The Cannes Film Festival wrapped up last weekend with the coveted Palme D'Or going to Turkish drama Winter Sleep and several presumed Oscar contenders gathering steam for their long campaigns. As studios move to snap up the distribution rights to the festival hits, here are the movies to look out for in the coming months:
Directed by Cannes favorite Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), who has won a prize at the festival for each of his films since his 2003 debut Uzak. The Turkish auteur took his first Palme D'Or this year for Winter Sleep, which focuses on a former actor who runs a hotel in the mountains. Ceylan's films are slow-moving and quietly affecting, the kind that bubble away at your brain for a while after seeing them but end up sticking with you. He's never had a real arthouse crossover hit in the States, but he's built up a strong critical reputation, and Winter Sleep's Palme win should guarantee it a slightly wider audience. Its distribution rights remain unclaimed.
A presumed Oscar favorite since 2013, this is Bennett Miller's third film, after Capote and Moneyball. Again he's presenting a biographical work, one that looks at the tragic ending of "Team Foxcatcher," an Olympic wrestling stable run by the unbalanced millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carrell). The physical transformation aspect of Carrell's performance has already attracted high praise, as has Channing Tatum's work as wrestler Mark Schultz. Miller took the Best Director prize at Cannes; Foxcatcher will be released in the U.S. in November by Sony Pictures Classics.
Mike Leigh's films always come out of nowhere, since their development begins so quietly with a tight-knit group of creative folk in the UK, but more often than not they build to a highly praised festival debut. Timothy Spall's performance as the difficult early 19th century British painter J.M.W. Turner won the Best Actor prize, and the whole endeavor attracted the raves Leigh typically draws. Sony Pictures Classics again owns the rights, with a scheduled release in late December for Oscar contention.
Maps to the Stars
David Cronenberg's Hollywood satire was called a little toothless by some but got generally warm notices, especially for Julianne Moore's as an imperious actress who is haunted by ghosts of her dead mother. Moore won the Best Actress prize and Cronenberg's films often prove a slow burn with critics, so this is one to look out for. eOne Films has the U.S. rights.
The terrific Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, who won the Venice Golden Lion in 2003 with taut family thriller The Return, got high praise for the biblical Leviathan, which recasts the Book of Job as a struggle between a landowner and a corrupt Mayor in an icy Russian island town. Leviathan won the screenplay award and attracted attention for its operatic, if somewhat oblique criticism of the current Russian regime. Zvyagintsev is another director who is due for a crossover arthouse hit. Sony Pictures Classic snapped it up at Cannes.
The young and scarily talented Quebecois director Xavier Dolan's fifth film (he's only 25!) got raves and won the Jury Prize, with attention especially focused on Anne Dorval's lead performance as a widowed mother struggling to raise her troubled son. Dolan's previous films—especially Laurence Anyways—are very worthy checking out and his future potential is limitless. Mommy is still in search of a U.S. distributor.
Tommy Lee Jones' second film is a Western centered on his shaggy claim jumper teaming up with tough-as-nails heroine Mary Bee (Hilary Swank) to ship three insane women across state lines. The critical reaction was pleasant, and the whole thing sounds agreeably loopy, if similarly-paced to Jones' underrated Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which won two Cannes awards in 2005. New distributor Saban has snapped up the rights.
Oh, poor Ryan Gosling, booed in his directorial debut (which screened in the Un Certain Regard section). It has a nice cast—Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, Eva Mendes—and an intriguing plot about a struggling single mom and an underwater utopia (what), but the reviews were putrid and Gosling may be approaching jump-the-shark territory in his still-young career. Warner Bros. brought the film to Cannes but is apparently investigating indie distributors to release it in the States.