Cannes Wish List: 40 Films We Hope Make The Festival’s 2013 Lineup

Cannes Wish List: 40 Films We Hope Make The Festival's 2013 Lineup
Cannes Wish List: 40 Films We Hope Make The Festival's 2013 Lineup

Cannes is a sort of annual cinematic Olympics, with almost every country vying for spots in the official selection. But with the official 2013 Cannes Film Festival announcement a little over a month away, Indiewire is offering its annual Cannes wish list. 

Indiewire’s annual Cannes wish
list isn’t so much about officially predicting the lineup, but rather a roster of films we hope are finished in time, good enough and
invited to the festival. Thus we’re not including films basically confirmed not to be heading to Cannes — like Lars von Trier’s “The Nymphomaniac,” Xavier Dolan’s “Tom at the Farm” and Pedro Almodovar’s “I Am Excited.” Or the one film we officially know — Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” which will open the festival.

the candidates are celebrated filmmakers like Woody Allen, Catherine Breillat, Joel & Ethan Coen, Sofia Coppola, Claire Denis, Atom Egoyan, James Grey, Jim Jarmusch, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Terrence Malick, Steve McQueen, Roman Polanski and Steven Soderbergh (for a TV movie!), among many others.

Films that don’t get a spot in Cannes (and there will definitely be a
few) will immediately become hot topics for a fall fest berth in Venice
and/or Toronto. Either way, let the guessing games begin:

“Abuse of Weakness
Director: Catherine Breillat
The pairing of a controversial French filmmaker and two-time Cannes winning Best Actress is undoubtedly a given for making this year’s festival lineup. “Fat Girl” director Catherine Breillat has adapted her novel “Abuse of Weakness,” which centers on her personal experience of con man Christophe Rocancourt stealing money from her following a stroke. The film stars Isabelle Huppert, Cannes winner for “Violette” and “The Piano Teacher,” and French rapper Kool Shen. [Erin Whitney]

The Bastards
Director: Claire Denis
It’s been four years since “White Material,” Claire Denis’ acclaimed thriller (also starring Isabelle Huppert), so anticipation is high for the filmmaker’s latest, starring Vincent Lindon and Chiara Mastrioani in the leads. Everything Denis has made in the past decade has premiered at Venice, but given her French pedigree and the fact she shot “The Bastards” last August, a Cannes premiere for her latest isn’t out of the question. Mastrioani stars as Sandra, a widowed mother to a troubled daughter, whose family’s business is going under. To exact revenge on the businessman she deems responsible for her family’s troubles, she enlists the help of her brother. [Nigel M. Smith]

“Behind The Candelabra”
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Films or miniseries made for television have quickly become staples at major festivals lately, from Jane Campion’s “Top of the Lake” (which debuted at Sundance earlier this year), to Olivier Assayas’s “Carlos” (at Cannes three years ago). And it seems like a likely bet to continue that trend is Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic “Behind The Candelabra.” Starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his much younger lover Scott Thorson, the film is said to be Soderbergh’s final film project — which would be fitting to show at Cannes given his first — 1989’s “sex, lies and videotape” — won the Palme d’Or there. More over, Soderbergh has openly said he hopes the film premieres there, and given its HBO premiere date is May 26th (just after the fest) it seems to be perfectly timed to [Peter Knegt].

The Bling Ring
Director: Sofia Coppola
Fourteen years after her debut film “The Virgin Suicides” premiered in Cannes, Sofia Coppola is very likely to be heading back with her fifth, “The Bling Ring.” Inspired by actual events, the film continues a mini-trend in cinema this year: Auteurs examining contemporary female youth behaving very badly (“Spring Breakers” clearly being the other examples). “Ring” follows the true story of a group of fame-obsessed teenagers known as the Bling Ring (with Emma Watson playing the leader) who use the Internet to track celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes (actual victims included Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Megan Fox). Sounds like a very promising concept for the filmmaker’s follow-up to surprise Venice prize winner “Somewhere,” and with A24 (who also released “Breakers”) already setting “The Bling Ring” for a June theatrical release, it’s Cannes or bust. [Peter Knegt]

“Blood Ties
Director: Guillaume Canet
French actor Guillaume Canet (“The Beach”) is something like his own country’s George Clooney or Ben Affleck. The dashingly handsome actor made quite a stir with his second directorial effort “Tell No One,” and his follow-up “Little White Lies” got him some considerable attention, too. His new film, “Blood Ties,” is set in ’70s Brooklyn and sets up a scenario with two brothers, one in law enforcement, one in organized crime. An all-star cast (James Caan, Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis, Clive Owen, Zoe Saldana, Lili Taylor) could make this a star-studded red carpet film at this year’s Cannes. [Bryce J. Renninger]

Blue Jasmine
Director: Woody Allen
Two years after kicking off Cannes with Oscar-winning “Midnight in Paris,” Woody Allen is a good bet to return to the Croisette with “Blue Jasmine,” his first American-set film since “Whatever Works.” While Allen always assembles a dreamy cast, this one seems extra special with Cate Blanchett leading a group that includes Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard and, uh, Andrew Dice Clay. Set in San Francisco, pretty much all that’s known is that the film is “the story of the final stages of an acute crisis and a life of a fashionable New York housewife.” And while that’s not much info — and, moreover, Allen is very hit-and-miss as of late (for every “Paris” there’s two or three “To Rome With Love”) — something about this one just seems very promising. Maybe because the last time Allen used a color and a flower in the title, he ended up with one his best films, “The Purple Rose of Cairo.” And that film premiered in Cannes, too. [Peter Knegt]

“The Butler
Director: Lee Daniels
Will Lee Daniels make it two years in a row at Cannes after his love-it-or-hate-it-but-most-people-hate-it third film “The Paperboy” debuted at the Cannes Film Festival last year? “The Butler,” whose production has been highly publicized due to a return to acting from Oprah Winfrey but also includes a who’s who cast (Daniels favorites Mariah Carey, John Cusack and Cuba Gooding, Jr. join Forest Whitaker, Terrence Howard, Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Redgrave among many others). The film follows the career of a butler who served eight different Presidents over his time at the White House. Cusack will play Nixon; Robin Williams will play Dwight Eisenhower; James Marsden will play JFK; Alan Rickman will play Ronald Reagan; Liev Schreiber will play LBJ. Melissa Leo and Jane Fonda will play Mrs. Eisenhower and Reagan, respectively. They better widen that red carpet. [Bryce J. Renninger]

“Captain Phillips”
Director: Paul Greengrass
Set for release this October by Columbia Pictures, Paul Greengrass’s “Captain Phillips” is probably more likely to hit the Venice-Toronto scene in the fall. But one can still hope it pops up here instead. A biopic of the captain who was taken hostage by Somali Pirates during the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009, the film stars Tom Hanks. Beyond adding what looks like some high-quality Hollywood filmmaking into the mix, think of the fun Somali Pirate-themed afterparty on the Croisette? [Peter Knegt]

“The Congress”
Director: Ari Folman
Israeli director Ari
Folman seemingly came out of nowhere at Cannes 2007 with his debut
feature “Waltz With Bashir,” a daring twist on documentary traditions
comprised of interviews about the 1982 Lebanon War (which the filmmaker
himself experienced) and flashbacks in a bracing application of
animation. Folman’s approach takes time, so it’s no surprise that we’ve
been waiting years for his follow-up, another unique application of
animation: “The Congress” is rumbaed to be primarily live action with a
good amount of animated sequences set in an imaginary future. The story
features Robin Wright as herself struggling with the challenges of being
an aging actor; these scenes are said to be live action, while those
set 20 years down the road will be animated. Folman has loosely adapted
the 1971 novel “The Futurological Congress,” by Stanislaw Lem, which
revolves around humanity falling prey to illusions of a utopia that
doesn’t exist. While a notable change of pace for the director, the
promise of dazzling visuals and the quest for hidden narratives so
excellently realized in “Bashir” are sure to make another appearance
here; fans of animation, science fiction, epistemological story or just
pure cinematic ingenuity should be excited. In other words, everyone.
[Eric Kohn]

The Devil’s Knot
Director: Atom Egoyan
A year after
securing financing at Cannes, Atom Egoyan’s West Memphis Three project
“Devil’s Knot,” should be primed to premiere at the festival with stars
Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth in tow. The film, shot last summer in
Georgia, is based on Mara Leveritt’s 2002 book of the same name and was
adapted for the screen by Paul Harris Boardman (“The Exorcism of Emily
Rose”) and Scott Derrickson (“Sinister”). Although four well known
documentaries have already been made about the murder case (“The
Paradise Lost” trilogy and last year’s “West of Memphis”), this marks
the first major narrative feature to tackle the story. Egoyan’s
summarized the film’s approach to the Wall Street Journal
as being focused “on the mother of one of the murdered boys, played by
Reese Witherspoon, and the private investigator who worked for the
teens’ defense team, played by Colin Firth.” Whatever the case is, this
marks an interesting change of pace for Egoyan, who needs a critical hit
following his largely panned sexual thriller “Chloe.” [Nigel M. Smith]

“Diana” and/or “Grace of Monaco”
Directors: Oliver Hirschbiegel (“Diana”), Olivier Dahan (“Grace”)
These dueling tales of contemporary, beloved princesses are both in post-production and one or both could pop up in Cannes (though seem more like Toronto fare). Starring bffs Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman as Princess Diana and Princess Grace, respectively, each film takes on a specific moment in the women’s lives. For Diana, its the two years leading up to her untimely death in 1997. For Grace, it’s a crisis of marriage and identity during a dispute between Monaco’s Prince Rainier III and France’s Charles De Gaulle and a looming French military invasion of the principality in the early 1960s. Of the two, “Grace” seems maybe more likely given it’s set only a short train ride from Cannes itself. But given that Harvey Weinstein has set a late December Oscar-bait release date for it, maybe they’d rather wait. [Peter Knegt]

“A Field in England”
Director: Ben Wheatley
Ben Wheatley is one of the most talented filmmakers working in the U.K. today, exploring and challenging genre conventions in the sharp-edged, raucous gangster flick “Down Terrace,” the dreamy, unsettling horror film “Kill List” and the black comedy “Sightseers.” “A Field In England” sounds like another difficult to categorize feature that will fall into that intriguing intersection of arthouse and midnight film — a black and white period piece that follows soldiers who flee from an ongoing war only to be captured and forced to help look for a treasure, a task complicated by the fact that the group’s accidentally partaken in some hallucinogenic mushrooms. Wheatley reunites here with some actors who’ve appeared in his past work, including Michael Smiley from “Kill List,” and has reportedly built custom lens for the film. “Sightseers” premiered in the Director’s Fortnight in 2012, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see “A Field in England” debut somewhere at Cannes this year. [Alison Wilmore]

Director: Bennett Miller
Bennett Miller directed the “Speed” Levitch doc “The Cruise” and went on to make the based-on-true-story films “Capote” and “Moneyball” (both nominated for best picture Oscars).  He continues with the streak of fiction films based on true stories with “Foxcatcher,” which tells the story of Dave Schultz, an Olympic wrestler that was killed by a member of the duPont family who was also the sponsor of the Foxcatcher private team that Schultz was coaching.  If Miller’s earlier fiction work is any indication, we should be in for a gripping work. Though both “Capote” and “Moneyball” waited for the fall festival circuit, so its perhaps more than likely we’ll have to wait until then to see. [Bryce J. Renninger]

Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Certainly one of the most anticipated films of the year, Alfonso Cuarón’s $80 million-budgeted 3D space film “Gravity” would be a huge catch for Cannes and high atop the to see list of everyone attending. Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as surviving astronauts in a damaged space station, the film’s October release date is much more suggestive of Venice and/or Toronto — but this is a wish list. [Peter Knegt]

“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]

“Jimmy Picard”
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]

“Last of the Unjust”
Director: Claude Lanzmann
seminal documentary epic “Shoah” remains the definitive cinematic
treatment of the Holocaust. However, even its 10-hour running time
couldn’t encompass every crucial detail of Hitler’s botched genocide. In
2011, Lanzmann released the 49-minute “The Karski Report,” a lengthy
interview with WII resistance fighter Jan Karski, whom Lanzmann
interviewed for “Shoah” but only excerpted in brief. Now the director
has returned to his original production to give a starring role to
another character: Benjamin Murmelstein, an Austrian Jew appointed by
Adolf Eichmann to run the concentration camp Theresienstadt. Lanzmann
originally interviewed Murmelstein for “Shoah” but never used any of the
footage. For “Last of the Unjust,” the now-octogenarian Lanzmann
deepens the narrative of “Shoah” even further by returning to this
footage alongside new material shot around the world. Evading the use of
archival footage, Lanzmann’s reliance on talking heads is rarely less
than gripping, harrowing and an essential means of processing historical
memory. Expect no less from his latest work. [Eric Kohn]

Director: James Gray
“Two Lovers” helmer James Grey was spotted shooting his latest “Lowlife,” with his usual collaborator Joaquin Phoenix early last year, so a Cannes premiere seems extremely likely given the amount of time he’s had to finesse his first period film (he also told The Playlist back in December that he hopes to unveil it there — no surprise really, given his loyal French admirers). In addition to Phoenix, the drama stars Marion Cotillard as a woman immigrating to the U.S. from Poland, whose sister falls ill while sailing to Ellis Island, forcing her to trade sexual favors for medicine to keep her sister alive. Phoenix plays a man who persuades her to turn tricks after arriving in New York. [Nigel M. Smith]

Mood Indigo
Director: Michel Gondry
Reminding us of the fanciful scenes in his two written/directed films from the last half of the 2000’s, “The Science of Sleep” and “Be Kind Rewind,” Michel Gondry’s new film, “Mood Indigo” looks like a winner.  The film stars Audrey Tautou as Chloe, a woman who is infected with a water lily in her lungs.  Her lover, Colin (the adorable Romain Duris) must keep her alive by surrounding her with fresh flowers.  Based on the novel “L’Écume des jours” by Boris Vian, the film is set to please fans of the auteur, who has been making short-form content, experimental documentaries, and even a Hollywood film (“The Green Hornet”). [Bryce J. Renninger]

“Monster’s University”
Director: Dan Scanlon
Big Hollywood animated films have been a regular fixture at Cannes for a good decade now, from “Up” to “Madagascar 3” to the “Kung Fu Panda” movies. The film most likely to continue that trend this year is “Monsters University” — Pixar’s anticipated prequel to “Monsters, Inc.” Set ten years before that film, telling the story of how Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) met in college. Its June 21st U.S. release date would make it a nice fit for a Cannes premiere, though it would only be the second Pixar film to do so after “Up” opened the festival in 2009. [Peter Knegt]

“A Most Wanted Man
Director: Anton Corbijn
Anton Corbijn, director of “The American”
and owner of three Cannes awards for his Joy Divison biography “Control”
in 2007, may be back at the festival this year with his latest film “A
Most Wanted Man.” Adapted from John le Carre’s espionage thriller of the
same name, the film follows a half-Chechen, half-Russian who illegally
immigrated to Hamburg and gets tangled in the international war on
terror. The film’s impressive cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, and Willem Dafoe. [Erin Whitney]

Director: Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne hasn’t been to Cannes since 2002 when he screened “About Schmidt” in competition, but perhaps his follow-up to 2011’s “The Descendants” will change that. Starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte as a father and son who trek from Montana to Nebraska to claim prize money, Payne was given the script to “Nebraska” (by Bob Nelson) when he was on the set of “About Schmidt.” He didn’t want to follow-up a road trip movie with another (he was on pre-production for “Sideways”), so he waited until after “The Descendants.” Shot in black and white, the film wrapped production in December, definitely making it feasible for Cannes. [Peter Knegt]

“Night Moves”
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Reichardt has
repeatedly delivered some of the most thoughtful American independent
films in recent years, starting with the career-rejuvenating “Old Joy,”
which followed with “Wendy and Lucy” and “Meek’s Cutoff.” Each movie
starts with rather basic scenarios — a weekend getaway, a missing dog, a
minimalist western — and develops them into profound explorations of
personal yearning. While Reichardt has repeatedly worked with Michelle
Williams, the trio of big names associated with this particular project
certainly attest to her current clout, while the premise  about a trio
of environmentalists planning to blow up a bomb sounds exactly like the
simple plots that Reichardt always manages to infuse with new life.
Additionally, her films tend to be attuned to the relationship between
man and nature, so the theme is a familiar one for fans of oeuvre. [Eric

Only God Forgives
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
After “Drive”’s Cannes Best Director win and Palme d’Or nomination in 2011 there’s no doubt that “Only God Forgives,” the upcoming crime thriller from Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling, should be at this year’s festival. This time around Gosling plays a gangster who runs a Thai boxing club in Bangkok on a mission to find his brother’s murder, as per his mother’s request, played by Kristin Scott Thomas. The film is rumored to be even more violent than the blood-squirting, razor-slicing “Drive,” and from the looks of the teaser trailer and knowing Refn’s knack for brutal violence, “Only God Forgives” will definitely surpass expectations. [Erin Whitney]

Only Lovers Left Alive
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Vampires and Cannes may not seem like the most compatible duo, especially with the seemingly endless blood-sucker craze in recent years. Yet when you throw Jim Jarmusch, Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and John Hurt into the mix the trite horror sub-genre feels refreshingly revamped. Jarmusch has managed to keep “Only Lovers are Left” under wraps–or should we say out of the sunlight–describing it as a vampire romance that follows Tom Hiddleston’s Adam, a depressed underground musician. Adam finds bliss in reuniting with his centuries-old lover Eve (Swinton), but the newfound happiness fades when her unruly sister (Mia Wasikowska) intervenes. The curiosity amounts as we anxiously await Swinton’s bloody vampire fangs to grace the Cannes screens. [Erin Whitney]

“Panda Eyes
Director: Isabel Coixet
Isabel Coixet’s “Map of the Sounds of Tokyo” was nominated for the Palme d’Or in 2009, but didn’t garner much attention thereafter. The Spanish director, also known for 2008’s “Elegy” and 2005’s “The Secret Life of Words,” may just get her Cannes chance again with her latest film “Panda Eyes.” The thriller, which Coixet has said was inspired by “The Ring” and is based on Cathy MacPhail’s novel “Another Me,” stars Sophie Turner, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Claire Forlani, Rhys Ifans, and Geraldine Chaplin. [Erin Whitney]

“The Past”
Director: Asghar Farhadi
While Iranian director
Farhadi has been making critically acclaimed movies for a few years, the
mesmerizing family drama “A Separation” was the first to bring him
global success that culminated with his Academy Award win last year. The
newfound attention afforded the director the opportunity for a much
bigger production than he had undertaken before along with the
opportunity to work outside Iran’s borders. “The Past” revolves around
the relationship between an Iranian girl and a North African boy in
Paris, where the film was shot. The cast is a promising bunch, as it
includes both “The Artist” star Bérénice Bejo (who replaced Marion
Cotillard) and Tahar Rahim, who memorably played a reformed criminal in
“A Prophet.” We’ve seen a million romances in Paris before, but
Farhadi’s complex look at the ambiguities of communication suggest this
one may stand out from the countless clichés. [Eric Kohn] 

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve makes his English-language debut in “Prisoners,” a crime thriller about a Boston man (Hugh Jackman) who kidnaps the person he suspects is behind the disappearance of his young daughter and her best friend; Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Maria Bello and Viola Davis round out the impressive cast. Whether it hits Cannes or not (though a festival berth in the fall season is assured if it doesn’t), it will be very interesting to see how Villeneuve transitions from his Oscar-nominated French-language “Incendies” to this star-studded Boston thriller. [Peter Knegt]

Director: Quentin Dupieux
Quentin Dupieux, the man behind absurdist thriller “Rubber,” about a killer tire, and bizarre comedy “Wrong,” about a man searching for his missing dog, may serve up just the right about of weirdness for Cannes with his latest “Réalité.” The film, which he supposedly shot in secret, stars Alain Chabat as a horror director who must find the perfect scream in 48 hours to get his film produced in time. The cast also includes Élodie Bouchez, Jonathan Lambert, and oddly enough, Jon Heder. The plot may sound a bit milder than Dupieux is known for, but remember to expect the unexpected. [Erin Whitney]


After watching the on screen chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, we are ready to see the pair bring another story to life.  A departure from the comedic “Silver Linings,” “Serena” will have the pair once again in romance but not without betrayal.  Set in 1920’s North Carolina, its a story of ambition that follows the couples journey to success in the timber business.  With director Susanne Bier (who could help make this a very female director-friendly Cannes, which would be nice after last year barely had any) at the helm, we are sure this will be a must see. [Cristina Alejandra Gonzalez]  

Director: Bong Joon-ho
With a late summer release via The Weinstein Company rumored to be in the cards, a Cannes premiere seems all but assured for “Snowpiercer,” “The Host” director Bong Joon-Ho’s first foray into English language filmmaking. Set in a grimy future and adapted from the French graphic novel “Le Transperceneige,” “Snowpiercer” boasts an all-star cast that includes Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Octavia Spencer to tell a story about a group of post-apocalyptic survivors struggling to stay alive as a revolt brews. [Nigel M. Smith]

“Twelve Years a Slave”
Director: Steve McQueen
British director Steve McQueen first gained serious
critical acclaim in 2007 for his tense prison drama “Hunger,” which he
followed up with the 2011 drama “Shame,” an unnerving portrait of sex
addiction. Here, he adapts Solomon Northup’s remarkable account of being
kidnapped and sold into slavery for a dozen years in the middle of the
19th century. The material is inherently suspenseful and harrowing,
since Northup provides a detailed account of slavery’s brutal nature in
the Deep South. But it’s Fassbender’s penchant for creating disquieting
atmosphere that’s well positioned to make this spectacular survival tale
come to life and possibly provide one of the more accurate recreations
of slavery life in America. (Take that, “Django Unchained.”) It also
could provide a bigger showcase for Ejiofor, a great underrated
character actor. [Eric Kohn]

“Under The Skin
Director: Jonathan Glazer
“Sexy Beast” director Jonathan Glazer has kept up waiting for far too long since his last film “Birth” in 2003, yet “Under Your Skin” seems like it will satiate with its bizarre story. Based on Michel Faber’s 2000 novel of the same name the film follows Scarlett Johansson as an alien sent to Earth to pick up careless hitchhikers to feed her alien population back home. Not much else is known of the film, but creepy alien abductions in Scotland and Glazer’s long absence from screens make it a hopeful contender for Cannes. [Erin Whitney]

“Venus in Fur
Director: Roman Polanski
Though we know Roman Polanski isn’t crossing the pond to catch shows on Broadway, his last two films have come from the Great White Way.  Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage,” the source of Polanski’s last film “Carnage” (2011) was, of course, a French play before it debuted on Broadway in 2009.  This time, Polanski has adapted “Venus in Fur,” the two-person play from playwright David Ives, which debuted on Broadway in 2011.  The film, shot in French, focuses on a man who is directing an adaptation of “Venus in Furs,” written by Austrian writer Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch (from whose name the term “masochism” comes).  After seeing a series of lackluster actresses audition for the lead role, the director finds the perfect woman.  Once she auditions, though, she’s in control.  The film will star Mathieu Amalric and Polanski’s wife Emmanuelle Seigner [Bryce J. Renninger]

“The Young and Prodigious Spivet
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
It’s been awhile since we’ve been invited into the vivid, eccentric mind of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, loved for films such as “Amelie,” “A Very Long Engagement,” and “Delicatessen.” The latest from the French director, “The Young and Prodigious Spivet,” appears to have just the right amount of quirky oddity, following a 12-year-old Montana mapmaker who hitchhikes by freight train to accept an award in Washington D.C. Based on Reif Larson’s book “The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet,” the 3D film stars newcomer Kyle Catlett, Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, and Robert Maillet. While it may not be completed in time to make our Cannes wish come true, we can bet that Jeunet’s vision in 3D is something not to be missed. [Erin Whitney]

The Zero Theorem
Director: Terry Gilliam
Well, the cast is chock full of interesting actors (Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, Matt Damon and Melanie Laurent, among others), and Gilliam is a
master of the cinematic bizarre, so this story of a computer hacker
trying to discover the reason for human existence while dealing with the
constant obstacles thrown in his way should at least engage the mind.
But really, the nature of “Zero Theorem,” from first-time screenwriter
and university professor Pat Rushin, remains a total mystery. Gilliam
may have a spotty record with audiences, but curiosity about that
mystery and how it unfolds is its biggest selling point. It finished shooting in December.

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