3D, Kidman, Cotillard and more in closer look at the first wave of titles for Cannes Fest

The press conference to announce the first batch of titles that will play this year’s Cannes Film Festival began around 2:30 AM PST, but the line-up more than made up for the half-hour delay from the promised start time.

Thierry Fremaux, director of the festival, took the stage to announce the first 50 or so titles, and it’s an exciting event on paper.  The potential here is almost intoxicating, even without some of the much-speculated-about titles.  I’m going to be at the festival for the second time this year, and I have a feeling I’m going to do much better this year in terms of how much I see and how I prioritize the films I’m going to attend.

For example, I am fairly sure I’ll be seeing the 1984 film “Once Upon A Time In America,” and I’m dying to see if the 269-minute cut of the film finally resolves the issues that keep it from being one of my favorite Sergio Leone films.  And I’m going to see the restoration of Roman Polanski’s “Tess,” just as sure as I’m going to see the Laurent Bouzereau documentary “Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir.”

Those are just appetizers, though.  This morning, there were films from the Un Certain Regard program, Official Competition titles, Out Of Competition titles, and a few special screenings.  And at the end of the announcements, it seems like at least for this first wave, it is an eclectic and provocative mix of filmmakers and subject matter.

“Twilight” fans have to to be excited about both “Cosmopolis” and “On The Road” making it into the fest, since they’ll have new films with both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart being screened.  For me, those are both exciting titles because of the source material and the directors involved.  David Cronenberg doing Don DeLillo?  Walter Salles finally bringing Kerouac’s book to the screen?  These are exciting projects even before you factor in the casting.

Let’s take a look at the various announcements made today, including the titles that had already been confirmed.

The UN CERTAIN REGARD section is filled with names I recognize and names I don’t, and it seems like it’s all over the place.  I’ll be making sure I catch “7 Days In Havana,” an anthology film that includes segments from Gaspar Noe, Laurent  Cantet, Julio Medem, and Benicio del Toro, and I’m excited to check out “Antiviral,” a film from Brandon Cronenberg, who is indeed the son of David Cronenberg.  More than anything, I’m glad they programmed “Beasts Of The Southern Wild,” which I missed at Sundance, because I’ve been wanting to catch up to it since then.  Xavier Dolan’s “Laurence Anyways” is the longest of the new films announced for the festival, weighing in at 2 hours and 41 minutes.  I’m very curious about Koje Wakamatsu’s take on Mishima, and I hope I have time to check it out.

Here are all of the films announced so far for Un Certain Regard:

“La Playa” – dir. Juan Andres Arango
“Miss Lovely” – dir. Achim Ahluwalia
“God’s Horses” – dir. Nabel Ayouch
“Antiviral” – dir. Brandon Cronenberg
“Trois Mondes” – dir. Catherine Corsini
“7 Days In Havana” – dir. Benicio Del Toro, Gaspar Noe, Laurence Cantat, et all
“Laurence Anyways” – dir. Xavier Dolan
“Le Grand Soir” – dir. Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern
“Aimer A Perdre La Raison” – dir. Joachim LaFosse
“Después De Lucia” – dir. Michel Franco
“Mystery” – dir. Lou Ye
“Student” – dir. Darezhan Omirbayev
“La Pirogue” – dir. Moussa Toure
“Confession Of A Child Of The Century” – dir. Sylvie Verheyde
“The White Elephant” – dir. Pablo Trapero
“11:25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate” – dir. Koje Wakamatsu
“Beasts Of The Southern Wild” – dir. Benh Zeitlin

It’s going to be a really brutal battle for the awards this year, and I can’t wait to dig into the films that are officially IN COMPETITION.  The opening night movie, Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” is going to be competing against new movies from Jacques (“A Prophet”) Audiard, Lee (“Precious”) Daniels, Andrew (“The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford”) Dominik, Matteo (“Gomorrah”) Garrone, and more.  I’m going to get to see “Love,” the new film by Michael Haneke, as well as John Hillcoat’s “Lawless.”  It seems like a dream line-up on paper, and if even half of these films live up to their potential, it’s going to be an incredible festival.  The festival’s going to have movie stars like Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt, Tom Hardy, Edward Norton, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Shia LaBeouf, Zac Efron, and more, and that means that even if you remove the Pattinson/Stewart chaos from the equation, it’s going to be crrrrrazy.

Check out the full list of films In Competition:

“Rust and Bone” – dir. Jacques Audiard
“Moonrise Kingdom” – dir. Wes Anderson
“Holy Motors” – dir. Leos Carax
“Cosmopolis” – dir. David Cronenberg
“The Paperboy” – dir. Lee Daniels
“Killing Them Softly” – dir. Andrew Dominik
“Reality” – dir. Matteo Garrone
“Love” – dir. Michael Haneke
“Lawless” – dir. John Hillcoat
“In Another Country” – dir. Hong Sang So
“The Taste of Money” – dir. Im Sang So
“Like Someone In Love” – dir. Abbas Kiarostami
“The Angels’ Share” – dir. Ken Loach
“In The Fog” – dir. Sergei Loznitsa
“Beyond The Hills” – dir. Cristian Mungiu
“Baad el Mawkeaaa (Apres La Bataille)” – dir. Yousry Nasrallah
“Mud” – dir. Jeff Nichols
“You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet” – dir. Alan Resnais
“Post Tenebras Lux” – dir. Carlos Reygadas
“On The Road” – dir. Walter Salles
“Paradise: Love” – dir. Ulrich Seidl
“The Hunt” – dir. Thomas Winterberg

Then there are these films that are OUT OF COMPETITION, and it’s just like adding gravy on top of what’s already delicious.  Dario Argento’s 3D take on “Dracula” is playing, and we’ll also get 3D glasses for Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Me and You.”  I’m a little surprised to see “Madagascar 3” playing, but Cannes has proven to be very studio animation friendly in the last few years, so maybe it’s not that surprising after all.  Philip Kaufman’s “Hemingway & Gellhorn” is evidently a made-for-HBO film here in the US, but maybe Kaufman’s got enough of a following overseas for this to be theatrical in other markets.  I love the title of the Takashi Miike film, while I can’t help noticing how many films this year have “love” in the title, aside from Michael Haneke, whose film is just called “Love.”

Here’s the Out Of Competition films so far:

“Tess” – restored by Polanski
“Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir” – dir. Laurent Bouzereau
“Once Upon A Time In America” – dir. Sergio Leone
“The Central Park Five” – dir. Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon
“Garbage In The Garden Of Eden” – dir. Faith Akin
“Les Invisbles” – dir. Sebastien Lifschitz
“Journal De France” – dir. Claudine Nougaret and Raymond Depardon
“Dracula 3D” – dir. Dario Argento
“Madagascar 3” – dir. Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath
“Me and You” – dir. Bernardo Bertolucci
“The Legend Of Love and Sincerity” – dir. Takashi Milke
“Mekong Hotel” – dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul
“Villegas” – dir. Gonzalo Tobak
“A Musica Segundo Tom Jobim” – dir. Nelson Pereira Dos Santos
“Hemingway & Gellhorn” – dir. Philip Kaufman

Finally, the CLOSING NIGHT FILM is the last work by director Claude Miller, who passed away a few weeks ago.  Now his movie “Therese D,” starring Audrey Tatou, is going to be the wrap-up for everything.

It seems like some of the films that people were pretty much counting on didn’t make it, like the still-untitled Paul Thomas Anderson film that is rumored to tackle Scientology’s origins, or the Wong Kar Wai movie “The Grandmasters,” or the also-still-untitled Terrence Malick film.  So what, though?  Look at the movies that did make it in.  And this is just a partial line-up.

This is only my second time going to Cannes, but it’s shaping up to be a heck of a return visit, and this time around, I’m staying so close to the Grand Palais that I feel like it’s going to be a whole different experience.

We’ll be covering the festival as soon as it kicks off on May 16, 2012.