This morning brought one of the moments on the calendar that every serious film lover awaits with bated breath: the announcement of the line-up for this year's Cannes Film Festival, still the most prestigious on the circuit. Year after year, some of the world's best directors hold off to debut their new films on the Croisette, and virtually every year brings at least one stone-cold classic -- along, of course, with the famous Cannes bombs. With last year's selection generally deemed to be the weakest in a while, has this year's batch (the 64th!) turned things around? We've heard the rumors for months now, and we knew that Woody Allen's latest, "Midnight in Paris," would be opening the festival on May 11th, but little solid fact otherwise. So -- how's it looking?
Pretty damn good, really. The big news is that, as widely expected, Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" will be premiering at the festival, although more surprising is that it'll actually be in competition -- the first time that the director's been in competition for the Palme D'Or. The biggest surprise is probably the presence of Nicolas Winding Refn's minimalist crime thriller "Drive," which stars Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Albert Brooks -- a film that's easily been one of our most anticipated of the year, and our excitement's only increased with the news.
The main selection also includes a number of high-profile auteurs who were widely expected to be featuring at the festival, most notably Pedro Almodovar's latest, the sci-fi/horror tinged "The Skin That I Live In," which sees the Cannes veteran reunite with Antonio Banderas, Lars Von Trier's apocalyptic drama "Melancholia," former Palme D'Or winners Nanni Moretti and The Dardenne Brothers, with "We Have A Pope" and "The Kid With The Bike" respectively, and Finnish helmer Aki Kaurismaki's "Le Havre."
There's also the long-awaited return of British director Lynne Ramsay, with her Tilda Swinton-toplining adaptation of "We Need To Talk About Kevin," along with Paolo Sorrentino's off-the-wall "This Must Be The Place," starring Sean Penn as a bored rock star hunting down a war criminal. Australian first-timer Julia Leigh has the erotic drama "Sleeping Beauty," starring "Sucker Punch" headliner Emily Browning, in competition, while Naomi Kawase, who won the Grand Prix prize a few years back, returns with "Hanezu no Tsuki," and there are new films from Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Romania's Radu Mihaileanu, Takashi Miike and Bertrand Bonello. France has new films from veteran Alain Cavalier and "Pardonnez-Moi" director Maïwenn Le Besco, while Israeli director Joseph Cedar, who picked up an Oscar nomination for "Beaufort" in 2007, returns with "Footnote."
On the surface, at least, it's a much, much stronger line-up than last year, although obviously anything could happen. But for the first time in a while, the balance seems to be struck between Hollywood talent who'll attract press attention (Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Tilda Swinton, Kirsten Dunst), and old Croisette favorites. As in the last few years, we'll be there bringing you our verdicts on as much as we can squeeze into our schedule.
As for the traditional out-of-competition slots, there's the usual blockbusters in there, with, as predicted a few days ago, "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and "Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom Of Doom" both screening along with, more surprisingly, Jodie Foster's "The Beaver." The Nicolas Sarkozy biopic "La Conquete" will also appear -- we premiered the trailer a little while ago, if you missed it.
The Un Certain Regard strand will kick off, as previously announced, with Gus Van Sant's teen romance "Restless," starring Mia Wasikowska, while Sundance favorite "Martha Marcie May Marlene" will also screen. There's new films from Cătălin Mitulescu, Bruno Dumont and Kim Ki Duk, among others, while the one we're most excited for is Joachim Trier's "Oslo, August 31st," the director's follow-up to Playlist favorite "Reprise." The festival kicks off with "Midnight in Paris" on May 11th, and runs until the 22nd.
"The Skin That I Live In" - Pedro Almodovar
"L'Apollonide"" - Betrand Bonello
"Footnote" - Joseph Cedar
"Paterre" - Alain Cavalier
"Once Upon A Time In Anatolia" - Nuri Bilge Ceylan
"The Kid With The Bike" - The Dardenne Brothers
"Le Havre" - Aki Kaurismaki
"Hanezu no Tsuki" - Naomi Kawase
"Sleeping Beauty" - Julia Leigh
"Tree of LIfe" - Terrence Malick
"La Source de Femmes" - Radu Mihaileanu
"Polisse" - Maïwenn Le Besco
"Harakiri" - Takashi Miike
"We Have A Pope" - Nanni Moretti
"Melancholia" - Lars Von Trier
"This Must Be The Place" - Paolo Sorrentino
"Drive" - Nicolas Winding Refn
"We Need To Talk About Kevin" - Lynne Ramsay
Un Certain Regard:
"Restless" - Gus Van Sant
"Martha Marcy May Marlene" - Sean Durkin
"The Hunter" - Bazur Bakuradze"
"Halt auf freier Strecke" - Andreas Dresen
"Skoonheid" - Oliver Hermanus
"Hors Satan" - Bruno Dumont
Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro" - Robert Guédiguian
"The Days He Arrives" - Hong Sang-Soo
"Bonsai" - Christian Jimenez
"Tatsumi" - Erik Khoo
"En maintenant, on va ou?" - Nadine Labaki
"Ariang" - Kim Ki Duk
"Loverboy"- Cătălin Mitulescu,
"Toomelah" - Ivan Sen
"Yellow Sea" - Na Hong-Jin,
"Miss Bala" - Gerardo Naranjo,
"L'exercice de l'Etat" - Pierre Schoeller,
"Oslo, August 31st" Joachim Trier
"Travailler fatigue" - Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra
Out of Competition:
"The Beaver" - Jodie Foster
"The Artist" - Michel Hazanavicius
"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" - Rob Marshall
"La Conquete" - Xavier Durringer
"Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom Of Doom" - Jennifer Yuh
"Labrador" - Frederikke Aspock
"Le maître des forges de l’enfer" - Rithy Panh
"Un documentaire sur Michel Petrucciani" - Michael Radford
"Tous au Larzac" - Christian Rouaud