Oscar Beat: Early Contenders Arise from Cannes Film Festival

     May 26, 2014


It seems like only yesterday we were closing out the lengthy and eventful awards season with my 2015 preview installment of Oscar Beat, but the next race is already starting to heat up.  The first awards barometer of each year arrives with the Cannes Film Festival, and the most recent fest is no different.  A number of potential contenders premiered on the Croisette over the past couple of weeks, and after all the standing ovations (and a fair amount of boos), some serious Oscar contenders have emerged.

Hit the jump as I take a look at the post-Cannes Oscar landscape, which includes contenders like Foxcatcher, Mr. TurnerMaps to the Stars, and even a possible Oscar nomination for Channing Tatum.

foxcatcher-steve-carell-channing-tatumThe biggest Oscar contender to come out of the Cannes Film Festival this year is undoubtedly Foxcatcher.  The film has been anticipated for some time now, and after glowing reviews from its premiere, director Bennett Miller took home the Best Director trophy at the end of the festival.  The pic stars Steve Carell as eccentric millionaire John du Pont and tells the story of his tragic relationship between Olympic Wrestling Champion brothers Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo).  Reviews for the film were ecstatic, with many unsurprisingly praising Carell for his terrifying and nuanced dramatic turn.

Miller has some substantial history with Oscar as his last two features, Capote and Moneyball, both landed Best Picture nominations, with Capote also landing Miller a Best Director nod.  Though Carell is receiving a heavy amount of buzz for a Best Actor trophy, his co-star Channing Tatum also drew highly positive notice.  There was some debate over whether Tatum might compete against Carell in the Best Actor category, but as of now it sounds like Sony Pictures Classics will be submitting Tatum in Best Supporting Actor, giving both actors the best shot at winning.  An Oscar nomination for Tatum would certainly be the cherry on top of his recent career surge, and after 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike, I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one to underestimate him a third time.

maps-to-the-stars-julianne-mooreAll in all, Foxcatcher received the strongest buzz of the Cannes premieres, and nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and potentially Best Supporting Actor seem likely.  If it’s as heavy a hitter as it sounds, other nominations for Screenplay, Editing, etc. could also be expected.

Another standout emerged from Cannes with director David Cronenberg’s latest, the celebrity satire Maps to the Stars.  Though the film itself received mixed reviews at best, Julianne Moore enjoyed strong notice for her lead performance and went on to win the Best Actress trophy at the Cannes Film Festival Awards.  A 4-time Academy Award nominee, Moore is no stranger to the Oscar ceremony, and one imagines she has a shot at landing her fifth nod later this year.  The big question will be how reviews impact her campaign and how crowded the Best Actress field will be, but those remain unknowns for the time-being.

Though Foxcatcher and Maps to the Stars were both films that many had their eye on in the weeks leading up to Cannes, writer/director Mike Leigh’s (Vera Drake) J.M.W. Turner biopic Mr. Turner flew a bit more under the radar.  The film drew incredibly strong reviews following its premiere, with star Timothy Spall commanding most of the attention for his standout performance as the eccentric British painter.  He won Best Actor at the Cannes Awards and seems like a very strong contender for the Best Actor Oscar trophy alongside the aforementioned Steve Carell later this year.

mr-turner-timothy-spallAnd then there’s the Palme d’Or winner Winter Sleep.  The Turkish film was a bit of a surprise win for the festival’s biggest trophy, with many voicing their displeasure at the decision.  However, don’t be surprised to see the pic become a contender in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race.

All of this being said, the important thing to keep in mind when it comes to Cannes is that the Oscars are still a ways off.  These aforementioned films and actors have a long road ahead, and not every Cannes winner is able to stick out the marathon—just ask Inside Llewyn Davis, which emerged as an Oscar frontrunner at Cannes last year only to be nearly shutout from the Oscars altogether.  Foxcatcher probably has the best shot given that Steve Carell’s “dramatic turn” will be buzzworthy in and of itself, but again, nothing is for certain.

We’ll have a much better idea of the 2015 Oscar landscape come Telluride and TIFF this September, but until then, these Cannes contenders are important to keep in mind.  I’ll be covering every nook and cranny of the awards race again here on Oscar Beat this year, so until next time, folks!

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