Tue. Jun 2nd, 2020

Frontrunner Friday: Cannes Lineup, ‘Downsizing’ Downgraded, ‘Detroit’ Remains #1


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A lot can happen in one week.

The Cannes Film Festival just announced its lineup of In Competition films yesterday (more on that in a bit) but there was also a test screening of a major Oscar contender earlier this week that was met with some pretty disastrous results. Now, I know what you’re thinking; “But Erik, didn’t you put all your eggs in one basket based on test screenings for Joy two years back?” Yes, I did, and it proved to be a pretty terrible choice as we all found out. I have even vowed to be more careful regarding word of mouth from test screenings as a result. And, it’s only April. A lot can happen with a film between now and its release from edits to reshoots. That said, I (and other members of the Gold Rush Gang) are looking at Downsizing, Alexander Payne’s latest film, with a very cautious eye. The 10 minutes shown at CinemaCon were met with exuberance and pushed the film near the top of the predictions lists. But, the negative comments from its first test screening revealed that those 10 minutes don’t reflect the film as a whole and that it would need a complete overhaul to achieve the goal of its satire. So, this week, Downsizing falls from #2 to #7, but with the caveat that a lot can, and will, change between now and the end of the year.

After months and months were finally given a poster, title, and trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film, Detroit. The trailer is action-packed and gave us an idea of what elements Bigelow is focusing on regarding the 1967 Detroit riots. From the trailer, it appears the majority (if not nearly all) of it will be focused on the catalyst of the riots, the shootouts at the Algiers Motel. The trailer was met with some mixed reviews and some harsh criticism from those feeling like there wasn’t a proper representation of black females or of people that live in Detroit (even the title was met with some ire). It would seem though, that many complaining were taking a superficial look at the trailer and not digging deeper into what the film’s focus is (or might be) and why there weren’t many black females represented in the trailer. If the film is truly focusing on the events at the Algiers Motel, the participants and victims there were largely black males, two white females and one four-year-old black girl caught up in the sniper fire. It’s still all speculation at this point as all we have is a trailer.

The  70th Cannes Film Festival, or The 2017 Nicole Kidman Film Festival, announced a slate this year nearly devoid of American films and featured no blockbuster films of any kind. It in an unusual lineup in that sense as often at least the festival opener is a major American summer film that debuts soon after the end of May fest. This year will see some Oscar contenders debut though, highest on the list being Todd Haynes’s Wonderstruck, starring Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams. Haynes has never won at Cannes and with Pedro Almodovar as this year’s jury president, I can see that happening. Both directors are often viewed as two of the top directors of films about women and Almodovar appreciating Haynes’s craft makes sense to me. A win here would boost the film’s profile immensely.

Nicole Kidman has no less than four projects at Cannes this year, including two films in competition; Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled (coming 6/30 from Focus Features) and The Killing of a Sacred Deer (coming 11/3 from A24) from Yorgos Lanthimos. Coppola is an Oscar winner for Lost in Translation and this is her third appearance at Cannes. The Bling Ring was in the Un Certain Regard section in 2013 and Marie Antoinette was in competition in 2013 and, despite being met with very mixed reviews at the festival, won the Cinema Prize of the French Education System. Lanthimos was Oscar-nominated this year for The Lobster, a film that won two prizes at Cannes last year: the Queer Palm and the Jury Prize. Both of these films (plus How to Talk to Girls at Parties, playing out of competition, and TV’s Top of the Lake) give Kidman a continued wave that she’s already enjoying from her rapturous reviews and writeups over her performance in HBO’s Big Little Lies. She could very well be on her way to a Cannes Best Actress win from either of these films.

Oscar nominees Isabelle Huppert and Michael Haneke reunite for Happy End at the festival. Both have won big at Cannes before; Huppert has won Best Actress twice, Haneke has won the Palme twice, won Director, the Grand Jury Prize and the Ecumenical Prize multiple times. They are Cannes royalty. A win for either will set them up for a very strong fall festival run on the road to Oscar.

Elsewhere, the release date was revealed for Fox Searchlight’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (10/13, making that day even more crowded) and the previously untitled A.A. Milne biopic (also Fox Searchlight) has a title, Goodbye Christopher Robin, and a release date of November 10.

Here is the current ranking for Best Picture for Friday, April 14, 2017. Follow updated predictions from The Gold Rush Gang here.

1 Detroit (Annapurna – 8/4) 1 1 1 1 9 2 1 2 2 1 89
2 Wonderstruck (Amazon) 2 2 2 4 1 1 2 8 5 2 81
3 The Post (20th Century Fox) 3 3 5 2 10 3 4 1 4 5 70
4 Darkest Hour (Focus Features – 11/24) 6 8 3 6 4 4 3 4 3 4 65
5 Dunkirk (Warner Bros – 7/21) 9 4 4 5 6 7 8 7 10 3 47
5 Lean on Pete (A24) 7 6 9 8 2 6 7 5 6 7 47
7 Downsizing (Paramount – 12/22) 8 8 3 5 3 1 38
8 Mudbound (Netflix) 4 7 9 5 7 23
9 Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics – 11/24) 7 3 9 6 9 21
10 Inner City (Sony) (possibly 2018) 5 7 6 6 20
11 Last Flag Flying (Amazon) 10 8 10 9 8 10
12 mother! (Paramount – 10/13) 6 7 9
12 Suburbicon (Paramount 11/3) 5 10 9 9
12 Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros – 10/6) 5 8 9
15 Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Fashion Project (Focus Features – 12/25) 8 3
15 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight – 10/13) 9 10 3
17 Current War, The (The Weinstein Company – 12/22) 9 2
18 Happy End (Sony Pictures Classics) 10 1
18 Greatest Showman, The (20th Century Fox – 12/25) 10 1
18 Breathe (Bleecker Street – 10/13) 10 1
18 Get Out (Universal – 2/24) 10 1
Aftermath, The (Fox Searchlight)
Beguiled, The (Focus Features – 6/30)
Disobedience (TBD)
Glass Castle, The (Lionsgate)
Goodbye Christopher Robin (Fox Searchlight – 11/10)
Hostiles (TBD)
Killing of a Sacred Deer, The (A24 – 11/3)
Kings (TBD)
Leisure Seeker, The (Sony Pictures Classics)
Lost City of Z (Amazon – 4/14)
Marshall (Open Road Films – 10/13)
Mary Magdalene (The Weinstein Company – 11/24)
Molly’s Game (STX Entertainment)
Mountain Between Us, The (20th Century Fox – 10/20)
Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox – 11/22)
Red Sparrow (20th Century Fox – 11/10)
Shape of Water, The (Fox Searchlight)
Snowman, The (Universal – 10/13)
Stronger (Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions – 9/22)
Under the Silver Lake (A24)
Untouchable (The Weinstein Company)
Victoria and Abdul (Focus Features)
Wind River (The Weinstein Company – 8/4)
Wonder Wheel (Amazon)
Wonder (Lionsgate – 11/17)
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