22x30_Cannes2014On Thursday, Thierry Frémaux will unveil the lineup for the 67th running of the Cannes Film Festival. Speculation, comme d’habitude, has been rife for at least the past month as to which titles may make the trip to the Croisette. While one exec with movies in contention says, “It’s going to the wire this year,” some contenders are coming into sharper focus. Although nothing is confirmed until Frémaux says so, among the titles I hear consistently cited as near faits-accomplis are DreamWorks Animation‘s How To Train Your Dragon 2; the Dardenne brothers’ Two Days, One Night with Marion Cotillard; Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher; Mike Leigh‘s Mr Turner; Tommy Lee JonesThe Homesman; and David Cronenberg‘s Maps To The Stars. There are many, many more required to fill the Competition, Out-of-Competition, Un Certain Regard, Special Screenings and other sections. Here’s a primer for what’s looking likely, and what isn’t, to make the cut in an official category on Thursday:

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We know that Nicole Kidman-starrer Grace Of Monaco is the opening-night film. French distributor grace of monacoGaumont is planning a classic Cannes soirée which will follow the official screening and dinner on May 14. In other certainties, French debut feature Party Girl is opening the Un Certain Regard sidebar; a less showy title than 2013’s Bling Ring, but one that fits with UCR jury president Pablo Trapero’s take on the section this year. Jane Campion, the only woman ever to win a Palme d’Or (for The Piano in 1993), is president of the Competition jury whose other members will be revealed shortly.

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how-to-train-your-dragonAmong the high-profile Hollywood titles expected is DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon sequel, which I hear is getting a special screening. The studio isn’t commenting, but DWA and Cannes have a long history – going back to when Frémaux took over the selection in 2001 and caused a stir by putting Shrek in the Competition. We’ve heard that Frémaux has put a full-court press on Paul Thomas Anderson to get Inherent Vice (Warner Bros) to the festival. But with a release date at the end of 2014, this could be a long shot, and some I’ve spoken with believe it won’t be ready for next month. Some wonder if Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys jersey boyscould make the trip. Eastwood has been to Cannes several times before and is esteemed by Frémaux who gave him the inaugural Lumière Prize in 2009 at the October festival he oversees in Lyon with Bertrand Tavernier. Although I’m told Jersey Boys isn’t a typical Cannes film, I wouldn’t fully rule it out — it’s also got a timely June release. Another Warner possibility that would considerably shake things up on the Croisette is Edge Of Tomorrow. The release for the Tom Cruise sci-fi pic is later in May, making the timing right, but it still looks like a long shot. Cruise’s last appearance in a Cannes Official Selection film stretches back to 1992’s Far And Away — opposite his ex-wife, and Grace Of Monaco star, Kidman. A Warner U.S. title (Sierra/Affinity has international) that is often whispered about is Ryan Gosling‘s directorial debut How To Catch A Monster. It has not yet been scheduled for release, but Gosling is a welcome presence in Cannes where he’s appeared in five films across the Official Selection, notably Nicolas Winding Refn’s controversial 2013 competitor Only God Forgives and 2011 directing prize winner Drive.

I hear that despite early speculation, there are currently no plans for Disney’s Angelina Jolie-starrer Maleficent to appear. Also defying speculation, The Normal Heart, produced by Jolie’s partner Brad Pitt, won’t be going to Cannes, I hear. Although made for HBO, it would not have been without precedent since Behind The Candelabra screened in Competition last year after Frémaux successfully cajoled director Steven Soderbergh.

foxcatcherBennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, starring Channing Tatum and Steve Carell is heavily expected, according to watchers. Sony Pictures Classics has the film in the U.S., and Mars Distribution has France where it has not yet set a release. Also an SPC pick-up, Mike Leigh’s JMW Turner biopic Mr Turner is on everyone’s lips as a shoo-in. Timothy Spall plays the eponymous British painter in the film that was co-financed and sold by the now-defunct Focus Features International. Another SPC title, Woody Allen’s South of France-set Magic In The Moonlight, may get a slot, but it would have to be Out Of Competition as the director habitually stipulates. Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater and Jacki Weaver star in the romantic comedy about an Englishman brought in to help unmask a possible swindle.

Apart from the Leigh, other UK titles strongly tipped are Ken Loach’s Jimmy’s Hall. The period drama will be the 77-year-old director’s last narrative feature and, as a Cannes regular, he has been expected to be front and center. The picture – which Pixar helped rescue in a way when it donated edge-numbering tape for the editing process – is based on the true story of a man who ran afoul of the church when he built a dance hall on a rural crossroads in Ireland as a refuge for young people. John Boorman’s Korean War drama Queen And Country also has its supporters. And, Catch Me Daddy, from Daniel Wolfe, is understood to be eyeing a sidebar slot.

homesmanVery likely to be called out on April 17 is Tommy Lee JonesThe Homesman. Jones has good history with Cannes where his feature directorial debut, The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada, was in Competition in 2005. Jones won the Best Actor prize that year, and Guillermo Arriaga’s script won Best Screenplay. Jones, Hilary Swank, Hailee Steinfeld, Meryl Streep and James Spader form part of the large cast. Luc Besson is a producer and his EuropaCorp is releasing in May in France.

Related: Hot Trailer: ‘The Homesman’

There’s been a lot of speculation around Thomas Vinterberg’s Far From The Madding Crowd. But as late as today, I’ve heard it is not expected to be ready in time, meaning it could hit the fest circuit later this year. If it does make it, Vinterberg will be on a three-year Cannes streak: In 2013, he was president of the UCR jury, and in 2012 his The Hunt was in Competition, winning Mads Mikkelsen the Best Actor prize and going on to a Foreign Language Oscar nomination. Also from Fox Searchlight, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s black comedy Birdman had been speculated, but Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr recently reported it has set an October 17 U.S. release and won’t complete post-production until late May or early June. I hear Terrence Malick’s speculated-upon Knight Of Cups with Imogen Poots, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett is not yet finished. Malick’s Tree Of Life took its time getting to Cannes a few years ago, so maybe this one will too. Meanwhile, a question mark hangs over Danish director Susanne Bier’s long-gestating Serena with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, but odds are on that it will make a Riviera appearance.

maps to the starsFrom Canada, David Cronenberg’s Maps To The Stars with Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska and Robert Pattinson (who’s in David Michôd’s Australian possibility The Rover) is roundly believed to be plotting a journey to Competition. If it is part of Frémaux’s announcement on Thursday, it will be exactly 364 days since eOne said it was partnering with Martin Katz’s Prospero Pictures to back the ensemble ghost story that’s described as a scathing attack on celebrity-obsessed LA. Also from Canada, filmmaker Denys Arcand has been mentioned as a possibility for La Règne De La Beauté with Mélanie Thierry. Atom Egoyan is believed to be packing his bags for the Riviera with The Captive about a father trying to track down his kidnapped daughter. It stars Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson and Mireille Enos. And, Xavier Dolan, who at 25 can now be called a veteran wunderkind, may turn up with Mommy after last year’s Tom At The Farm bobbed up in Venice.

There are a handful of Sundance titles that have Cannes buzz. Movies from Sundance generally slot into Un Certain Regard, or the sidebars like Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight which will be announced April 21 and April 22, respectively. I hear breakout Whiplash, the Grand Jury prize-winner spearheaded by producers Jason Blum and Jason Reitman, is a contender for the UCR slot that in recent years has gone to Fruitvale Station and Beasts Of The Southern Wild. The Jeff Preiss-directed Low Down, starring Elle Fanning, won the Cinematography prize in Park City in January and producers Alex Berger and Ron Yerxa are understood to be hoping for a Cannes showcase. Also from Sundance, documentary Mr X, a portrait of French director Leos Carax, could score a special screening. Jim Mickle’s Cold In July has been predicted for a Fortnight slot.

two_days_one_night_2Getting down to the major auteur fare, one person I queried early on suggested the following: The Hangover 4 by Michael Haneke, Irreversible And Vice Versa by Arnaud Desplechin, Airplane 4 by Zhang Ke Jia and, my personal favorite, It’s A Bummer You’re Out Of Work by the Dardenne brothers. While those facetious films would make the establishment sit up and cry “C’est pas possible!” there’s at least a pair of names likely to appear. Belgian frères Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are largely considered locks with Marion Cotillard-starrer Two Days, One Night which Sundance Selects has in the U.S. Buzz is high on Cotillard’s performance as a young woman who has only one weekend to convince her colleagues they must give up their bonuses in order for her to keep her job.

sils mariaThere are typically three French films in Competition and none of them will be sewn up until Frémaux starts making phone calls around 11 PM Paris time on Wednesday night. Until then, it’s anybody’s game. There is a preponderance of French titles this year, meaning there will be jockeying between the sections. Our intel says that the following will be among them: Clouds Of Sils Maria by Olivier Assayas and starring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz; The Search from Michel Hazanavicius and starring his wife and Artist collaborator Bérénice Bejo; Bird Peoplethe search hazanavicius, a long-in-the-works drama from Lady Chatterley director Pascale Ferran and co-starring Josh CharlesGood Wife fans would certainly rejoice to have Will Gardner alive and well on the red carpet in Cannes. I’ve also heard strong word on Sophie Barthes’ Madame Bovary with Wasikowska, Ezra Miller, Paul Giamatti and Rhys Ifans. Abel Ferrara’s French-themed Welcome To New York, inspired by events surrounding controversial former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is a prime candidate. Gérard Depardieu and Jacqueline Bisset star.

Mathieu AmalricThe Blue Room, based on the novel by Georges Simenon and directed by Mathieu Amalric, who won the helming prize with his debut feature On Tour in 2010, is tipped for Directors’ Fortnight. Then there’s the Bertrand Bonello biopic Saint Laurent, one of two competing movies this year in France about the fashion designer. It stars Cannes darlings Léa Seydoux, Louis Garrel, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Jérémie Renier. Further flying the flag for France are possibilities Bande De Filles from Céline Sciamma; Métamorphoses, the latest from Christophe Honoré; and Le Fil D’Ariane, by Robert Guédiguian and his usual troupe of actors. Though not set in stone, I’m hearing that André Téchiné’s L’Homme Que L’On Aimait Trop with Catherine Deneuve and Guillaume Canet won’t be finished in time, nor will Xavier Beauvois with The Price Of Fame, inspired by a true story about a down-on-his-luck ex-con who hatches a plan to ransom Charlie Chaplin’s corpse.

chastainFrom farther afield, names that roundly pop up include Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep (Kis Uykusu); Zhang Yimou with Gong Li in Coming Home; Emir Kusturica’s On The Milky Road with Monica Bellucci; Fatih Akin’s The Cut; Liv Ullmann’s Miss Julie with Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton; Still The Water by Japan’s Naomi Kawase; Kristian Levring’s Danish Western The Salvation starring Mikkelsen and Eva Green; and Takashi Miike’s Over Your Dead Body. Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence has been cooing up a lot of buzz and, to cap it off, Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye To Language, a 3D movie with a talking dog, is a strong possibility.