CANNES AND EARLY CAMPAIGNING

The 90th Academy Awards will take place on March 4, 291 days from today.

Cannes and early campaigning
The 70th annual Cannes Film Festival is kicking off tomorrow and running through May 28, 2017. Film critics are very excited about this year’s lineup. Variety’s Guy Lodge notes that “usually we speak of Cannes programmes being ‘front-loaded’ or ‘back-loaded’ in terms of major auteur works; this year, it’s simply loaded.” Lodge expects these films to satisfy critics but notes in his article that it is unlikely any will play on to huge Oscar success. He writes that “this year’s [lineup] is more enigmatic than most, heavy on forbiddingly dark subject matter and short on obvious crowd-pleasers. Hollywood, in particular, is a notably reduced presence on the Croisette this year.”

Films from previous Academy Award nominees include:

  • Roman Polanski’s Based on a True Story. Polanski previously won an Oscar for directing The Pianist and received nominations for directing Tess, directing Chinatown and the Rosemary’s Baby screenplay. Worth remembering that he is a convicted statutory rapist.
  • Michel Hazanavicius’ Redoubtable. Hazanavicius previously won for directing The Artist and was nominated for its screenplay and, strangely, film editing.
  • Sophia Coppola’s The Beguiled. Coppola previously won for the Lost in Translation screenplay and was nominated for its direction.
  • Todd Hanyes’ Wonderstruck. Haynes was previously nominated for the screenplay for Far from Heaven (though more recently lauded for directing Carol).
  • Michael Haneke’s Happy End. Haneke was previously nominated for directing and screenplay for Amour (which makes me doubt how happy Happy End will be).
  • Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Lanthimos was previously nominated for screenplay for The Lobster (which was bad).
  • Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories. Baumbach was previously nominated for screenplay for The Squid and the Whale.

(Other auteurs that I had not really heard of but are listed in Lodge’s article are Andrei Zvyagintsev, Arnaud Desplechin, Claire Denis and Lynne Ramsay. Props if you know who they are. Separately, The Hollywood Reporter lists 15 movies to look out for.)

Love from Cannes rarely translates into Academy Awards success. Last year’s winner of the Palme d’Or was the British film I, Daniel Blake, which was nominated for zero Oscars. Two films from Cannes earned their lead actresses a nomination — Isabelle Huppert in Elle and Ruth Negga in Loving — but neither film earned any other nominations and, frankly, Loving was initially expected to be a major Academy Awards contender. The last film that won an Oscar after premiering at Cannes was The Artist six years ago.

Anything out already you should be paying attention to? The main answer so far is Get Out, which has broken box office records (highest grossing film ever for a black director, highest grossing directorial debut) and currently has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Universal, “in an unusually early show on confidence,” has hosted screenings for Academy members in Los Angeles and New York. Still, it is a comedic horror movie (genres that don’t usually do well), on race relations (touchy subject), released early in the year (Oscar voters have notoriously short memories), so I don’t have very high expectations. (Beauty and the Beast has also screened for Academy members, but no.)

For fun, AwardsDaily has listed some of the most anticipated Oscar movies of the year. I don’t know about Oscar prospects, but I am very excited for the new adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.

Spotlight on the Academy
There has been a fair amount of news on the Academy in the past few months. In late March, the Academy decided to stick with PwC despite the Moonlight vs. La La Land error from last year’s ceremony. (A month later, Faye Dunaway was interviewed on NBC Nightly News about the mix-up; she said she feels guilty, noted that she thought that Warren Beatty was joking or stalling and asked herself, “Why didn’t I see Emma Stone’s name on the top of the card?”)

The Academy also released new rules for this year’s ceremony. The two main ones are that multi-part series documentaries will no longer be considered (O.J.: Made in America, which won last year’s Best Documentary award, was almost eight hours long) and that the entire Academy will be eligible to vote for Best Animated Feature (rather than just a “craft-based group”). I don’t really know much about the implications about the animated feature move, but I imagine it would weight nominees toward more popular movies; I had basically never heard of My Life as a Zucchini and The Red Turtle, two of last year’s nominees. (Not to say that this will make the quality of the nominees better; Finding Dory was widely considered to be on the cusp of a nomination last year but was not particularly good.)

Finally, Academy board elections are coming up. On one hand, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs made news by deciding to step down from the board. On the other, many new candidates are vying for board positions, including Whoopi Goldberg, Queen Latifah, Geena Davis, John Ridley and Netflix chief Ted Sarandos. The voting begins next week and will continue until June.

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