Venice Film Festival – and the 2018 Oscars race – officially begin

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Matt Damon has two films in competition in Venice

The 2018 Oscars may be six months away, but the starting gun has been fired on the film awards race with the opening of this year’s Venice Film Festival.

Venice is the first launch pad for Oscar-worthy films – La La Land, Arrival, Spotlight, Birdman and Gravity all had their world premieres there.

This year’s festival is opening with the premiere of Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, starring Matt Damon.

Variety predicted that it should go on to be “a leading awards contender”.

The film, in which Damon plays a man who literally gets shrunk, has been met with gushing reviews from most critics in the Italian city.

The “playful, spectacular, mischievous, and audacious” film is likely to be “a major draw at the box office”, wrote Variety’s Owen Gleiberman.

He described it as “a ticklish and resonant crowd-pleaser for grown-ups” and “a kind of live-action Pixar movie on acid”.

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The Venice Film Festival jury faced the cameras on Wednesday

Characters in the film go through a revolutionary scientific technique to get more living space, make their money go further and reduce their environmental footprints.

The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin judged it to be “exhilaratingly odd”, while The Guardian’s Xan Brooks declared it a “miniature masterpiece” deserving five stars.

“No sooner I had it pegged as a jaunty black comedy than it starts folding in elements of dystopian sci-fi, or compassionate human drama,” he wrote.

“A less polished director might have become lost…

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