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Cannes '08: Notes on a Season -- Oscar contenders on the Croisette?

May 12, 2008 |  6:28 pm

Cannes_petehammond

The Envelope's Notes on a Season columnist Pete Hammond has a few tips on films with certain profiles to keep an eye out for when Cannes starts in full swing Wednesday.

... if past years are any indication, a few of the films unfurled here could fire the opening shots in this year's Oscar race.

Consider nominated films like "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly," "Persepolis" and eventual best picture winner, "No Country for Old Men." Each was launched in the Cannes 2007 lineup (although the Romanian abortion drama, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" won the Palme d'Or but failed to nab any academy love).

This year, particularly with the talent involved, there is lots of speculation about Oscar potential for new Cannes entries from past academy nominees and winners like Fernando Meirelles, Atom Egoyan, Charlie Kaufman, Walter Salles, Steven Soderbergh, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen and others, although the sad fact remains that since it won, no film other than "Marty" has gone on to win the best picture Oscar after also nabbing the Palme d'Or -- and that was in 1955!

Several Palme D'Or victors over the years, like "Friendly Persuasion," "MASH," "The Conversation," "Taxi Driver," "Apocalypse Now," "All That Jazz," "The Piano" and "Pulp Fiction" did go on to best picture nominations.

Roman Polanski's 2002 Cannes winner "The Pianist" probably came closest, taking the academy's director, actor and screenplay awards before what we imagine had to be the narrowest of losses to "Chicago" in the big category.

Four-time Oscar-winner Clint Eastwood is a four-time Palme d'Or loser, having been here previously with "Pale Rider" (1985), "Bird" (1988), "White Hunter, Black Heart" (1990) and "Mystic River" (2003), but he's hoping the fifth time is a charm with his latest competition entry, "Changeling," starring Angelina Jolie, who was here last year herself for "A Mighty Heart" (which failed to go on to Oscar glory).

Might the fact that Eastwood's "Mystic River" star Sean Penn is president of this year's jury be a good omen of French things to come for Clint? After all, he did direct Sean to an Oscar.

Is it time to return the favor?

There's also lots of buzz about past Palme d'Or winner Soderbergh's ("Sex, Lies and Videotape") "The Argentine" and "Guerrilla," a pair of films being shown here as "Che," one 4-hour, 28-minute epic on Che Guevarra.

A big reception and/or win here could set up major Oscar hopes for the so far distributor-less film(s) starring Benecio Del Toro. But right now Soderbergh is just struggling to get it into shape to even make its Cannes debut on the 21st.

Read the whole story here.

Photo: A cameraman films the giant poster above the main entrance of the Cannes Festival Palace two days before the opening of the 61st International film festival in Cannes on Monday. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

-- Sheigh Crabtree

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