While the Cannes Film Festival is the showboat film festival to end all festivals, all of that is a springboard for the talking. Talking about the movies, talking about the movie industry, talking about the talking. Last year, the talking points were the persistence of Kristen Stewart, Woody Allen and Ronan Farrow, auteurs like Jim Jarmusch and Nicolas Winding Refn, and women (or the lack thereof). This year, we’ve read the Croisette crystal ball for the conversations likely to dominate the festival in the days to come. This isn’t necessarily about must-see titles (we’ve got those covered here); these are the stories most likely to be heard beyond the Cannes bubble. Here’s a look at the news cycle to come.
Nicole Kidman Takes Charge
If last year’s Cannes It Girl was brainy “Personal Shopper” and “Cafe Society” star Kristen Stewart, this year’s model is Nicole Kidman, who stars in four high-profile movies: Sofia Coppola’s bid to return to critics’ graces with Civil War battle of the sexes “The Beguiled” in competition (Focus Features); Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest Colin Farrell movie, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (A24); John Cameron Mitchell’s out-of-competition midnight ensemble, “How to Talk with Girls at Parties” (A24); and Jane Campion‘s returning Sundance Channel series, “Top of the Lake: China Girl.” And: Stewart is back with her Refinery 29 short, “Come Swim” (May 20). —Anne Thompson
Can Haneke Make History?
Les Films du Losange
Another bid for critics’ love is Michael Haneke’s “Happy End,” which boasts not only “Amour” stars Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant but also a timely immigrant story. Will the Austrian filmmaker keep up his Cannes winners’ streak? He’s won the Palme d’Or twice, for “White Ribbon” and “Amour;” another Huppert vehicle, “The Piano Teacher,” won the Grand Jury Prize, and “Cache” won director. Only “Funny Games” went home empty handed in 1997. No filmmaker has ever won the top prize three times in a row. Meanwhile, Huppert and Kidman could vie for Best Actress; Huppert also stars in Hong Sang-soo’s out-of-competition title, “Claire’s Camera.”—AT
Lynne Ramsey Will Provide a Big Finale
Cannes obsessives love to speculate about competition-film scheduling. Why is Todd Haynes’ “Wonderstruck” playing first — to raise the bar for the competition right out of the gate, or to avoid getting lost? What’s the deal with the evening slot for the Haneke movie? How come one Hong Sangsoo movie made it into competition, and the other one didn’t? And what’s the deal with the Lynne Ramsay film playing last?
The truth is, there’s no rhyme or reason. Some movies are accepted early and have an easier time getting prime slots; others are programmed at the last minute and are pushed to the end. (And sometimes, as with 2016’s late screening of Sean Penn’s “The Last Face,” they’re scheduled to avoid sudden death.)
This year, it’s Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here,” the story of a sex trafficking ring adapted from Jonathan Ames’ novel. Screening to press late on the second Friday of the festival and receiving its red-carpet premiere the next day, it could add a last-minute surprise to the Palme d’Or odds, crash and burn, or wind up somewhere in between.
Hope is not lost; last year, Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle” screened on the second Friday. However, Ramsay’s movie was apparently so unfinished when programmers saw it that she’s been shooting additional material over the past few weeks. In other words, nobody, not even Ramsey herself, can really say definitively whether this movie plays. That sense of uncertainty means that some modicum of excitement will remain in the competition until the very end. But Ramsay, whose “We Need to Talk About Kevin” played well here in 2011, certainly has enough going for her to make it worth keeping an eye on this one after the crowds wind down. —Eric Kohn
Up next: Why everyone will be talking about Robert Pattinson and the brothers Safdie.