If the Venice film festival is any indication, said Mike Collett-White and Silvia Aloisi in Reuters, it looks like the writers’ strike may have really hurt Hollywood after all. Now at its halfway point, the festival has been described as “one of the weakest in years,” with critics saying that the movies screened so far have been “generally poor.”

Even the Coen brothers’ new movie Burn After Reading, starring Hollywood heavyweights George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Tilda Swinton, said the Independent Television News Limited in the UK’s Channel 4 News website, caused “grumbling from critics.” But not everybody felt that way about it—the film received “loud applause from the public.”

And that’s not the only reason why Hollywood is still in the running at this year’s festival, said the Telegraph. Guillermo Arriaga’s latest film The Burning Plain, starring Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger, “is serious-minded and dramatic, with universal themes and an emotional punch.” Theron and Basinger give great performances, and the movie is “clearly” a “front-runner” for the coveted Golden Lion award.