Cannes 2011: The six festival films you'll soon be hearing about
In 2007 it was "No Country for Old Men" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." In 2009 it was "Inglourious Basterds" and "A Prophet." A bit more than halfway through this year's Cannes Film Festival, it's not too early to predict which films will endure long after the last beachside-club guard dog scampers to different pastures. Here are six movies you didn't know before that you're almost certainly to know about after the festival shuts its doors.
"The Artist." Probably the most crowd-pleasing of this year's entries, competition or otherwise. The story of a silent-film star worried about getting left behind as Hollywood moves to talkies is told with high-concept brio: it's a black-and-white film set in the silent film world. The movie is a serious contender for the Palme 'dOr and will get a big ride from distributor The Weinstein Co., while the warm reaction suggests a media inescapability when the film comes out later this year. It may even make its star Jean Dujardin, already a French A-lister, a big name in the U.S., though his patchy English skills could prove a hindrance.
"We Need to Talk About Kevin." Lynn Ramsay's film had its detractors, and not everyone will want to watch a tale of a mother losing control of her bad-seed son. But Tilda Swinton's performance and the ongoing topicality of teen violence -- not to mention a director with a strong sense of visual style -- means this will be one of the talked-about movies come awards time. The only question is which awards time -- nervous about the commercial prospects, distributors have yet to make a compelling offer.
"The Skin I'm In." Pedro Almodovar's latest hasn't even premiered here yet. But the director's reliable following among a certain foreign-language set, coupled with the fact that he's now moved into the new territory of a revenge thriller, means that it's almost impossible for the movie not to get noticed long after the Croisette rabble-rousing quiets down.
"Footnote." It may not have the crackling politics of "Waltz With Bashir" or other military-themed Israeli pictures of years past. But the black comedy and strong reviews of Joseph Cedar's latest will ensure this academia-set tale of father-and-son rival professors stays around in the fall and maybe ends up in the mix as a foreign-language Oscar contender to boot.
"Midnight in Paris." It's not clear yet that this will be "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," -- that is, a movie that gets everyone talking about Woody Allen again. But in terms of charm and escapism, this comedy about a struggling writer who mysteriously ends up in 1920s Paris will earn goodwill and maybe even some good box office when it begins rolling out this weekend. It's also a chance to see Owen Wilson try something other than broad-ish comedy.
"The Tree of Life." Love or hate its grand imagery and big-canvas questions, and there certainly have been sturdy numbers from both camps, the Terrence Malick magnum opus will be a conversation piece in the weeks to come. Whether it will be something people see is another matter.
Photo: John Goodman in "The Artist." Credit: The Weinstein Co.