It looks like the Croisette will be teeming with a ton of familiar faces once again this May.
On Thursday morning, official selections for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival were finally announced, and unsurprisingly, many of the 18 pictures chosen to compete for the coveted Palme d'Or were helmed by festival or industry veterans with some serious reputations to protect.
The line-up also boasts a fair amount of star power. Ryan Gosling, for instance, will see his directorial debut "Lost River" (previously titled "How to Catch a Monster") arrive among the Un Certain Regard candidates; meanwhile, the ever-popular Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart will reunite, sort of, as each has a film in contention for the big prize. "Grace of Monaco," starring Nicole Kidman, was previously announced as the opening night film.
As always with Cannes, though, the real excitement lies in discovering which competitor will prove to be the buzziest of them all. Last year "Blue is the Warmest Color" held that distinction and ended up as one of the most storied pictures of 2013, for better and worse.
Here's a run down of the most storied and promising Cannes entries so far:
Andrey Zvyagintsev has steadily emerged as one of Russia's most relevant filmmakers, with his "Elena" having earned the special jury prize in the Un Certain Regard category in 2011, and his latest movie looks to capitalize on that merit (and, not coincidentally, the current political climate of his home nation). Inspired by the Book of Job, his "Leviathan" features multiple leading character arcs and is said to center on a "new country" within which social insecurity echoes the human condition as a whole. It could very well wind up being a defining feature among this year's line-up.
10. "The Rover"
Aussie director David Michôd will take his "Rover" up to the riviera for a midnight screening — his inclusion no doubt a nod to the momentum built by his 2010 sleeper hit, "Animal Kingdom" — and he's got some heart-throbby star power along for the ride. His pseudo-futuristic drama, co-written by Michôd and Joel Edgerton, features Guy Pearce opposite Robert Pattinson, whose tuxedo-clad presence at the 2012 fest threatened to break the internet. The film centers on a man who stalks a group of thugs who stole his car, and it looks to be just as bleak and unsettling as the arid wilderness of the outback can be.
9. "The Homesman"
Tommy Lee Jones returns, armed with another intriguing directorial effort – his "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada," also a western, earned the actor some serious behind-the-camera cred (and a Best Actor prize) with its 2005 fest debut. "The Homesman," an adaptation of the prized novel by Glendon Swarthout, features a pioneer woman (Hilary Swank) who rescues a claim jumper (Jones) and enlists his services transporting three mentally ill women along a perilous trek from Nebraska to Iowa. Also starring Meryl Streep, Hailee Steinfeld, William Fichtner, James Spader, John Lithgow, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Tim Blake Nelson, and Jesse Plemons, the picture is definitely one of the more anticipated titles making way to Cannes this year.
8. "Jimmy's Hall"
Said to be the send-off film of veteran director Ken Loach, a festival staple for decades who finally won the Palme in 2006, "Jimmy's Hall" is based upon the true story of James Gralton, an Irishman whose communist views led to violent protests of the public dance hall he ran and eventually his deportation.
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Director Bennett Miller ("Capote," "Moneyball") presents the true story of Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), whose brother and fellow Olympian (Mark Ruffalo) was murdered by a paranoid schizophrenic who also happens to be an heir to the du Pont fortune (an unrecognizable Steve Carell). Given his credentials, and the surprising cast plucked for these dramatic roles, this should be one to watch.
6. "Two Days, One Night"
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne share the very elite and rare distinction of having already pocketed not one but two Palme d'Or prizes – first in 1999 for "Rosetta" and again in 2005 with "L'enfant" – and the Belgian brothers may just have their sights set on a third with their latest feature, "Deux Jours, Une Nuit." The film stars Marion Cotillard as a woman who must convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses in order to salvage her job and is expected to serve as a subtle commentary on the economic climate of Europe.
5. "Maps to the Stars"
David Cronenberg is back with his new muse Robert Pattinson, whom he took to Cannes just two years ago with his bizarre and complex "Cosmopolis" adaptation, and this time, he's got his studly star situated in the front of a limousine. The film, which satirizes the Hollywood scene with a lens on one wayward family existing within it, also stars John Cusack, Julianne Moore, Olivia Williams, and Mia Wasikowska.
4. "Winter Sleep"
Some pundits have already got Nuri Bilge Ceylan, he of many noms and Grand Jury Prizes past, keyed in as the likely recipient of this year's Palme d'Or for "Winter Sleep." The Turkish director's drama "Sommeil D'Hiver" – which he has described simply as a film "about humans" – is said to clock in just under three and a half hours and is set in the visually exotic ancient landscapes of Cappadocia.
3. "Goodbye to Language"
The folks at Cannes are no doubt especially jazzed that legendary French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard is expected to appear at the festival to support his now-nominated "Adieu Au Langage." The 83-year-old's last entry in the fest was in 2001 with "Éloge de l'amour." Godard himself has described the film, his first entirely 3D picture, as being "about a man and his wife who no longer speak the same language. The dog they take on walks then intervenes and speaks."
2. "Clouds of Sils Maria"
Olivier Assayas became a Cannes sweetheart in the early aughts, with three nominations over the course of just five years, and his "Clouds of Sils Maria" appears to be a fitting new contender for the French writer-director. The film features his "Summer Hours" sensation Juliette Binoche as a prominent stage actress who is invited to perform in a revival of the play which once jettisoned her into fame – only, this time she's been cast as the elder character of the story and must watch as a young new starlet (Chloë Grace Moretz) traipses into her former role. Kristen Stewart stars as her assistant who joins her in the titular remote region of the Alps as she prepares her new performance.
1. "The Search"
"The Artist" director Michel Hazanavicius reteams with his wife, actress Bérénice Bejo, for this modernized revamp of a 1948 film featuring Annette Bening as a non-governmental organization employee who bonds with a small boy in war-riddled Chechnya. Given his recent international status upgrade – "The Artist" brought in five Oscars in 2012, including Best Picture – absolutely all eyes will be on Hazanavicius to see what he's got for us this time with "The Search."