2014 Cannes Lineup Predictions


The recent (bizarre) series of announcements that led to Grace of Monaco being named the opening night film of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, as well as the selection of Jane Campion to head the 2014 Cannes jury, caused my mind to drift toward the Croisette. It hasn’t left since, and it won’t until Cannes 2014 closes.

There are a ton of highly-anticipated auteur-driven movies tentatively scheduled for 2014, so the possibilities for the Cannes Competition lineup this year seem endless. Like I did last year (with some accuracy, if I may boast), I’m naming and previewing 30 movies that might play Cannes 2014:

2014 Cannes Predictions:

The Assassin (dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien)
If it’s true that good things happen to those who wait, we should be in store for something special with The Assassin. Hou hasn’t directed a feature-length film since 2007’s The Flight of the Red Balloon. His latest has been on Hou’s mind since 1989. He began shooting in the fall of 2012. Financial problems let to a much longer than expected filming period, and post on the martial arts epic starring Shu Qi has reportedly been a bear. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether it will be ready in time for Cannes, but one can hope. If not, it seems like a fair bet for Venice.

Big Eyes (dir. Tim Burton)
The Weinstein Co. is distributing this one, arguably Burton’s most prestigious picture since Big Fish. Even when Harvey and company don’t have a film ready for Cannes, they’ll still maintain a presence—like they did in 2012 with special private previews of Django Unchained, The Master, and Silver Linings Playbook. Big Eyes, which stars Amy Adams and former Cannes Best Actor winner Christoph Waltz, is in post-production now, which leads me to believe it’s a likely Competition title.

Birdman (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
The unlikeliest film from Babel and Biutiful director Iñárritu is one of the closest things Cannes 2014 has to a sure bet. The master of human misery should return to the Croisette with his fourth film, third in Competition, but this one is a comedy about a washed up actor reclaiming his superhero roots. It stars Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and 21 Grams star Naomi Watts.

Body Art (dir. Luca Guadagnino)
I was not impressed by Guadagnino’s most recent film, I Am Love, but Body Art sounds absolutely fascinating. The source material’s author also penned Cosmopolis (which failed as a film, but not as a concept), and it stars Isabelle Huppert, Sigourney Weaver, Denis Lavant, and yes, David Cronenberg. The concept is very Holy Motors (bonjour, Monsieur Lavant): a grieving widow (Huppert) feels alone until a man suddenly appears (and reappears) in her house. The trick is he takes a different appearance every time he shows up. Sounds like weird, wild stuff. Guadagnino hasn’t showed a film at Cannes before, so maybe Un Certain Regard, but a Competition slot isn’t outside the realm of the possible—if it’s ready in time.

Clouds of Sils Maria (dir. Olivier Assayas)
Among Assayas’s films are plenty that blend English with other languages, but Clouds of Sils Maria will be his first true English-language movie—and it sounds like a doozy. Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, and Chloe Grace Moretz star in the film about an aging actress (Binoche) who collapses in on herself when a young ingenue (Moretz) shines in a remake of her greatest movie. His last film, Something in the Air, premiered at Venice, and while the same could happen here, I predict Assayas will be at Cannes this year in some capacity.

The Cut (dir. Fatih Akin)
Turkish director Akin played in Competition at Cannes in 2007 with The Edge of Heaven. His follow-up and most recent film, Soul Kitchen, instead went to Venice. That’s what I’m expecting for The Cut, if only because there’s a Turkish director further down this list who has become Cannes royalty over the years, but The Cut sounds fascinating and could crack the Competition on premise alone. Specific plot details aren’t available, but Tahar Rahim stars in the film as a character Akin describes as a blend between Chaplin and the lead in a Sergio Leone-style Western.

Dark Matter (dir. Andrzej Zulawski)
Cannes this year could be light on genre pictures, so how about Polish director Zulawski’s “metaphysical noir?” He’s only played Cannes once—all the way back in 1981 for Possession—and while he hasn’t made a film since 2000, one has to think a return to filmmaking this exciting would earn a look from Cannes programmers.

Dau (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy)
As expected, this bonkers Russian biopic didn’t make it to Cannes last year. It probably won’t make it to Cannes 2014 either. Khrzhanovskiy spent about six years and ten million dollars during filming, and a great deal of the money went to building a Synechdoche, New York-style town. I’m sure post will take a fair amount of time, and considering Khrzhanovskiy is both little-known and a lot crazy, Dau might not crack a Cannes lineup even when it is completed. But damn if I’m not curious to see it. I had it on this list last year, and I’ll do it again every year until Dau enters my brain space.

Far From the Madding Crowd (dir. Thomas Vinterberg)
When the Cannes lineup is announced, Vinterburg will likely be fresh off his first Oscar—a Best Foreign Language Film trophy for his 2012 Cannes entry, the Cannes-Best-Actor-winning The Hunt. That’s not to say he’s a shoo-in, but I think issues related to the film’s Cannes candidacy have more to do with whether the film will be done on time rather than quality or Vinterburg’s worthiness. He’s in the club. So it’s a matter of if he wants his film (a period piece about a woman who maintains many separate romantic relationships) there. I’m thinking we’ll see it.

Foxcatcher (dir. Bennett Miller)
Bennett Miller’s third film, which stars Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, was oh-so-close to a swank awards-friendly release last year, but Sony Pictures Classics called an audible at the 11th hour and moved it into 2014. Presumably, it was close to being finished, but the studio didn’t want to rush Miller (reportedly, he was working with a near three-hour cut before the release date changed). One has to think the film would be ready by May. The only question toward its inclusion in Competition is whether or not the studio wants to keep it for a fall-festival bow closer to awards season.

The Homesman (dir. Tommy Lee Jones)
Jones hasn’t directed a feature film since his debut, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which won Best Actor and Best Screenplay at Cannes 2005. Assuming The Homesman is complete, this Western-tinged drama starring Jones, Meryl Streep, and Hilary Swank is a very solid bet for Cannes.

In the Basement (dir. Ulrich Seidl)
Documentaries are rare in Competition, but Seidl isn’t. Two of his last four—including the first film in his Paradise trilogy—played in Competition. With In the Basement, Seidl is moving into the realm of non-ficiton for the first time since 2003. He’s reportedly been filming it on and off since 2009, and while details are a little vague, it apparently explores the special relationship Austrians have with their basements. It might also delve into the twisted Josef Fritzl case. A favorite of many festivals, don’t bank on Seidl at Cannes this year, but it’s certainly possible.

Inherent Vice (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
If the list of possible titles I came up with is any indication, Cannes 2014 might be dominated by comedies. Dark and original comedies they’ll almost certainly be, but between Birdman, this new PTA bizarro-noir, and a few others further down on the list, there could be more laughs in Competition than ever before. I’m less certain PTA shows up than Iñárritu or some of these other directors. He’s grown into a very patient director with new films of his only showing up every five years. Inherent Vice will break that trend with its official release date now in December, but that isn’t to say it’ll be ready for a May debut. So Venice it likely is.

Knight of Cups (dir. Terrence Malick)
You can sub “The Movie Formerly Known as ‘Lawless'” in this spot, as well, if you’re more a Gosling fan than a Bale one. It’s a crapshoot whether Malick plays any festival. The guy has a lot on his plate and works at his own pace. I’d love to see something of his play Cannes (or Venice later this year), but only a fool would truly expect it with any confidence.

Leviafan (dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev)
Zvyagintsev gained a bit of a following on the heels of Elena, which won the Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize in 2011. His film before that, The Banishment, played in Competition, but it might be his first film, The Return, that’s his best. His latest is shrouded in secrecy, but Zvyagintsev began filming last year, so Cannes seems likely. And if it does play, it could be challenging and powerful enough to take the Palme, which would catapult the great director to a whole other level on the international stage.

Magic in the Moonlight (dir. Woody Allen)
Neither Blue Jasmine or To Rome with Love played Cannes before their late summer releases, but three of Allen’s four films to precede Rome (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, and Midnight in Paris) did. They all played Out of Competition, which is to say the chances of Magic in the Moonlight landing a Competition slot are non-existent. But it’s Allen’s first movie set in France since Midnight in Paris, so it seems conceivable he makes a return to Cannes this spring.

Maps to the Stars (dir. David Cronenberg)
Though he’s Canadian, Cronenberg’s festival of choice seems to be Cannes, where he’s unveiled four of his last seven films, including Cosmopolis in 2012. Like that film, Robert Pattinson headlines Maps to the Stars, a satire about a Hollywood family struggling with fame. It’s finished and a very solid bet to crack the Competition lineup.

Mr. Turner (dir. Mike Leigh)
If there’s a new Mike Leigh film (and why can’t there be more, I ask you?), it stands a better-than-decent shot of playing at Cannes. Four of his eight films since 1993 were Palme-d’Or-nominated, including Naked, which won the award. Mr. Turner stars Leigh favorite Timothy Spall, and while it’s a biopic (of British artist J.M.W. Turner), it’s a passion project for the director and easily one of my most anticipated movies of the year.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (dir. Roy Andersson)
If Malick and Andersson both play Cannes this year, it’ll be like a lunar eclipse occurring on the same day a comet passes by Earth. While the Swede has been an active filmmaker since 1970, he only has five feature-length titles to his name, and that’s including Pigeon, a film he calls the third in a thematic trilogy alongside 2000’s Songs from the Second Floor and 2007’s You, The Living—two films I know merely by reputation. Pigeon has been on most-anticipated lists for a few years now (not unlike Knight of Cups), so I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m expecting it. But this could definitely be the year, and if so, it would almost certainly be the festival.

La rançon de la gloire (dir. Xavier Beauvois)
The last time we saw Beauvois behind the camera, he was taking home a Grand Prix for Of Gods and Men in 2010. His latest sounds fascinating—a group of wacky crooks steals Charlie Chaplin’s casket and demands a ransom from his family. Talk about a 180-degree turn from the stately, serene Gods, and while comedies are always long shots for the Palme, every festival has one or two.

Rosewater (dir. Jon Stewart)
While Cannes is typically the home of the hyper-elite international auteur, I have no doubt they’d love to get their hands on the directorial debut of Stewart. Because it’s his first film, maybe an Out of Competition screening is more likely, but first-time directors have been Palme-nominated in the past—Julia Leigh (Sleeping Beauty, 2011), Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche New York, 2008), Andrea Arnold (Red Road, 2006)—and Stewart obviously has a higher profile than any of them.

The Rover (dir. David Michod)
2012 saw two young Australian directors (Andrew Dominik and John Hillcoat) break into the elite club that is Cannes, and it seems conceivable Animal Kingdom director Michod joins their ranks in 2014. The Rover sounds like it contains traces of sci-fi and the Western. It stars Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson and is as likely as any other Australian movie to show in Competition. It began production late in 2012, so it should be ready if the festival comes calling.

Saint Laurent (dir. Bertrand Bonello)
This Frenchman doesn’t have a ton of titles to his name, but three have played Cannes—two (2003’s Tiresia and 2011’s House of Tolerance) in Competition. Saint Laurent is a biopic of the famous fashion designer and shouldn’t be confused with Yves Saint Laurent, director Jalil Lespert’s similar project. Bonello’s version of the man’s life stars Gaspard Ullie in the title role, as well as Léa Seydoux, Louis Garrel and Jérémie Renier. Its chances to play Cannes seemed stronger when it was slotted for a May release date in Bonello’s home country. Having recently been bumped to October, Venice/Toronto seems more likely.

The Search (dir. Michel Hazanavicius)
The last time Hazanavicius went to Cannes, it was the beginning of a road that led him to Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (for Jean Dujardin) Oscars. That film was, of course, The Artist, and The Search is his much-anticipated follow-up. In it, the actors—including Hazanavicius’s wife and defending Cannes Best Actress winner Berenice Bejo—speak. A more conventional-sounding drama, it tells the story of an NGO worker who forms a strong bond with a young boy in war-torn Chechnya. It’s currently in post-production and assuming it gets finished in time, it’s one of the safer bets among these films to play in Competition.

Serena (dir. Susanne Bier)
This film has been sitting, waiting for a distributor for what seems like forever. Shot before American Hustle, it stars B-Coop and J-Law, who I sincerely hope become a modern day Cary Grant-Katharine Hepburn sort of pairing. We need one of those.

Anyway, Serena finds these two stars dressed from head to toe in American period garb. He plays a timber baron; she plays his barren wife. Melodrama, presumably, ensues. When films wait this long to be picked up, one worries if the quality isn’t there. Bier has no history with Cannes, but I still say she’s got a shot at popping up. Maybe an Out of Competition showing is more likely.

Squirrel to the Nuts (dir. Peter Bogdonovich)
His last feature as a director came all the way back in 2001, so Squirrel to the Nuts and Bogdonovich should be in high demand this year. That said, the wily film ambassador is much less interested in glitz, glamour, and prestige than he is in doing what’s best for film. He could play Tribeca. He could wait until Toronto. Hell, he could self-distribute or something. Whatever he decides, in Bogdonovich I trust.

Still the Water (dir. Naomi Kawase)
A mystery with a coming-of-age twist, Still the Water tells the story of two Japanese teenagers who find a dead body floating in the sea and try to piece together what happened. Three of Kawase’s last five narrative features have played in Competition, and this one is already scheduled for a summer release in Kawase’s native Japan, so she’s definitely the most likely female on this list to show up at this year’s festival.

Two Days, One Night (dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
A no-brainer. The brothers and Palme winners (times two) always play Cannes. They also rarely disappoint. Two Days, One Night stars Marion Cotillard as a woman searching for enough colleagues to sacrifice their bonuses so that she can keep her job. It already has a distributor (Sundance Selects), which bought the property at Cannes last year, weeks before principal photography began.

While We Were Dreaming (dir. Andreas Dresen)
Dresen doesn’t have the same track record as most of the other filmmakers on this list, but the winner of 2011’s Un Certain Regard prize (for Stopped on Track) seems poised for a jump to the main Competition. His latest is an adaptation of a popular German novel about a friendship between five Germans that’s tested after the Berlin Wall falls.

Winter Sleep (dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
The final film among the 30 is perhaps the biggest lock of all. Turkish director Ceylan is Cannes royalty. He’s won a Best Director prize and the Grand Prix twice, including in 2011 for Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, which brought him more international clout than any other film of his to date. Winter Sleep, assuming it’s there, has to be considered a pre-festival favorite for the Palme d’Or.

More possibilities:
Andre Téchiné hasn’t brought a film to Cannes since 2003, but the former regular could very well return with the nearly completed L’homme que l’on aimait trop; Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic has played Berlin twice in the past few years, winning a Golden Bear once. We didn’t see her recently completed (and fantastic-sounding) Love Island at Berlin this year, so maybe Cannes it will be; Francois Ozon is as prolific as any director working today. His latest, The New Girlfriend, can’t be discounted as a possible Competition title; Christian Petzold has never brought a film to Cannes before, but Barbara brought him loads of recognition back in 2012. That could easily translate to an invite here with his latest, Phoenix, about a Holocaust survivor who creates a new identity for herself so she can discover if her husband betrayed her; Finally, How to Catch a Monster is Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut. Need I say more?

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