The annual International Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off on May 14 and runs through May 25, will see some of the biggest names in Hollywood and in the film industry around the world gather in the seaside French city.
The 12-day festival, which is chockfull of world premiere screenings and extravagant soirees, tends to be the place where producers launch their new movies and attempt to sell them to distributors.
This year’s festival will see 18 films vie for the coveted Palme d’Or prize and the winner will be determined by a predominantly female jury, headed by Jane Campion, the only woman ever to receive the top Cannes award for her 1993 film The Piano. It’s (finally) a female-centric year at the festival, which has faced criticism for its often male-heavy lineup.
Though Cannes’ opening film Grace of Monaco, which stars Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly, is getting most of the pre-festival press, there is plenty more intriguing fare in the competition. Check out 11 of this year’s films below.
1. Bird People
Starring: Josh Charles, Anaïs Demoustier
Director: Pascale Ferran
In his first post-Good Wife role, Josh Charles plays an American businessman who checks into a hotel in Paris and can’t bring himself to leave, while Anaïs Demoustier plays a maid in the hotel. Ferran, who is one of several female filmmakers this year with work in the festival, is best known for her 2006 D. H. Lawrence adaptation Lady Chatterley, which won multiple César awards.
2. The Captive
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson, Mireille Enos
Director: Atom Egoyan
Devil’s Knot, the most recent film from The Sweet Hereafter director Atom Egoyan, opened quietly in a few theaters last week, attracting little critical praise or attention despite a cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Mireille Enos, and Colin Firth. But Egoyan’s upcoming feature The Captive — a snowy, unsettling kidnapping drama starring fellow Canadians Ryan Reynolds and Scott Speedman, as well as Rosario Dawson and Enos — is bound to make a bigger splash at Cannes. R.I.P.D. star Reynolds could use a win and a reminder that he’s actually very capable leading man material.
3. Clouds of Sils Maria
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloë Grace Moretz
Director: Olivier Assayas
Juliette Binoche plays Maria Enders, a successful actress asked to star in a revival of the play that made her famous 20 years earlier; only this time, she’ll be in the part of the older character driven to suicide by the ingenue. Facing the Hollywood starlet (Moretz) cast in what was once her signature role, Maria begins to fall apart. French director Olivier Assayas is a terrific filmmaker who’s already made one dexterous movie about show business: 1996’s Irma Vep (which starred Maggie Cheung in her first non-Hong Kong role). But for many, the big hook with this film will be seeing how Kristen Stewart fares as Maria’s loyal assistant, Valentine. IFC Films will be giving Clouds of Sils Maria a U.S. theatrical release, but no date’s been set yet.
Starring: Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller
Director: Bennett Miller
In what’s guaranteed to be one of the big Academy Award prospects this year, Capote and Moneyball director Bennett Miller brings to screen the true story of Olympic wrestlers Mark (Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Ruffalo) and millionaire John du Pont (Carell), who sponsored an amateur wrestling facility and who ultimately murdered the latter brother due to reasons related to his own paranoid schizophrenia. Tatum has yet to achieve Oscar territory, but this may be the film that makes him a contender. Meanwhile, Carell, who’s almost unrecognizable with a prosthetic nose, will be making a major departure from the comedic roles for which he’s known. Sony Pictures Classics will release Foxcatcher in theaters Nov. 14.
5. The Homesman
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto
Director: Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones has played all sorts of grizzled types over his career, but when it comes to stepping behind the camera, it’s Westerns he loves best. His directorial debut, 2005’s The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, was set in the present day along the Texas border, with Jones playing a rancher trying to bury his murdered friend in his hometown in Mexico. His new film is also about a difficult journey across dangerous territory, but this time, it’s set in the past, as he plays a claim jumper who makes a deal with pioneer Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) to escort a trio of mentally ill women from Nebraska to Iowa. Bonus: The Homesman will also find Grace Gummer potentially sharing the screen for the first time with her mother, Meryl Streep.
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Ghita Nørby
Director: Lisandro Alonso
No one could accuse Viggo Mortensen of making lazy Hollywood choices. Jauja’s the second Argentine film the Lord of the Rings actor has starred in in recent years, and it’s a period drama in which he plays a Danish father who journeys to a desolate area in Patagonia with his daughter. Alonso’s last film was the minimalist, critically acclaimed Liverpool, about a sailor who travels to be with his ailing mother in Tierra del Fuego. That film was noteworthy for its long stretches of wordlessness and Jauja looks to be similarly meditative and gorgeous.
7. Lost River
Starring: Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, Eva Mendes
Director: Ryan Gosling
Lost River marks Ryan Gosling’s filmmaking debut. He both wrote and directed this fantasy noir, which was originally titled How to Catch a Monster, but he doesn’t act in it. The cast includes Christina Hendricks, Matt Smith, Saoirse Ronan, and Eva Mendes, and all early signs point to the film being an arty, experimental exercise — think David Lynch, not The Notebook. Lost River, which is described as being about how “a single mother enters a dark lifestyle, while her son uncovers a road leading to an underwater utopia,” was picked up by Warner Bros., but there’s not yet a release date for the film.
8. Maps to the Stars
Starring: Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack
Director: David Cronenberg
A History of Violence director David Cronenberg reunites with Robert Pattinson, the star of his limo-bound last film Cosmopolis, for a dark Hollywood satire written by novelist and screenwriter Bruce Wagner. Julianne Moore ramps up the neediness and narcissism as fading actress Havana, whose life is entangled with that of the Weiss family, which includes father, Stafford (Cusack), a self-help guru; son, Benjie (Evan Bird), a child star fresh out of rehab; and daughter, Agatha (Wasikowska), the long-hospitalized pyromaniac who Havana just hired for an assistant. Pattinson, meanwhile, is back in a limo, this time as a driver and aspiring actor. Cosmopolis was a chilly satire of high finance set in a heightened Manhattan, and Maps to the Stars looks like it might bring the same unforgiving perspective to Los Angeles celebrity culture.
9. The Search
Starring: Bérénice Bejo, Annette Bening, Nika Kipshidze
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Michel Hazanavicius, who snagged both Best Picture and Best Director Oscars with his charming homage to silent film The Artist in 2012, reunites with one of the movie’s stars (who is also his wife) Bérénice Bejo for a project that looks significantly more serious. Bejo plays an NGO worker who forms a close relationship with a Chechen child in this remake and update of a 1948 film of the same name, which starred Montgomery Clift as a U.S. army engineer who befriends a young Czech concentration camp survivor.
10. Two Days, One Night
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione
Directors: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Marion Cotillard deglams in the latest movie from brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne to play Sandra, a woman who has one weekend to try to save her job by convincing her co-workers to give up their bonuses. The Dardennes have been able to make tales of economic desperation that play like all-too-real thrillers, from 1999’s Rosetta to 2005’s L’Enfant. Working with an established star like Cotillard, however, is something relatively new for the pair, and it’ll be interesting to see how she fares working in their naturalistic, stripped-down style. Sundance Selects will release Two Days, One Night in theaters in the U.S., but no date’s been announced.
11. The Rover
Starring: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy
Director: David Michôd
The Rover’s premise will unavoidably lead to Mad Max comparisons. This dystopian drama is set in the Australian outback, where anarchy rules and Guy Pearce plays Eric, a former soldier who sets off to retrieve one of his last possessions when it’s stolen by a group of criminals. Pattinson (yes, again) is a member of the gang who’s wounded and left behind, only to be taken up by a vengeful Eric. David Michôd’s directorial debut Animal Kingdom was a bracing crime drama about a teenage boy struggling to survive as part of a brutal family, and the idea of him taking that sensibility to a more expansive near-future setting is very appealing. After its Cannes premiere, The Rover is set to hit theaters on June 13.
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