Could a Best Picture nominee launch from Cannes this year?

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In the pretty near future, the lineup for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival will be announced. We already know that potential Oscar player Grace of Monaco will be there, but what else could debut at Cannes and then potentially appeal to Academy members? This particular festival isn’t nearly as awards season centric as the New York or Toronto Film Festivals are (or the Telluride Film Festival, for that matter), but we always get a contender or two to discuss. Last year we had Blue is the Warmest Color debut, while future nominees like The Great Beauty, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Nebraska unspooled as well. That got me thinking about what this year’s slate could have inside of it for prognosticators like myself to chew on…

Below you’ll find five titles that I think could have a chance at turning the heads of voters, provided of course that they play at the fest. I’ve opted to focus on American movies just because those are the ones that the Academy tends to focus in on themselves, though of course there are exceptions from time to time like Amour. Still, big time contenders (and even the occasional Best Picture winner like No Country for Old Men) tend to be english language outings. Anyway, now I’ll dive in and speculate about five likely Cannes titles that could have a chance to woo members of the Academy.

1. Birdman – There’s a chance that this comedy from Alejandro González Iñárritu could be too offbeat for Oscar voters, but they’ve gone out on dramatic limbs with him before, so if this tale of a washed up actor doesn’t get too weird for them, there are tons of nomination opportunities. This could also be the role that nabs Michael Keaton his first Academy Award nomination too, so there’s that. This one could either get shut out or be a huge player, but it’s potentially the most likely to transition to awards season attention. We’ll see if it actually debuts at Cannes, but I think it’s highly likely that it will.

2. Magic in the Moonlight – Another highly likely title for the fest, Woody Allen’s next movie is set in France, so that only makes it even more apt for a slot. That being said, of late Allen has basically seen every other film of his become Oscar players, so this could be the off year for him. Still, it’s likely to be warmly received if it plays at Cannes regardless, so I’d bet on it playing there in some sort of a capacity.

3. The Homesman – Tommy Lee Jones found some success with his directorial debut The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada when it played at Cannes, so his newest work should play there too. This one is a frontier set period piece and has an insane cast, so Jones might just have an under the radar Oscar juggernaut on his hands. It’s definitely one to really keep your eye on.

4. Maps to the Stars – I’m skeptical that David Cronenberg is ever really going to hit the Academy’s sweet spot, but Cannes seems like the right place for his latest flick, a Hollywood satire of sorts. This might be the sort of movie that could wait until Toronto to debut, but if it shows up here, it could get a jump start on awards season if it’s got the goods. I wouldn’t bet on it making a huge play with Oscar, but the chance is certainly there for it.

5. How to Catch a Monster – Ryan Gosling’s writing and directorial debut looks to be a surreal thriller of sorts, so it’s not really in the Academy’s wheelhouse, but an actor turned filmmaker is always someone that they’re keen to embrace, so that gives this one a chance. If Gosling’s film makes its world premiere at Cannes, it could be the start of a groundswell. After all, Drive launched there to raves (and so did Only God Forgives, but to decidedly more mixed reactions), so Gosling is a favorite son of sorts by now.

Before too long, we’ll know exactly what will be playing at Cannes, so stay tuned for that moment, since that’s when this conversation can really continue. I’ll have more in depth pieces on these titles when their release dates get a little closer, so sit tight until them for more!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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