Cannes Lineup Chatter Tightens At The Wire: Spielberg, Malick, Verhoeven & More

Cannes 2016 Films
Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival has been slow to tease main offerings at next month’s event ahead of tomorrow’s big reveal, with only the opening night film made public in a year that counts so many pics from which to choose. The Official Selection roster is only truly official when Cannes Fest chief Thierry Frémaux reads the titles tomorrow, but certain films have come into sharper focus than they were about a month ago when speculative trade reports started sprouting. For instance, as we ourselves speculated in March, Steven Spielberg’s The BFG is now widely considered poised for a red carpet appearance in some manner. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see Warner Bros’ The Nice Guys with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, or Terrence Malick’s documentary Voyage Of Time, watchers say. Jeff Nichols’ Loving is strongly believed set for Competition as is Paul Verhoeven’s thriller Elle with Isabelle Huppert.

Many things were still in a holding pattern until late in the day — the French contenders, for example, don’t normally start receiving phone calls until tonight Paris time. One exec says they don’t expect any major surprises tomorrow. “The only thing that will be surprising will be which films are left out since there are so many habitués with films that are ready.” Indeed most of the below are names we already mentioned several weeks ago; but certain titles appear to be closer to the Croisette while others have drifted. That’s why it’s dangerous to refer to anything as a sure thing too early when it comes to Cannes. Below is a look at what movies are keyed to be buzzing up the red carpet from May 11-21, and which ones are understood to be taking a rain check on a Riviera sojourn. We’ll know most of the score for sure tomorrow with more titles potentially added even through the next few weeks.

Cafe Society Woody AllenHere’s what we now know for sure: Woody Allen’s Café Society will open the proceedings on May 11 — out of competition as is the director’s habitual wont. This is Allen’s third time raising the curtain on Cannes — a record — and this time features such names as Blake Lively, Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenbger, Steve Carell and Corey Stoll. That’s a far starrier lineup than last year’s French opener, Standing Tall.

Highly likely to join it out of competition is Spielberg’s The BFG. Oscar winner and now frequent Spielberg collaborator Mark Rylance stars as the titular Big Friendly Giant with international rollout beginning in June. As I’ve noted previously, there’s something charming in the idea that Spielberg, who has only been in Official Selection with three new films dating back to 1974, would come back with The BFG which is the last film penned by the late Melissa Mathison. Her best-known collaboration with Spielberg, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, had its world premiere in Cannes 34 years ago.

Loving movie 2From Focus, Nichols’ Loving has long been expected. The interracial marriage drama doesn’t open domestically until fall, but a strong Cannes rollout could set it up nicely for later in the year. Meanwhile, as we’ve previously noted, Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals with Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal is tipped to be eyeing autumn. Adams’ Story Of Your Life, the sci-fi drama from Denis Villeneuve, is likewise not ready to head to Cannes. Warren Beatty’s Howard Hughes drama should not be relied upon to fly to the south of France, despite rumors to the contrary.

The Jodie Foster-directed Money Monster, with George Clooney and Julia Roberts, should lend plenty of star wattage to the red carpet. Sean Penn’s Charlize Theron-Javier Bardem starrer The Last Face has likewise been expected, but we’ve heard conflicting thoughts on the possibility. The Shane Black-helmed The Nice Guys with Crowe and Gosling is coming off a strong CinemaCon presentation and could find itself out of competition.

Anticipated to return to the Cannes Competition is Gosling’s partner in crime, Nicolas Winding Refn with The Neon Demon. That film is being handled by Amazon which also has opener Café Society in a first for the company. Elle Fanning and Abbey Lee star. Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta, from Sony Pictures Classics, has gotten good reiews out of Spain where it recently released and is tipped to bring the Spanish master back to the Palais.

Elsewhere, Oscar-nominated director Pablo Larrain’s Neruda could end up in Competition, we hear. The UK’s Andrea Arnold should be there with American Honey while Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire looks more like a fall film, as I mentioned last month. Belgian director Joachim Lafosse’s L’Economie De Couple with Bérénice Bejo has been mentioned in conversations as has Mexico’s Amat Escalante and The Untamed. There has been local media speculation that Tran Anh Hung’s Eternity is geared for a closing-night slot although I’ve been cautioned that while it may turn up, it’s not expected to close. From Romania, Cristi Puiu’s Sierranevada and Cristian Mungiu’s Family Photos are also possibles.

In the “usual suspects” category — which is brimming — Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan is tipped to present It’s Only The End Of The World starring Léa Seydoux, Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel. The Dardenne brothers have La Fille Inconnue and have essentially never made a movie that hasn’t had a Croisette berth. Marco Bellocchio could fly a flag for Italy with Sweet Dreams also starring Bejo.

kristen stewart cesarA likely contender among the French pics which also stars Kristen Stewart, who’s established a growing relationship with the festival and France as the only American actress to ever win a supporting César Award, is Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper. Also among the strongly buzzed is Humanité helmer Bruno Dumont’s Slack Bay (Ma Loute) with Juliette Binoche. Rebecca Zlotowski’s Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp starrer Planetarium has been touted to a degree; and we’ve heard Alain Guiraudie’s Staying Vertical talked about. Should that nab a Competition slot, it would be a first for the Stranger By The Lake helmer who won the Un Certain Regard directing prize in 2013.

Meanwhile, in a cautionary tale about jumping the gun: Over in the Fortnight, which isn’t announced until next week, Chilean helmer Alejandro Jodorowsky tweeted that his latest film had been officially selected, then later pulled back, saying his hopes had gotten the better of him:

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