The Cannes Film Festival ( May 15-26) has become the unofficial start to awards season. This is the place where movie studios, critics and bloggers get their first look at this years Fall movies. Cannes also starts the all important word of mouth. Good movies will get standing ovations and they will immediately be called Best Picture contenders. Others will have people walking out and the occasional boo. The Cannes crowd doesn’t mess around. They will make or break a film. A jury led this year by Steven Spielberg will chose the Palme d’or award (Golden Palm) or best picture in the festival. Last years winner AMOUR went on to get a Best Picture nomination as well as nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Original Screenplay and took home the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
– Originally conceived in 1939 as an alternative to the Fascist-influenced Venice film festival, Cannes has been held annually since 1946, apart from 1948 and 1950 when lack of funds led to its cancellation.
– In 1949, the stars arrived: Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Norma Shearer, Errol Flynn and Edward G. Robinson all appeared that year. Brigitte Bardot made her first appearance in 1953.
– A year later, starlet Simone Silva dropped her bikini top beside Robert Mitchum in front of the photographers, resulting in the kind of racy coverage that secured the festival’s reputation.
– In 1968, film director Louis Malle, who was on that year’s jury with Polanski among others, was one of a group of film-makers who forced the festival to close in the midst of the student and worker uprisings across France. After an all-night debate marked by raging tempers and occasional fistfights, the organizers called it off.
– Jane Campion became the first female director to win the Palme d’Or in 1993 for her film “The Piano”.
The festival opens with THE GREAT GATSBY. An unusual choice considering it opened in the US last week. Maybe this was the only way to get Leonardo Dicaprio to attend? Gatsby is not in the official Cannes competition. It has received mixed reviews in the US. I don’t see it getting much Oscar attention.
The 19 films that will compete are:
A Chateau in Italy by Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi
Inside Llewyn Davis by Ethan and Joel Coen
Michael Kohlhaas by Arnaud Despallieres
Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian) by Arnaud Desplechin
Heli by Amat Escalante
The Past by Asghar Farhadi
The Immigrant by James Gray
Grigris by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
A Touch of Sin by Jia Zhangke
Like Father, Like Son by Kore-Eda Hirokazu
The Life of Adele by Abdellatif Kechiche
Shield of Straw by Takashi Miike
Young and Pretty by Francois Ozon
Nebraska by Alexander Payne
Venus in Fur by Roman Polanski
Behind the Candelabra by Steven Soderbergh
The Great Beauty by Paolo Sorrentino
Borgman by Alex van Warmerdam
Only God Forgives by Nicolas Winding Refn
This years jury:
Steven Spielberg (American Director)
Vidya Balan (Indian actress)
Naomi Kawase (Japanese director)
Nicole Kidman (Australian actress/producer)
Lynne Ramsay (British scriptwriter/director/producer)
Daniel Auteuil (French actor/director)
Ang Lee (Taiwanese director/producer/scriptwriter)
Cristian Mungiu (Romanian scriptwriter/director/producer)
Christoph Waltz (Austrian Actor)
Check back often to see how these movies received throughout the festival.