The Cannes Film Festival will celebrate its 70th birthday beginning in a little over two months, and that means it’s time to start the stroll poll of who’ll be on the red carpet for the fest that runs May 17-28. With the majority of the Official Selection set to be unveiled in Paris on April 13, speculation is at a fever pitch as to what titles fest chief Thierry Frémaux will include for the landmark edition.
It’s still early days and nothing is confirmed until Frémaux says so — William Goldman’s classic line applies here as ever — but speaking to industry sources and Cannes-watchers a field of possibilities has emerged including films from the likes of Sofia Coppola, Alexander Payne, Michael Haneke, Todd Haynes, Yorgos Lanthimos, Michel Hazanvicius — and an appearance by Bruce Springsteen? (We’ll address the latter down lower.).
What we’ve also gleaned is what films will not be Rivera-bound.
To get started, let’s look at the word swirling around the studio tentpoles. When Deadline’s Pete Hammond ran into Frémaux on Oscar night in Los Angeles, the long-serving curator said the roster was still very much a work-in-progress. Typically playing his cards close to the vest, Frémaux nevertheless mentioned when asked about the possibility of Christopher Nolan’s World War II drama Dunkirk, which was shot in the north of France, that he was under the impression it would not be ready in time but that he’d certainly love to have it and Nolan. The Warner Bros movie has a July release date worldwide, and we hear there have been no decisions made.
Also from WB, Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur is the focus of some speculation. However, it currently has a May 12 release which would need to shift should the parties agree on a Riviera berth. We also hear there’s nothing firm there.
Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant is understood not to be going, nor is Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner: 2049. With an October date, that looks more likely for a fall debut. Villeneuve tripled up on Venice, Telluride and Toronto last year with eventual Best Picture Oscar nominee Arrival.
Speculation has also arisen around Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, but there is thought to be little chance this Disney ship sails to Cannes.
There’s a question mark surrounding Luc Besson’s Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets which begins its rollout in July. Besson opened the 50th edition of Cannes with The Fifth Element. However, while we hear good things about the film, there’s a lot of risk involved with premiering in Cannes where the scrutiny of the world’s media can be intensely harsh. This feels like a no.
Some have suggested that David Lynch, a Cannes favorite, could debut a couple of episodes of his Twin Peaks sequel, but the show is not expected to have a public viewing before its May 21 premiere on Showtime.
Now for some more hopeful news.
Coppola was in Cannes in 2006 with Marie-Antoinette and she is likely to be back this year with that film’s Kirsten Dunst-starring The Beguiled from Focus Features. It seems less of a contender for an opening slot, but would make sense to be in town as its international rollout begins in June. Cannes favorites who star along with Dunst include Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell.
Frémaux disdains the term “usual suspects” when talking about his selection, however there are certainly familiar names being bandied about in the potential mix. Among them, two-time Palme d’Or winner Michael Haneke with Happy End, starring Isabelle Huppert who rode last year’s Croisette debut Elle all the way to an Oscar nomination and picked up myriad prizes during the season. Sony Pictures Classics has already acquired the movie which co-stars Mathieu Kassovitz and Amour’s Jean-Louis Trintignant.
Another Cannes favorite is Payne whose Nebraska was in Competition in 2013, although that turned out not to be the final cut of the film. He’s got Downsizing this year with a cast that includes Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Alec Baldwin, Christoph Waltz, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Sudeikis. Paramount is expected to show footage of the picture at CinemaCon this month, potentially whetting the appetite for a South of France screening. It is a fall release, so Payne could opt to wait, but Nebraska was in a similar situation.
Other possibilities include red-carpet favorites George Clooney and the Coen brothers with the Clooney-helmed Suburbicon from a script by the Coens. The film recently sneaked in California and sounds like something Frémaux would covet, though it is now expected to target a fall festival.
Amazon figured heavily at last year’s Cannes with several titles in the main selection. Its Doug Liman-directed war drama The Wall, starring Golden Globe-winner Aaron Taylor Johnson, has been mentioned in conversation, but an Amazon film that seems more likely is Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck. Haynes and Cannes have a mutual-appreciation society; his last film to open there was 2015’s lauded Carol. Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here with Joaquin Phoenix is also from Amazon and could score a berth if it’s ready in time. The director’s We Need To Talk About Kevin was a Riviera hit in 2011.
Netflix, conversely, has yet to bow a film in Cannes but looks tipped to do so this year. The streaming service recently unveiled the first trailer for Brad Pitt-starrer War Machine and set a timely May 26 release. It also has Bong Joon-ho’s Okja with Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lily Collins and Paul Dano. That’s got a theatrical component.
The Lobster helmer Yorgos Lanthimos is thought to be bringing The Killing Of A Sacred Deer. Kidman, Alicia Silverstone and Farrell star in the drama from Element Pictures, Film4 and A24. Deniz Gamze Erguven’s Kings, with Daniel Craig and Halle Berry, pops up in Cannes scuttlebutt (she directed 2015’s Fortnight breakout and Oscar nominee Mustang), as does John Cameron Mitchell’s UK-set How to Talk to Girls at Parties.
Sean Baker’s buzzy The Florida Project is understood to not yet have screened for the fest, but the Willem Dafoe-starrer is a hopeful. The sophomore feature from Brit Andrew Hulme, The Devil Outside, is also vying for a slot.
Under The Silver Lake, by two-time Critics Week director David Robert Mitchell, could move the helmer up to Competition if it’s ready in time. A24 is releasing the Andrew Garfield-starrer.
Nicolas Pesce’s Piercing (Memento) starring Mia Wasikowska and Christopher Abbot has been submitted, we hear. So has The Third Wave (Bac Films), a zombie thriller with Ellen Page which is the directorial debut from David Freyne. Marius Markevicius’ Ashes In The Snow from Radiant is also under consideration, we’re hearing. It stars Bel Powley and is based on the New York Times bestselling novel Between Shades Of Gray about the true-life story of Siberia exiled survivor Irena Spakauskiene.
Other hopefuls include Elle Driver’s The Miseducation Of Cameron Post with Chloe Grace Moretz, Jennifer Ehle and Sasha Lane from Iranian-American helmer Desiree Akhavan.
Looking at a potential parallel berth is Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River which recently premiered in Sundance. There are some slots outside Competition which are reserved for movies hailing from Park City. Patty Cake$ is thought to be in a similar situation as is Bushwick.
On the other hand, Wim Wenders’ Submergence with James McAvoy, Alicia Vikander and Charlotte Rampling would make for a very handsome red carpet — but it won’t do so in Cannes; this one’s waiting for a fall fest. We hear that Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri looks like the kind of film you would see in Cannes, but Fox Searchlight is thought to be looking further down the calendar. We also hear that the speculated-about Victoria And Abdul from Stephen Frears is unlikely for Cannes. The Focus film stars Judi Dench as the titular British queen, but Frears has had great success in Venice (Philomena, The Queen) so that seems more of a fit.
Alfonso Cuaron’s Mexico City-set Roma has just wrapped and is not expected to be ready. Perhaps the Gravity helmer will bring it to Venice where his space odyssey wowed the Lido in 2013.
Aging wunderkind Xavier Dolan (hey, he turns 28 next week) is understood to be looking at next year’s Cannes with his English-language The Death And Life Of John F Donovan. Similarly, Kathryn Bigelow’s Untitled Detroit Project has been suggested, but is not likely we hear.
There are myriad French films with heat on them, although there are typically only three slots in the main Competition for local pictures. Often, the teams behind the films don’t even know if they’re in — or in which section — until about 11 PM the night before the April announcement.
Major names we’re hearing include Blue Is The Warmest Color Palme d’or winner Abdellatif Kechiche with love story Mektoub Is Mektoub, which is understood to be at the editing stage.
The Artist helmer Michel Hazanavicius’ Redoubtable starring his wife and Artist co-lead Bérénice Béjo as well as Nymphomaniac’s Stacy Martin and Louis Garrel as Jean-Luc Godard roundly comes up in conversation. It tells the story of Godard’s love affair with Anne Wiazemsky (Martin) and is set in 1968. But it has yet to screen for the fest as far as we hear. Wild Bunch is handling.
Les Gardiennes, by Of Gods And Men’s Xavier Beauvois, is high on watchers’ lists. Nathalie Baye stars in the WWI drama. André Téchiné’s Nos Années Folles is oft-mentioned as is Anne Fontaine’s Marvin, also starring Huppert; Albert Dupontel’s Au Revoir, Là-Haut, which is adapted from the Prix Goncourt-winning book by Pierre Lemaitre, is also being wagged about.
Palme d’Or winner Laurent Cantet could return with L’Atélier, a drama set in a writing program in Marseille-neighboring La Ciôtat. Ismael’s Ghosts from Arnaud Desplechin with Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Mathieu Amalric was acquired by Magnolia last year could find a spot on the Croisette; and Rodin from Jacques Doillon and starring Cannes Best Actor prize winner Vincent Lindon is also tipped. My Son (Wild Bunch) from French director Christian Carion and starring Guillaume Canet, has yet to screen, we hear. Prayer Before Dawn from Johnny Mad Dog director Jean-Stephane Sauvaire based on the true story of a man who fought to survive inside a Thai prison by becoming a Muay Thai boxing champion is thought to be a possibility.
Among the other foreign films that are believed to be vying for a spot are TrustNordisk’s 3 Things from Denmark’s Jens Dahl who co-wrote Nicolas Winding Refn’s cult phenomenon Pusher; Japan’s Before We Vanish, an alien mystery from Kiyoshi Kurosawa who won the directing prize in Un Certain Regard in 2015; Memento’s Thelma, a supernatural thriller from Norwegian director Joachim Trier who was last in town with 2015’s Louder Than Bombs; and Leviathan helmer Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless from Russia (Wild Bunch). Mary Shelley by Saudi Arabian helmer Haifaa al-Mansour which would mark a Canned debut from the Wadjda director, is thought to be under consideration as well as Takashi Miike revenge drama Blade Of The Immortal.
Elsewhere, Lucretia Martel’s Zama from Argentina (this one is produced by jury president Pedro Almodovar’s El Deseo so isn’t eligible for Competition) has been mentioned. So has Force Majeure helmer Ruben Ostlund’s The Square from Sweden; Michael Roskam’s Belgian pic Le Fidèle with Matthias Schoenaerts and Adèle Exarchopoulos is on folks minds; Korea’s Hong Sang-soo with Le Caméra De Claire starring Huppert could snap a spot; Barbet Schroeder’s Burma-set docu Le Vénérable W is also in the conversation; and Fatih Akin’s In The Fade with Diane Kruger has been talked about along with Naomi Kawase’s Hikari. Some think the final film from Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami, 24 Frames, will have its place in a festival where he was often embraced.
Finally, could this be a particularly rocking Cannes? Frémaux is a huge Springsteen acolyte and earlier this year told AFP that he could certainly see inviting The Boss to be a jury member. Springsteen currently has no tour dates set for the rest of this year and a red-carpet performance along the lines of one U2 held in 2007 would certainly be an amazing way to celebrate 70 years of Cannes. Particularly with the politically outspoken Springsteen in what is already a charged atmosphere, and as France will be in the midst of adjusting to the outcome of a contentious presidential election whose final tour will be held the weekend before the fest.
Deadline’s Diana Lodderhose contributed to this report.