The Croisette’s aswarm with frenzied badge-wielding journalists; the starstruck hoi polloi are already setting up their step ladders in front of the Palais to ensure the choiciest views when the bigshots finally step out onto the red carpet. Fittingly, the 66th Festival de Cannes opens with Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, which we have zero interest in seeing because it’s already playing in regular theaters. So what now? Guzzle rosé and mingle on the inflatable couches in front of the Grand Hotel till dawn, or wake up at dawn to haul ass to those morning screenings? We’re pretty pumped about this year’s lineup, and below are our top picks among the premieres. Some of these films might get some major boos (people really do “boo” here) and some just might be the best movie of the year. Who cares—we want to see them all.
The Bling Ring, Dir. Sofia Coppola –Un Certain Regard
Plenty of hype encircling this one. It’s about stealing expensive stuff from the houses of materialistic rich celebrities, which of course gives us all a little schadenfreude, and it busts out Emma Watson’s first major “adult” role, which really just means it’s now totally cool to start putting salacious photos of her on the cover of every magazine. Real-life “bling ring” victim Paris Hilton, always a good sport about this sort of thing, even makes a cameo.
Nebraska, Dir. Alexander Payne – Competition
Payne’s latest love-letter to Flyover Country comes at us in black and white, and pairs Bruce Dern with former SNL star Will Forte for a father-son roadtrip. (We’re looking forward to seeing what Forte does here.) And even more exciting: The guy who played Buzz in Home Alone is in it. Where’s he been for the past 20 years?
Behind the Candelabra, Dir. Steven Soderbergh – Competition
Michael Douglas as the spangly super-flamboyant Liberace, Matt Damon as his scorned young lover Scott Thorson. Of course the press is all going crazy about the fact that the two of them smooch, which is an incredibly boring topic. (When will we stop caring when male actors kiss each other?) We’re way more interested in the costumes, which look absolutely enthralling.
As I Lay Dying, Dir. James Franco – Un Certain Regard
Yeah, yeah, Franco takes on too much. But we can’t help but be curious about what he’s going to do with Faulkner’s dense, super-literary multi-narrator novel in its very first cinematic incarnation.
Only Lovers Left Alive, Dir. Jim Jarmusch – Competition
Tilda Swinton as a sexy vampire? That’s all we needed to hear.
Seduced and Abandoned, Dir. James Toback – Special Screenings
HBO just picked up Toback’s doc about himself and Alec Baldwin running around last year’s Cannes in search of funding for their film, which in a super-meta move will be premiering at this year’s Cannes. Apparently it takes the pulse of the current state of the film industry, and includes interviews with luminaries such as Bertolucci, Polanski, Scorsese, Jessica Chastain, and Ryan Gosling.
Inside Llewyn Davis, Dirs. Joel and Ethan Coen – Competition
Oscar Isaac’s on the rise! Here he plays the fictional title character in the Coen bros’ latest, about the folk scene in sixties Greenwich Village. (Could be a showcase for some nice tunes: Justin Timberlake, Marcus Mumford, and Isaac himself contributed to the soundtrack.) Bonuses: John Goodman plays a dude with drug issues; Adam Driver’s in it; and maybe this will redeem Carey Mulligan, whose cute, murine little face has been criticized as being “all wrong” for Gatsby’s Daisy but which seems just right for Llewyn’s mousy love interest.
Venus in Fur, Dir. Roman Polanski – Competition
Polanski adapts yet another claustrophobic theater piece to the screen—this time, David Ives’s acclaimed, spiky, two-person play of the same name—and lets Mathieu Amalric (who has a role in Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian, also in this year’s competition) get nasty, psychologically and otherwise, with Emmanuelle Seigner.
Le Passé (The Past), Dir. Asghar Farhadi – Competition
After his riveting, understated 2009 drama About Elly, which sadly never received a proper U.S. theatrical release, we were happy to see Farhadi get some major recognition (aka an Oscar) with Iranian divorce film A Separation. Here he continues his look into the nature of splitting up, with Bérénice Bejo in her first major role since The Artist opposite the excellent Tahar Rahim (also in Rebecca Zlotowski’s Grand Central, screening as part of Un Certain Regard.)
Only God Forgives, Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn – Competition
We’re hoping for some pretty serious visual stimulation in this one, which finds the Danish director reteaming with his Drive star Ryan Gosling to go deep into Bangkok’s seedy criminal underbelly, with its drug deals and whorehouses and Muay Thai clubs (Gosling apparently did some serious boxing to train for the film). Kristin Scott Thomas plays his mom, who’s also the bloodthirsty godmother of a major criminal organization.