Now that we saw the first wave of titles that will be playing In Competition at the Cannes Film Festival this year (there will be more movies added, but it’s unlikely that any of the high profile omissions will be added…though you never can be sure with Cannes), it’s fair for an Oscar Prognosticator like myself to start wondering what kind of impact the fest could have on the awards season. Historically, most Best Picture winners don’t get their start there (though of course ‘No Country for Old Men’ did), though nominees in that category are certainly more common…just look to last year when both ‘Midnight in Paris’ and ‘The Tree of Life’ launched at Cannes. As for this year, without having any indication of quality it’s hard to tell, but I’m inclined to think that we may not see any of the titles break through to Oscar in any real way. That’s not to say that they won’t be top notch flicks, but my immediate reaction to the announcement was that they didn’t wind up with any of the potential titles that could be real awards season players. I definitely could be wrong, but that’s what popped into my head first. Still, there’s a chance for a few of the movies to excel enough to warrant strong consideration, and I’ll tackle them in this article below, but first let’s talk about some of the movies that won’t be debuting at Cannes…
Among the higher profile films that we’ll have to wait until Venice/Toronto/an actual release to get a look at are Terrence Malick’s ‘The Burial’ (or whatever it’ll end up being called), Derek Cianfrance’s follow-up to ‘Blue Valentine’ (also starring Ryan Gosling) ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’, James Gray’s ‘Low Life’, Chan-Wook Park’s ‘Stoker’, and of course Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master’…not to mention wishful thinking titles like Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ and Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. Almost any of these movies would be bigger Oscar contenders than what’s currently slated to play, but that’s mainly because they’re by and large the more anticipated flicks, so there’s been more coverage of them (if you look at enough early predictions, almost all of these movies show up on multiple lists). That could potentially be good for the actual Cannes selections, since they’re going to have an easier time impressing people, but it’s a double edged sword because they won’t have as much hype in place. Honestly, I never expected all of these titles (or even most) to wind up screening, but I was hoping for either ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ or ‘The Master’…two of the bigger potential players of the upcoming awards season. Alas, we’ll have to settle with what we currently have, and as you’ll see next, it’s hardly a group to complain about, even if they’re less likely to be awards juggernauts.
Going by the current lineup (more titles could and likely will be added though, so keep that in mind), the biggest potential Oscar contenders of the bunch are ‘Lawless’ (formerly called ‘The Wettest County’), ‘Mud’, ‘On the Road’, a potential dark horse in ‘The Paperboy’, and ‘Rust and Bone’. This is not to say that David Cronenberg’s ‘Cosmopolis’, Andrew Dominik’s ‘Killing Them Softly’ (for a longer take on this hopeful, see my Awards Profile here), or Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ can’t make a play, but they’ve got an even rougher road ahead of them. The likelier titles will have a hard enough time as it is. Entering with a decent amount of buzz (though very little of it going off of the actual potential quality of the film) is ‘Lawless’ from John Hillcoat. It has an interesting cast, a director on the rise, and the backing of Harvey Weinstein (who’s already seemingly very into its chances). Throw in the period setting and there are things for the Academy to like here, though I have a suspicion that any nominations/wins for this movie will come in the acting categories. That’s just my early guess though. We’ll be talking more about this flick very soon though. As for Jeff Nichols, he certainly impressed a lot of people last year with ‘Take Shelter’, so ‘Mud’ is definitely a contender but might not have as strong a lead performance to vault off of, unless Matthew McConaughey takes us by surprise. It also is potentially a 2013 release, though I think it’ll ultimately wind up coming out this year. This one could easily be a bigger player than I’m anticipating, but I’m still skeptical (it likely doesn’t help that I wasn’t as big a fan of ‘Take Shelter’ as most) right now. Jacques Audiard has a somewhat high profile now due to the success of ‘A Prophet’ a few years back, and returns to contention with ‘Rust and Bone’, though aside from potentially being a vehicle for another Marion Cotillard campaign, I think it’s not going to go very far besides making a play for a Best Foreign Language Feature nod. I liked Audiard’s last film quite a bit, and hope I’m wrong though. As for ‘The Paperboy’, I didn’t care one bit for the film that Lee Daniels made…the incredibly overrated ‘Precious’ (I somehow saw fit to give the film 3 stars in my initial review, though subsequent viewings would knock at least a full star off of that original take on the flick), but I’m certainly intrigued by this one. Any movie that could possibly put John Cusack in play for awards attention has my eye, and this thriller might be the most mainstream film in competition. I don’t know that it’ll translate into Oscar love, but I’ll certainly be interested in finding out. Finally, after more than one Cannes announcement where it’s exclusion was considered a bit of a surprise, we finally have Walter Salles bringing us ‘On the Road’. As I wrote in my Awards Profile on the flick (found here), this is a high risk/high reward project, and it’s either going to succeed masterfully and be a real big contender, or it’s going to crash and burn spectacularly. I’m hoping for the former, but I’m smart enough to prepare for the latter as well. The truth will likely lie somewhere in the middle, but of all the movies at the festival, this one might have the best shot at becoming a Best Picture nominee when all is said and done, though winning the big one is all but impossible for it.
If you’re looking for an early ranking of the Cannes contenders for Oscar love, it’s an inexact science to say the least, but I see the likeliest films in order to be ‘On the Road’, ‘Lawless’, ‘The Paperboy’, ‘Mud’, ‘Rust and Bone’, and a surprise perhaps coming from the likes of either ‘Killing Them Softly’ or ‘Moonrise Kingdom’. A lot is going to change once the fest gets underway, but for now…that’s how I see them in terms of their slim chances at Academy Award wins.
Well, this analysis likely didn’t tell you anything that you already didn’t know (I’m hardly the only one expressing doubt that any real Oscar wins will come from this lineup), but I’m certainly not done writing about Cannes yet. Look for more coverage before, during, and after the festival, but for now, let’s see what you all have to say on the likeliness of these films gunning for Oscars. Do you think I’m on to something, or am I way off base here? Have at it!
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