By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 25, 2015 at 5:18PM
And what of the Oscar chances for this year's festival breakouts so far?
People are already talking up Fox Searchlight's Sundance pick-up "Brooklyn," written by Nick Hornby, directed by John Crowley and starring Domhnall Gleeson and Saoirse Ronan, and Jury and Audience Award-winner "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl," starring breakouts Thomas Mann and RC Cyler, as early contenders. (Not so fast, at least in the case of "Earl," which seems more like a Fox Searchlight summer sleeper a la "Garden State.") The film releases on the awards-friendly date of November 6, 2015.
Searchlight has notched 12 Best Picture nominations in the past 11 years, more than any other company, and with "Birdman"'s haul, the company is at this point the industry Oscar leader. With the right handling, Searchlight could also push Greta Gerwig as co-writer/star of Noah Baumbach's comedy "Mistress America" (August 21) and popular veteran Michael Caine in Paolo Sorrentino's entertaining Cannes entry "Youth." Searchlight released on May 1 Thomas Vinterberg's well-reviewed "Far from the Madding Crowd," adapted by David Nicholls from the Thomas Hardy novel, starring Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts, which disappointed at the box office. Mulligan is also starring in Sarah Gavron's feminist eye-opener "Suffragette" (Focus Features, October 23).
Out of Berlin emerged Andrew Haigh's well-reviewed two-hander "45 Years" starring Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling, which should play well to the older demo (Sundance Selects).
Harvey Weinstein is coming on strong with two films that played well in the Cannes Competition, Todd Haynes' lesbian romance "Carol" starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, who shared the Cannes Actress award with Emmaunelle Bercot ("Mon Roi"), and Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard vehicle "Macbeth," directed by Australian Justin Kurzel. Produced by Christine Vachon, "Carol" was adapted by Phyllis Nagy from the Patricia Highsmith novel and should score in multiple categories.
Sony Pictures Classics will support rookie breakout Marielle Heller's stylish "The Diary of a Teenage Girl," starring Brit newcomer Bel Powley, Kristin Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard, and always-popular Lily Tomlin in Paul Weitz's "Grandma," as well as moving Cannes pick-up, Hungarian holocaust drama "Son of Saul."
A24 could push James Ponsoldt's "The End of the Tour," written by Donald Margulies and starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg as dueling lit smartypants, as well as Asif Kapadia's Cannes documentary "amy," about the gifted and troubled singer Amy Winehouse.
As for the usual crop of Sundance hot docs, besides jury-winners "The Wolfpack" and "Cartel Land," nabbing positive reviews were Liz Garbus's "What Happened Miss Simone?," Oscar-winner Morgan Neville's "Best of Enemies," Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering's "The Hunting Ground," Alex Gibney's buzzy HBO pic "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" and Stevan Riley's innovative heart-tugger "Listen to Me Marlon."
Also playing at Cannes was George Miller's fourth "Mad Max" action adventure "Fury Road," which was so well-praised by critics --who will include it in year-end ten-best lists and awards--and is so well-made (direction, cinematography, production design, costumes, VFX and score come to mind) that it might rise above the fray come award season.
Other possibilities still to come include:
Luca Guadagnino's "A Bigger Splash," starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, and Dakota Johnson, which wasn't ready for Cannes and will turn up on the fall circuit. (Fox Searchlight)
Scott Cooper's "Black Mass," starring Johnny Depp in heavy makeup and blue contact lenses, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sienna Miller, and Dakota Johnson, which was shown in rough early form to Cannes but wasn't finished in time. (Warner Bros., 9/18)
Steven Spielberg's "Bridge of Spies," written by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen and starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda, Billy Magnussen, Eve Hewson. (Touchstone/DreamWorks/20th Century Fox, October 16)
Angelina Jolie's romantic comedy "By The Sea" starring Jolie, Brad Pitt, Niels Arestrup, and Mélanie Laurent is a likely 2016 release. (Universal, November 13)
Peter Landesman's heart-tugger "Concussion," starring Will Smith as a South African doctor, Albert Brooks, Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Paul Reiser, and Luke Wilson. (Sony, December 25)
Tom Hooper's "The Danish Girl" brings out the feminine side of Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne, who costars with Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, and Matthias Schoenaerts. This will hit the fall fest circuit. (Working Title, Focus Features, November 27)
Jean-Marc Vallee's "Demolition," an original New York relationship drama by Bryan Sipe starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, and Chris Cooper, is taking a while to finish. (Fox Searchlight)
Baltasar Kormákur's mountain ascent thriller "Everest" starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, and Robin Wright was filmed in harsh conditions. (September 18, Working Title/Universal)
The Coen Brothers' comedy "Hail Caesar!" starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, and Jonah Hill. (Working Title started production in LA in January, set for February 2016 Universal release, but things could change.)
Quentin Tarantino is still filming western "The Hateful Eight" starring Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Demián Bichir, and Kurt Russell. It won't be done in time for fall fests. (The Weinstein Co., late November)
Warren Beatty's untitled Howard Hughes movie, starring Beatty, Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins, Matthew Broderick, Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Taissa Farmiga, Chace Crawford, and Candice Bergen. (no US distributor)
Stephen Frears' "Icon," starring Ben Foster, Lee Pace, and Chris O'Dowd, was finished last year and was not selected for Cannes. (Working Title, no US distributor)
Ron Howard's 1820 ocean adventure "In the Heart of the Sea," starring Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson, tells the primal origin myth of Moby Dick with plenty of VFX. (Warner Bros., December 11).
David O. Russell 's "Joy" stars Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence as the powerhouse behind a business empire; her costars are Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, and Édgar Ramirez. He'll futz in the editing room until the last moment. (20th Century Fox, December 25)
Sean Penn's "The Last Face" starring Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem, and Adèle Exarchopoulos is about international aid workers in Africa. (no distributor)
Brian Helgeland's "Legend" starring Tom Hardy as the Kray twins and Emily Browning; will it be Focus Features? A Toronto berth is likely. (Working Title, Universal)
Jeff Nichols' "Midnight Special" starring Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, and Joel Edgerton will play the fall fests. (Warner Bros.)
Jodie Foster's "Money Monster" starring George Clooney, Jack O'Connell, and Julia Roberts, may turn up at fall festivals. (TriStar/Sony)
David Gordon Green's "Our Brand Is Crisis" starring Sandra Bullock, Scoot McNairy, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, and Ann Dowd may not make 2015. (Warner Bros., 2016)
Alejandro Amenábar's "Regression" starring Ethan Hawke, Emma Watson, and David Dencik was not ready for Cannes and will hot theaters in August. (The Weinstein Company)
Alejandro González Inarritu's frontier actioner "The Revenant" filmed in the far north in natural light and stars bearded Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter and Domhnall Gleeson. (20th Century Fox, December 25 limited)
Jonathan Demme and Diablo Cody's "Ricki and the Flash" starring Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer, Kevin Kline, Sebastian Stan, Rick Springfield, and Ben Platt. (Sony/TriStar)
Martin Scorsese's "Silence" starring Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Issei Ogata, Adam Driver, and Tadanobu Asano, is still in production in Taiwan. (Paramount)
Oliver Stone's "Snowden," starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Rhys Ifans, Joely Richardson and Timothy Olyphant, maight make the fall fests. (Open Road, December 25)
Antoine Fuqua's fighter picture "Southpaw" starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Naomie Harris, Forest Whitaker, and Victor Ortiz. (Weinstein Co.)
Thomas McCarthy's "Spotlight" starring Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian d'Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, Liev Schreiber, Billy Crudup, and John Slattery, might be done for Toronto. (Open Road)
Danny Boyle's "Steve Jobs" biopic written by Aaron Sorkin and produced by Scott Rudin and Mark Gordon, starring Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Katherine Waterston. (Universal, not dated)
Richard Linklater's "That's What I'm Talking About" is about college baseball players in the 1980s and stars Blake Jenner, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin and Wyatt Russell. (Annapurna/Paramount)
Judd Apatow's comedy "Trainwreck" starring writer-actress Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, Tilda Swinton, Vanessa Bayer, Ezra Miller, John Cena, Barkhad Abdi, and Norman Lloyd. (Universal, July 17)
Stephen Daldry's Brazil-set "Trash" starring Rooney Mara and Martin Sheen, has played regional fests. (Working Title, Focus Features)
John Hillcoat's "Triple Nine" starring Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Chris Allen, and Anthony Mackie. (Open Road)
Jay Roach's "Trumbo" starring Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Louis C.K., Helen Mirren, and John Goodman. (Bleecker Street, November 6)
James Vanderbilt's "Truth" starring Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, Elisabeth Moss, Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid and Bruce Greenwood. (Ratpac, no distributor)
Robert Zemeckis's 1970s period "The Walk" starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as French wire-walker Philippe Petit, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale and Charlotte Le Bon. (Sony/TriStar, October 2)