We’re just over three weeks from the announcement of the official lineup of the 71st Cannes Film Festival (April 12) but I’ve been mulling over who we’re likely to see what Fremaux favorites and emerging talent could show up as well as what I’m hoping does. Predicting what will show up at Cannes is always a crapshoot but with such a wealth of possibility it’s all part of the process. It’s not an ‘Oscar’ festival the way that Toronto or Telluride usually are but sometimes offers us insight on where some studios are choosing to position their mid-year and year-end films in the awards race. A film that shows up at Cannes would be a world premiere so you won’t see it at the two T’s. What we will see are a ton of potential Foreign Language Film Oscar candidates.
There are always piping hot cups of tea in March with Cannes insiders dropping bits of info and shots in the dark that end up being prophetic. One thing is sure and that’s that Thierry Fremaux really keeps his faves close to his vest and expecting to see new films from Naomi Kawase, Paolo Sorrentino and Xavier Dolan seem like a given. Kawase is a Cannes staple and now almost seems to exist exclusively to makes films for Cannes to finally get that Palme d’Or. She won the Golden Camera (for first time feature) in 1997 with Suzako and has appeared at Cannes with her films six more times since then, five of them In Competition for the Palme. She won the Grand Prize in 2007 for The Mourning Forest but the Palme has eluded her. This year she has Vision with another Cannes perennial, Juliette Binoche.
Sorrentino has appeared In Competition six times but has also yet to win the Palme. He did, however, win the Oscar for Foreign Language Film for The Great Beauty in 2014. He has Loro this year, which is rumored to come with a 4+ hour running time. It’s currently slated to screen in Italy in two parts: Part 1 on April 24th and Part 2 on May 24th. It might not be in competition but I have a hard time not seeing it show up somewhere. Dolan has been the Cannes wunderkind who has had all five of his films appear at the festival before he even turned 30. He has been working his way up the Cannes awards ladder, winning the Jury Prize for Mommy in 2014 and the Grand Prize of the Jury for It’s Only the End of the World in 2016. This year, if it’s finished in time, he’ll have his biggest star-studded film yet – The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. It stars Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) and three Best Actress Oscar winners; Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman and Kathy Bates.
You can expect Cannes Palme d’Or winner Jacques Audiard (Dheepan) to return to competition with The Sisters Brothers. His English-language debut stars last year’s Cannes Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here), Jake Gyllenhaal (who was a jury member for Audiard’s Palme win) and John C. Reilly. There’s been a lot of steam picking up for Brian De Palma being named for an In Competition slot for Domino with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Carice Van Houten and Guy Pearce. Christophe Honoré’s gay romance Pleasure, Love and Run Fast with Pierre Deladonchamps and Vincent Lacoste seems like a good bet, too.
David Robert Mitchell’s Under the Silver Lake just debuted its first trailer today and might be perfect for a Midnight slot but doesn’t feel like a Competition film. Another big rumor is a new film from Jafar Panahi (Taxi) that doesn’t even have a name or an IMDb listing. Panahi is a triple winner at Cannes, including the Golden Camera and Un Certain Regard Jury Prize. He’s also won the Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear, The Locarno Film Festival Golden Leopard and the Venice Film Festival Golden Lion. Winning the Palme as well would be almost be unprecedented. Only Michelangelo Antonioni has achieved this. Rick Alverson’s The Mountain, with an eclectic cast that includes Tye Sheridan, Jeff Goldblum, Hannah Gross, Udo Kier and Denis Levant, could be in a good spot to show up. Harmony Korine’s new film The Beach Bum, with Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Zac Efron, Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill and Martin Lawrence could be a wild US entry for an In Competition spot but, like Under the Silver Lake, could end up being a big-ticket Midnight selection.
Netflix broke into Cannes last year (with a chorus of boos when the logo came up) with The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) from Noah Baumbach. An exciting possibility this year is the completed version of Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind. The film recently finished (it just needs finalized scoring) and Netflix chief Ted Sarandos has stated he wants to world premiere the film at Cannes this year. It wouldn’t be in competition but a spot in Cannes Classics would be one of the hottest tickets of the festival. Another streamer, Amazon Studios, just released the first still from Felix van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy starring Oscar nominees Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) and Steve Carell (Foxcatcher). The film is set for an October bow but starting it off at Cannes makes a lot of sense.
Something a lot of people, myself included, are hoping to see show up in competition is Claire Denis’ High Life starring Robert Pattinson and, again, Juliette Binoche. Denis has not had a film in competition for the Palme since 1988’s Chocolat. Binoche pops up yet again and once again for an Olivier Assayas film, Non Fiction. Assayas is a five-time Palme nominee and won Best Director for Personal Shopper in 2016.
A trio of high profile directors with highly anticipated films: Terrence Malick, Mike Leigh and Luca Guadagnino could be ripe for some Palme contention this year, too. Malick, already a Best Director and Palme winner, has Radegund; Mike Leigh, also a Best Director and Palme winner, has Peterloo and Luca Guadagnino is coming off his Oscar-winning Call Me By Your Name with a remake of the Dario Argento horror classic Suspiria. Amazingly, Guadagnino has never had a film premiere at Cannes.
A question on many people’s minds is what if Terry Gilliam’s long-gestating saga The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is picked. After an interview last week where he called the #MeToo movement a ‘mob rule,’ the critical response to him being chosen will definitely draw some ire, not to mention what jury president Cate Blanchett might have to say about that. Speaking of personas non grata, Lars von Trier could return after his controversial comments during the Melancholia presser (Fremaux has since forgiven him) with The House That Jack Built, starring Uma Thurman, Riley Keough and Matt Dillon as a serial killer.
A handful of films we know are likely skipping the festival (either not ready or not picked) are Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate with Willem Dafoe and Oscar Isaac, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite with Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, Damien Chazelle’s First Man with Ryan Gosling and Behn Zeitlin’s follow-up to Beasts of the Southern Wild, Wendy.
This year, as mentioned above, two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, Blue Jasmine) will head the jury, which will be announced after the official festival lineup is. The 71st Cannes Film Festival runs a week earlier than usual, May 8-19.