Cannes: The 10 hottest movies

From Sofia Coppola's "Bling Ring" to Ryan Gosling's latest, these movies will heat up a chilly South of France SLIDE SHOW

Topics: slideshow, Movies, Cannes Film Festival, Film Festivals, Ryan Gosling, Only God Forgives, Tilda Swinton, Jim Jarmusch, Coen Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis, Alexander Payne, Sofia Coppola, The Bling Ring, Behind the Candelabra, Michael Douglas, matt damon, Steven Soderbergh,

Cannes: The 10 hottest movies

CANNES, France — A chilly downpour greeted arrivals on the Côte d’Azur this week, with the promise of more un-beach-friendly weather to follow. Parties, interview sessions and other manufactured events were feverishly rescheduled to more sheltered locations. But while the sunny weather and picture-postcard scenery of the Riviera are usually a lot more pleasant this time of year, they aren’t the real reason why the entire film industry descends on this overgrown resort town for 10 days every spring. Now we all have an excuse to head indoors and watch movies.

I’ve already read other critics proclaiming in advance that this 66th Festival de Cannes — which got underway on Wednesday night with the star-studded but rain-soaked European premiere of “The Great Gatsby,” followed by murky midnight fireworks — will be a memorably great one, with one of the strongest lineups in years. OK, sure, maybe. But more than anything, that’s a film-industry reaction to the fact that this festival has premiered several movies in recent years that made a big impact in America, “The Artist” and “Amour” being the most obvious examples. It’s certainly possible that this year’s festival will produce Oscar-winning films or culture-condensing moments, and a lot of people are looking forward to Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Jimmy P.” — the first English-language film from the great French director Arnaud Desplechin — with that in mind. (Should I work in a gratuitous mention of James Franco’s Faulkner adaptation, “As I Lay Dying”? Sure, why not? Puzzlingly, that is officially Franco’s fifth feature as a director.)



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But there’s a lot more to Cannes than star power and awards calculus, important currency as those things may be. The true value of this festival still lies the fact that immensely knowledgeable people have curated a list of unseen and ambitious cinema from all over the globe, most of which hardly anyone knows about and some of which will be very difficult to ever see again. I’m profoundly grateful for the time I’ve spent here over the years watching movies I knew nothing about purely on impulse, from Lucrecia Martel’s “The Headless Woman” to Naomi Kawase’s “The Mourning Forest” to Albert Serra’s “Birdsong,” which ended up blowing my mind and ever so slightly altering the course of my life. So this list, exciting as it is, reflects the movies that the film-crazed tea-leaf readers of Cannes already know about, the discoveries we’ve made in advance. The real discoveries – the ones that will determine whether people murmur regretfully during future festivals, “It was good, but it was no 2013” – those still lie ahead.

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    Cannes preview: Slideshow

    "The Bling Ring"
    Whether you like them or not, Sofia Coppola's films have followed a perverse and highly personal pathway, from "The Virgin Suicides" through "Lost in Translation," "Marie Antoinette" and "Somewhere." So it's a safe bet that her based-on-a-true-story film about a group of L.A. girls who rob celebrity houses -- which opens Cannes' often-edgier Certain Regard competition -- will avoid the most obvious pop clichés.

    Cannes preview: Slideshow

    "Blood Ties"
    Clive Owen, Marion Cotillard and Mila Kunis headline this 1970s gangland thriller that might be the most overtly commercial title in the Cannes selection. It's the first English-language film for director Guillaume Canet, who made the international hit "Tell No One," and who wrote the screenplay with Cannes favorite James Gray. Canet and Cotillard might be France's highest-profile celebrity couple, which is definitely not an irrelevant factor in explaining its presence here.

    Cannes preview: Slideshow

    "Behind the Candelabra"
    Let's call this one a bonus 11th selection on this top 10 list: In something of a slap at Hollywood, Steven Soderbergh's Liberace film -- which will bypass American theaters and go straight to HBO -- is premiering in the main Cannes competition. Can we wait even a minute longer to see Michael Douglas as the not-so-closeted celebu-pianist, and Matt Damon as his remarkably coiffed young "friend"?

    Cannes preview: Slideshow

    "Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian)"
    Benicio del Toro plays an American Indian World War II veteran suffering from a misdiagnosed mental illness, who comes under the care of a French doctor played by Mathieu Amalric, in the first English-language film from Arnaud Desplechin (of "Kings and Queen" and "A Christmas Tale"). The based-on-a-true-story premise is peculiar, and we'll have to see how well Desplechin's Bergman-flavored magic realism plays in an American context, but this is certainly one of Cannes' most eagerly anticipated films.

    Cannes preview: Slideshow

    "Inside Llewyn Davis"
    You can never accurately describe a Coen brothers movie in advance, so let's stick to facts: It's set in the folk-music scene of early-'60s New York, and the title character is a struggling singer played by the fast-rising Oscar Isaac. Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and Justin Timberlake co-star. Buzz is considerable and Oscars are envisioned.

    Cannes preview: Slideshow

    "Nebraska"
    Alexander Payne, of "Sideways" and "The Descendants," moves to black-and-white for this downbeat father-and-son drama starring Bruce Dern as an elderly man with dementia who thinks he has won the lottery and Will Forte as the son who agrees to drive him back home to the Cornhusker State. Expected to be a major awards contender.

    Cannes preview: Slideshow

    "Only God Forgives"
    The dynamic "Drive" duo of Ryan Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn reunite for a stylized crime drama set in Bangkok, with Kristin Scott Thomas as an underworld empress (!) and Gosling as the son she sends on a violent quest for vengeance. Oh my Lord, is there ever excitement here over this one.

    Cannes preview: Slideshow

    "Only Lovers Left Alive" Did indie-film legend Jim Jarmusch, he of "Down by Law" and "Stranger Than Paradise," really make a vampire movie? Yes he did, and it stars Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as a pair of immortal lovers, drifting from Detroit to Tangiers. My guess is that it's not for the "Twilight" fans.

    Cannes preview: Slideshow

    "The Congress"
    A mind-expanding and inexplicable blend of hallucinatory animation and live action from "Waltz With Bashir" director Ari Folman, this stars Robin Wright as herself, kind of, in a free-floating adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's science-fiction classic "The Futurological Congress." Harvey Keitel, Paul Giamatti and Jon Hamm also appear (in various guises).

    Cannes preview: Slideshow

    "The Immigrant"
    James Gray, the ambitious American director of "Two Lovers" and "We Own the Night," has always been a bigger deal in Europe than at home. This 1920s drama, with Marion Cotillard as a Polish immigrant and Joaquin Phoenix as the man who forces her into prostitution, will likely be no exception

    Cannes preview: Slideshow

    "The Past"
    Asghar Farhadi, who won the foreign-language Oscar last year for "A Separation," comes to Paris for his first film made outside Iran. Once again he approaches politics through domestic drama: Tahar Rahim plays an Iranian man whose pending divorce from his French wife (Bérénice Bejo of "The Artist") takes an unexpected turn.

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