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The Conversation: One Never Cannes Tell… 2015 Cannes Film Fest Predictions

With the world’s most prestigious film festival just around the corner, cineastes have been lasciviously salivating about what’s going to show up at Cannes, with wish lists appearing almost immediately after Berlin (a fest that had one of their most impressive line-ups ever) announced their awards. The remainder of the 2015 fest circuit looks to be a plentiful, diverse porridge, with many of the world’s most renowned auteurs’ sporting brand new titles. While many prognosticators will be sharing the same lists, more or less, hopes are incredibly high for a handful of sure bets, and a gaggle of hopefuls. The main competition always seems easier to postulate, though Thierry Fremaux always throws a few curves, (After the Battle in 2012, The Hunt in 2013 or last year’s Timbuktu, which won the Cesar for Best Picture recently, are a couple ready examples of under-the-radar titles).

Italy seems primed for saturation at the fest. Surely, we expect to see Paolo Sorrentino’s new English language film, The Early Years bow in the Main Competition, as all his films have premiered there since his 2004 sophomore film, The Consequences of Love. Other major Italian hitters include Matteo Garrone’s English language The Tale of Tales, starring Vincent Cassel and Salma Hayek. And then there’s Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash (however, many expect this to receive a premiere out of competition). Previous Palme d’Or winner Nanni Moretti should be competing with Mia Madre. And then there’s auteur Marco Bellocchio with his latest, The Last Vampire. Meanwhile Sorrentino’s AD Piero Messina has directed his first feature, The Wait, starring Juliette Binoche, and could be the rare competition candidate also up for a Camera d’Or.

Two other auteurs making English language debuts seem poised for competition, including the highly anticipated The Lobster from Greece’s Yorgos Lanthimos. Norway’s Joachim Trier should have Louder Than Bombs, starring Gabriel Byrne and Isabelle Huppert competing as well.

A few American auteurs should be present on the Croissette, and at the top of our list is Todd Haynes with Carol, a Patricia Highsmith adaptation starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Gus Van Sant appears to have his Sea of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey set to go. Perhaps a longer shot, but worth placing in our anticipated line-up is the other, still untitled Terrence Malick feature. Knight of Cups premiered in competition in Berlin—we’re assuming his other project is ready to go for Cannes, though there’s no telling if that’s where he wants to present it. And then, we have Sean Penn’s The Last Face in contention, starring Charlize Theron and Adele Excharpoulous of Blue is the Warmest Color. There’s a distinct possibility that Jeff Nichols could show up with Midnight Special (even though it’s a studio title).

A variety of Asian filmmakers should be present in the line-up, with new films from 2010 Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul with Love in the Khon Kaen. Japanese auteur Hirokazu Koreeda’s Kamakura Diary seems a no-brainer, while Hou Hsio-hsien’s long gestating The Assassin is rumored to be ready, at last. Another possibility is Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest, Journey to the Sea (though back in 2013, his Real was bypassed by the fest). And we can’t forget Naomi Kawase, whose latest, Sweet Red Bean Paste seems a logical choice considering her relationship with the festival.

And then there are the native French filmmakers vying for comp slots. We can be sure Jacques Audiard’s Erran (working title) will be here if it’s finished by then, as well as competition darling Arnaud Desplechin’s latest, Three Memories of Childhood (which may also see a title change). We expect to see Gaspar Noe’s latest provocation, Love, to make an appearance. Longer shots are the latest works from Guillaume Nicloux with The Valley of Love. It stars Isabelle Huppert and Gerard Depardieu, but this would be his first Cannes premiere, so Un Certain Regard seems a more likely bet. There’s also the latest from Jean-Francois Richet with One Wild Moment, the remake of a Claude Berri film, but a sidebar seems more likely. Maiwenn is a strong possibility, considering her Polisse competed and snagged the Jury Prize in 2011—she seems to be one of the few female contenders that may be invited back into competition this year.

Other outlying contenders include Terrence DaviesSunset Song from the UK, and Portugal’s Miguel Gomes with Arabian Nights. Belgium’s Joachim Lafosse has The White Knights all set, while countryman Jaco Van Dormael may appear with The Brand New Testament, but we’re thinking both of these titles might slip into a sidebar.

There are many projects that seem to be on the cusp of completion, so we can’t say for sure if they’re ready or not. At the top of that heap we have the latest from Palme d’Or winner Abdellatif Kechiche with The Real Wound and Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart, which was rumored to still need sequences filmed in Australia. There’s also a slim possibility of seeing a new Abbas Kiarostami title pop up here. And who the hell knows what’s going on with Dau, the famed Ilya Khrzhanovsky project that is nearing a decade in the making—last we heard, it was in a post-production lab in London, but with 700 hours of footage to sift through, who can tell? Australia’s Justin Kurzel has his Macbeth update ready, and with names like Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender, we’re sure this may receive a premiere here. Russia’s Aleksander Sokurov may also see his Francofonia in competition. While 2015 looks to be a major year for Romanian filmmakers (Radu Jude’s Aferim! went to Berlin), we’re thinking it will be Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Treasure representing here with a couple of his countrymen appearing in a sidebar (Florin Serban with Box, for instance).

A dark horse but nevertheless a possibility is the first film in fifteen years from Polish auteur Andrzej Zulawski with Cosmos. We’d love to see this appear in the main competition, but it could very well take a slot in Directors’ Fortnight, not unlike the placement of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s first film in two decades, The Dance of Reality back in 2013 (or even last year with John Boorman’s Queen and Country). While the Main Competition doesn’t have a set number of films (it varies from year to year) here are twenty likely candidates with my “invite” odds:

The Early Years, Paolo Sorrentino 6/1
Louder Than Bombs, Joachim Trier 6/1
The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos 6/1
Three Memories of Childhood, Arnaud Desplechin 6/1

Carol, Todd Haynes 8/1
Sunset Song, Terence Davies 8/1
The Assassin, Hou Hsiao-hsien 8/1
Kamakura Diary, Hirokazu Kore-Eda 8/1
Love in Khon Kaen, Apichatpong Weerasethakul 8/1
Mia Madre, Nanni Moretti 8/1
The Tale of Tales, Matteo Garrone 8/1

Erran, Jacques Audiard 12/1
Sea of Trees, Gus Van Sant 12/1
Arabian Nights, Miguel Gomes 12/1
The Treasure, Corneliu Porumboiu 12/1

Francophonia, Alexander Sokurov 16/1
My King, Maiwenn 16/1
Macbeth, Justin Kurzel 16/1
Sweet Red Bean Paste, Naomi Kawase 16/1

The Last Face, Sean Penn 20/1

Strong Possibilities:
Beasts of No Nation – Cary Fukunaga
Midnight Special – Jeff Nichols
The Last Vampire – Marco Bellochio
Love – Gaspard Noé
The Wait – Piero Messina

If ready in time, definitely would take a slot:
Untitled Abbas Kiarostami Project
The Real Wound – Abdellatif Kechiche
Untitled Terrence Malick Project
Dau – Ilya Khrzhanovsky
Mountains May Depart – Jia Zhangke
On the Milky Road – Emir Kusturica

Out of Competition:
A Bigger Splash – Luca Guadagnino
Design for Living – Johnnie To
Regression – Alejandro Amenebar
The Crossing – John Woo

The sidebars are harder to predict, generally a few surprises start here with several auteurs often predicted for the main competition ending up here (like Claire Denis in 2013, for instance). Often, a few Sundance titles will make their international premieres here, with the winner of the fest a sure bet, usually getting a slot in the UCR, but sometimes Directors’ Fortnight (where Whiplash ended up last year). We expect to see Sundance winner Me, and Earl and the Dying Girl to be granted a spot in UCR, while James White from the Sundance NEXT section seems like a good guess for the DF.

2015 Un Certain Regard predictions:
The Valley of Love – Guillaume Nicloux
The White Knights, Joachim Lafosse
One Wild Moment, Jean-Francois Richet
The Commune, Thomas Vinterberg
Lily Lane – Benedek Fliegauf
Chevalier – Athina Rachel Tsangari
Tomorrow – Martha Pinson
Les Anarchistes – Elie Wajeman
Taklub, Brillante Mendoza
The Girl King – Maki Kaurismaki
The Burglar – Hagar Ben-Asher
Evolution – Lucile Hadzihalilovic
Me Earl and the Dying Girl – Alfonso Gomez Rejon
A Simple Man – Stephane Brize
A War – Tobias Lindholm
Belles Familles – Jean-Paul Rappeneau
The Shadow Women – Philippe Garrel
Marguerite – Xavier Giannoli
La Belle Saison – Catherine Corsini
Box – Florin Serban

2015 Directors’ Fortnight Predictions:
Cosmos – Andrzej Zulawski
L’hermine – Christian Vincent
Microbe and Gasoil – Michel Gondry
Chronic – Michel Franco
The Brand New Testament – Jaco Van Dormael
Schneider Vs. Bax – Alex Van Warmerdam
Taj Mahaal – Nicholas Saada
High Rise – Ben Wheatley
Head Held Hight – Emmanuel Bercot
James White – Josh Mond
Close Protection – Alice Winocour
My Friendly Villains – Im Sang-soo
Margeurite et Julien – Valerie Donzelli
Mediterranea – Jonas Carpignano
In Equilibrium – Denis Dercourt

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.


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