What do you know? The Cannes Film Festival that yearly transforms that quiet French Riviera town into a colliding cacophony of celebrity and cinema, is once again pinpointing with amazing precision the most artistically pre-eminent and therefore most commercially viable films of the year.
While all the hype surrounding festival opener Olivier Dahan’s Grace of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman, fast faded–Dahan’s attempt to recreate the success of his La Vie en rose (2007) is not even in contention; other standouts very much in contention include Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner about British painter J.M.W. Turner in all his eccentricities over his last quarter century. The film stars Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson and Dorothy Atkinson.
Then, there’s Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, a true story of crime and intrigue starring Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum. Sony Classics has set its U.S. release for November 14, giving it a prime spot heading into the season of Oscar contenders.
Miller, known for his Capote (2005), earning a coveted Oscar for Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s award-winning performance, and Oscar-nominated Moneyball (2011), is no stranger to getting the Academy’s attention.And, right now, a Hollywood insider tells me, Miller’s Foxcatcher is “the talk of Cannes.”
Of course, it has more to do with the fact that, as The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “Tatum and Ruffalo lifted the real coach of ‘Foxcatcher’ off the ground during a prolonged standing ovation at the Palais” on May 19. (Carell is the one who plays the “creepy, wannabe wrestling coach” in the film.)
Rather, Bennett is a master storyteller and the reviews show it, with Variety rating it “Perhaps the sole credible awards-season heavyweight to have emerged from this year’s Cannes Film Festival.”
Bennett’s storytelling craft employs the kind of artful precision and dramatic skill that aspires to the “Master of Suspense,” himself, Alfred Hitchcock. While telling the epic story of American cultural and business success in his former two films with characters who capture its largeness; the current offering rivets audiences with the dark side of success when filtered through a twisted, narrow, sick psyche–that of Pennsylvania multimillionaire John E. DuPont (Carell). The actor’s character lures Dave Schultz (Ruffalo), the Olympic wrestling champion, into an evil web leading to the Olympian’s death in 1996.
The film’s accolades owe much to the stunning performances of Carell, Ruffalo and Tatum along with those of the supporting cast including Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller, Brett Rice, Tara Subkoff, Guy Boyd, Roger Callard, Cory Jantzen and Lee Perkins–not all household names, but whom, no doubt, we’ll be hearing more of soon.
Whether or not Foxcatcher snags the coveted Palm d’Or award this Sunday in Cannes, one thing’s certain, it’s golden and should win at least one of the top two awards, with Carrel seemingly the odds-on-favorite for best actor. Miller may even win best director, though Leigh is a strong contender, as well.
And, there’s nothing like some good competition to get the juices flowing!