Cannes Speculation 2018: Intrigue Spikes As Fest Lineup Reveal Looms

By Nancy Tartaglione, Andreas Wiseman


UPDATED, with further detail: The Cannes Film Festival lineup is due to be announced three weeks from today, and, as ever, predictions are running the gamut. While nothing about the annual derby is confirmed until fest chief Thierry Frémaux declares it so, many reflect this is a particularly tough year to call. One key difference in 2018 is the pressure folks say the calendar is putting on filmmakers.

Running May 8-19, the fest is kicking off earlier than in recent years, and on a Tuesday to boot. The situation is close to the wire with what industry sources say is a tighter timeline and movies yet to screen for the selection committee. Still, conversations with industry sources and Cannes-watchers have yielded signs of some strong possibilities à la Alfonso Cuaron’s family saga Roma and others — and several mooted titles that likely are not Riviera-bound.

Cannes Film Festival

To wit: Nicole Kidman-starrer Destroyer has been the focus of much media attention, but scuttlebutt is that the Karyn Kusama crime pic is not expected to stroll the red carpet. It’s understood to be in early-mid post. Likewise, La La Land helmer Damien Chazelle’s First Man is just getting into heavy editing.

Then there’s Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers. The English-language western from the Cannes laureate that stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Joaquin Phoenix could wait for fall, we gather. And, a widely speculated title from another Cannes veteran, Paolo Sorrentino’s Silvio Berlusconi movie, Loro, may not be in the mix after all.

Teresa Isasi

There’s been no official word on an opening-night movie — last year the fest waited until the April press conference to unveil the curtain-raiser. Speculation is rife around Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows. We understand that Frémaux has yet to screen the film, but it certainly seems a plausible possibility to open. The Iranian filmmaker has history with the festival and is presenting his first film in Spanish (and English) with Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Argentine icon Ricardo Darin — that would make for a starry and prestigious international start.

There are also musings around Kirikou series filmmaker Michel Ocelot’s animated family mystery Dilili In Paris. Frémaux is fond of animation, having memorably selected Shrek for Competition in 2001.

Turning back to some of the other titles we hear are unlikely to be vacationing on the Riviera, Cannes favorite Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite is thought not to be ready. Word surrounding Xavier Dolan’s The Death And Life Of John F Donovan is that it could cut very close.

Media suggestions of Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go Bernadette, Steve McQueen’s Widows or Lenny Abrahamson’s gothic horror tale The Little Stranger appear not to hold water as those are looking like fall movies.


As for the Hollywood heavies, so far it’s murky. Last year there were no tentpoles at the Palais, so it wouldn’t be unheard of for the studios sit out 2018 as well. One title we would love to see cut a powerful figure on the red carpet is Warner Bros Ocean’s Eight. It’s got a fitting release date and a largely female cast that includes jury president Cate Blanchett. On the other side of the spectrum, could Disney/Lucasfilm trot out Solo: A Star Wars Story as a Special Screening? The release date is close enough to give the idea credence. The image of the Millennium Falcon on the Croisette would be a media blitz seen round the galaxy.

Coming back down to Earth, there’s the Netflix issue. Three films — Hold The Dark by Jeremy Saulnier, David Mackenzie’s Outlaw King and Orson Welles’ previously unfinished film, The Other Side Of The Wind — have been mentioned in our conversations.

But there was outrage after last year’s competition included Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories. This prompted the festival to tweak rules so that “any film that wishes to compete in Competition at Cannes will have to commit itself to being distributed in French movie theaters.” Arcane rules in France’s Media Chronology Law keep films released in French theaters from playing on SVOD platforms for 36 months, and Netflix bypasses them by putting films directly on its platform. That has angered exhibitors and distributors, and last year stirred a philosophical debate about the meaning of cinema in the country where the art form was born.


Should Frémaux select Netflix titles, he’d appear hidebound to keep them out of competition. That would make sense in the case of the Orson Welles film, which looks more like a Special Screening, perhaps under the aegis of Cannes Classics. Netflix acquired global rights last year to the film-within-a-film in which John Huston stars as a temperamental director battling with Hollywood executives to finish a movie. Welles began work on it in 1970 and its completion has been a 40-year labor of love for producer Frank Marshall.

We’ve also heard that EuropaCorp’s Kursk, director Thomas Vinterberg’s retelling of the 2000 submarine disaster, could surface. It stars Matthias Schoenaerts, Léa Seydoux and Colin Firth. And, there’s been speculation around Brian De Palma’s crime thriller Domino.

Elsewhere, Claire Denis’ VFX-rich High Life has been tipped, although, as with others, it’s not certain it will be done in time. Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche star in the deep-space-set adventure. Binoche could be in town with Olivier Assayas’ Non-Fiction, a comedy set in the publishing world and co-starring Guillaume Canet. She could also see more red carpet action with Naomi Kawase’s Vision.

Amid the fight for equality and diversity, it will be interesting to see if Frémaux goes heavy on female directors — although he has historically maintained that he chooses films based on merit, not gender.

Alice Rohrwacher, whose previous two films have played at Cannes, is a potential with drama Lazzaro Felice. UK filmmaker Joanna Hogg has yet to debut a movie on the Riviera but The Souvenir: Part 1 has got momentum with Robert Pattinson among the cast and Martin Scorsese a champion of the director.


Contemporary neo-noir thriller Under The Silver Lake, by two-time Critics’ Week director David Robert Mitchell, is tipped to factor this year — possibly moving the helmer to another section. We understand that Harmony Korine’s Beach Bum is a dark horse, and is in a similar situation to Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here last year. There are positive noises around the film and it could drop at the 11th hour, but there’s still work to be done on it.

Hot thriller Assassination Nation and Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake are likewise ones to watch. The Call Me By Your Name filmmaker has bounced around festivals before, but not had a major slot in Cannes and Suspiria’s original helmer, Dario Argento, holds a special place in France’s heart.

Terry Gilliam’s eternity-gestating The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has been rumored while the sentence has run out on Lars Von Trier’s “persona non grata” status. He this year has The House That Jack Built and the movie is tipped by watchers to be at the party. Standing room only at that press conference.

Other titles oft-cited include Wim Wenders’ documentary Pope Francis – A Man Of His Word from Focus; Mike Leigh’s Peterloo from Amazon; and Cannes discovery Laszlo Nemes, who won an Oscar for Son Of Saul, should be back with Sunset.

Another Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner, Ida‘s Pawel Pawlikowski, has Polish-French-language Cold War which we understand has been submitted. It’s been pointed out to us that Cannes has not put a Polish movie in Competition since 1994’s Three Colors: Red by Krzysztof Kieslowski — unless one counts Roman Polanski’s Palme d’Or winner The Pianist which was a majority French co-production.

Elsewhere, Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook follow-up The Nightingale has been mentioned, but is not certain to be ready. Last King Of Scotland helmer Kevin Macdonald’s Whitney Houston biopic is complete and could be on the Croisette. Asif Kapadia’s biopic of football legend Diego Maradona is still in post, but would make sense if it can make haste.

Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s The Wild Pear Tree is widely tipped by arthouse insiders. Inevitably, it is long — just over three hours, we hear. Pablo Trapero’s The Quietude with Berenice Bejo and Edgar Ramirez looks to be on course to follow the same rollout pattern as a number of the director’s films with an Argentine release days before a festival slot. Carlos Reygadas is a Cannes favorite and could be at the dance with Where Life Is Born.

German films Toni Erdmann and In The Fade have found favor in Cannes the last two years. Sebastian Schipper’s multi-cultural road-trip Roads is a contender from the country this year.

The Mads Mikkelsen man-stranded pic Arctic could also be headed to the south, perhaps in a sidebar for director Joe Penna’s debut. Melanie Laurent’s Galveston could also find a sidebar berth.

Among Asian titles to keep an eye on are Jia Zhangke’s Ash Is Purist White, Bi Gan’s Long Day’s Night Into Night, Zhang Yimou’s Shadow, Hirokazu Kore-eda Shoplifters and Lee Chang-dong’s Burning.

On more than one occasion Frémaux has been grilled in the post-announcement press conference about the dearth of Indian movies at the festival. Could Ritesh Batra right that ship with Amazon romance-drama Photograph? The director’s beloved Lunchbox was in Critics’ Week 2013.

In a somewhat surprising bit of speculation, it was suggested to us that Woody Allen might make a return with A Rainy Day In New York. However, given that some actors from the film have donated their wages to various movements, it would make for an awkward red carpet.

Deadline’s Pete Hammond contributed to this report.

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