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Festival Predictions

2014 Cannes Film Festival Predictions: Main Competition, Un Certain Regard & Special Screenings

With only hours ago before the official selection for the Main Competition is announced, we’ve narrowed our final predictions to the following titles that we’re crystal-balling as the films that will be included on Thierry Fremaux’s highly anticipated list. Despite an obvious drought of Asian auteurs (we’re thinking the rumored frontrunner Takashi Miike won’t be included in tomorrow’s list) who’s to say there won’t be some definite surprises, like Jia Zhang-ke’s A Touch of Sin last year.

Several hopefuls appear not to be ready in time, including Malick, Hsou-hsien, Cristi Puiu, and Innarritu, to name a few. But there does appear to be a high quantity of exciting titles from some of cinema’s leading auteurs. We’re still a bit tentative about whether Xavier Dolan’s latest, Mommy, will get a main competition slot—instead, we’re predicting another surprise, the inclusion of Ilya Khrzhanovskiy’s highly anticipated Dau to at long last make a bow. Certain names are seemingly a given (Ceylan, Dardennes, Assayas), but we also highly anticipate a pair of female directors to actually make an appearance in the main competition, including new works from Pascale Ferran and Mia Hansen-Love (as a longer shot, maybe even Liv Ullmann). Without further adieu, team’s Cannes 2014 predictions for the Main Competition, Un Certain Regard, Midnight Screenings, Special Screenings and Out of Comp Screenings are as follows:

Bird People
We haven’t seen anything from the prolific French director Pascal Ferran (she won the Camera d’Or in Cannes 1994 for Coming to Terms With the Dead) since her 2006 adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley (which was her only directorial effort last decade). So we’re excited to see her helming this international cast scripted by Breaud, who last wrote 2005′s Le Petit Lieutenant, directed by Xavier Beauvois. The story takes place in the Paris area between an airport and an international hotel in its zone, a contemporary film that tries to describe today’s world but also the hopes and dreams of each and everyone within a social environment marked by the outbreak of the supernatural. While the Main Competition is often criticized for a lack of female directors, Ferran stands an excellent chance of being part of the lineup this year. (NB)

Clouds of Sils Maria
Assayas is a Cannes regular, this is ready, the Twi-hards are convulsing, it’ll be there. Even though he hasn’t made a great film since Summer Hours, we’re optimistic this will be a return to form. (In any case, it’s a return to Juliette Binoche) Clouds of Sils Maria concerns Maria Enders (Binoche), who, upon being asked to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous twenty years ago, departs with her assistant (Kristen Stewart) to rehearse in Sils Maria, a remote region of the Alps. Assayas’ best film was also about about creative production and, to a lesser extent, role-playing (Irma Vep), so you can say we’re stoked. (BW)

Just as Hollywood epics always use to come in pairs (Volcano/Dante’s Peak; Armageddon/Deep Impact), Russians Aleksei German and Ilya Khrzhanovsky both spent more or less a decade working on films that essentially involved building their own cities and fostering their own civilizations. German’s Hard to Be a God finally, posthumously premiered at the Rome Film Festival last November, and now it seems to be Khrzhanovsky’s turn with this biopic on the Soviet scientist Lev Landau. It was supposed to be ready two years ago, but got pushed back to a target premiere at the 2014 Cannes festival. We’ve not heard of any other delays since, so perhaps it’s ready to roll. If so, you can’t place a project this monstrous anywhere but in competition. (Yes, Rome screened Hard to Be a God out of competition, but you can’t give a dead guy an award, can you?) (BW)

After winning the Un Certain Regard Grand Jury prize for her 2009 sophomore feature The Father of My Children, Mia Hansen-Love (who is married to Olivier Assayas), has quickly become one of the most notable directors working with her lauded trio of films. Her latest was co-written by her brother, who was a deejaying in France in the 90s. An exciting and internationally mixed cast (American notables Gerwig and Corbet join Iranian actress Farhani and a slew of known French players, like Smet and up and comer Etienne) should help broaden interests here as well in this chronicle of the electronic music boom of the 1990s. While husband Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria should be a definite lock in the line-up, his wife’s competing entry would be an exciting twist, and we’re thinking she has an excellent chance of appearing in the lineup. (NB)

When Foxcatcher was pulled abruptly pulled from the AFI we pretty much knew it had nothing to do with film itself but perhaps the heavy traffic during award season because this looks awardish. What we are now thinking is that Likely Story’s Anthony Bregman, Annapurna Pictures’ Megan Ellison, or the gents at Sony Pictures Classics showed Thierry the cut and it was automatically awarded a slot. Based on the true story of John du Pont, a paranoid schizophrenic who was heir to the du Pont fortune. After building a wrestling training facility named Team Foxcatcher on his Pennsylvania estate, Du Pont shot and killed Olympic gold medal-winning grappler David Schulz. Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Michael Hall, Vanessa Redgrave and Tara Subkoff star. This would be a first for the Capote/Moneyball director. (EL)

The Homesman (Tommy Lee Jones)
The last time Tommy Lee Jones directed a theatrical features was in 2005 with The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which took home Best Actor (Jones) and Best Screenplay (Guillermo Arriaga) at Cannes. If that film was reminiscent of Peckinpah, then Jones’ latest sees a return to the West, this time for a period piece that we hope plays like John Ford meets The Snake Pit as Jones stars as a claim jumper who teams up with a pioneer woman to escort three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa. With a cast that features Meryl Steep, Hilary Swank, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter and John Lithgow, this should be one of the top contenders for US entries in this year’s Main Comp lineup. (NB)

Jimmy’s Hall
18. That is the answer for the number of films Ken Loach has brought to the festival when you include this time out. A VIP member since Kes, and most recently The Angel’s Share (2012), Ken Loach has mentioned that the tale about political activist Jimmy Gralton’s deportation from Ireland during the country’s ‘Red Scare’ of the 1930s will be his last narrative feature which wraps up a fine career for the one-time Palme d’Or winner (2006 – The Wind That Shakes the Barley). (EL)

The Kindergarten Teacher (Nadav Lapid)
If Cannes is the ultimate school of cinema, then we shouldn’t be surprised that we oft see classroom depictions (recent depictions include Blue is the Warmest Color, The Hunt and Entre Les Murs). Nadav Lapid has yet to appear in Cannes to premiere a film, but he workshopped his last film, the award-winning The Policeman in the Cannes Atelier. In a world that does not appreciate artists, where sensitive souls don’t stand a chance, a poetry-loving kindergarten teacher discovers a child poet and decides to take it upon herself. (EL)

With a trio of deliriously exciting titles under his belt, the 2011 drama Elena (world premiere coverage) saw a resurgence in critical appreciation for one of the most exciting directors working in Russia over the past decade, Andrei Zvyagintsev. A socially conscious drama that sounds like highbrow science fiction, the director returns with screenwriter Oleg Nevin, who penned both Elena and The Banishment (2007). Described as a drama that that melts into tragedy as it depicts current day social problems, this a much more ambitious project than his last film, which also unites him with actress Elena Lyadova. A large cast, which is comprised of six or seven main characters, details have been kept to a minimum, but deals with human insecurity in a “new country” which gradually unwinds to a mythological scale concerning the human condition on earth entirely. The Banishment played in the 2007 Main Comp, winning Best Actor, but his 2011 Elena played in Un Certain Regard. We’re thinking Leviathan should have a definite spot in the Main Competition this year. (NB)

Maps to the Stars
As close to a sure thing as you can get (I’d have no problem betting my life savings on this on showing up in Competition; wouldn’t even break a sweat), the latest Cronenberg-R Pat teaming will be competing for the gold in Cannes next month. Their previous collaboration, an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s anti-capitalism book, Cosmopolis, was some next-level awesomeness so sui generis that most people mistakenly thought it was terrible. (“The more visionary the idea, the more people it leaves behind,” in Cosmopolis‘ opinion.) This one is a Hollywood satire that also calls upon the talents of Julianne Moore (whose career is in serious need of a defibrillator) and Mia Wasikowska, and it looks to be as bold and, yes, visionary, as Cosmospolis was. (BW)

Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)
Four trips to Cannes (his last being Another Year) and one Palme d’Or win for Secret & Lies, starring Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville, Julian Seager, this is about about the painter and his compulsive personality. The SPC film might not be a shoe-in for Cannes if it isn’t ready in time. (EL)

The Pain of Birds (Abderrahmane Sissako)
The three time jury member is at home in Cannes, as he also showed up with 1993’s Octobre, 1998’s La Vie Sur Terre, 2002’s Heremakano and 2006’s Bamako in various parts of the fest. This is politically charged cinema from a region most of us are not to familiar with. (EL)

Lately, Cannes has built up a reputation for having a blind eye toward quality German cinema. (Emphasis on “quality;” the degree to which last year’s Un Certain Regard representation of German cinema meets that standard is as close to 0 as you can get.) Not that you can necessarily place the blame on poor programming. Taking place a mere three months after the Berlinale, where most notable German filmmakers prefer to present their latest, Cannes usually just doesn’t have any great options to choose from. (The last great German film to premiere in Cannes came four years ago in the form of Christoph Hochhäusler’s The City Below.) This year appears to be different. Christian Petzold–despite never having premiered a film in Cannes (he’s done Venice thrice, and Berlin four times if you count the Dreilben trilogy)–is the king of contemporary German cinema, and he appears to be primed and ready to make his big Cannes debut with Phoenix, a film focusing on a woman who survived the Holocaust. (BW)

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
His short filmography says a lot about when he got into filmmaking and his patience. Having ventured into the fest with 1976’s Giliap, 2000’s brilliant Songs From the Second Floor and more recently the Un Certain Regard invited You, The Living (2007), it took quite some time for this to be completed, and like fellow Ken Loach, this is reportedly his last time up to bat. This focuses on two central characters: one is a traveling salesman and the other is slightly mentally retarded. It is the vendor who tells his friend about why society is what it is… (EL)

The Rover
With what we think might be a shortage of U.S. films (normally they grab around four to six titles), we’re thinking that they might invite this item – which appears to have legs. David Michôd broke out with Animal Kingdom and this provides the Main Comp with style, substance and blazing/smoking guns. Starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, this is about a loner who tracks the gang who stole his car from a desolate town in the Australian outback with the forced assistance of a wounded guy left behind in the wake of the theft. (EL)

Saint Laurent
Bonello unexpectedly gave us one of the best films of the decade three years ago, House of Tolerance, which premiered in Cannes’ Main Competition and was inexplicably received with a venomous response from the press corps. Counter to the film’s thesis, time can heal all/some wounds, so we’re expecting that Bonello’s follow-up–a biopic on the eponymous late French fashion icon–will thrust the Nice native back into Competition for his third crack at the Palme. The film is said to still be in the editing room (it has an October theatrical release in France), but rumor also has it that it’s currently “projectable,” so don’t be surprised if it’s presented on the Croisette, even if it’s as an early draft. (BW)

The Search
Michel Hazanavicius’ follow-up feature to his Oscar winning 2011 film The Artist (he also directed a segment in the 2012 omnibus film, The Players), will undoubtedly be one of the most anticipated films of the year. Once again, he’s cast wife Berenice Bejo in a plum role in this remake of a 1948 Fred Zinnemann film starring Montgomery Clift. A modernized political climate and switch in gender dynamics should make this an interesting rehash. And of course, Annette Bening is always a notable presence in this film about a woman who works for a non-governmental organization (NGO) forms a special relationship with a young boy in war-torn Chechnya. The Artist played in the Main Comp and took home Best Actor, so we’re hedging out bets that the The Search will be premiering at Cannes and taking up a slot in the Main Competition (it doesn’t hurt that Bejo took home Best Actress at Cannes 2013 for The Past, either). (NB)

Two Days, One Night
The Dardennes might have dropped “working” with kids, but are still obsessed with the “working” class. As was the case with Cécile De France (The Kid with a Bike), the brothers will do what they do best, straddle their viewers in and make their a-list starlet (Marion Cotillard) disappear into her character. Two days, One Night is what Cannes dreams are made of. The film follows 30-year old Sandra (Cotillard) and her husband (Fabrizio Rongione) on their hunt across the city for colleagues prepared to sacrifice their bonuses so she can keep her job. Having taken home the Palme d’Or twice, the Dardennes are a shoe in for the Main Comp, and Cotillard may end up being a frontrunner for Best Actress. (NB)

Welcome to New York
Three narrative features ago (before 4:44 Last Day on Earth and Napoli, Napoli, Napoli), Abel Ferrara’s 2007 film Go Go Tales screened as a Midnight Screening in Cannes. Many prognosticators are penciling this one in with the same fate, but with a light year for American cinema (at least, American films that appear to be ready to show; the trend of scheduling production strategies toward a Fall unveiling is becoming more and more en vogue these days), we wonder if it’ll squeak into the Main Competition selection. There’s also the fact that, in dealing with the whole DSK (Dominique Strauss-Kahn, played by Gerard Depardieu) affair, its resonance with contemporary French politics just sounds more Competition than Midnight material. (BW)

Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Having hit the croisette on five separate occasions and nabbing the Grand Prix twice for 2003’s Uzak and 2011’s Once Upon a Time In Anatolia with the Best Director award for 2008’s Three Monkeys, it’s safe to save that the Turkish filmmaker is a welcome presence. This is a drama set in the unique backdrop of Cappadocia, Turkey topped our most anticipated charts for 2014. Is the Palme d’Or finally in the cards? (EL)

Un Certain Regard
Amour fou (Jessica Hausner)
The Blue Room (Mathieu Amalric)
Box (Florin Serban)
Captive (Atom Egoyan)
Francofonia (Alexander Sokurov)
Geronimo (Tony Gatlif)
The Golden Era (Ann Hui)
Goodbye to Language 3D (Jean-Luc Godard)
Hill of Freedom (Hong Sang-soo)
How to Catch a Monster (Ryan Gosling)
Light Years (Christoph Hochhäusler)
Metamorphoses (Christophe Honoré)
Miss Julie (Liv Ullmann)
Mommy (Xavier Dolan)
Party Girl (Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger, & Samuel Theis)
The Reign of Beauty  (Denys Arcand)
Still the Water (Naomi Kawase)
Tourist (Ruben Östlund)
Untitled (Lisandro Alonso)
Xenia (Panos H. Koutras)

Special Screenings
La Foret (Arnaud Desplechin)
The Salt of the Earth (Wim Wenders & Juliano Ribeiro Salgado)
Untitled Lance Armstrong Biopic (Stephen Frears)

Closing Night
L’homme qui en savait trop (André Téchiné)

Out of Competition
Grace of Monaco (Olivier Dahan)
Coming Home (Zhang Yimou)
Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman)
Caricaturistes: Fantassins de la démocratie (Stéphanie Valloatto)
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dean DeBlois)
Magic in Moonlight (Woody Allen)
Nymphomaniac: Volume II [Uncut] (Lars von Trier)
Serena (Susanne Bier)

Written and curated by Blake Williams, Nicholas Bell and Eric Lavallee.


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