Our great pal and fellow Envelope contributor Pete Hammond has jetted off to the South of France and is filing a series of must-read reports on the annual Cannes film festival. For Pete, "the festival may not quite be an Oscar movie magnet. After all it is held in May and many academy-friendly movies just aren't ready and/or willing to make the trek and take the risk this early, but we have to say, if Telluride/Toronto/Venice in early September is the 'official' start of the season, then Cannes is the 'unofficial' start particularly for the foreign-film Oscar race."
As he notes, "last year the top two Cannes award winners, 'The White Ribbon' and 'Un Prophete,' both went on to academy nominations, as did competition winners 'The Class' and 'Waltz With Bashir' in 2008. Interestingly, in both years, the eventual Oscar victor was a more mainstream choice that never saw the light of day in Cannes, 'Departures' and this year's champ, 'The Secret in Their Eyes.' "
And, as Pete writes, "although you have to go all the way back to 1955 when 'Marty' took the top prize here, hope springs eternal that one day the best picture Oscar and the Palme d'Or will be a match again." As for the odds of that happening this year, he observes, "It doesn't help that the higher-profile films from past best-pic-winning directors here are all being presented out of competition, which include Oliver Stone's 'Wall Street' sequel, 'Money Never Sleeps,' French fave Woody Allen's latest, 'You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,' in addition to Ridley Scott's 'Robin Hood.' "
As Pete reports, "that does, however, leave some directors with past best-picture nominations offering their latest in competition, including Mike Leigh's ('Secrets and Lies') 'Another Year'; Alejandro González Iñárritu's ('Babel') 'Biutiful'; and Nikita Michalov, a foreign language Oscar winner for Russia's 'Burnt by the Sun' who is bringing the sequel to Cannes this year. 'Burnt by the Sun 2' doesn't exactly have the same ring as, say, 'Iron Man 2.' But that's Cannes."
Photo: Cannes Film Festival logo. Credit: Festival de Cannes