Fast 5: Critic Bill McCuddy's HIFF 2023 Movie Picks
Film critic Bill McCuddy offers his annual list of Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) picks for 2023.
I’m a huge fan of documentary filmmakers Jimmy Chin and his wife Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. I was vocal about how I thought they were robbed for Meru at Oscar time and thrilled when they won for Free Solo. They were also here last year for The Rescue. So I wasn’t surprised when Hollywood offered them the chance to direct a scripted drama about swimmer Diana Nyad. They know how to tell true stories of courage. Nyad with Annette Bening and Jodie Foster will sell out quickly. Get there early.
Bradley Cooper could win an Oscar the way Nicole Kidman did. By a nose. There has been a lot of conversation about Maestro and I love him as an actor and a director (Hello, A Star Is Born) so I’m thrilled to see his take on Leonard Bernstein. But I’m told — and this speaks to his generosity as a director — that as his lifelong companion, the also terrific Carey Mulligan steals the movie. Can’t wait.
I coined the term “pinot envy” on the red carpet when Sideways came out in 2004 and I thought Paul Giamatti was robbed when he wasn’t even Oscar-nominated. I’m told he’s so good in his reunion with director Alexander Payne in The Holdovers that the Academy may make good this year. The story of a prep school professor who has to babysit the kids left behind over a school holiday seems tailor-made for him. The trailer kills it. This will also be a popular choice so book early.
Another professor with problems has Nic Cage in Dream Scenario. If you saw Pig or The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (he plays himself and that’s not easy if you’re him) then you know he’s having a nice mid-career run. This time, people all over the world are dreaming about him. It’s surreal and I’m sure also wryly funny, and that’s my jam.
Finally, this time of year I’m always cornering HIFF Executive Director Anne Chaisson for her picks. She tries to avoid me at parties for this very reason, but she actually pitched in as a guest this year for a special on LTV about the festival so I had her right where I wanted her. She told me about a meticulously hand-painted animation movie — stay with me — called The Peasants that she loved. I trust her. I’m in line.
I had a great chat with HIFF juror and author Matt Singer about his new book Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel and Ebert Changed Movies Forever. Like me, he’s a critic and knows we are all dinosaurs. He’s part of Rowdy Talks which for my money is one of the best things the festival does. Yes, they are at 10 a.m. but you can do it. Stay up all night.
His is Sunday, October 8, and one of the great things about this series is how interactive they are. A lot of Q&A with lucky audience members. It’s always mostly full but you’ll find a seat. And there’s bagels so there’s that.
See you at all the great movies. If you’re tall and I’m sitting behind you, slump in your seat, please.
Bill McCuddy is a frequent Dan’s contributor. He is a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, cohosts a movie podcast (“So I’m rolling in dough.”) with Neil Rosen and Bill Bregoli called “Sitting Around Talking Movies” and is a regular on the PBS/All Arts show “Talking Pictures” also with Rosen. He also reports on this festival for the industry website GoldDerby.com. On October 13, he will be very tired.