I haven't organized my thoughts. I'm warning you up front. I am just collecting them like dead leaves and throwing them at you in chunks with links to related articles. I'm doing my meager part to engage with Cannes from my Harlem apartment across the ocean...
COMPETITION & UN CERTAIN REGARD
After that much maligned Monaco kick-off, not uncommon with festival openers, Cannes competition films have been collecting more fans. Well, not Atom Egoyan's Captive (which was booed) but the others. And frankly no film festival ever wins consensus "that was awesome" reviews anyway. It's part of the ritual this 'it's a terrible year for the fest!' hand-wringing.
Diana chimed in earlier today on the African film Timbuktu and Mike Leigh's artist biopic Mr. Turner which we can safely suspect will win plentiful Oscar talk. There's a ceiling for Leigh films with Oscar but the Academy adores him nonetheless. Since his mainstream breakthrough Secrets and Lies (5 nominations / 0 wins) all but 2 of his pictures have won at least a screenplay nomination with Topsy Turvy and Vera Drake (period pieces like Mr Turner) proving most popular. To date Topsy Turvy is the only Mike Leigh picture to win any Oscar statues and Mike Leigh himself, though a 7 time nominee, is still Oscar-less. That's probably good news for Mr. Turner on both the 'overdue' front and the 'it takes a period piece and a genre they love' (in this case the biopic) truth about awards bodies. If you're interested in Mike Leigh's process (and many are since it's so unusual) there's an article in the LA Times where he explains why they still do the same character creation groundwork for months before shooting even though the actors are playing real people rather than fictional ones. I think Mr Turner is also inspiring some interesting reviews (including this one from David Poland who compares it to the Grand Budapest Hotel of all things)
More Oscar hopefuls, deals, and animated buzz after the jump...
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby cut that combines both of the full length feature parts I saw in Toronto into a single movie seems to have gone over well. I'm so curious to see how it plays at half the length. And In Contention has a rundown of The Weinstein Co's annual preview and though extremely limited footage is shown of anything at these things they seem most impressed with MacBeth and less sold on Big Eyes and Suite Française. It's worth noting that it's still unclear if MacBeth will be released in 2014 and if it is whether Oscar would bite. AMPAS tends to ignore Shakespeare movies, actually, but then there is always a Shakespeare adaptation out so it takes something really special or with incomparable timing to cause an Oscar happening. When was even the last one that made a serious dent in top categories? Was it Henry V (1989) or am I forgetting something obvious?
Another article you might want to read to keep up: Michael D'Angelo on Winter Sleep, Yves Saint Laurent and Wild Tales two long films and one anthology of shorts as feature.
The Cannes market is in full swing with deals happening daily. Some for films completed. Others for films that are still in the planning stages. The market is famously NOT prestigious in the way that the festival is selling all sorts of low budget absurdities, star-driven curios, and straight-to-DVD fodder along with the high end stuff. (I was amused by this gallery of 33 posters from the market though, annoyingly you have to click 30+ times to see them all).
But here are a few developments worth noting: eOne will release the documentary Dior and I stateside because two Yves Saint Laurent biopics just isn't enough fashion cinema for one year; Nightcrawler, the thriller for which Jake Gyllenhaal lost all that weight, sold to Open Road films so you should expect it in 2015 since they haven't always been prompt with their release strategies (see that tortured rollout for On the Road well over a year after its initial heat... okay, warmth); There's also a documentary called Truffaut / Hitchcock based on 1966 recordings that's arriving in 2015 that should be catnip to auteurists since modern luminaries like Fincher, Spielberg, Anderson (Wes), Assayas, Desplechin, and Linklater are lining up to play talking heads in it; And The Weinstein Co bought Sing Street which is the third musical from John Carney of Once fame with U2 doing the original songs. Either TWC is excited about the U2 possibilities or they really like Begin Again more than the title change and delays suggest that they do.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 which is playing out of competition is garnering strong buzz. As Sasha stated in her review the original would surely have won the Best Animated Feature Oscar in a year without something undeniable like Toy Story 3. The Animated Feature category is too new to draw any tried and true rules about the branch respond to sequels but if the reviews are strong across the board and the audience turns out in droves expect it to put up a real fight for gold.
And apparently the Asian film industries are trying to up their 3D animation game for competition's sake in the global animation arena. Here's a sales teaser for one of them, a China/Korean coproduction that's not expected to be completed until 2016. It's called Kong (not King Kong) and it's based on the popular Asian tale 'The Monkey King' so I'm not sure why our main character is a rock monster... but his favorite movie this year is probably Noah.
OSCAR TRIVIA FUTURES: If other countries continue to produce more and more animated features, it'll be interesting to see how international the Animated Feature category at the Oscars gets in the next couple of decades. We've already surveyed the 2014 crop in early post and Oscar chart form but what of the future? (The Dissolve recently looked at some future animated films from around the Globe, including this one, if you're interested). To date there've been 49 features nominated in Oscar's Animated Feature category's 13 year history and while most have been from American studios, the French, British and Japanese industries are semi-regularly represented. At the moment retired Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, The Wind Rises) is currently tied with American Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch, How To Train Your Dragon, The Croods) for the most nominations in this category with 3 each. Only one film that wasn't British or American has won the top prize: Miyazaki's Spirited Away (2001) took home the gold in the category's second year. And though everyone knows Pixar rules the category (7 wins to date), did you know that Dreamworks Animation actually has more in-category nominations? I did not. That's just shocking to process but it's true. For now...