Cannes Intrigue Spikes: Tarantino, Almodóvar, Malick Trending Up; ‘Ad Astra’, ‘Against All Enemies’, Netflix Not Expected

By Nancy Tartaglione, Andreas Wiseman

Ad Astra

We’re just a few weeks away from the annual unveiling of the Cannes Film Festival lineup, and, as ever, speculation is running high about what will and won’t strut down the Croisette from May 14-25. Also as usual, nothing is set in stone until fest chief Thierry Frémaux makes the announcement. However, we’ve been able to glean some intel into what’s likely to be in store for the official selection — and what is not.

Sony Pictures

Regarding the big-ticket titles, the one on everyone’s lips is Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. While we’ve heard a possible May 21 date floated — which would slot in nicely given it would mark 25 years to the day that Tarantino debuted Pulp Fiction, going on to win the Palme d’Or — and sources have indicated the film is likely to make it, we also understand that no firm offer or decision has been made. The movie is among the most likely inclusions, however.

So far, all signs point Cannes-wards for Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain & Glory with Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas. As per norm, the movie opens in Spain early (this Friday) which wouldn’t have an impact on its participation since films are allowed to bow in their home countries before a Cannes debut. Given Almodóvar’s history with the festival, it would be surprising not to see him again on the red carpet and noises we’ve heard suggest he is heading to the Croisette.

Mister Smith

Also in the strong possibility column, there’s Terrence Malick’s long-in-the-works Radegund. We hear the movie is not entirely finished but is screening for Cannes. Then there’s Ari Aster’s Midsommar with Florence Pugh as a young woman who reluctantly joins her boyfriend on a summer trip where things quickly go awry. Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse with Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, is also a potential candidate. From the Sundance stable, The Farewell is being tipped for a slot reserved for strong Park City titles.

Two-time Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach is among a coterie of filmmakers who are all but guaranteed a slot at the festival if they have a film available. His latest, Sorry We Missed You, should be ready in time. Likewise, Cannes favourites Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have Ahmed (working title) in post-production.

There is also heat on Paramount’s Elton John biopic Rocketman starring Taron Egerton. The Dexter Fletcher-helmed musical fantasy begins offshore rollout mid-festival, though we understand no decision has been made on this one and that, either way, John’s current tour has no impact on its potential debut at the festival. Fun fact: John filmed the 1983 video for “I’m Still Standing” at the Croisette’s Carlton Hotel.

Other movies potentially in the mix may include Atom Egoyan’s Guest Of Honour with David Thewlis and Luke Wilson; and The True History Of The Kelly Gang from Justin Kurzel and starring Charlie Hunnam, Nicholas Hoult and Russell Crowe.

There is also a lot of speculation surrounding Claude Lelouch’s Les Plus Belles Années d’Une Vie. A sequel to the filmmaker’s A Man And A Woman, it would come 53 years after that indelible romance won the Grand Prize. This is also one of the last films produced by the late Samuel Hadida and would mark a fine tribute.

Last year’s Palme d’Or winner, Hirokazu Kore-eda, has been floated as a possibility to open the festival with The Truth. At last count, we heard the film has not yet screened for Cannes. However, its French theme and powerhouse stars including Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ludivine Sagnier certainly make it a fit. Pablo Larrain’s Ema, Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven and Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite are other arthouse movies with very strong Cannes credentials.


From what we’re hearing there are two anticipated films that are very likely to be sitting out the Riviera derby, despite continued positive speculation elsewhere: Brad Pitt-starrer Ad Astra and Kristen Stewart-starrer Against All Enemies.

Regarding Ad Astra, we hear this starry deep space epic will not be ready in time. Pitt plays an astronaut who searches the galaxy for his father (Tommy Lee Jones) in the New Regency/Fox title. There are a couple of reasons why this has been so hotly expected in Cannes: Director James Gray is a regular on the Riviera and the movie still has a May 22 release date in France (May 24 domestically).

We expect, however, that this release date will change now that the Disney/Fox deal has closed. In the run-up to the merger, Fox had not actively been switching up its schedule for a couple weeks, likely given the combination of the slates going forward — and a reason that Ad Astra has stayed put. But we have heard from several sources that the VFX-heavy film simply isn’t ready and should be part of upcoming date changes now that the Mouse has swallowed the Fox.

While Against All Enemies seems like a perfect fit for Cannes, the Stewart-led political thriller is not expected to make its debut there. Stewart, the only American actress to ever win a César Award, plays Jean Seberg (also an American) who spent half her life in France and was a darling of the French New Wave. Benedict Andrews directs the film that Amazon acquired in Berlin. We understand a Venice berth is more likely, tapping into the fall awards season fests with what’s said to be a stellar turn by Stewart and the ensemble cast.

Another title we have heard may not be ready, despite some speculation, is Benh Zeitlin’s Wendy. Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, with Chloe Sevigny, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray, would be one to hope for, although we understand the movie has a lot of VFX work to be done.

Further speculation in European circles focuses on Arnaud Desplechin’s Roubaix, A Light, Céline Sciamma’s Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, Rebecca Zlotowski’s An Easy Girl, Alice Winocour’s English-language Proxima and Blue Is The Warmest Color director Abdellatif Kechiche’s Mektoub My Love: Intermezzo. Controversial Chinese filmmaker Lou Ye’s Saturday Fiction has a heavy editing process and is not certain to be ready.

As to the Netflix question, we’ve had it confirmed by sources that the streamer won’t have any movies in competition this year. We hear it’s also highly unlikely the company will have anything out of competition. However, that door isn’t as firmly shut as a competition berth.

Sources tell us their omission is partly down to Netflix not having anything ready to go for Cannes. Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman does have a ton of post-production VFX work so it’s plausible that it won’t be ready, which is a shame. Venice will presumably be quite happy to welcome it. The size of Netflix’s slate — other upcoming movies include The King, The Laundromat, The Last Thing He Wanted and more — means that something would likely have worked in Cannes for the right slot, however.

The primary reason for Netflix’s absence on the Croisette remains the festival’s (and France’s) stringent rules around windowing which are designed to protect the theatrical experience. Cannes remains the only major international festival not to allow Netflix movies in its competition lineup. Last year, the streaming service preferred not to take up out of competition slots if its films weren’t allowed in competition.

That said, Netflix acquisitions executives will be on the Riviera in buying mode.

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