If after last year’s lackluster lineup Cannes was wondering “will you still love me when I’m 64,” the answer was a definitive yes judging by response to the perfectly chosen opener Wednesday night for the festival’s 64th year: Woody Allen’s love letter to all things Parisian, Midnight In Paris. Press (who saw the film earlier in the day) as well as the tony opening-night crowd were calling this time-travelling Allen comedy, his first full feature shot entirely in France, one of his best in years. Sony Pictures Classics releases the film in America in just eight days, with SPC co-president Michael Barker calling the response inside the Palais and the ovation at the end of the film “fabulous.” What did you expect him to say? But Cannes opinion makers are backing him up. Also, as I mentioned yesterday, Barker has another film coming up in the competition (Paris was not competing for prizes) on May 19 when Pedro Almodovar’s first horror film, The Skin I Live In, premieres. Barker just saw the film himself for the first time yesterday and told me “It’s off the charts, fantastic.”
If true, that could put two-time Oscar winner Almodovar back in the Oscar-season game. Certainly I think with his terrifically whimsical and clever script for Midnight In Paris, 21-time nominated and three-time winner Allen could find himself again in the Original Screenplay race, where he was last nominated in 2005 for the dramatic Match Point. His last nomination for a comedy, though, was in 1995 for Deconstructing Harry, although Vicki Cristina Barcelona picked up the Musical/Comedy Best Picture Golden Globe and Penelope Cruz won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2008.
Allen is one of the most prolific filmmakers out there but his comedies, with the exception of Vicki Cristina, have been a string of disappointments in the past decade that include last year’s Cannes player, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, Whatever Works, Scoop, Anything Else and Hollywood Endings, the latter 2002 effort being his only other film to open Cannes. The reaction this year was decidedly warmer, with the phrase most often heard along the Croisette: “Woody is back in top form.” (more…)