CANNES – After last year supplied Best Picture nominee “Nebraska,” vaulted Bruce Dern into the Best Actor race, made “Inside Llewyn Davis” a pseudo contender and found many wondering if “Blue is the Warmest Color” could create some heat, awards season has some new players on the board as the 2014 Cannes Film Festival comes to a close.
The big winner is clearly Annapurna Pictures and Sony Pictures Classics' “Foxcatcher.” Bennett Miller surprised many by taking home the Best Director prize on Saturday night, but it's the superb performances of Steve Carell (who could have easily bested Timothy Spall for the Best Actor Palm) Channing Tatum or Mark Ruffalo that will be at the forefront of the film's awards season hopes. And considering he's already a previous nominee, Miller is obviously in play in the Best Director race. In terms of Best Picture, however, “Foxcatcher” feels like one of those dramas that could end up battling for the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth slot. The question is whether the final results leave voters somewhat cold. That being said, the picture will clearly find a fan base in some parts of the Academy.
Another Sony Classics title that will make some awards noise is Mike Leigh's “Mr. Turner.” The period piece centers on the last few years in the life of noted British painter J.M.W. Turner and features beautiful cinematography, production design and costumes. Spall's previously mentioned win instantly makes him a Best Actor contender, but until the rest of the field shakes out, it's simply too early to judge his chances of making the five. Still, he's a player as is Leigh for original screenplay.
A number of unexpected actress candidates are now also in the mix. In a very competitive field, four-time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore surprised many winning the Palm for Best Actress for David Cronenberg's “Map to the Stars.” What Moore will have going for her is a blunt and scene-stealing performance as a former A-list actress who hasn't fallen too far, but desperately wants back in the game, even if she's unaware of how out-of-touch her behavior is. Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood and while many will raise their eyebrows about how far off Cronenberg and screenwriter Bruce Wagner's satire is to the industry, voters could rally behind Moore and help her snag yet another nomination. Much will depend on whether EOne, the current U.S. distributor, can support a real awards season campaign.
Speaking of distribution, if Xavier Dolan's “Mommy” can find the right home, Anne Dorval and Suzanne Clément could sneak themselves into the conversations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively. Granted, it's a long-shot, even with the right distributor (“Mommy” is homeless in the U.S. at the moment) and the fact that the Canadian film is in French doesn't help. But there's a kernel of awards season potential here.
Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy have been promised awards season pushes for “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” (which first appeared as a work in progress at Toronto last September) by The Weinstein Company. Chastain, a two-time nominee, has the better chance at a nod, but may be competing against herself for her work in Christopher Nolan's “Interstellar.”
Cannes always supplies a number of potential foreign language players and this year is no exception. Palme d'Or winner “Winter's Sleep” is probably a lock as Turkey's submission, Japan could submit “Still the Water,” Argentina has a winner with “Wild Tales” and Belgium should consider the excellent “Party Girl.” Meanwhile, the Dardenne brothers' “Two Days, One Night” with Marion Cotillard is the sort of working class drama Academy voters can relate to and could be Belgium's submission.
What is most disheartening is that Andrey Zvyagintsev's “Leviathan,” which this writer thinks should have won the Golden Palm, will likely not be submitted as Russia's entry. The country's Minister of Culture has already told Zvyagintsev that he is not a fan of the film, which is an impressive statement on the nation's political and religious climate.
Throw in Wes Anderson's “Grand Budapest Hotel” and the intriguing “Magic in the Moonlight” from Woody Allen and the early Oscar field is shaping up quite nicely. Let's just not let any voters forget about the amazing Ralph Fiennes, shall we?
What's your take from the other side of the Atlantic? Share your thoughts on the Cannes Oscar prospects below.