Ever since the Cannes International Film Festival knocked down a few walls between itself and the West in 2001 with festival director Thierry Frémaux coming on board to liven up the Croisette with more of a Hollywood acceptance, the connection between the annual May event and the awards season has become more pronounced.
For me, there are two immediately interesting takeaways from the news that Steve Spielberg will be developing the religious drama "The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara." The first is that it would mark his third collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner after "Munich" and "Lincoln." The other is that the project would be a co-production between DreamWorks and The Weinstein Company.
The Academy has filled out its calendar for the 2014-2015 Oscar season, which is set to kick off even earlier than last year as the Governors Awards date has been yanked up a week to Saturday, Nov. 8. The nominations will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 15, while the Oscars, of course, are set for Sunday, Feb. 22.
There was slight disappointment for those awaiting "Animal Kingdom" director David Michôd's buzzy post-apocalyptic revenge thriller "The Rover" this morning -- it didn't nab a slot in the Cannes Competition. Nevertheless, it will premiere at the festival in the Midnight Screenings section, and if this stark, moody and decidedly unsettling first trailer is anything to go by, that might be the right place for it.
The last four or five editions of the Cannes Film Festival have been heavy on global movie star power. Sure, it won't always compete with Hollywood fueled Toronto, but the programmers have made sure the paparazzi have had someone pretty to photograph on the festival's legendary red carpet. 2014 is no different.
Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux sent out mixed messages in his -- very long, as usual -- preamble to announcing this year's Cannes Film Festival lineup. First he mentioned a focus on newer, fresher filmmakers, but mentioned elsewhere that "Cannes is an event for the regulars." Predictably enough, the latter statement turned out to be closer to the truth: of the 18 films competing for this year's Palme d'Or, 13 have been to the dance before. (And of the Competition virgins, Bennett Miller and Xavier Dolan are hardly unknowns.)
When a film widely seen as a dead cert to make the Cannes lineup doesn't ultimately appear, there can be any number of routine explanations, from shooting and editing overruns to inter-festival politics to the aesthetic whims of the selection panel – but it's unusual for a filmmaker to withdraw his own work for “personal reasons.” That's what's happened, however, with German-Turkish auteur Fatih Akin, whose first narrative feature in five years, “The Cut,” was on most Competition prediction lists.
Back in 2010, the Cannes Film Festival picked Juliette Binoche to grace its official festival poster -- only for the choice to stir some cynical grumblings when the French star went on to win Best Actress from Tim Burton's jury. The strength of her performance in "Certified Copy" was enough for most to file the occurrence as a happy coincidence rather than anything more calculated -- still, the festival has played it safe ever since, opting for vintage movie-star images that couldn't conceivably cause any disagreement.
One of the most pleasant surprises of this year's Sundance Film Festival, for me, was Gillian Robespierre's warmly authentic debut feature "Obvious Child" -- a film that gives former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Jenny Slate her first film lead, and lets her run with it to utterly disarming effect. As a romantic comedy that touches on more complicated human issues than the average example of the genre, it was a perfect acquisition for A24 Films, the young distribution company that is building a neat line in coolly offbeat indies, many of them female-driven.