"The Great Beauty"
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Paolo Sorrentino (“Il Divo,” “The Must Be the Place”) is quite the familiar face around Cannes, having been nominated for four Palme d’Or awards and winning two others. His next film “The Great Beauty,” will most likely bring the Italian director back to the festival this year as it stars “Il Divo”’s Toni Servillo and features a cameo by Angelina Jolie. The film centers on an aging Fellini-esque journalist in modern day Rome struggling to recollect his lost youth. [Erin Whitney]
"Inside Llewyn Davis"
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
The Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” left us hooked with its first trailer, ending just as Oscar Isaac’s folk musician title character opened his mouth to sing. Loosely based on the story of New York folk singer Dave Von Ronk, “Llewyn Davis” explores the music scene of 1960s Greenwich Village and follows one eager singer trying to make it big with only a guitar and an orange cat. With a great cast, including Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake (of course), John Goodman, and Garrett Hedlund, and the Coens’ frequent Cannes presence (“No Country For Old Men,” “Fargo,” and Palme d’Or winning “Barton Fink”) “Llewyn Davis” is an ideal fit for this year’s festival lineup. [Erin Whitney]
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
French director Desplechin is a Cannes regular whose sophisticated character-driven stories tend to blend comedy and drama in innovative ways. His last feature, 2008's ensemble piece "A Christmas Tale," firmly established him as one of the most sophisticated narrative filmmakers working today. "Jimmy Picard" finds Desplechin tackling ambitious material even by his standards, as it stars Benicia del Toro as a Plains Indian of the Blackfeet nation sent home during WWII for medical problems. The majority of the movie allegedly revolves around Picard's relationship with the psychoanalyst assigned to treat him, played by Desplechin regular (and Cannes fixture) Mathieu Almaric. It's been a while since both actors have delivered strong roles in material able to match them -- so this team-up holds plenty of promise. [Eric Kohn]
"Knight of Cups" and/or Untitled Film Formerly Known as "Lawless"
Director: Terrence Malick
Breaking his usual 10-year-hiatus custom, Terrence Malick has been relatively downright prolific as of late. The mysterious filmmaker -- who’s only released five films over his 40-year career -- surprised and thrilled us all when he began working on three new films after his 2010 Palme d’Or winning “The Tree of Life. While the first of these, “To the Wonder,” will have its limited released next month after premiering in Venice last year, the even more secretive “Knight of Cups” and unofficially titled "Lawless" are expected to follow (likely in that order, though they seemed to be shot simultaneously). Collectively, the films star -- if they don't get cut, at least -- Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman (in both), Christian Bale (also in both), Cate Blanchett, Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara and Antonio Banderas. Whether one or both hit Cannes this year (or maybe next, given he does take a lot of time in the editing room), remains to be seen. [Erin Whitney]