Now that the Cannes Film Festival has announced Steven Spielberg as jury president and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby as the curtain raiser, speculation as to what the 66th running of the event holds in store will continue to mount until the mid-April press conference that officially unveils the lineup. Gatsby was pretty much a no-brainer what with its local May 15 release date falling on the day the fest kicks off and its story based on the classic novel F. Scott Fitzgerald completed in Valescure, less than 100 kilometers from the Palais. Folks are excited since arguably the most memorable Cannes opening night in the past 12 years — we were there — was with Luhrmann’s 2001 Moulin Rouge. (It’s also a nice dovetail for fest chief Thierry Frémaux: The first film he ever selected for Cannes was Moulin Rouge.) But, we can put to rest speculation about another movie with a subject close to the South of France gracing the Croisette: We understand that Grace Of Monaco, the biopic about the actress-turned-princess played by Nicole Kidman, directed by Olivier Dahan and recently acquired by The Weinstein Company, will not be making a Cannes run. Further, we’ve confirmed that Lars von Trier — a persona non grata at the 2011 fest for his Nazi-flavored comments — will not be ready with Nymphomaniac, the four-hour sex-o-rama that sold like hotcakes in Berlin. We also understand that J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek: Into Darkness, once thought a possibility for an Out Of Competition slot, is not coming. And, despite Pedro Almodovar’s almost given place on the Croisette, we’ve heard his I’m So Excited is also unlikely to appear at the Palais.
But let’s forget about what’s not going and focus on all the films we might see. We’re consistently hearing that this year will include “the usual suspects” in official selection. The Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis is a strong possibility – CBS Films just acquired the pic which screened on the Sony lot in late February, although Frémaux said he had not yet seen the film as of his trip to the Oscars last month. Llewyn Davis doesn’t have a release date in the U.S. yet, and its French release, via StudioCanal, is in December, but it’s worth recalling that the Coens’ No Country For Old Men bowed in Cannes in 2007 and wasn’t released Stateside until November that year before going on to win the Best Picture Oscar.
Also ripe is Sofia Coppola’s young Hollywood robbers tale The Bling Ring, for which upstart distributor A24 has set a June 14 U.S. release. Pathé is releasing in France on June 5, just a couple weeks after the fest wraps. The addition of Coppola to the roster could help calm the naysayers last year who complained there were no female directors in the main lineup. Another female director who could make the cut is Kelly Reichardt with Night Moves, starring Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard and Jesse Eisenberg, about environmentalists who plot to blow up a dam.
Two-time Oscar winner Alexander Payne’s much anticipated black-and-white drama Nebraska, in which Bruce Dern plays an aging alcoholic father on a road trip with his estranged son, could be a possibility if the Paramount fall release is ready in time. Payne, who was on the jury last year, has only been in competition once before with 2002’s About Schmidt, so could the timing be right for a return or will it wait for the fall festival circuit? And another road film that hasn’t been mentioned previously is the directorial debut of Mad Men creator Matt Weiner, You Are Here. The comedy stars Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler. Weiner and Frémaux even crossed paths at a Los Angeles French Consulate gathering the day after the Oscars, so who knows?
Steve McQueen’s Shame follow-up, Twelve Years A Slave, is a roundly buzzed about title. Shame’s Michael Fassbender stars with Benedict Cumberbatch, Oscar-nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, Chiwetel Ejiofor and nearly perennial Cannes red-carpet fixture Brad Pitt. We hear J.C. Chandor’s man vs. nature drama All Is Lost with Robert Redford is making waves as a possibility as is Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace film Behind The Candelabra with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. HBO is set to air the pic in May and an out-of-competition screening or a berth in another section would not be a precedent. Another made-for-TV movie, 2010’s Carlos with Edgar Ramirez, had an out-of-competition slot.
French actor-turned-director Guillaume Canet’s Blood Ties, a remake of Jacques Maillot’s Les Liens Du Sang, starring Marion Cotillard, Clive Owen, Zoe Saldana and Mila Kunis, has a solid chance at a slot. The movie, shot in NY, is Canet’s first foray into English-language filmmaking after strong starts with France’s Tell No One and Mon Idole. Canet starred in the original French version of Blood Ties. James Gray’s Lowlife, which also stars Cotillard, is a possibility. Joaquin Phoenix also stars and he’s in another contender, Her, Spike Jonze’s comedy that reteams the actor with his The Master co-star Amy Adams. Nicolas Winding Refn could mark a return with Only God Forgives after 2011’s Drive brought him the award for best director. Radius-TWC has the Ryan Gosling-starrer in the U.S.
On the foreign side, Asghar Farhadi’s follow-up to Oscar winner A Separation, entitled Le Passé and starring Bérénice Béjo and Tahar Rahim, we’ve heard, is mobilized to be ready for Cannes. Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan, who won three Directors’ Fortnight prizes at age 19 in 2009, could move up to the main competition with Tom At The Farm. And Paolo Sorrentino, director of 2011’s Sean Penn-starrer and competition film This Must Be The Place, is buzzed to be back with La Granda Belezza.
Among other titles we’ve heard are possibilities are Jim Jarmusch’s vampire tale Only Lovers Left Alive; Gregg Araki’s coming-of-age tale White Bird In A Blizzard with Shailene Woodley, Eva Green and Christopher Meloni; Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s Like Father, Like Son; erotic love story Blue Is The Warmest Color by César winner Abdellatif Kechiche with Léa Seydoux; Michael Rowe and Diego Luna’s Chavez about the civil rights activist; Arnaud Desplechin’s English-language Jimmy Picard with Benicio Del Toro and Mathieu Amalric; and stalwart Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye To Language.
With all the above questions, still more remain: Could Roman Polanski make his first appearance in competition since 2002’s (ultimately Oscar-winning) The Pianist with Venus In Fur? Will Welsh director Gareth Evans make a midnight appearance with The Raid 2? Is Luc Besson ready to make his first-ever competition appearance with Malavita after being out of competition with The Fifth Element in 1997 and 1988’s seminal The Big Blue?…