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Cannes 2012: Alexander Payne, Ewan McGregor named to jury

April 25, 2012 |  1:32 pm


Alexander Payne joins Cannes jury

The man behind “The Descendants,” a star of “Inglourious Basterds” and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi will be among the people choosing one of movideom’s most prestigious prizes this year.

The Cannes Film Festival announced Wednesday that American director Alexander Payne (“The Descendants,” “Sideways”),  Scottish actor Ewan McGregor (“Star Wars: Episode I,” “Trainspotting”) and German actress Diane Kruger (“Inglourious Basterds") will join the previously announced jury chief, Italian actor-director Nanni Moretti, on the competition jury at this year’s festival. The jury is in charge of  selecting the Palme d’Or winner, which is Cannes' top honor, as well as other awards.

The group will also include Palestinian director Hiam Abbass, British filmmaker Andrea Arnold, French actress Emmanuelle Devos, French designer Jean Paul Gaultier and Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, festival organizers said. The group will watch the roughly two dozen competition films and then debate the titles in closely guarded discussions before announcing their decisions on May 27, the festival's closing day.

The Cannes competition jury represents not only an honor for those selected but often becomes the subject of much scrutiny and tea-leaf reading,  as observers look for possible connections between jurors and competing films. One such connection this year comes in the form of McGregor and actress Nicole Kidman, who stars in the competition film “The Paperboy.” The two performers share a professional history via their 2001 musical blockbuster “Moulin Rouge.”

Last year’s jury — made up of Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman and Jude Law, among others — handed the Palme d'Or to Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life.”

Cannes, which kicks off May 16 in the resort town on the French Riviera, recently announced its competition slate. The lineup will include a bevy of English-language offerings, including “Cosmopolis,” “Paperboy,” “Mud,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Killing Them Softly.”


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— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Alexander Payne with his Oscar in 2012. Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.