Hollywood's shiniest stars are making their way to the beautiful French Riviera as the Cannes Film Festival begins Wednesday, and the glitz just keeps on coming. The festival will open with this weekend's second-place box office finisher, Baz Luhrmann's lavish version of that giant of American literature, The Great Gatsby. And it looks to be a great one for America, as U.S. directors made a quarter of the twenty selections in contention for the Palme D'Or in the best picture category.
American films have always been present at Cannes, even in leaner years. In 1967, only a single American film competed: You're a Big Boy Now, a low-budget independent that starts as its director's thesis (of course, it should noted that its director was Francis Ford Coppola). But it's no surprise Americans are set to make a splash this year, perhaps, as this year's jury is headed by none other than Steven Spielberg.
The list for this year's acclaimed festival includes five U.S. movies, the highest number in six years Here are this year's selections:
Behind The Candelabra: Rumored to be Steven Soderbergh's final film, Candlelabra is based the eponymous book about bedazzled pianist Liberace (Michael Douglas), his lover Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), and their turbulent six-year relationship. If you weren't invited to join the judging panel, don't worry -- the film is premiering on HBO on May 26th.
Inside Llewyn Davis: The latest Coen Brothers' film takes on the '60s folk scene of Greenwich Village and stars Julliard alum Oscar Isaac as the titular guitar strummer. "Gatsby" star Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, and frequent Coen collaborator John Goodman play in support, and the soundtrack includes contributions by Timberlake, Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons (also Mulligan's husband) and T. Bone Burnett.
The Immigrant: James Gray reunites with his muse, actor Joaquin Phoenix (the two previously linked up for Two Lovers and We Own The Night), for this period piece. Oscar winner Marion Cotillard plays a Polish emigree who falls under the influence of a most dangerous gentleman in 1920s New York.
Only Lovers Left Alive: Indie staple Jim Jarmsuch takes on vampires in his first film in four years. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston go gothic as Adam and Eve, the two halves of an undead love affair centuries in the making.
Nebraska: Alexander Payne, whose last film was Oscar winner The Descendants, directs this cross country journey of a father (Bruce Dern) and son (former SNL cast member Will Forte) as they attempt to claim a million dollar sweepstakes prize.
American directors are even making waves outside of the major competition. One of Cannes' most talked-about films is Sofia Coppola's newest film, The Bling Ring, which will open the Un Certain Regard section of the festival. Based on a true story, the film features Harry Potter series alum Emma Watson playing a girl-gone-wild in a crew of teenagers who burgle the homes of the rich and famous. Oakland, California, native Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station got a lot acclaim at Sundance before making the rounds; the dramatization of the final day Oscar Grant's life (Grant was killed by a BART police officer on New Year's Day 2009) won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for dramatic films at the year's festival. Even James Franco's making an appearance: he directs and stars in his submission As I Lay Dying, an adaptation of the 1930 William Faulkner novel.