The 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, the 11-day party on the French Riviera that showcases hundreds of movies from around the world, opens on May 14th with the out of competition screening of Grace of Monaco. Considering the princess died a few miles down the Cote d’Azur from Cannes, Grace of Monaco, which stars Nicole Kidman, is the perfect selection to open the prestigious event. There are 18 films in competition for the Palme d’Or. Director Jane Campion, who won the prize in 1993 for The Piano, is heading the jury.
Thierry Fremaux, the festival’s artistic director, has put together a strong lineup for 2014. Several of the features in competition bridge the gap between auteur cinema and star-studded casts, and that’s what the festival is all about –balancing serious, thought-provoking cinema with buzz and Hollywood glamour. New Wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard is competing for the Palme d’Or, a prize the 83-year old has never won, and Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are vying for their third Golden Palm. At the same time, an eclectic group of Hollywood stars are making their way to the Cannes red carpet, including Ryan Gosling, Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, and Steve Carell. Here are 10 of most anticipated films at the Cannes Film Festival.
10 The Search: Michel Hazanavicius
In 2011, Michel Hazanavicius won three Academy Awards (directing, writing, and producing) for his black and white silent-film The Artist. The Search, however, is a talkie, and it updates the 1948 Fred Zinnemann movie of the same name. The 1948 American classic starred Montgomery Cliff as an Army private who discovers a homeless child in the wreckage of WWII Berlin and helps him find his mother. For the new film, Hazanavicius updates the setting to Chechnya. The Search stars the director’s wife, Berenice Bejo, and Annette Bening.
9 The Rover: David Michod
Animal Kingdom premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010, and the film quickly made Australian director David Michod the toast of the town. The family crime drama featured Jacki Weaver, Guy Pierce, and Ben Mendelsohn. BBC describes David Michod’s new film, The Rover, as a “dark, intense, existential western.” It stars Guy Pierce, Joel Edgerton, and Robert Pattinson. The film takes place in southern Australia in a dystopian near-future where law and order have collapsed.
8 Homesman: Tommy Lee Jones
The Three Burials of Melique Estrada premiered at Cannes nine years ago, and Jones is back in the directing saddle with another frontier epic. In Homesman, a pioneer woman (Hilary Swank) saves a claim jumper (Jones) from a hanging, and in return he must help her transport three “madwoman” across the Old West to a minister’s wife (Meryl Streep). Thierry Fremaux, Cannes Film Festival’s artistic director and delegate general, said Homesman “suggests Jones’ determination as a filmmaker to represent the existence of a certain kind of classic filmmaking.” However, perhaps Jones says it better himself in the movie’s trailer: “three crazy women for five weeks is a lot more than I bargained for.”
7 Two Days, One Night: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
The Belgian brothers won their first Palme d’Or for Rosetta in 1999, and followed it with a second when The Child won the coveted prize in 2005. Will Two Days, One Night bring the filmmaking duo their third Golden Palm? The Dardennes are known for their dramas of working class life, and while Two Days, One Night revolves around characters in a higher social stratum, the film sounds like a recession era drama in a middle class setting. Sandra, played by Marion Cotillard, spends a weekend trying to convince her colleagues to forfeit their bonuses so she can keep her job.
6 Map to the Stars: David Cronenberg
While David Cronenberg no longer makes venereal horror films or clinical thrillers, his dark humor and icy world-view is still intact. Map to the Stars is a scathing satire of contemporary life, Hollywood artifice, and excess. The story is told through the eyes of the youngest members of a famous Hollywood acting dynasty -one of whom entered a drug rehabilitation program at the age of nine. While many directors have used Hollywood artifice and celebrity culture as a means to comment on the state of western civilization, expect Cronenberg to heighten the toxicity and put a biting twist on these well-trodden themes. Map to the Stars features Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, and Mia Wasikowska.
5 Foxcatcher: Bennett Miller
Foxcatcher, an American film by the director of Capote and Moneyball, has had a long, strange journey. The film was supposed to be released in time for the awards race in 2013, but Miller continued to work on the cut. It was then scheduled to premier at the AFI Fest in November, but there were more delays. The film is now making its debut at Cannes.
The fact-based, true crime drama is set against the world of Olympic wrestling. In 1996, the eccentric and paranoid chemical fortune heir, John du Pont, shot and killed wrestler Dave Schultz at the state-of-the-art Foxcatcher National Training Center, which du Pont had built on his estate near Philadelphia. Foxcather stars Steve Carell as du Pont, Mark Ruffalo as David Schutlz, and Channing Tatum as the brother and fellow Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz, whose autobiography the film is based on.
4 Mr. Turner: Mike Leigh
Mr. Turner is Mike Leigh’s fifth film to compete at the Cannes Film Festival. Leigh won the Best Director Award at Cannes for Naked (1993), and his gritty working class drama Secrets & Lies won the Palme d’Or in 2004, a moment the social realist director called "a huge landmark in my career.”
Mr. Turner is a biopic about the British romantic landscape painter JNW Turner (1775-1851). Speaking to The Guardian about what inspired him to make the film, Leigh said: "He is so complex and there's so much of him to get your head around. Turner was a compulsive artist. Turner had to paint, had to draw, all the time…. It was an absolute obsession." The costume drama, which is Leigh’s first since Topsy-Turvy, stars Timothy Spall and Dorothy Atkinson.
3 Jimmy’s Hall: Ken Loach
Ken Loach is often called the English master of “kitchen sink realism.” His British-Irish war drama The Wind That Shakes the Barley won the Palme d’Or in 2006. The 77-year old director is never one to shy away from controversial topics and Jimmy’s Hall, which Loach has said may be his last film, examines the value of free speech and the right to assemble.
Jimmy’s Hall explores the peak of Ireland’s 1932 Red Scare. The film tells the story of James Gralton, a Communist ideologue and activist, who opened a dance hall in Effrinagh where he expounded his political beliefs. Large, violent protests led by Catholic priests followed, resulting in a shooting incident. Gralton was eventually arrested in February 1933 and deported to the United States, becoming the first and only Irishman deported from Ireland.
2 Goodbye to Language: Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard helped define the French New Wave with films like Breathless (1960), Contempt (1963), and Band of Outsiders (1964). Radical and experimental, with an acute knowledge of narrative theory and film history, Godard’s films were pop art treatises on consumerism, existentialism, and politics. The avant-garde style of Godard’s films -as well as their philosophical digressions -challenged the conventions of traditional cinema.
Goodbye to Language marks Jean-Luc Godard’s first appearance at Cannes since the 2010 head-scratcher Film Socialisme. Little is known about the film other than it’s a 3D entry. Descriptions of the plot are cryptic. The film’s official synopsis states it “ends in barking and babies’ cries.” A previous description claimed it was a story about a talking dog who intervenes between a man and woman who no longer speak the same language. Whatever Godard has up his sleeve, let’s hope it’s better than Italian horror master Dario Argento’s venture into 3D. The much maligned Dracula 3D premiered at Cannes in 2012.
1 Lost River: Ryan Gosling
Lost River is actor Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut. The star of Blue Valentine and Drive also wrote the film. Lost River, which at one time was called How to Catch a Monster, is being featured in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes alongside several other first films. While Gosling stumbled a bit in Nicolas Winding Refn’s poorly received Only God Forgives, his brand of stylized, James Dean cool makes him one of the most eclectic and popular indie actors in the U.S. Lost River is described as a “psychological drama with a fantastical dark side” involving a troubled teen and a single mother in a small town. The film stars Eva Mendes, Christina Hendricks, and Saoirse Ronan.