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Which Stars Came Out Ahead at Cannes? Who Should Have Stayed Home? From Pitt, Kidman & Mikkelsen to Hardy, Cotillard, Pattinson & Stewart

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 30, 2012 at 1:08PM

Cannes can have a huge impact on careers--as the world media watches. That walk up the red carpet can be dazzling for talent, but boos and reviews can be deadly, too. Ask Lee Daniels, who had to pull out the race card to explain the devastating pans for "The Paperboy," which Avi Lerner's Millennium may wind up releasing itself.
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Robert Pattinson
Robert Pattinson

Coming up is Hardy's return to working with Christopher Nolan (as villain Bane) in summer tentpole "The Dark Knight Rises." And down the road is the still-in-the-works "Mad Max" reboot. Hardy is also linked to a biker project and may play Al Capone in "Cicero."

Shia LaBeouf: Trying to transition to more mature roles, LaBeouf had come to Cannes before with "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." This time he held his own opposite Hardy, Gary Oldman and Mia Wasikowska in "Lawless," but the film--while a huge step up from "Transformers" territory-- didn't give him a real boost on the acting side. He's still a young charmer mooning over a girl and afraid to grow up. Next up: Robert Redford's "The Company You Keep" (alongside Redford, Julie Christie, Sam Elliot, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick and Terrence Howard).

Kristen Stewart in "On the Road"
Comme au Cinema Kristen Stewart in "On the Road"

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, with Cannes competition entries from Walter Salles ("On the Road") and David Cronenberg ("Cosmopolis") respectively, both proved their acting skills outside of the "Twilight" franchise. Yes they were top-draws on the red carpet, but both earned respectful if not rave reviews. Stewart was earthily sexy in "On the Road," in a way we have not seen her before, while Pattinson nabbed praise for playing a cold and unlikeable Wall Street master of the universe. Both came out ahead and earned needed gravitas by coming to Cannes starring in films by notable directors.

Garrett Hedlund waited for years for "On the Road" to get made in the hopes that this would be his star-making role. In the meantime he shot "Tron: Legacy" and "Country strong," but playing the juicy role of Dean Moriarty was supposed to be his breakout. As strong as Hedlund is in the film--he feels right in the role--the reviews weren't unanimous raves. And Sam Riley ("Control") as writer Sal Paradise has the thankless passive observer writer role. Both young actors raised their profiles in an admirably serious Cannes entry. But they still have miles to go before hitting their stride as movie stars.

Emmanuelle Riva and Jean Louis Trintignant of "Amour"
Emmanuelle Riva and Jean Louis Trintignant of "Amour"

Jean Louis Trintgnant and Emmanuelle Riva: While they did not win best actor or actress for their moving roles in Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or-winning "Amour," playing a loving couple at the end of their lives, the competition jury did cite their huge contribution to the film. Sony Pictures Classics knows well that senior Academy members will recall these iconic French stars with affection. Will the film be too close to the bone for Oscar voters? An Austrian submission and likely foreign nomination are achievable, but whether SPC can push for bigger major nominations with an intimate two-hander -- picture, director, actor and actress-- is the question. It depends on the competition, of course, and how well it does at the box office (they're opening December 19 at the height of Oscar season). Foreign films rarely make it to major categories. "The Artist" was French, but its silence was golden.

Rust & Bone's Audiard, Cotillard, Schoenaerts
Rust & Bone's Audiard, Cotillard, Schoenaerts

Marion Cotillard: This world-class Oscar-winner delivers yet another award-worthy performance as a depressed whale trainer who loses her legs in a terrible accident in Jacques Audiard's follow-up to "A Prophet,""Rust and Bone." "Bullhead" star Matthias Schoenaerts is heartbreaking as an incommunicative, powerful muscle man who knows how to fight but has no handle on his emotions. The man and the woman help each other to survive and grow up emotionally.

This strong, powerful, disturbing film didn't play well across the board--failing to earn any Cannes prizes-- and will prove a commercial challenge for Sony Pictures Classics. Cotillard lost Best Actress to the young unknowns in Cristian Mungiu's "Beyond the Hills." Schoenaerts stars in the upcoming "Blood Ties" remake from Guillaume Canet. And Cotillard joins Hardy in "The Dark Knight Rises" (she also has James Gray's "Lowlife" upcoming).

Gael Garcia Bernal in "No"
Gael Garcia Bernal in "No"

Gael Garcia Bernal: This fine Mexican actor has shined in movies by Michel Gondry ("The Science of Sleep"), Walter Salles ("The Motorcycle Diaries"), Pedro Almodovar ("A Bad Education") and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Amores Perros"). In Pablo Larrain's "No" he dons a Chilean accent playing a brilliant ad executive who pushes through the 1988  "No" campaign to oust Chilean dictator Pinochet from power. London-educated Garcia Bernal is handsome and gifted and speaks fluent English; he could have an even better career than Antonio Banderas--but as he says in this interview, "it's not like I have to choose between amazing projects." He and his "Y Tu Mama Tambien" costar Diego Luna's Canana Films has already produced 19 films, including the terrifying "Miss Bala."

Chris O'Dowd and Tory Kittles at Cannes for "The Sapphires"
Chris O'Dowd and Tory Kittles at Cannes for "The Sapphires"

Quvenzane Wallis: One of the hits of Cannes was Benh Zeitlin's Sundance jury prize-winner "Beasts of the Southern Wild," which won the Camera d'Or. At Fox Searchlight's beach party for the film, young Quvenzane Wallis easily charmed the guests, and could be a longshot to score a Best Actress Oscar slot.

Chris O'Dowd: Yes this lanky Irishman is funny, as we already found out in "Bridesmaids" and "Friends with Kids." But in the Aussie musical comedy "The Sapphires," based on the stage play, we discover that he's leading man material. While Harvey Weinstein overhyped this last-minute pick-up in Cannes, comparing it to "The Artist," this rollicking musical biopic is quite satisfying. Not high art by any means, Wayne Blair's film brings depth and authenticity. As a hard-drinking manager who teams up with Aboriginal girl group The Sapphires, teaching them how to sing soul instead of country, and shepherding them on a tour of Vietnam, falling for prickly lead singer (Deb Mailman) in the process, O'Dowd is especially strong.

This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, Festivals, Festivals, Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Dominik


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