The speculation is over. Let the speculation begin.
After weeks of bowel-churning suspense, Cannes Film Festival President Gilles Jacob and Artistic Director Thierry Fremaux (both loyal CHUD readers) have revealed the official "In" and "Out of Competition" selections for this year’s cinematic shindig, and the big story isn’t what made it (we kinda knew that already), but what got left out. As revealed exclusively on this site earlier in the week, Wong Kar-Wai’s first English-speaking film, My Blueberry Nights, will open the festival on May 16th, while Denys Arcand’s The Age of Darkness will close out the Riviera throwdown on May 27th. In between, new movies from the Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men), Bela Tarr (The Man from London), Gus Van Sant (Paranoid Park), Emir Kusturica (Promise Me This), Kim Ki-duk (Breath) and James Grey (We Own the Night) will vie for the Palme d’Or (that’s French for "Amazing Samuel") and hope that they don’t get done like Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales – which still has yet to see a U.S. release after its disastrously negative reception at last year’s festival.
Now that we know what’s in, let’s talk about what ain’t. To begin with, Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, a sure-to-be-epic adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s drawing room comedy, Oil! Starring Daniel Day Lewis as Plainview, a Texas prospector who finds himself at the center of an oil boom, the film was long rumored as a mortal lock for a competition slot this year based on… nothing, really. Everyone just figured that PTA winning Best Director at the fest in 2002 for Punch Drunk Love combined with distributor Paramount Vantage’s Cannes success last year with Babel meant his latest was a cinch for an "In Competition" berth. Didn’t happen. What’ll be the focus of much gossip over the next couple of weeks is whether it missed due to not being finished/submitted or if Fremaux saw it and said, "This is poop!" (Fremaux is apparently the curmudgeon who kept The Fountain out of Cannes last year.) My understanding, though, as I stated earlier this week, is that the movie was always intended to roll out in the fall prior to its late November release.
The absence of Todd Haynes’s highly unconventional Bob Dylan film, I’m Not There, in which seven different actors – including Cate Blancett – play the folk troubadour, is genuinely baffling, though, and not just because the director has, like PTA, been shown a little Cannes love (he took home a Best Artistic Contribution award for 1998’s Velvet Goldmine). Here, you’d think, is a movie that could use some overseas validation before being thrust upon American critics, the majority of whom will probably throw a fit when they don’t get another Ray or Walk the Line. Since The Weinstein Company will be distributing, and they already have Quentin Tarantino’s full cut of Death Proof in the running for the Palme d’Or, perhaps they lobbied to hold the movie back. Again, it’s always possible that the movie isn’t finished, but principal photography has been done for some time, and Haynes doesn’t exactly have a reputation as a tinkerer.
Variety has the full list of films. Harmony Korine fans will be pleased to learn that Mister Lonely made the Un Certain Regard category. I’m not a Harmony Korine fan, but I do like to make people happy.