By: Henry J. Fromage
We’re going to do something different with today’s Daily Shotgun and get back to a fairly slow news week tomorrow. Instead we’ll take a look at last week’s Cannes Film Festival, one of the heavyweights with Sundance and Toronto for determining Oscar front runners.
Yes, we’re already going there
You’d think the winner of the Palme D’Or, Cannes’ best picture equivalent, would be an automatic favorite. That’s rarely been the case, however, with only two correlations with the Best Picture award in the entire 56 year history of the event. This year’s choice, The Tree of Life, isn’t likely to be an exception. For all of the acclaim, the Academy has yet to reward reclusive filmmaker Terrence Malick with anything. His latest is a beautiful, meandering, alternatively structured meditation on life, the universe, and everything… so not something voters usually go for. I would expect a best picture nom, some tech nods, and Best Actor discussion for Brad Pitt’s turn as a tough, authoritarian father.
The same guy who named his kid Shiloh
The only two other films I could see entering Best Picture discussion are Drive and Martha Marcy May Marlene. Drive is a stripped down 70s style actioner starring Ryan Gosling and directed by up and comer Nicolas Windig Refn, who’ll also be directing Gosling in the upcoming Logan’s Run remake. It may have just the right mix of action, style, and critical acclaim to make it to the final ten.
Martha Marcy May Marlene actually debuted at Sundance, which always seems to have at least one Best Picture finalist. While it lost the top prize to the Anton Yelchin/Felicity Jones bittersweet romance Like Crazy, it has a similar profile to last year’s Winter’s Bone, as a young woman tries to survive a dangerous and thematically interesting subculture, in this case a messianic cult led by John Hawkes, another Winter’s Bone and Oscar connection. Elizabeth Olsen’s starring turn has been getting rave reviews and I’d frankly be surprised if she wasn’t at least nominated… as in a Hail Mary Oscar bid, the Olsen dynasty finally sneaks one in there.
Not sure what those circles are about, but I can’t wait til the little kid in the middle gets into acting.
Speaking of the acting categories, Kirsten Dunst won best actress at the festival for her bold turn in controversial and now very much under fire director Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. She’ll at least be in the nomination discussion come December. Ditto for Tilda Swinton’s turn as a young psychopath’s mother in We Need to Talk About Kevin. A longer shot is Sean Penn’s turn as an aging punk rocker searching for his father in This Must Be the Place.
Although I’m kind of rooting for him now
The final, obvious, category we may have gotten a sneak peak on is Best Foreign Language Film. Cannes winners don’t usually match up here either, as its preference for more experimental, meditative fare usually doesn’t translate too well for Oscar voters. So, I wouldn’t expect to see Once Upon a Time in Anatolia or the perpetually ignored Dardennes Brothers and their The Kids With a Bike.
However, I would not be surprised by German kidnapper/serial killer character study Michael, French child crime unit drama Polisse, or the Mexican tale of a Beauty Queen getting mixed up with a Drug Cartel, Miss Bala. And you can’t count out Pedro Almodovar, even if his latest is a Cronenberg-esque plastic surgery revenge flick that is apparently on the bizarre side.