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CANNES - Harvey Weinstein took center stage Friday evening as The Weinstein Company held what has become a semi-annual preview of the rest of their yearly slate for select members of the domestic and international press corps at Cannes. In the past Weinstein has used this event to tease expected players such as "Nine" and "My Week with Marilyn." Last year, however, the event created a tremendous amount of buzz after a surprise 10-minute-plus first look at "Django Unchained" as well as sneaks of Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook."
This time around, "Grace of Monaco," featuring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly, "August: Osage County," starring Meryl Streep and an all-star cast and "Mandela: A Long Road to Freedom," starring Idris Elba as the legendary South African civil rights leader, were the more anticipated sneaks. And yet it was "Only God Forgives" star Kristin Scott Thomas who unexpectedly stole the show. More on that later. First let's get to the awards season players.
"Grace of Monaco"
"Grace of Monaco" was Harvey's personal highlight, because Kidman was in the room and he joked that she had to go first because she had a meeting to get to as a member of the Cannes grand jury where "she'll decide which movie of mine will win the Palm d'Or." He added, "I've certainly given Steven [Spielberg] enough money over the years." (Cue laughs.)
"We've made so many movies together," Kidman said, standing alongside Weinstein. "It's almost two decades of working with Harvey and I haven't been able to do it for awhile so I'm so glad that he decided that 'Grace' was for him. Obviously, it's fantastic to be back here. I spent a good portion of last year in this area making this film and subsequently got to know Grace very, very well. Researched her, fell in love with her and I got to work with a French crew and [director] Olivier Dahan, who I adore, and you'll get to see the movie at some stage, but not today."
The actual footage from "Grace" finds the newly crowned princess and former Hollywood leading lady arguing with her husband Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth) about everything from modernizing Monaco to her dream of acting again in Alfred Hitchcock's next big picture. The montage used a motif of Kelly practicing her acting skills with cards asking her to display different emotions including anger, surprise, etc. By the end of the piece, a card titled "resentful" appears and Kelly takes her hand and passes it over her face with no change in emotion or demeanor. That implies the central conflict in the picture is Kelly's worry that she made the wrong choice marrying the Prince (a controversial view that will no doubt be disputed by the Monaco Royal Family).
Kidman certainly looks the part and this far out will be considered a Best Actress contender until "Grace" is officially seen. However, this sneak didn't convince anyone in the room that "Grace" is anything more than a Kidman showcase (not yet, at least). Although, it certainly does look pretty. Is it a hit? That remains to be seen.