other, so beautifully that the film achieves the condition of music,” said New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones. “In fact, it actually flowers into song in two of the film’s loveliest and most surprising moments. Marriage Story is a heartbreaker, it’s very funny, and it has an emotional complexity that’s worthy of Bergman.”

“I grew up coming to the New York Film Festival with my parents. And it’s where my first film Kicking and Screaming premiered 24 years ago,” said Baumbach. “I couldn’t be more thrilled and proud that Marriage Story has been selected as Centerpiece of the NYFF. The 14-year-old me’s mind is blown; the 49-year-old me’s mind is also blown.”

Folks, as I always like to say, 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…most recently Roma, followed by Wonderstruck, 20th Century Women, and Steve Jobs, while the year before that was Inherent Vice. Enough said on the wild card part for the last one there, though it did wind up with some nominations, while the middle two were clear cut Oscar hopefuls. Below you can see what the past years have looked like with this particular slot at NYFF, since 2000:

2018 – Roma
2017 – Wonderstruck
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

So, what to make of Netflix dominating NYFF so far? What’s most noteworthy about this is how the movie is going elsewhere first, so the fest must really love this one to accept it in one of the big three slots. The spot could have gone to other flicks, so that means something. Could the film be one of the darlings on the festival circuit this year? It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see that be the case. Time will tell, but there’s reason to be excited here. Sit tight for more on NYFF once they announce what their Closing Night choice will be…

Stay tuned for much more on Marriage Story 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 contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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