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Our 30 Most-Anticipated Films at 2014 Cannes Film Festival

Written by on May 13, 2014 

10. Mommy (Xavier Dolan)

Finally amongst the competition for the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, after a number of features in sidebars here in years past, Mommy marks a step-up for Canada’s Xavier Dolan, at least on the service. While not a great deal of plot details are known, it is said to tell a darker story of a mother-son relationship, featuring a custody battle and a child with a difficult past. With previous collaborators Anne DorvalSuzanne Clément and Antoine-Olivier Pilon all returning, hopefully this marks another excellent feature for Dolan after Laurence Anyways, and a reminder that Tom at the Farm still needs U.S. distribution. – Jordan R.

9. Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard)

The greatest living filmmaker (if to already get the hyperbolic ball rolling) returns with a 3D feature, of all things, though that doesn’t mean you should expect Mr. Godard to suddenly go commercial. If anything, this could potentially be the peak of his post-film experimentation, which have included both video and digital, all in his constant pursuit of… well, that can sometimes be hard to exactly articulate. But you should look forward to trying, anyway. – Ethan V.

8. Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)

After a few starts and stops, including a scrapped premiere at the 2013 AFI Fest, the biographical drama from Bennett Miller (Moneyball) will finally see its debut. The event can’t come soon enough, as critics and audiences alike are anticipating a thrilling account of the 1997 murder of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) at the hands of his friend, millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell). While the film boasts a stellar cast, with Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, and Vanessa Redgrave in supporting roles, all eyes will be on funnyman Carell as he tackles the challenge of playing the older, mentally ill du Pont. – Amanda W.

7. Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)

Mike Leigh’s biographic work, including Topsy Turvy and Vera Drake, are as emotionally fresh as his intimate social realist portraits of contemporary family. His latest Mr. Turner, which will compete for the Palm d’Or, reunites Leigh and frequent collaborator Timothy Spall as J.M.W. Turner, best known as a “painter of light” in what will be Leigh’s first foray into digital filmmaking and what’s shaping up to be one of the most promising films in the line-up. – Jordan R.

6. Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako)

Many contemporary African filmmakers are coming from mixed backgrounds that make it hard to pin down a specific nationality, and no filmmaker has explored the contemporary issues between his Diasproa roots than Abderrahmane Sissako (born in Maruitanian, raised in Mali, schooled in Russia, now living in France). His fifth film follows a stoning of an unmarried couple in Northern Mali by a group of Islamists. After the poetic Waiting for Happiness and the politically charged Bamako, Sissako’s voice will hopefully continue to grow and create more interest in African cinema with this latest feature. – Peter L.

5. The Rover (David Michôd)

For (seemingly) diverging from the gangster territory of his narrative feature debut, Animal KingdomDavid Michôd gives the impression of a writer-director with little interest in sticking to the same formulas, no matter how successful they’ve proven. (Consider, however briefly, that his only other full-length project is a documentary about a missing kayaker.) Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce going head-to-head in a desolate, near-future Australian outback, leading to… well, that much remains to be seen. Based on what little is known, the film, which premieres in the Midnight selection at Cannes Film Festival, might pack more thrills than just about anything put in theaters during the sweltering season when it arrives next month. – Nick N. 

4. Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg)

When the trailers for David Cronenberg’s Hollywood drama Maps to the Stars dropped in April, the response was rapturous. And why wouldn’t it be? The two-minute preview was loaded with famous faces — Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis star Robert Pattinson as a limo driver, a compellingly disturbed Mia WasikowskaJulianne Moore as a Tinseltown diva, a more forceful John Cusack than we’ve seen in years — and contained eyeball-scorching imagery, as well as tantalizingly brief hints of story. The film’s official synopsis tells of a “loathsome yet funny and touching child-star,” and a “convoluted world of shallow, selfish celebrities and their minions,” which certainly sounds like the world of screenwriter Bruce Wagner. But this “haunting ghost story” also feels like an ideal playground for the great Cronenberg, a filmmaker better than almost anyone else at analyzing warped, infected minds. Maps is his fifth Cannes feature, following CrashSpiderA History of Violence, and Cosmopolis; he was president of the jury in 1999. While Crash earned a “special jury prize for “originality, daring, and audacity” (along with its share of boos), Cronenberg has never taken home major Cannes honors. It would be fitting to see his Hollywood psychodrama take top honors at a festival far away from the California sun. – Chris S.

3. Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)

Olivier Assayas’s last three slow-burn masterpieces — Summer HoursCarlos, and Something in the Air — felt like the work of a director at the top of his game. His newest creation, Clouds of Sils Maria, sounds just as ambitious as that trio, and, in a bit of a surprise, infinitely starrier. Juliette BinocheKristen Stewart, and Chloë Grace Moretz are the leads of a film whose poster rather winkingly ignores the oft-photographed faces of Binoche, Stewart, and Moretz for a gorgeous shot of mountaintops in the Alps peaking through, yes, the clouds. Assayas’s script is about a famous actress (Binoche), her assistant (Stewart), and the young star “with a penchant for scandal” (Moretz). Centered around rehearsals for a play, Moretz’s starlet is tackling the part played two decades before by Binoche’s character, a complex scenario that seems delightfully spark-inducing. It is always a treat to see Binoche onscreen, but it is the presence of Moretz, and, especially, Stewart that most intrigues. This project is quite different from their recent output, and certainly more character-driven. Clouds might offer Stewart and Moretz their meatiest parts to date. Somewhat surprisingly, Assayas is seeking his first-ever Cannes victory. – Chris S.

2. Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)

The pairing of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne with the inordinately talented Marion Cotillard feels like one of those Belichick-Brady matches made in heaven, minus the obnoxious factor. (Perhaps Bill Walsh-Joe Montana is a better fit?) Two Days, One Night is the result of this collaboration, and the timely tale — a woman must convince her work colleagues to forego their annual bonuses so she can keep her job — sounds ideally suited for the directors and their star. The Dardennes last visited Cannes with the underrated drama The Kid With a Bike, another moving effort that took home the festival’s Grand Prix. The brothers’ success on the Croisette is almost a given at this point; they are two-time winners of the Palme d’Or, and even a “lesser” film like Lorna’s Silence earned screenplay honors. Cotillard, arguably the most consistently fine actor in cinema, has never won the Best Actress award at Cannes and given the Dardennes’ reputation for bringing out the best in their leads — see Émilie Dequenne in RosettaJérémie Renier in The Promise and The Child, and Olivier Gourmet in The Son, among others — it is not unreasonable to imagine Two Days, One Night earning a spot on the actresss’ growing list of unforgettable roles. – Chris S.

1. Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

One of the sight-unseen frontrunners for the Palme d’Or, this new film from Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan arrives three years after his previous Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, and its gargantuan 196-minute runtime marks it as the longest film in Competition. In a venue like Cannes, however, a three-hour-plus length ought not to appear all that intimidating or even unusual, and the fact that Anatolia itself was a prolonged exercise—two-and-a-half hours of judiciously sustained patience and restraint—further signals Winter Sleep as a continuation of Ceylan’s interest in and general command of pacing. That plot details remain vague at this point is to be expected; more pertinent to the movie’s promise are the gorgeous images teased on the first batch of posters—including this one, which, save for the pockets of snow, looks straight out of the winding roads that defined Anatolia. – Danny K.

The 2014 Cannes Film Festival begins on May 14th. Follow our complete coverage on Twitter and here.

What’s your most-anticipated film amongst the line-up?

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