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Cannes Wish List: 50 Films That Have a Serious Shot at the 2017 Festival Lineup

Plus, the big name titles that most likely won't bow on the Croisette.

In order to make accurate predictions about the potential Cannes Film Festival lineup, it’s first important to explore which films definitely won’t make the cut. The glamorous French gathering is notorious for waiting until the last minute before locking in every slot for its Official Selection. That includes competition titles, out of competition titles, a small midnight section and the Un Certain Regard sidebar. Cannes announces the bulk of its selections in Paris on April 13, but until then, there are plenty of ways to make educated guesses. Much of the reporting surrounding the upcoming festival selection is simply lists of films expected to come out this year. However, certain movies are definitely not going to the festival for various reasons.

That’s why our own list of potentials doesn’t include “Image Et Parole,” Jean-Luc Godard’s followup to “Goodbye to Language,” which sales agent Wild Bunch now anticipates as a 2018 title. Meanwhile, Steven Soderbergh’s long-awaited return to feature film directing, “Logan Lucky,” is reportedly skipping the festival route entirely before Bleecker Street releases it in July.

READ MORE: Cannes 2017: 70th Anniversary Festival Poster Features Joyous Claudia Cardinale

A number of other anticipated films won’t be finished in time to make it to the Croisette this year: “Under the Silver Lake,” the latest horror movie from “It Follows” director David Robert Michell; Roman Polanski’s “Based on a True Story,” which the exiled director co-wrote with Olivier Assayas; Christian Petzold’s “Phoenix” followup “Transit”; and Mexican director Carlos Reygadas’ “When Life Is Born,” which is still shooting. We’re also fairly certain that Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” won’t show up at Cannes, as Nolan’s reportedly still tweaking the movie and he hasn’t traditionally premiered his work there.

Still, anything’s possible — and we’d be thrilled to discover that any one of these titles somehow managed to slip into the Cannes program. For now, however, here are 50 movies we’re pretty confident will be ready in time for Cannes — and that’s not the only reason they’re under serious consideration. Read on as we make the case for each.

“Before We Vanish”
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Masami Nagasawa, Ryûhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Japanese filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa is a Cannes regular, where he has been a staple in the Un Certain Regard category, having won the 2015 Directing Prize (“Journey to the Shore”) and 2008 Jury Prize (“Tokyo Sonata”). His 2003 film “Bright Future” was his one film to make it into the festival’s competition section. The director is best known for working in the horror genre, but with a distinctly creative approach that’s often compared to Tarkovsky. His latest film is about three aliens – on a reconnaissance mission as they prepare for a mass invasion of Earth – who leave “psychological and spiritual devastation in their wake.” The film was listed as being in production earlier this year, but it might just make the Cannes deadline. -Chris O’Falt

The Beguiled

“The Beguiled”

Focus Features/YouTube

“The Beguiled”
Director: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Colin Ferrell, Elle Fanning
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Hollywood royalty who earned her own seat at the head of the table, Sofia Coppola was formally accepted into the highest echelons of the film world when “Marie Antoinette” premiered in Competition in 2006, and her reputation as a major auteur only continued to balloon in the years that followed. She hasn’t made a feature since 2013’s “Bling Ring” (which opened that year’s Un Certain Regard sidebar), but that should only increase the appetite for her next act, a project that promises to funnel her strengths into violent and exciting new directions. Adapted from the same Thomas Cullinan novel that inspired Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film of the same name, “The Beguiled” isn’t a remake so much as a gendered re-positioning of a story that screams to be seen through the lens of a woman’s camera. Set around a sweltering all-girls boarding school in Civil War-era Mississippi, the powder-keg of a plot takes shape when the headmistress agrees to shelter a wounded Union soldier, whose presence (and pungent sex) plunges the idyllic oasis into an inferno of jealousy and desire. A Cannes launch would perfectly position “The Beguiled” for its planned June 23 release. -David Ehrlich

“Beyond Words”
Director: Urszula Antoniak
Cast: Jakub Gierszal, Andrzej Chyra, Justyna Wasilewska
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Polish-Dutch director Urszula Antoniak has been slowly rising on the international film scene over the past several years. Her 2009 breakout “Nothing Personal” was a major discovery at the Locarno Film Festival, winning the Golden Leopard, while her 2011 drama “Code Blue” earned her a first trip to Cannes in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar. Antoniak has been in post-production on her new film and could have it ready for a return to Cannes. The story involves a Polish lawyer living in Berlin who receives an unexpected visit from his father. -Zack Sharf

“Blade of the Immortal”
Director: Takashi Miike
Cast: Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Erika Toda
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Perhaps the only major contemporary director who’s more prolific than Hong Sang-soo, Takashi Miike is a bit of a strange case when it comes to Cannes (or when it comes to anything else, for that matter). On the one hand, he’s a welcome guest at the festival, as two of his films have played in competition. On the other hand, the guy makes two films every year — sometimes more — and it’s exceedingly difficult to predict which of them might receive any sort of international recognition; 2011’s “Hara-kiri,” the first Miike movie to premiere on the Croisette, is one of the worst things he’s ever made. But “Blade of the Immortal,” which is adapted from a popular manga series about an undead samurai who needs to kill 1,000 men in order to regain his mortality, finds the director working in the hyper-violent milieu where the festival likes him best. Given Miike’s resilient source material, and the strong production muscle that comes with it (Warner Bros. is distributing the film in Japan a few weeks before the fest), Cannes will likely decide that it’s time to welcome him back to the fold. -DE

“A Ciambra”

“A Ciambra”
Director: Jonas Carpignano
Cast: TBA
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Carpignano’s lauded debut feature “Mediterranea” bowed at Critics’ Week back in 2015, kicking off what would become a festival and awards season that saw the young director picking up awards at the Gothams, the Independent Spirits and the National Board of Review, not to mention a Guggenheim Fellowship. His newest feature, an expansion of his short of the same name, has reportedly been complete for quite some time (there were even rumors it might hit Sundance) and is already churning out poster designs. The story follows one of the migrant characters also at the center of “Mediterranea,” and a return to Cannes would be a fitting capper for the rising star. -Kate Erbland

“Claire’s Camera”
Director: Hong Sang-soo
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Shahira Fahmy, Kim Min-hee
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Hong Sang-soo is one of the most fiercely idiosyncratic auteurs in the world, but the prolific festival circuit fixture — whose knotted films invariably find a young director getting shit-faced on soju and confessing way too much to an ex, a stranger, or both — hasn’t had a movie in Competition since 2012’s “In Another Country.” But if Hong is ever going to get back into the big dance, “Claire’s Camera” will be the movie to get him there. Not only does his latest find him reuniting with “In Another Country” star Isabelle Huppert (whose performance in “Elle” recently reaffirmed her as a Cannes darling), but the Korean filmmaker’s latest was also shot in Cannes during last year’s fest. Plot details are still hazy, but Hong is on a hot streak, and the local elements will likely be enough to put this one over the top. -DE

“Cobain”
Director: Nanouk Leopold
Cast: Maartje van de Wetering, Naomi Velissariou, Andrew Vandaele
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: The Netherlands’ best hope of getting a film into Cannes (the festival usually aims for at least one Dutch film) would appear to be Nanouk Leopold’s sixth feature “Cobain.” Early early reports suggest the film is an emotional crowdpleaser as it tells the story of a 15 year old trying to get his pregnant mother to quit her self-destructive lifestyle. The Dutch filmmaker’s second film “Guernsey” made an appearance at Director’s Fortnight in 2005, while her last two films, “The Brownian Movement” (featuring “Toni Erdmann” star Sandra Hüller) and “It’s All So Quiet,” were considered breakouts at Berlin. According to Leopold’s producers Circle Films, “Cobain” is in post-production, and the company’s Facebook page indicates they have their “fingers crossed” about receiving a Cannes invite. -CO

“Damsel”
Directors: David and Nathan Zellner
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Austin-based sibling directors David and Nathan Zellner went from eccentric local favorites to nationally-beloved auteurs with the release of their Sundance breakout “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter,” a dark comedy about a Japanese woman who thinks “Fargo” is real and goes in search of treasure alongside her scene-stealing bunny, Bunzo. The film was proof the Zellners could handle a bigger scale and name actors, which helped them land Pattinson and Wasikowska for this bizarre-sounding comedic western about a businessman wandering mountainous terrain with his fiancee. Early images from the set found Pattinson roaming the landscape with both a rifle and a guitar, which should give you a sense of the potential genre-busting style on display here. The Zellners are overdue to break out on the international circuit, and this is just the kind of strangely alluring story to do it. -Eric Kohn

“Dark River”
Director: Clio Barnard
Cast: Ruth Wilson, Sean Bean, Mark Stanley
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Barnard’s richly creative experimental documentary “The Arbor” was a sleeper hit in the arthouse world and announced her as a major new voice to follow. Her follow-up heartbreaker, “The Selfish Giant,” debuted in the Director’s Fortnight section back in 2013, and put a fresh spin on the Oscar Wilde story of the same name. Barnard is due for much wider recognition, and her latest feature — complete with her most well-known cast yet — seems like just the film to do it. -KE

“Downsizing”
Director: Alexander Payne
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Matt Damon, Laura Dern
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing” earned some of the biggest buzz out of CinemaCon this year with a 10-minute preview that earned universal praise and left press dying to see more. Could the entire feature drop at Cannes? The film isn’t set for release until December 22, but if Payne can finish all the tricky effects in time, there’s no doubt he’d be ready to take Cannes by storm. His previous efforts “About Schmidt” and “Nebraska” were very warmly received on the Croisette, with Bruce Dern winning Best Actor for the latter in 2013. It’s been four years since we’ve seen new material from Payne, and Cannes would definitely love to play home to his most ambitious feature yet. -ZS

“Face”
Director: Małgorzata Szumowska
Cast: Agnieszka Podsiadlik
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Though the Polish director would be a newcomer to Cannes, she is no stranger to the international festival circuit; her past features have played Berlin, Locarno, and Toronto. Sources say her latest drama is a strong contender for Un Certain Regard, Cannes’ showcase for less traditional fare. Considering “Face” is about a man who experiences identity issues after undergoing a face transplant, that section seems apt. A co-producer on Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist,” Szumowksa received wider visibility in 2011 for the racy Juliette Binoche vehicle, “Elles,” although the film was widely panned. -Jude Dry

Willem Dafoe & Brooklynn Prince in "The Florida Project"

Willem Dafoe & Brooklynn Prince in “The Florida Project”

Marc Schmidt

“The Florida Project”
Director: Sean Baker
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Sean Baker’s innovative filmmaking approach, in which he blends practiced actors with amateur performers riffing on their lives, has been notable ever since his 2004 film “Take Out,” but received wide recognition with the Sundance hit “Tangerine,” the daylong story of two transgender prostitutes. That movie nearly made the cut at Cannes, but it did succeed at putting the ethnographically-inclined director on the festival’s radar. With “The Florida Project,” he stands a good chance at finally making the cut. The movie features a supporting role for Willem Dafoe, but primarily focuses on the experiences of a six-year-old (newcomer Brooklynn Prince) and her group of friends as they engage in a summertime adventure while their parents deal with adult-level hardships. Working with young children is never an easy filmmaking challenge, but Baker’s innovative directing approach suggests he’s just the guy to pull it off, and he’s well-positioned now for the wider platform that Cannes could provide. The movie is reportedly near completion so the timing works out well for this one. -EK

“Foxtrot”
Director: Samuel Maoz
Cast: TBA
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Maoz’s Venice-winning “Lebanon” wasn’t merely notable for being set exclusively inside a tank. The film is also one of the rare recent movies about war made by someone who himself is a veteran. “Foxtrot” probably won’t have the same restricted setting, but Maoz looks to be once again drawing on his personal experiences for another war story that stretches across decades. An international production between Israel, France and Germany, this could very well find a fruitful home in one of the sidebars. -Steve Greene

“A Gentle Creature”
Director: Sergei Loznitsa
Cast: Vaselina Makovtseva, Valeriu Andriuta, Stergei Koltsov, Lia Akhedzhakova
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa is primarily known as an experimental documentarian, digging beneath the surface of historical events and places imbued with meaning (last year’s “Austerlitz” examined tourists at Auschwitz, and 2015’s “The Event” explored the collapse of the Soviet Union through archival images). As a narrative filmmaker, Loznitsa has focused on stone-faced men trapped by circumstances beyond their control: His first scripted feature, “My Joy,” was the Lynchian tale of a truck driver lost in a series of bizarre circumstances; “My Joy” was a tense wartime drama about a soldier wrongfully accused of being a traitor. Both movies were warmly received at Cannes, which makes Loznitsa a part of its family, and his latest narrative is almost certainly under consideration. The movie is loosely inspired by a Dostoyevsky short story about a woman who travels to a remote prison in search of her incarcerated husband. It’s a fascinating premise thick with exactly the kind of mystery that Loznitsa has already established so well, and an obvious fit for the Cannes lineup. -EK

“Good Time”
Directors: Ben Safdie, Joshua Safdie
Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert Pattinson, Barkhad Abdi
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Joshua and Bennie Safdie have been fixtures of the American film scene ever since the international launch of their first two features, “The Pleasure of Being Robbed” and “Go Get Some Rosemary” (also titled “Daddy Long Legs”) at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight back in 2008 and 2009. Since then, the New York filmmakers’ admirers have only grown (Martin Scorsese has signed on to executive produce their next film “Uncut Gems”) — especially after their innovative and critically acclaimed “Heaven Knows What” premiered at Venice and Toronto in 2014. Their newest film “Good Time,” starring Robert Pattinson as a bank robber, looks to be another big step forward for the Safdies. After seeing footage of the crime drama, which features the “Twilight” star trying to avoid a dragnet, “Moonlight” distributor A24 picked up the film last fall. -CO

“Happy End”
Director: Michael Haneke
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Mathieu Kassovitz
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: The last two trips Michael Haneke made to the Cannes Film Festival ended with him taking the Palme d’Or (2009’s “The White Ribbon” and 2012’s “Amour”), which makes the festival perhaps the only proper place to premiere his first movie in five years. “Happy End,” a drama set in Calais against the European refugee crisis, reunites the director’s “Amour” actors Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant, both of whom are no strangers to the festival. Between its international star power and timely subject matter, plus the fact it has already sold in multiple territories (Sony Pictures Classics bought U.S. rights in November), “Happy End” is a no-brainer for this year’s Cannes lineup. -ZS

“How to Talk to Girls at Parties”

“How to Talk to Girls At Parties”
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Cast: Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Alex Sharpp
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Fans of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” creator John Cameron Mitchell have been waiting seven years for a new film of his, and it appears “How to Talk to Girls At Parties” might just be the biggest lock for a debut in Cannes’ midnight program. The science-fiction romance is based on the acclaimed short story by Neil Gaiman and stars Cannes favorites Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning (who could double up with Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled”) opposite Alex Sharpp, Ruth Wilson and Matt Lucas. A24 already has U.S. distribution rights to the film, and could wind up with its biggest presence yet on the Croisette between this title, Trey Edward Shults’ Cannes-aspiring “It Comes At Night” and more. -ZS

“The Insult”
Director: Ziad Doueri
Cast: Adel Karam, Christine Choueiri, Kamel El Bacha, Rita Hayek, Elie Njem
WHY IT MIGHT GET IN: Following a 2012 fall festival premiere and a theatrical release the year after, “The Attack” became a tale of grief and disbelief that would have resonated with audiences even if it didn’t revolve around the aftermath of a suicide bombing. Our Eric Kohn praised the way that film shows “tremendous empathy” for its protagonist’s gradual journey of acceptance and understanding. With “The Insult,” Douieri returns to issues related to Palestinian life, this time following a verbal dispute that breaks down along religious lines. Re-teaming with “The Attack” co-writer Joelle Touma, Doueiri’s latest might find Cannes as another place for a bigger conversation about the regular, smaller-scale trials of life in both Palestine and Lebanon. -SG

Our Cannes Wish List continues on the next page.

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