We can’t quite believe it —Berlin and Sundance are barely finished, and SXSW is still underway— but we’re now less than two months away from the start of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The 68th installment of what’s probably still the world’s best known, most prestigious film festival is coming up fast, and yet there’s still little known about the festival, beyond that the fact that Joel and Ethan Coen will be taking time out of post-production on the upcoming “Hail Caesar” to head up the competition jury.
Normally, we’d have learned at least what the opening film of the festival by this this time would be, but the line-up remains very much under wraps at the moment. Yet there are plenty of likelies and strong potentials, and so with our eyes on the Croisette, we’ve rounded up twenty of the films that we most hope will be screening at Cannes when the festival kicks off on May 13th. Take a look below, let us know what you’d like to see at the the festival in the comments, and keep your eyes peeled for an official announcement for the lineup in the coming weeks.
Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Sarah Paulson, John Magaro, Carrie Brownstein
Synopsis: In 1950s New York City, a department store shopgirl who dreams of social advancement becomes romantically involved with a wealthy older married woman.
What You Need To Know: Happily one of the possibles we’re most excited about (it was no. 7 in our Most Anticipated 2015 feature) is also one of Cannes’ most probable inclusions: “Carol” is reportedly finished, Haynes has a track record with the festival since “Velvet Goldmine” played in competition, and the red carpet value of Blanchett and Mara alone would be worth a central slot. And that’s before we get to just how terrific this project sounds —based on the Patricia Highsmith novel, the film reunites a Best Actress Oscar-winner with Haynes after her sensational (Oscar-nominated) performance in “I’m Not There,” and Haynes himself, only six features in (not counting ace miniseries “Mildred Pierce“) is never more fascinating than when mining stories of conflicted women in constricting clothing (‘Pierce,’ “Far From Heaven“).
Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Elisabeth Moss, Luke Evans
Synopsis: Life in a high-tech ultra modern tower block descends into carnage as the occupants shut themselves off from the world.
What You Need To Know: Wheatley’s terrific “Sightseers” played in Cannes previously, so there’s precedent for him to return. Based on the novel of the same name by JG Ballard (who also wrote the novel “Crash,” the source for David Cronenberg‘s film which won the Cannes Grand Jury Prize, by the way), this film is an altogether higher-profile affair than his last lo-fi horror doodle “A Field in England.” In fact, the dystopian vibe (chillingly evoked in this first look) and a cast boasting two burgeoning crossover arthouse stars in Hiddleston and Moss alongside stalwart Irons and the quietly renaissance-ing Miller and Evans gives Wheatley by far the biggest canvas he’s ever had. Seeing as how much he’s been able to do with so little to date, it will be fascinating to see what he does with a lot.
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, John C. Reilly, Olivia Colman, Ariane Labed, Angeliki Papoulia
Synopsis: In the near future, a system has evolved whereby singles are sent to a hotel to find a mate within a specified period of time or they’re transformed into animals and driven into the woods, but one man falls in love and breaks the rules.
What You Need To Know: With our many predictions and Anticipated features running throughout the year, it’s a real mark of uniqueness that we’re not yet slightly bored writing plot synopses for “The Lobster.” Seriously, just go back and read it again. Anyway, 2011’s “Alps” played in Venice, but Lanthimos’ blistering “Dogtooth” picked up the Un Certain Regard award and a foreign film Oscar nomination, and “The Lobster” has a cast both broad and deep (including Palme d’Or winner Lea Seydoux), so it’s safe to peg it as very likely for Cannes if it’s ready. And seeing as we saw a first look last May already, it should be.
Director: Justin Kurzel
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, Sean Harris, Jack Reynor
Synopsis: So in a move that makes total frenemies of former BFFs, this guy Macbeth totally turns Kingslayer when he hears from these like witches that he’s going to be king, but he’s kinda pushed into it by his wife, who is one way-outta-control megabitch.
What You Need To Know: You may know the story already (and if not where have you been since the early 17th Century?), but “Macbeth” is so often filmed, performed and studied because every new generation gets the version it deserves. We’ve obviously been very good recently: it’s hard to think of better casting than Fassbender and Cotillard (who was robbed of Cannes Best Actress last year) and Kurzel’s debut “The Snowtown Murders” won Cannes Critics Week in 2011. Provided it’s ready, a no-show in Cannes would be a shock and a massive disappointment for us, who placed it at no 6. on our Most Anticipated films of the year.
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
Director: George Miller
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz
In a post-apocalyptic, awfully dusty future, Max crosses paths with female
warrior Furiosa in an epic chase of vehicles across the chaotic, lawless
What You Need To Know: There’s a tendency to shout out
every high-profile title with a May/June release date as a possible
Cannes Gala, but seeing as ‘Fury Road’ has a May 13th France date (the
first day of Cannes), it’s not a huge leap to see it as the opening film.
Such all-out genre fare doesn’t often crop up at the festival, but given last
year’s awful “Grace of Monaco” and the frou-frou of 2013’s “The Great
Gatsby,” a lean actioner could be just to the ticket to re-energize that
slot, and we’ll warrant even Thierry Fremaux was punching the air during
that trailer. Theron and Hardy would be an ideal first pair of stars
down the Croisette’s red carpet, and while Miller may have won an
Oscar in the meantime (don’t forget “Happy Feet“!) his first movie for
grown-ups in 23 years has to be an occasion for celebration.
Director: Brad Bird
Cast: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Kathryn Hahn
Synopsis: A troubled teenager discovers evidence of a mysterious scientific paradise and teams with a reclusive inventor to find it.
What You Need To Know: If “Mad Max” doesn’t show, there could still be another blockbuster addition to the festival’s slate. Disney has debuted films like “Up” and “Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” on the Croisette in recent years, and this year Bird’s “Tomorrowland” will premiere around the world on May 22nd, in the closing days of the festival. Could it be the opener, or at least have an out-of-competition slot similar to “How To Train Your Dragon 2” last year? As Disney’s toughest sell in a year of “Star Wars,” Pixar and Marvel, it’d be helpful to have a glitzy Cannes bow on the eve of release, there’s also star power in the shape of George Clooney, and Bird has enough auteurist cred that the festival wouldn’t have to hold their nose to include it. It’s probably our most anticipated summer tentpole, so we’re certainly crossing our fingers.
“Beasts Of No Nation”
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Cast: Idris Elba, Abraham Attah, Ama K. Abebrese, Opeyemi Fagbohungbe
Synopsis: In the midst of a bitter civil war in a West African country, a young boy is forced to become a soldier.
What You Need To Know: After the mammoth success of “True Detective,” all eyes are on Fukunaga’s next move, and his third feature “Beasts Of No Nation” could be a nifty coup for the festival. His adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala’s child-soldier novel would be the helmer’s first entry to a major European festival, so Un Certain Regard might be more likely than the main competition, but he’s got enough buzz that landing this film would be a coup for Cannes, and the film’s subject matter seems like a good fit for the festival as well. It’s also notable for being the first major movie buy for Netflix, and we’re sure the streaming giants would be delighted with a Cannes appearance to help legitimize the picture. It shot last summer, so it should easily be ready.
“Louder Than Bombs”
Director: Joachim Trier
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne, Isabelle Huppert, David Strathairn, Amy Ryan
Synopsis: A man and his two sons grapple with the memory of their deceased wife and mother.
What You Need To Know: 2011 saw fast-rising Norwegian helmer Joachim Trier (“Reprise”) cement his status as one of world cinema’s ones-to-watch with the selection of his second feature “Oslo, August 31st” in Un Certain Regard at Cannes. Could his English-language debut “Louder Than Bombs” mark his first time in competition at the festival? Once again co-written with “Blind” director Eskil Vogt and with a tantalizing cast including festival favorite Huppert, it’s a film that we’re dying to see (it was our 26th most anticipated of the year), and seems like a perfect fit. When we interviewed Vogt recently, he said that the Croisette was the aim, telling us “If they finish everything in time, they will definitely try for Cannes.” With the film having begun production in August, it’s totally feasible, if a little tight.
Untitled Terrence Malick Project
Director: Terrence Malick
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Rooney Mara, Val Kilmer
Synopsis: Unsurprisingly, details are said to be focused around the music industry.
What You Need To Know: Given that he once went two decades between features, the idea of two Terrence Malick films premiering within four months seems patently absurd. But though a longshot, it’s feasible that “Knight Of Cups”’s Berlin bow (read our review here) could be followed by a trip to Cannes for its untitled follow-up, once titled “Lawless” and which was shot back-to-back with the other film (with which it may or may not be sharing characters; Bale and Blanchett, among others, shot scenes for both). Malick only just finished the film and also has IMAX documentary “Voyage Of Time” on his slate, so who knows what state this project is in. But if it is done, then you know Cannes would clear their schedule to screen it. This is definitely one of the wishlistier possibilities, but it’s not impossible.
Director: Jacques Audiard
Cast: Vincent Rottiers, Marc Zinga
Synopsis: A Sri-Lankan Tamil fighter flees to France for political asylum and gets a job as a caretaker in a rough council estate on the outskirts of Paris.
What You Need To Know: While the selection of homegrown French films is usually among the last to be finalized in Cannes, one director who should be more or less assured a place is Audiard, who’s been on our radar since 2001’s “Read My Lips” and has not faltered since. Taking 3 or 4 years between features as a rule, Audiard’s last two films, also co-written by “Erran”s Thomas Bidegain, have played in Cannes, where “A Prophet,” our 9th favorite film of the decade so far, picked up the Grand Jury Prize, and 2012’s follow-up “Rust and Bone” played in Competition. Audiard’s consistent quality and the promisingly hot-button, gritty setup of this film has us hooked, and while he may not have a name star this time out, he is also known for providing actors such as Tahar Rahim and Mathias Schoenaerts with international breakouts, so it’s very possible he may do the same here for a cast that at the moment we know little about.
“Youth” (aka “The Early Years”)
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Cast: Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, Jane Fonda
Synopsis: A retired conductor holidaying in the Alps reflects on a life-long friendship after receiving an invitation to perform for the Queen of England.
What You Need To Know: Two years ago, Paolo Sorrentino went from Cannes to winning an Oscar for “The Great Beauty,” and given that every one of his films except his first has screened at the festival, it’s extremely likely that his second English-language film “Youth” will be in competition this time around. It sounds from everything we’ve heard like a sort of spiritual successor to “The Great Beauty,” which hopefully means it’ll be more rewarding than his last English-language picture “This Must Be The Place” (which went down like a lead balloon at the festival a few years back) Can this picture do what Sorrentino hasn’t yet managed to do and pick up the Palme D’Or or Best Director? It’s too early to tell, but it’s definitely one of the surest bets to be in the Official Selection.
“The Tale Of Tales”
Director: Matteo Garrone
Cast: Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, John C. Reilly, Toby Jones, Stacy Martin
Synopsis: A loose screen adaptation of the fairy tales in Italian poet Giambattista Basile’s Pentamerone.
What You Need To Know: Foreign-language filmmakers working in the English language are likely to be a trend at Cannes this year, and one of the more ambitious such pictures is Matteo Garrone’s “The Tale Of Tales.” The Italian helmer broke through with his neo-realist crime flick “Gomorrah,” but here looks to be going full-on Gilliam with an anthology picture based on famous Italian folklore, with a starry international cast working in the English language. Garrone’s been a Cannes regular since 2002’s “The Embalmer,” with “Gomorrah” taking the Grand Prix at the festival, and though his last film, “Reality,” disappointed most, we’re very hopeful that he’ll bounce back this time. He started shooting “The Tale Of Tales” last May, so a Cannes bow seems more than likely.
Director: Gaspar Noe
Cast: No details yet
Synopsis: A sexual melodrama revolving around two women and one man, tackling the subject of sex in a “joyous” way that according to Noe will “give men a hard-on and make women cry.”
What You Need To Know: Inventive, fearless and pretty much a Cannes regular by now (his last two films “Irreversible” and “Enter the Void” both played In Competition): you better believe our fingers are crossed that we’ll be treated to/weirded out by whatever provocateur Gaspar Noe has in store in May. Aside from a market poster (which apparently raised finances for the film according to this talk between Noe and Nicolas Winding Refn) and a few scattered vague quotes like those above, very little is known about “Love” which is probably for the best, as we’ve actually seen “Enter the Void” and still find that one hard to summarize. Suffice it to say that if there’s any danger of Cannes 2015 lacking edge, the inclusion of “Love,” assuming it’s done in time, will solve that problem handily.
Director: Miguel Gomes
Cast: Gonçalo Waddington, Rogerio Samora, Carloto Cotta
Synopsis: Set in Portugal and commenting on the nation’s current socio-economic climate, this is a modern, re-imagined version of the various popular Middle Eastern tales known collectively as “One Thousand and One Nights.”
What You Need To Know: Gomes’ “Tabu” was one of the more leftfield inclusions on our 50 Best Films of the Decade so far but which we had the least arguments over, so you can be very sure we’d be agog for his next film. However, “Arabian Nights” sounds fascinating as a project anyway, a sprawling commentary on modern day Portugal fused with the magic and romance of the ancient “1001 Nights” myths, and it has a good chance of being ready if Gomes can wrestle it down from its reported initial length of 7-plus hours. It would be his first time in Cannes (“Tabu” won the Alfred Bauer award at Berlin), and it would seem time for him to make that leap. We cannot imagine anything less than a full competition berth for the film (and a pretty good shot at the Palme, if we were early betting types) if he finishes trimming it in time.
Director: Tobias Lindholm
Cast: Pilou Asbaek, Soren Malling
Synopsis: A Danish army commander, far away from his wife and child and serving in Afghanistan, makes a crucial decision regarding the welfare of his men caught in Taliban crossfire, which sees him vilified as a war criminal on his return home.
What You Need To Know: Lindholm is one of our favorite emerging international filmmakers after his previous films prison drama “R” and ship-bound kidnap tale “A Hijacking,” not to mention his scriptwriting collaboration with Thomas Vinterberg on “The Hunt,” have yielded such tense and intelligent films. With strong echoes of Kathryn Bigelow‘s “Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” (as Lindholm himself gladly namechecked), this film sounds like exactly the kind of progression we would have hoped for, staying in the wheelhouse (and partnering again with the wildly underrated Asbaek) but playing a moral game of chance against a more international backdrop. “R” played Rotterdam; “A Hijacking” went to Venice —for our money, it’s high time Lindholm graduated to the Big Show.
“A Bigger Splash”
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson
Synopsis: A married couple, a rock star and a filmmaker, are unexpectedly visited by an old friend and his young daughter.
What You Need To Know: Six years on from the acclaimed “I Am Love” and after he flirted with various projects in the intervening time, Italian helmer Luca Guadagnino is back with an English-language thriller, and he couldn’t have found a more high-profile cast to do it with: Ralph Fiennes, coming off “Grand Budapest Hotel,” the ever-in-demand Matthias Schoenaerts, “Fifty Shades Of Grey” star Dakota Johnson, and the always-reliable Tilda Swinton. Given Guadagnino’s reputation, this is the kind of film that you’d certainly expect to crop up in Cannes, and the movie shot last Summer so it should be ready. But with Fox Searchlight having already snapped the rights up and so many English-language pics in competition, the distributor might be keener to hold it for Venice, where they had such success with “Birdman” and where the director’s previous film premiered. Still very much a possibility.
Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Cast: Satoshi Ssumabuki, Qi Shu, Chang Chen
Synopsis: During the Tang Dynasty, a female assassin falls for her target.
What You Need To Know: Making “The Tree Of Life” and “The Grandmaster” look like tossed-off Duplass Bros productions and marking the return of ace Taiwanese arthouse helmer Hou Hsiao-Hsien for the first time since 2007’s “Flight Of The Red Balloon,” “The Assassin” has been in some form of production since 2010 and has been in development since the 1980s. In something of a change of pace, Hou is entering big-budget wuxia territory with this epic period piece, but with the film finally wrapped and being edited, it’s reportedly targeting Cannes, where Hou has been a regular, winning the Jury Prize for 1993’s “The Puppetmaster.” Given how long we’ve been waiting for this film, we wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t materialize, but if the film’s done in time, its presence in the Competition is virtually certain.
“Sea Of Trees”
Director: Gus Van Sant
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe, Naomi Watts, Katie Aselton
Synopsis: An American man in crisis travels to the famous ‘suicide forest’ at the base of Mount Fuji, where he meets a similarly depressed Japanese man.
What You Need To Know: Van Sant may be a somewhat erratic quality marker, which is down to a laudable but unpredictable oscillation between bigger studio projects and independent low-budgeters. His latest film (from a Black Listed script) may be the best synthesis yet of those two impulses. With Best Actor McConaughey in the lead, this picture has a built-in profile, but the film appears to be more on the philosophical, even existential end of the spectrum, closer in spirit to the four of Van Sant’s previous films that have bowed in Cannes, dating back to “Elephant” in 2003, for which he won the Palme d’Or. Watanabe is wholly deserving of a lead role, and as a cross-cultural, philosophical two-hander from a previous winner, the film should snag a prestigey Official Selection slot.
“Love In Khon Kaen”
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Cast: Jenjira Pongpas, Banlop Lomnoi
Synopsis: A lonesome middle-age housewife tending a soldier with sleeping sickness falls into a hallucination that triggers strange dreams, phantoms and romance.
What You Need To Know: There aren’t that many previous Palme D’Or winners on this list with a serious chance of pulling a Haneke/Dardennes and winning the top prize for the second time. Perhaps the most likely is Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The Thai filmmaker hasn’t yet followed up his Palme-winning “Uncle Boonmee” with other projects like “Cemetery Of Kings” stalling, but he’s now wrapped on latest feature “Love In Khon Kaen,” and most are tipping it for a return to competition for the helmer. Set in the director’s hometown, this is apparently a very personal project, but one that seems to share some concerns with its widely acclaimed predecessor. The film’s now in post, so a Cannes return seems very likely indeed, and as huge fans of “Uncle Boonmee,” which placed on our best-of-the-decade-so-far list, that can only be a good thing.
“Our Little Sister”
Director Hirokazu Koreeda
Cast: Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho, Ryo Kase
Synopsis: Three twentysomething sisters adopt their thirteen-year-old half-sibling after the death of their father.
What You Need To Know: After “Air Doll” screened in Un Certain Regard in 2009, Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda made his competition bow in 2013 with “Like Father Like Son,” and won the Jury Prize for his trouble. Two years on (and with a Spielberg-produced remake of the latter in the works), he’s got this adaptation of a popular manga called “Umimachi Diary,” now retitled “Our Little Sister.” The film looks to fit into the tradition of Koreeda’s sentimental but not soapy or manipulative melodrama, and with a summer release scheduled in Japan, seems like a natural fit for the festival. He’s not quite an automatic inclusion in the way that, say, the Dardennes are (2011’s “I Wish” premiered at TIFF instead), but this seems like a pretty good bet, especially after last year’s line-up had a relative paucity of Asian cinema.
A few honorable mentions that may very well make the cut but just missed our main list: “Borgman” director Alex Van Warmerdam could well be back with “Schneider vs Bax“; Michel Gondry‘s “Microbe et Gasoil” is also a likely inclusion; while Stephen Frears‘ “Icon,” Chen Kaige‘s “The Monk,” Johnnie To‘s “Design for Living,” Alejandro Amenabar‘s “Regression,” Sean Penn‘s “The Last Face,” Terence Davies‘ “Sunset Song,” and Polish provocateur Andrzej Zulawski‘s “Cosmos” have all been hotly tipped.
And while we don’t want to overstate the number of big studio releases that Cannes can accommodate in its Out of Competition/Gala selection, it’s worth noting that last year one of those coveted spots went to the animated “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” With “Tomorrowland” a more likely choice to take the big studio family film premiere if there’s one going, that is less likely to happen this year, but if it did, the money would either be on “Minions” or “Inside Out,” which have U.S. releases slated for the following months.
Also less likely purely due to the projects’ last known status are Jeff Nichols‘ “Midnight Special” (which gave a terrific first look at SXSW but was strongly hinted to still be a way off completion); Jia Zhang-ke‘s “Mountains May Depart” still has a few scenes to shoot apparently; Robert Zemeckis‘ “The Walk” seems like a slim possibility; and Angelina Jolie‘s “By The Sea” feels like very wishful thinking. And while “Far from the Madding Crowd“‘s May 1st release puts it essentially out of the Cannes frame, we’ve heard nothing further on director Thomas Vinterberg‘s “A Commune,” though were it ready it would no doubt be a player, given his Cannes success with “The Hunt.” And it’s been similarly quiet on the Emir Kusturica front, but we wouldn’t die of shock if his “On the Milky Road” made an appearance —the filmmaker is a Cannes favorite and this film has been in the pipeline for a long time now. Given timing, profile and prior form, we’d suggest Scott Cooper‘s “Black Mass,” and Denis Villeneuve‘s “Sicario” are more likely for fall festival bows, though neither is an impossibility for Cannes.
Safe to say, if even half of our anticipated titles make it to Cannes, it’ll be a great festival and one we find ourselves looking forward to even more now that we’ve done this quick overview. But what about you? What are you most looking forward to, and have you heard any hot tips for high-profile inclusions that we’ve missed? Tell us dans la section des comments, s’il vous plait.