Every May, hundreds of film professionals head to the South of France to experience what may be the classiest film festival in the world. Some of the greatest auteurs currently active are tapped to create a lineup of films with a few surprises nestled between the expected ones. The films compete for the Palme D’Or, the most prestigious prize in all of filmmaking. After the jump, you’ll see who is competing this year, as well as the few we here at the Filmsmith expect to win.
Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn
Drive, easily one of my personally most anticipated films this year, is the newest film from the director of Valhalla Rising, Bronson, and the Pusher trilogy. It follows a character played by Ryan Gosling who moonlights as a getaway driver, and his boss’s girlfriend, played by Carey Mulligan. After a botched job, he is stuck with her, and knows little about the fate of his partners, only that he has been instructed to drive until he is contacted.
Footnote, Israel, Joseph Cedar
Hanezu no Tsuki, Japan, Naomi Kawase
Hara-kiri: Death of a Samurai, Japan, Takashi Miike
The Kid With a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
The Dardenne brothers have created an entirely new type of French cinema in the last two decades, with their documentary inspired depictions of the troubles of the lower classes. They have won the coveted Palme twice and have attended more times than I can remember. Their newest follows an 11-year old who befriends a woman after he is abandoned by his father.
Melancholia, Lars von Trier
Von Trier shocked the world last year with his divisive Antichrist (which I actually really dug, for whatever reason), and he returns to the South of France with a film potentially even darker. This one will revolve around the disintegrating relationship between two sisters as they wait for the planet to be destroyed. Kirsten Dunst will play the titularly melancholic one, while Charlotte Gainsbourg is back for the sister driven crazy by the impending doom. Von Trier has also stated that all of his films have had a happy ending thus far, but this one will not.
The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodovar
It seems that Pedro Almodovar is incredibly underseen in America. His film last year, Broken Embraces was practically swept under the rug, and I have yet to see it as a result. But his newest revolves around Antonio Banderas and his attempt to save his wife by creating a new skin for her (I suppose she suffers from some kind of skin cancer). Expect issues of identity to arise, as she will undoubtedly begin to act like this new person, with her new skin.
The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick
I don’t think I’ve been at all shy when gushing about Terrence Malick’s new film. When it comes to Cannes, I plan to see it twice on opening day, and this is easily my bias pick for the top prize. It will feature special effects from Douglas Trumbull (Blade Runner, 2001, Close Encounters, Star Trek: The Motion Picture) and is the result of 35 years of revision by its director, who has yet to make a film I don’t think is a masterpiece. But this is ultimately going to be his most personal yet, and has been talked about by those who have seen it as if it has the power to change the very nature of cinema. Expect something transcendent.
We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lynne Ramsay
This is, without a doubt, the sleeper hit of the festival. Ramsay has done two films thus far, her beguiling Morvern Callar and her debut masterpiece Ratcatcher. The latter is one of my favorite films of the nineties, and I have been eagerly awaiting her newest for quite some time. It is about the titular kid who is involved in some way in a school shooting. His parents who apparently hold the titular discussion are played by John C. Reilly and Tilda Swinton.
Some other films in competition include We Have a Pope (Nanni Moretti), This Must Be the Place (Paolo Sorrentino), La Source des femmes (Radu Mihaileanu), Sleeping Beauty (Julia Leigh), Polisse (Maiwenn), Pater (Alain Cavalier), Michael (Markus Schleinzer), L’apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close) (Bertrand Bonello), and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan).
As far as my picks go, I would say that Malick actually does have it in the bag. I imagine Brad Pitt will also pick up the best actor award, while the best actress will probably go to, strangely enough, Kirsten Dunst. I would also guess that We Need to Talk About Kevin will snag the Grand Jury Prize. But whichever way it goes, this year will be quite the bout, a veritable clash of the auteur titans. Whoever comes out on top will certainly deserve it.