by Zhuo-Ning Su
The full lineup of the 70th Cannes Film Festival will be revealed on April 13. For cineasts the world over the Cannes presser is always an exciting occasion where, in one go, the names of legendary filmmakers roll off the tongue of Thierry Frémaux and the countdown to art house cinema’s most exclusive play date begins. This being the big seven-o, the thought of how they’d bring out all the big guns proves downright mouthwatering.
And so, while it’s literally impossible to predict the Cannes lineup with any kind of authority, let’s indulge the part of ourselves that can’t wait til Christmas morning and guesstimate a little what gifts we might find come next Thursday.
Starting with the obvious: it’s true there are no clues as to which films would score with the Cannes selection committee, but they are notoriously elitest and tend to welcome back established masters over and over. In that sense, it would be a huge shock if Austrian storyteller extraordinaire and back-to-back Palme d’Or winner Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon, Amour) isn’t competing again with his refugee crisis-themed Happy End, starring Isabelle Huppert. Also highly likely to get the invite are American auteurs Todd Haynes and Sofia Coppola for his fantastical decades-spanning drama Wonderstruck with Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams, and her luscious looking period thriller The Beguiled, both of which recently wowed CinemaCon visitors with new footage.
Other Cannes alumni expected to return to the Croisette include Greek provocateur Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster), whose latest, hopefully no less weird The Killing of a Sacred Deer reunites him with Colin Farrell; Turkish maestro Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Winter Sleep) with the undoutedly majestic/austere Wild Pear Tree, Korean festival darling Hong Sang-soo with another Isabelle Huppert vehicle Claire’s Camera; Woody Allen with his annual Cannes-bait Wonder Wheel, this time led by Kate Winslet; and a trio of homegrown talents Arnaud Desplechin, whose Ishmael’s Ghosts stars Cannes mainstay Marion Cotillard and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Palme d’Or winner Abdellatif Kechiche, who’s following up Blue Is the Warmest Color with another romantic drama Mektoub Is Mektoub, and Oscar winner Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) with Redoubtable, a biopic about Jean-Luc Godard of all people.
Cannes hasn’t been particularly kind towards genre movies, usually offering those who even made the cut a less prestigious out-of-competition slot. But Scottish filmmaker Lynn Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) can very well break through with the crime drama You Were Never Really Here starring Joaquin Phoenix. Things also look promising for the Netflix-produced monster fantasy Okja from Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer) featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton. Norwegian director Joachim Trier could reprise his competition appearance (Louder Than Bombs) with the Oslo-set supernatural thriller Thelma. And John Cameron Mitchell (Shortbus), no stranger to Cannes himself, would seem to have one of those midnight screening spots secured with his suburban alien comedy How to Talk to Girls at Parties. (After The Beguiled and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, could we be looking at a Nicole Kidman triple bill this year?)
We also have a good feeling about Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund’s quirky-sounding English-language debut The Square, follow-up to his Golden Globe-nominated dramedy Force Majeure, which made quite a splash in the Un Certain Regard sidebar back in 2014. Other aspiring auteurs looking to graduate from sidebar sections into the playing field include British writer/director Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant) with the Ruth Wilson starrer Dark River and French/Turkish Oscar nominee Deniz Gamze Erguven (Mustang) with Kings, set against the background of the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles.
Also in the mix
As for candidates to fill those mainstream-leaning out-of-competition slots mentioned earlier? David Michôd’s Afghanistan-set parody War Machine with Brad Pitt in the lead role seems like a good bet. French visual stylist Luc Besson might premiere his ci-fi extravaganza Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets on home turf. Richard Linklater’s Bryan Cranston/Steve Carell-starring comedic drama Last Flag Flying would appear to fit the bill as well. And then there’s Steven Soderbergh, who might come out of his not-retirement to present the ensemble heist comedy Logan Lucky.
Less starry but definitely carrying the potential to surprise are The Florida Project by Tangerine breakout director Sean Baker, Lean on Pete from British helmer Andrew Haigh (45 Years), In the Fade by German/Turkish auteur Fatih Akin, two high-profile Latin American productions Zama (dir. Lucrecia Martel) and The Summit (dir. Santiago Mitre), and new work from a couple of Japanese Cannes regulars Radiance (dir. Naomi Kawase) and The Third Murder (dir. Hirokazu Koreeda). Russian maestro Andrey Zvyagintsev could return to Cannes with Loveless while veteran Hong Kong filmmaker Ann Hui probably has the best shot representing Chinese-language cinema with Our Time Will Come.
Too good to be true?
Look, we understand nothing gets in the way of successful predictions like wishful thinking, so we’re not going to throw names like Blade Runner 2049, Mother!, The Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Detroit Riots Project, The Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project around. But what about Nolan’s Dunkirk? Payne’s Downsizing? Del Toro’s The Shape of Water? Clooney’s Suburbicon? Or, heck, Lynch’s Twin Peaks?
Whether any of our prayers get answered, with just over a week to go, the secret will be out soon enough.
p.s. This could mean nothing, but it’s rather unusual that they still haven’t announced the opening film yet. Behind the scenes there’s probably a lot of arguing who gets the honor of opening Cannes 70 right now. Should they go big or go symbolic? Go political or go artistic? Go international or go local? Such is the luxury problem when you run the premium film festival of the world…