×

New York Film Festival: ‘Captain Phillips’ Premieres to Enthusiastic Reception

When the 51st annual New York Film Festival kicked off with the world premiere of “Captain Phillips” Sept. 27, NYFF opening nighters became the first big crowd to get a look at the Paul Greengrass drama starring Tom Hanks.

What’d they think? Come on, this is New York. There were as many opinions as there were festivalgoers. But overall, buzz was strong.

The Columbia Pictures film follows the real-life story of an American captain (played by Hanks) and his crew hijacked by Somali pirates, and a significant chunk of it takes place in a claustrophobic lifeboat where Phillips is alone with his captors. That trapped-at-sea theme echoed the subject of last year’s NYFF opener, “Life of Pi” — not to mention “All is Lost,” the J.C. Chandor film that’s also on the NYFF slate this year.

“We are moving ever so slowly toward a film festival in which we feature only movies about a lonely man in a boat facing a life or death situation,” cracked Ann Tenenbaum, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s board chair, just before the screening at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

At the post-screening party at the Harvard Club, most everyone agreed the suspenseful pic was masterfully directed — even the ones who took issue with some of the dialogue, which they found clunky. Some moviegoers got very rah-rah-America about it; others fell on the opposite end of that spectrum. And everyone came away talking about the emotional last ten minutes.

Popular on Variety

And then there were the revelers who didn’t catch the movie but turned out for NYFF opening night party anyway. Anne Chaisson, the exec director of the Hamptons Intl. Film Festival, couldn’t make the screening but took a jitney that got her into Gotham at 10:45 for the 11:00pm shindig, which she didn’t want to miss. “It’s the indie prom,” she said.

More Film

  • Ethiopia Africa Hub

    Berlin: Government Support Has Ethiopian Biz Ready to Boom

    For the past decade, Ethiopia has boasted the world’s fastest-growing economy, and its new reform-minded government seems determined to harness that growth to transform an already vibrant creative sector. That was the takeaway from a presentation Sunday morning at the Berlinale Africa Hub, led by producer Mehret Mandefro (“Difret”) and director Abraham Gezahagne, who outlined [...]

  • No Hard Feelings

    'No Hard Feelings': Film Review

    At dawn in an orderly, middle-class suburb in regional Germany, three young people — a girl and two guys — stagger home from a night out. Two of them are siblings, two of them friends and two of them are falling in love. One of them is very drunk and tripping over the long blond [...]

  • All the Dead Ones

    'All the Dead Ones': Film Review

    There are a host of important, even vital ideas behind “All the Dead Ones,” a hybrid period piece addressing Brazil’s unresolved legacy of slavery and the imprint it’s had on an all-too-often downplayed contemporary racism of malignant toxicity. Set largely in 1899, 11 years after the abolition of slavery but designed so modern São Paulo [...]

  • Olivia Wilde

    Searchlight Aggressively Pursuing World Rights to Olivia Wilde's 'Perfect' at EFM

    Searchlight Pictures has emerged as the frontrunner for the Olivia Wilde-directed gymnastics movie “Perfect,” amid a days-long bidding war out of Berlin’s EFM. Variety understands that the studio is ‘heavily pursuing’ world rights to the hot title — one of a crop of female-led projects at the market — with A24, Warner Bros. and Neon [...]

  • 'High Ground' Review: Ugly Conflict and

    'High Ground': Film Review

    There’s a hint of John Ford to “High Ground,” a sinewy, sun-baked faceoff between indigenous and invading armies in the Arnhem Land wilderness of Australia, though by now we probably need a better word than “western” for films that situate the tensions and tropes of Hollywood operas in their own distinct geographical context. Handsomely mounted [...]

  • Undine

    'Undine': Film Review

    Christian Petzold’s “Undine” begins with a breakup. Framed tightly on the face of lead actor Paula Beer, we absorb the news as she does. But this is no ordinary separation, and as jilted lovers go, Undine’s far from typical. Her name betrays what sets her apart, although in the vast realm of mythological entities, undines [...]

  • Emma Movie 2020

    'Emma' Starts Strong at Indie Box Office

    Focus Features’ “Emma,” an adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel, had a solid opening at the specialty box office this weekend. Director Autumn de Wilde’s feature film debut earned $230,000 in its debut outing across five theaters in New York and Los Angeles, ranking No. 1 in each location. That success translated to a $46,000 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content