If movie chatter seems quiet in the next few days, replaced only by the distant sound of frantic packing, printers being cursed at for not spewing out boarding cards, and argumentative scheduling, that's because the world's movie press are in large part decamping to the South of France, because we're now only 48 hours from the start of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The 67th edition of the world's glitziest, most talked about and arguably most prestigious fest gets underway on Wednesday with opening night film "Grace Of Monaco," and Playlisters Jessica Kiang and Oliver Lyttelton are about to head to the Croisette to bring you all the coverage you could ask for over the next couple of weeks.
As ever, between the Main Competition, various out-of-competition bows and the Un Certain Regard, Critics' Week and Director's Fortnight sidebars, there's a huge amount to catch up on. And so to prepare you for the onslaught of reviews to come from Wednesday onwards, we've picked out fifteen of the films that we're most looking forward to catching at the festival. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, and hopefully there'll be more than one "Blue Is The Warmest Color"-style secret sensation to unfold, but there's enough even at this distance that we can't wait to get started. Take a look at our picks below, and let us know what you're most looking forward to in the comments section.
"Clouds Of Sils Maria"
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Chloë Grace Moretz, Kristen Stewart, Johnny Flynn
Synopsis: A successful actress goes into meltdown when a young actress take on the role that made her famous.
What You Need To Know: Less than two years after his rich coming-of-age tale "Something In The Air" premiered at Venice, and four after "Carlos" screened on the Croisette (though it's a decade since he was last in competition), Gallic helmer Olivier Assayas returns to Cannes for his starriest outing yet. "Summer Hours" star Juliette Binoche reteams with the helmer to take the lead role, in a part that's apparently based on the legendary actress to some degree, while the more surprising picks of Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz take key supporting roles. Assayas' films are never dull, and usually of a consistently high quality, though he's certainly taking a gamble with his two young American stars, who've sometimes been criticized for their mannered performances, though both are capable of exceptional work. But Binoche looks to have a doozy of a role, even if the film's still under wraps to the extent that it's unclear what kind of doozy—"All About Eve" is the obvious comparison from the logline, but the reality could turn out to be very different. The last film to screen in Competition, it's certainly one of the ones we're most psyched to check out.
"Winter Sleep" (dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Cast: Haluk Bilginer, Demet Akbag, Melisa Sozen
Synopsis: Mostly still under wraps, but it focuses on a hotel owner, a former actor, who leaves his young wife and son as winter approaches.
What You Need To Know: If there was ever any doubt that Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan was one of the most exciting filmmakers we had, he dispelled it with 2011's "Once Upon A Time In Anatolia," which won him the Grand Prix at Cannes for the second time (he also took Best Director for "Three Monkeys" in 2008), a truly masterful picture that stands as the finest achievement in a career that's yet to truly disappoint. For his follow-up, Ceylan appears, from what little is known about the film, to be stepping away from the light genre elements of 'Anatolia,' though keeping a similar setting, and of course Ceylan's signature austere, formalist tone. Indeed, even by his standards, this looks like a substantial piece of work: the running time clocks in at three hours and sixteen minutes, making it the longest feature in competition by some distance. The film's seen by many as a frontrunner for the Palme d'Or, given that Ceylan's been such a favorite at the festival without ever taking the top prize, and a jury including the likes of Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Jia Zhangke could certainly be responsive to something like this. But whether or not it's a serious challenger, we just want to see the damn thing.
"Maps To The Stars" (dir. David Cronenberg)
Cast: Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Williams, Robert Pattinson
Synopsis: A twisted Hollywood family—successful self-help magnate Dr. Stafford Weiss and his wife Cristiana, who manages the careers of their burned-out child star kids Agatha and Benjie—come into the orbit of an aspiring actor and a movie star haunted by her dead mother.
What You Need To Know: Two years on from the premiere of the divisive "Cosmopolis," David Cronenberg and star Robert Pattinson are back on the Croisette with a film that seems in many ways a sort of companion to that Don DeLillo adaptation. Penned by Bruce Wagner, it's a long-gestating passion project for the Canadian director, which finally got before cameras last year, and the chance to see him biting the Hollywood hand that intermittently feeds him is certainly an intriguing one, particularly with a cast like this. We're excited to see what Cronenberg newbies Wasikowska, Moore and Williams come up with, and to see Cusack get something substantial to do. The Hollywood satire genre has a dicey track record, but if anyone can make something closer to "Sunset Boulevard" than "An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn," it's Cronenberg, and early footage has been promising, if very much in the chilly milieu of "Cosmopolis," right down to the limo sex.
"Two Days, One Night" (dir. Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardennes)
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Olivier Gourmet, Fabrizio Rongione, Catherine Salee
Synopsis: A woman who has only one weekend to convince her colleagues they must give up their bonuses in order for her to keep her job.
What You Need To Know: Associated with the festival more than most filmmakers, the Dardennes are regular fixtures in Competition, and are one of the few filmmakers with two Palme d'Ors to their name, for 1999's "Rosetta" and 2005's "The Child." Their low-key social realism has won them critical plaudits consistently, but their latest should mark an interesting dichotomy, with glamorous, Oscar-winning international megastar Marion Cotillard taking the lead role. Not that they're suddenly going glitzy. This looks to be another tale of life on society's fringes, and seemingly a more obvious response to the economic crisis than their last film, 2011's "The Kid With A Bike." Despite the star quotient (and we're dying to see what Cotillard turns out for the Belgian helmers), this looks very much of a piece with the rest of the Dardennes' output, but it's all to easy to take their consistency for granted, and you could argue that they've never made a bad film, and are unlikely to start here. Expect something bruising and uncompromising, even if the red carpet will be getting more attention this time around.
"Mommy" (dir. Xavier Dolan)
Cast: Antoine-Oliver Pilon, Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clement, Patrick Huard
Synopsis: A widowed mother struggles with controlling her violent son, but receives a lifeline when an enigmatic neighbor inserts herself into the household.
What You Need To Know: 58 years younger than the oldest helmer in competition (83-year-old Jean-Luc Godard), Xavier Dolan finally makes his Competition debut with his fifth film, and it's a testament to the wunderkind's prodigious rise that many believe that the Québécois helmer should have made it in much sooner. A mere nine months after his excellent thriller "Tom At The Farm" premiered at Venice, Cannes selectors must have felt threatened, because Dolan's in the hunt for the Palme this time. The film seems like it might hang on to some of the genre elements of "Tom At The Farm," but without being such a bold departure, with a number of Dolan's previous collaborators like Dorval and Clement returning to work on this one. There are other holdovers from 'Tom,' though, with DP Andre Turpin returning, which is very welcome news indeed. Will this be, as some have suggested, the culmination of Dolan's career to date? Or a return to the somewhat indulgent work of his last Cannes premiere, "Laurence Anyways"? We're looking forward to finding out either way.