Star-studded English-language dramas from Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, Denis Villeneuve, Justin Kurzel, Paolo Sorrentino and Matteo Garrone will vie for the Palme d'Or alongside new films by Valerie Donzelli, Jacques Audiard, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Jia Zhangke at the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival, which unveiled its official selection lineup on Thursday.
While there are only two U.S. directors in competition - Haynes with "Carol," a 1950s lesbian love story starring Cate Blanchett, and Van Sant with his suicide drama "The Sea of Trees," pairing Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe - this year's Palme race looks to feature more high-profile Hollywood talent than any in recent memory. Canada's Villeneuve
("Prisoners," "Enemy") will bring his Mexican drug-cartel drama "Sicario," with Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin, while Australia's Kurzel ("The Snowtown Murders") secured a Palme berth for "Macbeth," his Shakespeare adaptation toplining Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.
In a further sign of the ever-increasing globalization of film culture, two highly regarded European directors will make their Cannes competition debuts with English-lingo efforts: Greek helmer Yorgos Lanthimos ("Dogtooth") with "The Lobster," an out-there sci-fier starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, and Norwegian director Joachim Trier with "Louder
Than Bombs," a family drama with Isabelle Huppert, Gabriel Byrne and Jesse Eisenberg. Two Italian heavyweights are also bringing English-language fare: Paolo Sorrentino with "Youth" (pictured below), toplining Michael Caine and featuring Weisz, Jane Fonda, Paul Dano and Harvey Keitel, and Garrone with "The Tale of Tales," a lavish, effects-driven fantasy starring Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel and John C. Reilly.
As expected, American specialty fare will be similarly well represented out of competition, with world-premiere screenings of Woody Allen's "Irrational Man," starring Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone; George Miller's previously announced actioner "Mad Max: Fury Road,"
with Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron; and Pixar's latest toon extravaganza "Inside Out." The latter will be joined out of competition by another animated feature, Mark Osborne's French-produced, English-language adaptation of "The Little Prince," featuring voice work by Riley Osborne, Jeff Bridges, Del Toro and Cotillard.
Meanwhile, of the eight first features announced in the official selection, few will likely stir more interest than director Natalie Portman's "A Tale of Love and Darkness," an Israel-shot adaptation of Amos Oz's bestselling autobiography that will receive a Special Screenings berth.
Asia will enjoy its strongest competition presence in some time with "Our Little Sister," a Japanese comicstrip adaptation from Hirokazu Kore-eda; "Mountains May Depart," a three-part drama from mainland Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke; and "The Assassin," a long-gestating martial-arts epic from Taiwan's Hou Hsiao-hsien. Cannes 2015 also looks to be a robust edition for Italian filmmakers, with Palme bridesmaids Garrone and Sorrentino duking it out with Palme laureate Nanni Moretti, back with his semi-autobiographical drama "My Mother." And perhaps the most unexpected competition entry is "Son of Saul," a Holocaust drama from first-time Hungarian helmer Laszlo Nemes, and the sole debut feature in contention for the Palme.
All these tantalizing prospects aside, Thursday morning's press conference in Paris left a number of question marks, starting with the fact that only 17 films were announced for competition and 14 in Un Certain Regard, a program that runs parallel to the competition. Cannes delegate general Thierry Fremaux (appearing alongside newly installed president Pierre Lescure) assured those in attendance that more pictures would be added to the lineup in the coming days. It remains to be seen whether that means making room for any British and/or Latin American filmmakers, who are currently unrepresented in competition.
The Cannes Film Festival runs May 13-24. ?Variety