"Snowpiercer" (Dir. Bong Joon-ho)
Cast: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, Allison Pill, Ed Harris
Though his breakthrough "Memories of Murder" was turned down by the festival, Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho has a growing reputation at Cannes. Monster movie "The Host" got rave reviews at the Directors' Fortnight in 2006, and "Mother" repeated the feat in the Un Certain Regard sidebar three years later, while the director returned to head the Camera d'Or jury in 2011. His latest film, the train-set sci-fi "Snowpiercer," is his first (partially) in English with a starry cast including Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer and Tilda Swinton, and as such, feels like the perfect fit to be his first film in the main competition, especially as The Weinstein Company are said to be targeting a summer release for the film. Or it could be meaty entry to the festival's growing midnight lineup.
"Twelve Years a Slave" (dir. Steve McQueen)
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch
Having won the Camera d'Or for his feature debut "Hunger" back in 2008, Steve McQueen opted to go to Venice for his follow-up "Shame," but all the stars look to be aligning for his third film, "Twelve Years A Slave," to end up at Cannes. The film shot last summer and has been test screening recently, so it's likely to be close to completion. Star/producer Brad Pitt has had major films at the last two festivals with "The Tree of Life" and "Killing Them Softly," and has plenty of star power to bring with him in this picture. We suppose the major question here is whether the film is ready in time, but there's no reason to think it won't be.
Cast: Emma Watson, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Claire Pfister, Georgia Rock, Carlos Miranda, Leslie Mann
As Cannes proved with their selection of “The Great Gatsby” as their opening film, the one thing they love as much as great movies, are big name stars. And while Sofia Coppola’s frothy, teens-gone-bad flick doesn’t look like a Palme d’Or winner, the film about celebrity and celebrity obsession will likely resonate. Coppola was on the Croisette previously with “Marie Antoinette,” and while we doubt this is the kind of movie that will garner a competition slot, an out of competition screening in advance of a summer release date? Yeah, that makes sense to us, and would be a great way to get some buzz for the flick. Not to mention that the possibility of Paris Hilton waltzing down the red carpet is probably already making the paparazzi get a little dizzy.
“La Grande Bellezza” (dir. Paolo Sorrentino)
Cast: Toni Servillo, Sabrina Ferilli, Carlo Verdone, Isabella Ferrari and Giorgio Pasotti
After storming Cannes in 2008 with his Jury Prize winning “Il Divo,” Paolo Sorrentino stumbled when he returned to the Croisette three years later with “This Must Be Place.” However, reuniting with Toni Servillo, his lead in “Il Divo,” the director’s latest effort “La Grande Bellezza” could find him back in the good graces of the jury. The film tells a seemingly Fellini-esque tale of a journalist looking to recapture his youth in contemporary Rome, and we’d wager a competition slot is open for Sorrentino if he wants it. The movie is slated to open in April in Italy, but a local bow shouldn’t affect a Cannes appearance if the work is strong.
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Tom Burke, Sahajak Boonthanakit
Nicolas Winding Refn made his debut at Cannes two years ago with "Drive" and came away with a Best Director Award trophy for his trouble. The festival tends to look after its own, and while there was some speculation that his new film, which shot at the end of 2011, could be ready for the fall festival circuit last year, Cannes always seemed the better bet for his Bangkok-set, ultraviolent re-team with Ryan Gosling. And with the film heading to theaters in Scandinavia on May 23rd, the smart money's on the film being unveiled at Cannes during the week before that.
“Tom à la ferme” (dir. Xavier Dolan)
Cast: Eric Bruneau, Lise Roy, Evelyne Brochu, Caleb Landry Jones
Will Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan make it four-for-four at Cannes with his latest, “Tom à la ferme”? Will he finally get the coveted competition slot that has eluded him, much to his disappointment last year for “Laurence Anyways”? We shall see, but it’s hard to deny that the divisive filmmaker isn’t bringing some compelling material to the table. Moving into the thriller genre, the picture is an adaptation of Michel Marc Bouchard's play following the titular Tom, who meets the family of his deceased lover. However, his former partner’s sexual orientation and relationship status is a surprise to the family, and it brings with it grave repercussions. The film is in post, and we’d wager the odds are good to see Dolan on the red carpet again.
Cast: Robin Wright, Danny Huston, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-McPhee
If you're looking for one film with the potential to match the genre-hopping mind-bending madness of "Holy Motors" from last year, it might well turn out to be in the shape of "The Congress." The second film from Ari Folman, whose debut "Waltz With Bashir" was a sensation at the festival in 2008, it's an adaptation of a sci-fi short story by Stanislaw Lem ("Solaris"), mixing live-action and animation, with a big-name cast. It's been in the works for ages now, but looks to be nearing completion, and given Folman's success last time, if the film's ready, we'd be very surprised if it didn't turn up on the Croisette.
"Atilla Marcel" (dir. Sylvain Chomet)
Cast: Guillaume Gouix, Anne Le Ny, Jean-Claude Dreyfus
Ten years ago, Sylvain Chomet's animated "Belleville Rendez-vous" premiered at Cannes, going on to become an international success (it was retitled "The Triplets Of Belleville" for the U.S). Now, in 2013, Chomet's making his live-action debut with this offbeat comedy-drama, and only a fool would discount it as a serious contender for festival inclusion. While his last film, "The Illusionist," was a Berlin premiere, Chomet wrapped on "Atilla Marcel" in September, so the dates line up nicely, and it would certainly be one of the most high-profile local contenders.
Cast: Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, Tom Hiddleston
Outside of Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic, there are few locks for Cannes, but this is pretty much one of them. A long-time presence on the Croisette with a Palme d’Or (the short “Cigarettes & Coffee III”), a Grand Prix (“Broken Flowers”), a Golden Camera (“Stranger Than Paradise”) and Best Artistic Contribution (“Mystery Train”) for his efforts, the fest loves him, and clearly he likes going there too. If this is finished in time, which we’re betting it will be, you can go ahead and bank his starry vampire tale an in competition slot. It’s practically there waiting for him.