The Golden Lion is the Venice Film Festival's best-picture prize, of course, but that doesn't translate to the Academy Awards. No Golden Lion champ has nabbed the loftiest Golden Boy in Hollywood yet, but a few got nominated in the top Oscars derby, including "Brokeback Mountain" (2005) and "Atlantic City" (1980).
Venice's top winner of 2004 — "Vera Drake" — at least paid off in Oscar's best-actress race with a nom for Imelda Staunton, so this news out of Italy's fest certainly boosts Mickey Rourke's hopes in the best-actor bout.
Yankee film critics are wild for Rourke's performance. Variety's Todd McCarthy declares, "Rourke creates a galvanizing, humorous, deeply moving portrait that instantly takes its place among the great, iconic screen performances."
With those kinds of reviews, "The Wrestler" and Rourke will probably score a few knock-out punches at the critics' awards.
And, of course, the Golden Lion victory could help director Darren Aronofsky — much like a Golden Lion victory for "Short Cuts" in 1993 probably helped Robert Altman at least a bit to score his Oscar bid in the academy's helmers' contest.
Photo credit: Saturn Films