Cannes 2014: Movies in Competition

Sils Maria

The official in competition line-up for the 2014 Palm D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival has been announced. I know little (if anything) about most of them, but you know how I love to make predictions about this kind of thing, so here are some comments and thoughts about the selected movies.The president of this year’s Grand Jury is great filmmaker Jane Campion, so that’s exciting too.

Clouds of Sils Maria (pictured above)
Directed by: Olivier Assayas
From what I can tell, this movie stars Juliette Binoche as an aging actress who is offered the part of the mother in a remake of the movie that made her famous when she was a young star. The movie also stars Kristen Stewart as Binoche’s assistant and Chloë Moretz as the new young actress playing Binoche’s old role. Now, those last two are not usually synonyms of great acting (especially Moretz, whom I can’t stand), but here’s hoping Binoche -one of the best actresses of her generation- and director Olivier Assayas can inspire them. After all, Assayas might very well be the best french filmmaker around, considering how his last three films Summer Hours, Carlos and Something in the Air (reviewed by me) are all fantastic.

Saint Laurent
Directed by: Bertrand Bonello
I have never seen a movie by Bonello, and biopics tend to be a rather boring genre. That being said, even if my hopes are not that big, I will see virtually anything that stars the beautiful Lea Seydoux, who is here playing Loulou de Falaise. Gaspard Ulliel also stars as the legendary fashion designer.

Winter Sleep
Directed by: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
I guess this will be the final push for me to finally watch Ceylan’s 2011 Once Upon a Time in Anatoliawhich I’ve heard nothing but great things about. So, the Turkish director returns to Cannes with Winter Sleep, which by most counts is largely perceived to be the front-runner for the Palm D’Or. I guess we’ll have to wait for that, but sight unseen, it seems like a very good bet.

Maps to the Stars (trailer)
Directed by: David Cronenberg
I loved A History of Violencereally liked Eastern Promisesliked A Dangerous Methodand didn’t care for Cosmopolis… does that mean that I will hate Maps to the Stars? I surely hope not, because I’m in the mood for loving a Cronenberg movie again, and despite the presence of the usually insipid Robert Pattinson, there’s also Olivia Williams, Mia Wasikowska, and Carrie Fisher playing herself. Anyway, all of that wouldn’t matter, because they had me the second I knew this was a Cronenberg film starring Julianne Moore.

Two Days, One Night (trailer)
Directed by: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
The Dardennes are as close to Cannes royalty as you’re going to get, and star Marion Cotillard is quickly becoming a Festival staple, having had films there for four years in a row now. This time she plays a woman who has 48 hours to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so she can keep her job. Even if the film is a masterpiece, I don’t know if the Jury will be willing to give the brothers a third Palm D’Or. Cotillard could finally win the Best Actress award, though.

Mommy
Directed by: Xavier Dolan
This young Canadian filmmaker is so prolific it feels like a Film Festival can’t take place without him premiering a movie there. The details for this one have been kept very vague, but I’m interested, if only, because I really liked his last film, the transexual drama Laurence Anyways

The Captive (trailer)
Directed by: Atom Egoyan
Time to admit something that may or may not tarnish my reputation as a cinephile. I love The Sweet Hereafterand yet, I have never felt the need to watch any other Atom Egoyan movie. I know, I know. Anyways, this one has a similarly chilly setting as Ryan Reynolds look for his kidnapped daughter. Also, lots of Canadians in this year’s competition.

Goodbye to Language (trailer)
Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard
Sometimes I forget Godard is still alive and making movies. Maybe because his latest films have been very uninteresting to me. He has always been a filmmaker whose movies I’ve admired more than I’ve loved, although I must admit I haven’t seen that much of his filmography. This latest movie of his is in 3D, so that might be fun.

The Search
Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius
Stop all the presses, because I actually really liked The ArtistI know, sue me, but I thought it was one of the best, most entertaining and well crafted times at the movies in 2011. That being said, a remake of the Fred Zinnemann/Montgomery Clift 1948 film that exchanges post-war Berlin for Chechnya seems like the type of overtly sentimental drama that makes me think Hazanavicius might have become a little too full of himself after winning that Oscar. That the movie is almost two and a half hours long isn’t a good sign either, but hey, I’ll remain optimistic since Berenice Bejo is a good actress, and Annette Bening is also in this in a supporting role.

The Homesman (trailer)
Directed by: Tommy Lee Jones
So many mixed feelings here. I mean, Tommy Lee Jones is a cool dude, and I like westerns. I especially like his first movie, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which was also a western (albeit a modern one). If I’m being honest, the only thing keeping me from being too enthusiastic about this movie is Hilary Swank, who… the better said about her the better.

Still the Water
Directed by: Naomi Kawase
I have never seen a Naomi Kawase movie, but here’s something interesting(ish) about me: if you tell me that something is Japanese, said thing becomes immediately cool in my mind. This applies to all things except, curiously, animated television series. Perhaps because I’ve actually seen enough of those to know better.

Mr. Turner
Directed by: Mike Leigh
Is Mike Leigh the best living film director? Catch me on the right day, and I’ll say “yes”. This passion project about the life of romantic painter J.M.W. Turner stars longtime collaborator Timothy Spall and might very well be my most anticipated movie of the year.

Jimmy’s Hall (trailer)
Directed by: Ken Loach
Theories on why I’ve always felt inexplicably exhausted just by the thought of watching a Ken Loach film are accepted in the comments, if you have any.

Foxcatcher (trailer)
Directed by: Bennett Miller
This is the story of John DuPont (Steve Carell) a schizophrenic man that killed Olympic Wrestler Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo). Channing Tatum also stars as Dave’s brother Mark. This movie was supposed to be released last year. Movies being pushed back aren’t usually a sign of confidence, but a premiere at Cannes speaks well for Foxcatcher. I am personally really excited for this movie, considering the awesome story, the awesome cast, the intriguing promise of Carell playing a very dramatic role, and director Bennett Miller’s track record (Capote, Moneyball).

Le Meraviglie
Directed by: Alice Rohrwacher
I don’t know anything about this movie besides the fact that it is Italian and stars Monica Bellucci.

Timbuktu
Directed by: Abderrahmane Sissako
Sissako is the only African director in competition. African cinema is a gigantic blind spot for me, so I guess I should be working on that in the future.

Wild Tales
Directed by: Damian Szifron
Because this is an Argentinian film, it stars Ricardo Darín, who is apparently the only actor good enough to be the lead in an Argentinian movie.

Leviathan
Directed by: Andrey Zvyaginstev
IMDB says this about the movie’s plot: “A present day social drama spanning multiple characters about the human insecurity in a “new country” which gradually unwinds to a mythological scale concerning the human condition on earth entirely.” Now, call me a prejudiced person if you want, but that sounds like a movie a Russian director would make.

That’s the list, folks. Want me to do some predictions? Well, for the Palm D’Or I think your best bet is Winter Sleep. Leviathan and Sils Maria also sound like they could play a role. For actor, I’m thinking Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner) and for actress, Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night). As for what is going to be the big disappointment of the festival (and you know there will be at least one), right now I would say The Search… or maybe Maps to the Stars? This is all sight unseen, of course, and highly stupid, but there you go. You can go ahead and bet the farm.

*don’t go ahead and bet the farm*

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