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Cannes: Jacques Audiard Wins Palme d’Or, Carol Snubbed (Sort Of)

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The glamour of the Cannes Film Festival came to a close for another year today with the festival’s closing night awards ceremony. All of the big awards, including the coveted Palme d’Or, were handed out by the Coen brothers-led Cannes jury.

The films showing in competition at this year’s festival were typically varied, including films from master filmmakers as well as first-time directors. Ultimately, though, the jury favoured the element of surprise this year, as the Palme d’Or ended up going to Jacques Audiard for Dheepan. Audiard’s last two films, Rust and Bone and A Prophet (which won the Cannes Grand Prix in 2009) are beloved by many, so it’s not shocking that Audiard won the top award. What IS somewhat surprising is that Dheepan, which didn’t receive a huge critical response during the festival and flew under many awards prognosticators’ radar, was the film to win it for him.

Jacques Audiard's Dheepan was this year's somewhat surprising Palme d'Or winner.

Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan was this year’s somewhat surprising Palme d’Or winner.

This year’s jury included Joel and Ethan Coen, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sienna Miller, Xavier Dolan, Guillermo del Toro, Sophie Marceau, Rossy de Palma, and Rokia Traore.

With many guessing that Todd Haynes’ Carol would take top prize, a hint of what was to come came early on in the awards ceremony when Rooney Mara was given the festival’s award for best actress. (She shared the honour with Mon Roi’s Emmanuelle Bercot.) Since each competing film is only allowed to win one jury prize, this accolade definitively put Carol out of the running for the Palme.

son of saulThe surprises kept coming, as most prognosticators’ second guess, Son of Saul, ended up taking the Grand Prix (Cannes’ equivalent to second place). It’s perhaps not shocking that a first-time director (Laszlo Nemes) didn’t win top prize, but the harrowing Auschwitz drama earned such high praise that the Hungarian film also wouldn’t have been a completely out-of-left-field pick.

The Lobster’s director, Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) also had to settle for a different accolade, despite the fact that some thought his English language debut could win him the Palme. Ultimately, The Lobster took home the Prix du Jury, which is considered third place at Cannes, and is the same prize that jury member Dolan took home last year for Mommy.

Vaunted Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien got some love for the critically lauded The Assassin and took home Best Director. This is Hou’s first feature since 2008’s Flight of the Red Balloon.

Meanwhile, Best Actor went to Vincent Lindon, who plays a recently laid-off factory worker in La Loi du Marche (The Measure of a Man). The award for best screenplay was awarded to Michael Franco, the writer and director of Chronic, starring Tim Roth. Best Short Film went to the Lebanese short Waves ’98.

One noticeable snub among the competing films was Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, which went home empty-handed. The film received a largely rapturous response from critics, with some saying that it was even better than his Oscar-winning previous film, The Great Beauty.

Paolo Sorrentino's Youth went home empty-handed at Cannes this year.

Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth went home empty-handed at Cannes this year.

The Camera d’Or (given by the jury to any film in the competition, Director’s Fortnight, or Critic’s Week programs) went to La Tierra y la Sombra (Land and Shade), the second film from Colombian director Cesar Acevedo.

The awards for the festival’s Un Certain Regard program were handed out on Saturday. The Un Certain Regard competition generally highlights newer filmmakers working on more unconventional projects. First prize went to Rams (Hrutar) a quirky Icelandic drama from director Grimur Hakonarson. Second place went to Croatian director Dalibor Matanic’s Balkan drama, Zvizdan (The High Sun). Considering White God and Force Majeure were the two big Un Certain Regard winners last year, it’s certainly not bad company to be in.

With that, another year of the Cannes frenzy is over, but movie festival season is just getting started. (Does it ever really stop?) After all, Venice and TIFF are just around the corner…

TIFF 2013 Lineup Unveiled

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Cumberbatch fans rejoice! The Sherlock star will star in at least three films playing at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, including the fest’s opening night gala, The Fifth Estate.

For Torontonians and anyone else willing to make the trek to Canada, the Toronto International Film Festival is always one of the year’s biggest film events. And at this morning’s press conference, TIFF CEO Piers Handling and artistic director Cameron Bailey kicked off this year’s festivities by announcing TIFF 2013’s opening film selection, as well as the fest’s galas (red-carpet screenings, often boasting big-name actors and directors) and special presentations. Though more films will be added to TIFF’s roster, this morning’s announcement revealed more than 70 titles, giving festival-goers a good idea of what to expect from TIFF 2013, which runs from September 5-15.

The morning began with an early teaser announcement from Bailey via Twitter, where he revealed that Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave will have its world premiere at TIFF 2013. McQueen’s previous films, Shame and Hunger, helped put star Michael Fassbender on the map, and he will once again join with McQueen for 12 Years a Slave, alongside an ensemble cast that includes Chiwetel Ejiofer, Brad Pitt, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

The press conference kicked off by announcing a slew of gala presentations, including early Oscar hopefuls like August: Osage County, Rush, and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, as well other high-profile premieres, such as The Railway Man (starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth), Kill Your Darlings (starring Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg), and Parkland (a retelling of what happened at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital on the day JFK was shot, starring Paul Giamatti and Zac Efron) and a few Canadian choices, like The Art of the Steal (starring Jay Baruchel, Matt Dillon, and Kurt Russell), The Grand Seduction (a comedy starring Brendan Gleeson and Taylor Kitsch) and The Right Kind of Wrong (starring Ryan Kwanten and Catherine O’Hara).

The long list of special presentations includes world premieres of The Dallas Buyer’s Club (which you may remember as the film that Matthew McConaughey lost a drastic amount of weight for), Atom Egoyan’s Devil’s Knot (the West Memphis Three drama starring Colin Firth, Reece Witherspoon, and Dane DeHaan), Jason Reitman’s Labour Day, Prisoners (Hugh Jackman and Jake Jake Gyllenhaal),The Double (a comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska), Paul Haggis’ Third Person (starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Liam Neeson), and international/North American premieres of Alfonso Cuaron’s hotly anticipated sci-fi offering, Gravity, as well as Joe (David Gordon Green’s second film release of the year, starring Nicholas Cage), Cannes winner Blue is the Warmest Color, Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves (Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Sarsgaard), Asghar Farhadi’s The Past, and Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive (Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton).

TIFF’s opening and closing night films were also announced. The festival will close with a comedy called A Life of Crime that stars Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, and John Hawkes. More noteworthy, though, is the choice of opening film, which is the new WikiLeaks biopic, Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange. Last year’s choice of Rian Johnson’s Looper as the festival’s opening film marked a shift for the festival, which in the past had always chosen a Canadian film as its opener.

The full list of this morning’s announcements can be found at tiff.net.

Reeve Carney Cast in Second Buckley Biopic

Remember when I said that Reeve Carney should play Jeff Buckley in a biopic? Probably not. But I did actually suggest that casting choice a couple of months ago when Penn Badgley was cast as the late singer in the upcoming film Greetings from Tim Buckley. And today, The Playlist reported that Carney will in fact be portraying Buckley in the second of two competing biopics.

Now, I’m certainly not the first or only person to notice the comparison between Carney and Buckley, so I can’t brag (though I’m going to try anyways). But while I’m not sure if we need one Buckley biopic let alone two, I think Carney is a great choice, at least visually. And since he’s currently toiling away in the ill-fated Spider-Man musical, we know Carney can sing. The only question that remains is whether he’ll have the screen presence to carry an entire film.

While Greetings from Tim Buckley will cover a very short period in Jeff Buckley’s life (the 1991 tribute concert for his late father, Tim), this second, currently untitled project has much broader source material. The Carney vehicle will be adapted from David Browne’s biography Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley, and it will reportedly cover the period between Jeff’s rise to fame and his eventual death in 1997.

The duelling biopics seem to each have their pros and cons. While I think the untitled one has the more fitting star, Greetings from Tim Buckley (which is set to go into production later this month) may have the advantage with a more compact storyline. Neither film has an especially well-known director, but neither is a newbie. Greetings From Tim Buckley will be helmed by Daniel Algrant, whose last feature was 2003’s People I Know, with Al Pachino and Tea Leoni (which is apparently a film that existed). Meanwhile, the Carney-led biopic will be directed by Jake Scott, who brought us last year’s Welcome to the Rileys.

However, this second biopic may have a slight advantage, since Scott will presumably have Buckley’s original music to work with. Greeting from Tim Buckley is set a few years before the release of Jeff Buckley’s first (and only) album, Grace, and that project does not have the rights to Jeff’s music. But this second project will probably see Carney’s taking on tracks from that album. This puts more pressure on Carney, but it also gives him the opportunity to wow with his renditions of some of Buckley’s best-known songs.

I’m still slightly suspicious that both projects will come to fruition, but if so, it should be interesting to see how each one portrays Buckley.

Carney has been all over television promoting Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, so you probably know what his singing voice sound like, but if not, you can check this clip from the musical’s soundtrack to see that he’s very a capable singer. Oh, and if you’d like to see some of my other casting suggestions for musical biopics, I’ll direct you to an older list of suggestions that I made.