How 'The Master' almost won everything (but didn't) at the Venice Film Festival

the-master

Image Credit: Phil Bray

Last night Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest, The Master, screened in front of eager crowds at the Toronto Film Festival. But it’s the awards given out at the Venice Film Festival–the oldest international festival in the world–Saturday night that have people chattering.

According to reports, sources close to jury head Michael Mann say that Paul Thomas Anderson’s film--about a haunted alcoholic (Joaquin Phoenix) who returns home from fighting World War II but feels lost until he’s taken under the wing of a charismatic spiritual leader played by Philip Seymour Hoffman (who really, really, really doesn’t want to talk about Scientology)–was to be awarded the top prize, the Golden Lion. It was also due to win awards for directing and for acting.

But the Venice Film Festival has a rule that doesn’t allow any one movie to win more than two awards, so reportedly the jury re-deliberated and decided to award the film to Pieta, a mother and son drama from Korean director Kim Ki-duk instead. Anderson (after a bit of confusion during presenting) won best director and Hoffman and Phoenix split the prize for acting.

This isn’t the first time that a Paul Thomas Anderson movie has gotten excluded due to rules: remember back in 2007 when Jonny Greenwood’s score for There Will Be Blood was disqualified for an Oscar due to a technicality?

UPDATED: An earlier version of this article mistakenly said Paul Thomas Anderson won a special jury award. Anderson was, in fact, awarded the Silver Lion for directing. The special jury prize went to Paradise: Faith, from Austrian director Ulrich Seidl. 


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