I can’t think of another Cannes whose lineup has been as closely followed, predicated and anticipated as this year’s festival. Maybe it’s a plethora of new and old websites that have cropped up to capitalize on the news as something that will attract hits. The irony of Cannes is that it actually means little to the average U.S. moviegoer, so it’s funny that so much hyped attention has been attached to today’s lineup announcement. Personally, of course, I’m excited to see Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia,” but myself and whomever is reading this post amount to about .02% of the American public. With that typically self-styled cynical introduction, here are the 7 films in the official selection that I’m most excited to see for totally personal reasons (some of my write-ups are excerpted from my IFC piece The Top Ten Films of 2011 (Or, At Least, Those We Think Will Be Really Really Great):
1. “Melancholia”: Here’s the trailer. Enough said.
2. “We Need to Talk About Kevin”: Lynne Ramsay. Tilda Swinton. John C. Reilly. Ezra Miller. I don’t think there’s much that could go wrong. Following her auspicious debut “Ratcatcher” and the astonishing follow-up “Morvern Callar,” the Scottish-born Ramsay has quickly established herself as one of the world’s foremost burgeoning auteurs. While her version of “The Lovely Bones” sadly never came to fruition, fans of the filmmakers’ work are salivating over her replacement adaptation, “Kevin,” based on Lionel Shriver’s prize-winning book. Told from the perspective of a conflicted mother (played by Tilda Swinton), the film tells the story of the events leading up to and following her son Kevin’s killing spree just days before his 16th birthday. With young “Afterschool” star Ezra Miller as Kevin and John C. Reilly as his father, the film promises to be, what Swinton has called in interviews, “a doozy.”
3. “Drive”: I’m going to go out on a limb and put Nicholas Winding Refn’s wild-sounding ride up towards the top of my list. The source material sounds like great fun and it stars Ryan Gosling.
4. “The Kid With The Bike: The Dardenne Brothers have continued to make deeply affecting, beautifully humanist films with sharp relevant social concerns. Originally known as “Delivrez moi” (or “Set Me Free”), the latest film from proficient Belgian siblings Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne features fellow Belge starlet Cécile de France (recently seen in Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter”) and reportedly centers on a 11-year-old boy who escapes from the orphanage where his father left him, and then, pursued by orphanage staffers, eventually finds refuge with a young woman stranger. Known for their bracing, heartrending class-conscious dramas (“Rosetta,” “The Child” and most recently “Lorna’s Silence”), there’s no reason to doubt the Dardennes’ new film will traffic in the same delicate balance of pain and pathos.
5. “Miss Bala”: I loved Gerardo Naranjo’s second feature, “Voy a Explotar” — I interviewed him for the Voice here — and look forward to his follow-up in Un Certain Regard.
6. “Once Upon A Time in Anatolia”: Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan has a stunning photographic eye and piercing point of view (“Distant” remains one of my favorites). Shot in Anatolia, of course, the film features “the 12-hour, tense story of a doctor and a prosecutor,” according to websites.
7. “Tree of Life”: Malick’s latest. No surprise there. Here’s link to the trailer.