New films from Martin Scorsese, George Miller, Baz Luhrmann, Claire Denis, and Robert Eggers lead the Oscar frontrunners.
The 2022 Cannes Film Festival lineup boasts plenty of contenders, with Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” and George Miller’s “Three Thousand Years of Longing” both marking their respective world premieres. Looking ahead to Venice International Film Festival, Andrew Dominik’s “Blonde” may launch its festival rounds before premiering on Netflix. Will Ana de Armas, who Dominik has already called “fucking amazing” as Marilyn Monroe, land a Best Actress nod?
And lest we forget the cast behind Viking epic ensemble “The Northman,” helmed by self-admitted perfectionist director Robert Eggers, lead Alexander Skarsgård has already received praise for a career-best performance in the Nordic tale, based on the same story that inspired Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”
Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film “The Fabelmans” is already poised to be an Oscars favorite, with Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and David Lynch starring in the 1950s-set period piece.
Did we mention there’s a new Leonardo DiCaprio-Martin Scorsese film on the horizon or that “La La Land” Best Director winner Damien Chazelle is back with “Babylon”? Keep scrolling to see our (constantly updated) top 40 films that look poised to be recognized by the Academy in 2023.
Ryan Lattanzio and Christian Zilko contributed to this story.
Cannes Film Festival
“Triangle of Sadness”
Ruben Östlund won his second Palme d’Or (in as many attempts), for this satire of extravagant wealth, which stars Woody Harrelson as the captain of a super yacht carrying a fleet of rich people. When the yacht crashes, the elite passengers find themselves stranded on a deserted island. The film was a big hit on the Croisette, eliciting a strong response for its ability to combine esoteric ideas with scatological humor. While “Triangle of Sadness” is certainly polarizing—IndieWire’s David Ehrlich called it “frustratingly obtuse”—the film is more audience friendly than other recent Palme d’Or winners, and it should find a receptive audience among Academy members. Neon has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to the film. -CZ
Many expected Lukas Dhont’s coming-of-age film “Close” to take home the Palme d’Or at Cannes. But while its loss to “Triangle of Sadness” was disappointing, that does not mean that Oscar gold is off the table. The film, which tells the story of an intimate friendship that develops between two 12-year-old boys, (Eden Dambrine and Remi Gustav De Waele), has earned plenty of praise for its portrayal of childhood innocence and the strong performances from its child actors. A24 acquired the movie in a buzzy sale, and will likely mount a strong Oscar campaign. While “Close” is a strong contender to be submitted as Belgium’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category, it will face stiff competition from another Cannes favorite, the Dardenne brothers’ “Tori and Lokita.” -CZ
Sony Pictures Classics
“One Fine Morning”
“Bergman Island” director Mia Hansen-Løve returned to Cannes with a film that, on the surface, may have seemed like standard French arthouse fare. “One Fine Morning” tells the story of a widowed single mother who engages in an affair with a married man, the kind of story that has inspired countless French films. But a stunning performance from the always-excellent Léa Seydoux elevates the movie into something truly special. The film could compete to be France’s submission in the Best Foreign Language Film category, and if the chips fall in the right way, Seydoux could even find herself competing for an Oscar of her own. Sony Pictures Classics acquired US distribution rights to “One Fine Morning” at Cannes, but the company has yet to announce a release date. -CZ
Marie Kreutzer’s revisionism-heavy take on Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary was a crowd pleasing hit in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival. “Corsage” earned praise for using creative license to deconstruct the myth surrounding one of Austria’s most dramatized historical figures, adding speculative fiction and correcting the record at the same time. The result is one of the more unique period pieces to hit theaters this year, which could allow “Corsage” to appeal to several different groups of Oscar voters. But the vast majority of the film’s award buzz is centered around Vicky Krieps, who stuns as Elizabeth and could inject herself into in the Oscar race in the same way Kristen Stewart did with “Spencer.” IFC Films is distributing “Corsage” in the US, though no release date has been announced. -CZ
James Gray has always found the Cannes crowd to be much more receptive to his films than American audiences, but that could change with “Armageddon Time,” his most personal movie to date. The autobiographical film recalls Gray’s experiences growing up in Queens, using his relationship with his paternal grandfather (played by recent Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins) and a Black classmate to examine issues of inequality through the eyes of a middle schooler. Socially conscious Academy members might find the scope of the film too limited, but reviews out of Cannes praised Gray’s delicate touch in recalling his own childhood. If his recent films like “The Lost City of Z” and “Ad Astra” were too weird for the Oscars, this one might have found the sweet spot. Focus Features is handling US distribution, though no release date has been announced. -CZ
©Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection
Robert Eggers’ third feature film was meticulously researched to make an as-accurate Viking epic drama as possible. “The Northman” stars Alexander Skarsgård as Prince Amleth, who vows to avenge his murdered father (Ethan Hawke) and rescue his kidnapped mother (Nicole Kidman). Eggers co-wrote the screenplay with Icelandic novelist and poet Sjón; the story is based on the same Scandinavian folk tale that inspired Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, Ralph Ineson, and Björk also star in the period drama that infamously had a grueling 87-day production.
“The Northman” has already received critical praise. IndieWire’s Chief Film Critic David Ehrlich wrote, “All you need to know about ‘The Northman’ — a $90 million viking revenge movie directed by Robert Eggers — is that every single moment of it feels like a $90-million viking revenge movie directed by Robert Eggers.”
While more CGI was used than auteur Eggers would have hoped (another COVID-related setback for productions in the midst of a pandemic), “The Northman” marks a turning point for studio-funded cinema. As Eggers told IndieWire, it’s rare that a writer-director gets an opportunity to make a “big movie that’s not an IP movie” in the wake of the superhero takeover of box office grosses. Given that Hawke compared “The Northman” to Oscar-winner “Apocalypse Now,” it’s safe to say “The Northman” will be up for a few Academy Awards come next year.
Critically acclaimed Pixar film “Turning Red” tells the story of a Toronto teen who turns into a large red panda whenever she gets overwhelmed. The feature is directed by Domee Shi, and stars Rosalie Chiang as adolescent Mei. IndieWire’s Kate Erbland called “Turning Red” an “instant classic” for its touching portrayal of a Chinese-Canadian upbringing. “It’s emotional, stunning, and a joy to behold,” Erbland wrote. “The lessons are of the usual sort — how to be true to yourself, how to honor your family and friends, the value of culture in all its forms, the need to find humor — but they are rendered fresh and new, with ‘Turning Red’ turning in one of Pixar’s best films not just about the pain of life, but the very joy of it, too.”
Courtesy Sundance Film Festival
“Fire of Love”
Sara Dosa’s “Fire of Love” is a documentarian’s dream. With a truly amazing trove of archival footage taken by married volcanologists Maurice and Katia Krafft, the movie is, seemingly, essentially handed to the filmmakers. However, that surely didn’t make piecing together this vivid and soaringly heart-tugging documentary a simple task. The filmmakers have restored and re-assembled endless reels and dozens of hours of film and video footage dating back to the late 1960s into a witty portrait, aided amply by appropriately monotone narration from filmmaker Miranda July.
At an economical 90-minute running time, “Fire of Love” packs a visual and emotional wallop, with enough close-ups on erupting volcanoes — one, at a point, is called “a bathtub with a hole in it, sowing death all around” — to leave you slack-jawed, terrified, and awe-inspired as you contemplate a life lived at the edge of a 2,200-degree (°F) abyss. National Geographic and NEON are partnering on the film’s release, which guarantees a strong running in the awards season. It’s the sort of crowd-pleasing documentary that all the branches revel in. —RL
Austin Butler stars as Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic of the crooner. “Elvis” will officially debut at 2022 Cannes, and charts the “Burning Love” singer’s rise to fame alongside infamous manager Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks. “The Power of the Dog” breakout Oscar nominee Kodi Smit-McPhee portrays country star Jimmie Rodgers, while Olivia DeJonge stars as Elvis’ wife Priscilla and Kelvin Harrison Jr. plays B.B. King. Sam Bromell, Jeremy Doner, and Craig Pearce co-wrote the script with Luhrmann, who filmed the production in his native Australia. “Elvis” will debut in theaters June 24.
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection
“Three Thousand Years of Longing”
Academy Award winner George Miller teams up again with much of his “Mad Max: Fury Road” crew for 2022 Cannes Official Selection “Three Thousand Years of Longing.” The film stars Tilda Swinton as a scholar who encounters a Djinn (Idris Elba), who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. Their conversation, unfolding in a hotel room in Istanbul, leads to consequences neither expected. Miller has described dialogue-driven “Three Thousand Years of Longing” as the “anti-‘Mad Max.’” Originally slated for a September 2021 release, COVID delays stalled the film’s premiere until 2022. Oscar winner Swinton and Emmy nominee Elba make for a promising partnership onscreen as well as potential awards season fodder.
Chinonye Chukwu writes and directs a biopic about Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler), an American educator and activist who pursues justice after the 1955 lynching of her 14-year-old son Emmett Till (Jalyn Hall). The film utilizes decades worth of research by filmmaker Keith Beauchamp, whose documentary “The Untold story of Emmett Till” in part led to the U.S. Department of Justice reopening the case in 2004. Beauchamp co-wrote the screenplay for “Till” with Chukwu, whose 2019 film “Clemency” landed lead star Alfre Woodard a BAFTA nomination. Whoopi Goldberg, Frankie Faison, and Haley Bennett also star in the historical drama. “Till” premieres October 21.
Sipa USA via AP
Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg turns the camera inward as he brings his own upbringing to the big screen with the semi-autobiographical “The Fabelmans.” Set in 1950s Arizona, the film stars Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as Spielberg’s parents, with Seth Rogen playing his favorite uncle. David Lynch also stars in an unspecified role, alongside “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” scene-stealer Julia Butters and newcomer Gabriel LaBelle. Spielberg co-wrote the script with his usual collaborator, Tony Kushner (“West Side Story”). “The Fabelmans,” from Amblin Entertainment, will hit theaters wide November 23.
Writer-director Jordan Peele is already an Oscar winner for Best Original Screenplay in 2018 for “Get Out.” His follow-up “Us” earned lead star Lupita Nyong’o a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, so Peele fans can expect his third feature “Nope” to garner critical acclaim. Peele reunites with “Get Out” Best Actor nominee (and “Judas and the Black Messiah” Oscar winner) Daniel Kaluuya; Keke Palmer and Steven Yuen join the cast to bring to life the story of a (presumed) alien invasion. The plot details remain under wraps, but a 2022 Super Bowl trailer showed Palmer and Kaluuya playing horse-trainer siblings grappling with the apocalypse. “Euphoria” breakout Barbie Ferreira, “The OA” star Brandon Perea, and Michael Wincott round out the cast. “Nope” is slated for release July 22.
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Will the Netflix movie live up to its hype? Andrew Dominik has already placed his fictionalized Marilyn Monroe biopic in the ranks of “Citizen Kane” and “Raging Bull,” two legendary Academy Award–winning films. Ana de Armas stars as Monroe in the adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel “Blonde.” The author tweeted that the film captured the “magic” of a truly unprecedented tone. “It is startling, brilliant, very disturbing and perhaps most surprisingly an utterly ‘feminist’ interpretation,” Oates wrote. “Not sure that any male director has ever achieved anything [like] this.”
As in Oates’ 700-page book, the players in Monroe’s life are all identified only by nicknames. Dominik’s film adaptation is similarly steering clear of actual names, with Bobby Cannavale playing “The Ex-Athlete” (Joe DiMaggio), Adrien Brody is “The Playwright” (Arthur Miller), and Caspar Phillipson stars as “The President” (John F. Kennedy). The film has already made history as Netflix’s first NC-17 rated original feature, and lead star de Armas called her own casting “groundbreaking” due to her Cuban descent. The “Deep Water” star added to The Sunday Times that she underwent “torture” to perfect Monroe’s voice. And Dominik called de Armas “fucking amazing” as Monroe, telling Screen Daily, “The one thing nobody’s going to complain about is [de Armas’] performance.” “Blonde” has yet to land a release date.
“Stars at Noon”
Claire Denis’ long-awaited adaptation of Denis Johnson’s novel “The Stars at Noon” will make its world premiere In Competition at Cannes. Set during the Nicaraguan Revolution in 1984, the film stars Joe Alwyn as a mysterious English businessman who meets an American journalist (Margaret Qualley) reporting on the revolution. The two have an instant connection and a passionate romance ensues, but a “dangerous labyrinth of lies and conspiracies” forces them to try to escape the country. “High Life” star Robert Pattinson was originally set to rejoin his “Stars at Noon” director before production delays on “The Batman” led him to exit the A24 project. Denis wrapped filming “Stars at Noon” in Panama in December 2021. The theatrical release date will be set after its Cannes premiere.