Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 03-25-13

“The Great Gatsby” is the opening night (May 15) film  (out-of-competition) for the 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival.

“The Great Gatsby” is the opening night (May 15) film (out-of-competition) for the 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival.

“The Great Gatsby” is the opening night (May 15) film  (out-of-competition) for the 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival.

“The Great Gatsby” is the opening night (May 15) film (out-of-competition) for the 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival.

“Amour” won the Palme d’Or at the 65th Annual Cannes Film  Festival and  went on to become a best picture Oscar nominee.

“Amour” won the Palme d’Or at the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival and went on to become a best picture Oscar nominee.

Cannes countdown: The long road to the Oscars typically begins at the Cannes Film Festival where Hollywood makes the most of being in the global media spotlight.

The festival provides multiple opportunities focusing worldwide attention on movies, including the coveted opening night presentation slot. This year that honor goes to Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures’ 3D romantic drama “The Great Gatsby.”

Directed by Baz Luhrmann, “Gatsby” stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke. Its screenplay by Luhrmann & Craig Pearce is adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel.

The countdown is underway now for the 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival that runs from May 15 – 26. Although “Gatsby’s” opening the festival, it’s not actually premiering there. In fact, by the time festivalgoers see the film it will already have opened in U.S. theatres May 10. That’s not usually what happens at Cannes because studios want to benefit from the global publicity generated by an opening night screening at Cannes.

Unfortunately, when “Gatsby” got the nod earlier this month to kick off Cannes, moving its U.S. opening date to May 17 wasn’t a good option. That date’s been locked up for many months by Paramount for its launch of the 3D sci-fi action adventure “Star Trek Into Darkness.” Hollywood tries hard to avoid having big budget high profile pictures like “Gatsby” and “Darkness” open head to head and cut into each other’s boxoffice business.

Originally, “Gatsby” was to have arrived last Christmas, which would have qualified it for Oscar consideration. But with an overcrowded holiday season marketplace and a highly fragmented Oscar race well underway, it made sense to push “Gatsby” back to the much quieter spring.

All the media coverage “Gatsby” gets at Cannes will kick in to help boost its second weekend ticket sales opposite the opening of the new “Star Trek” episode.

“Gatsby’s” not being shown in competition at Cannes so it isn’t eligible for the festival’s biggest prize, the Palme d’Or, awarded by the Cannes jury, headed this year by Steven Spielberg.

Last year Michael Haneke’s romantic drama “Amour” won the Palme d’Or, but wasn’t the opening night selection. It went on to receive five Oscar nominations — best picture, directing, actress (Emmanuelle Riva), original screenplay (Haneke) and foreign language film (Austria’s official selection). “Amour” won in the foreign language race. “Amour” also won the British Academy’s BAFTA for best film not in the English language and the Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards for best foreign language film.

The 65th Cannes festival’s opening night film, Wes Anderson’s romantic comedy drama “Moonrise Kingdom,” was a Palme d’Or nominee but lost to “Amour.” “Moonrise” received one Oscar nomination – best original screenplay (Roman Coppola and Wes Anderson). It also was BAFTA nominated for original screenplay and was a Golden Globe nominee for motion picture (comedy or drama).

In 2011 at the 64th Cannes festival, Michel Hazanavicus’ romantic comedy drama “The Artist” was a Palme d’Or nominee and the film’s star, Jean Dujardin, won the best actor award. That put “Artist” on the awards track that ultimately saw it win five Oscars, including best picture and directing.

Warner Bros. will certainly be hoping to see the same kind of Cannes sparked success for “Gatsby.” The film’s director, Baz Luhrmann, is no stranger to Cannes, which is always helpful. His 2001 musical drama “Moulin Rouge” was Cannes’ opening night film that year and was a Palme d’Or nominee. It received eight Oscar nominations, including best picture and actress (Nicole Kidman). “Moulin” won Oscars for art direction-set decoration and costume design.

Luhrmann’s first film, the 1992 romantic comedy drama “Strictly Ballroom,” was screened at Cannes, where the young filmmaker received the festival’s Award of Youth in the foreign film category.

In commenting on “Gatsby’s” selection to open the 66th Cannes festival, Luhrmann observed, “We are thrilled to return to a country, place and festival that has always been so close to our hearts, not only because my first film, 'Strictly Ballroom,' was screened there 21 years ago, but also because F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote some of the most poignant and beautiful passages of his extraordinary novel just a short distance away at a villa outside St. Raphael (in the south of France).”

At this writing, Cannes hasn’t yet announced its lineup of films to be screened and there’s much speculation about which titles could wind up competing for the Palme d’Or. Here’s a quick look at 10 interesting possibilities from some high profile filmmakers:

(1) Steven Soderbergh’s drama “Behind the Candelabra” stars Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as the pianist’s lover Scott Thorson. The film was made for HBO and premieres there May 26 just as Cannes concludes. Soderberg’s first film, the 1989 drama “sex, lies and videotape,” won the Palme d’Or.

(2) Sofia Coppola’s drama “The Bling Ring,” starring Emma Watson, is based on a true story about teenage thieves breaking into celebrities homes. Coppola’s first film, “The Virgin Suicides,” premiered in Cannes in 1999. Her 2006 historical drama “Marie Antoinette” was a Palme d’Or nominee.

(3) Woody Allen’s drama “Blue Jasmine,” starring Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins and Alec Baldwin takes place in San Francisco and is his first U.S. set movie since 2009’s “Whatever Works.” Allen’s 1985 romantic comedy fantasy “The Purple Rose of Cairo” won the international press (FIPRESCI) prize at Cannes.

(4) Atom Egoyan’s drama about a murder case, “The Devil’s Knot,” starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth, put its financing deal together at Cannes last year (through the film market that runs during the festival). Egoyan has a long history at Cannes with five Palme d’Or nominations over the years – “Exotica” (1994), “The Sweet Hereafter” (1997), “Felicia’s Journey” (1999), “Where the Truth Lies” (2005) and “Adoration” (2008).

(5) Bennett Miller’s drama “Foxcatcher,” starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Anthony Michael Hall, is based on a true story about the murder of Olympic wrestler David Schultz by John duPont. Miller was a best directing Oscar nominee in 2006 for “Capote.”

(6) Joel and Ethan Coen’s drama “Inside Llewyn Davis” stars Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman in a story about the 1960s music scene in New York’s Greenwich Village. The Coen Brothers are very familiar faces in Cannes with seven Palme d’Or nominations – including a 1991 win for “Barton Fink” and noms for “The Hudsucker Proxy” (1994), “Fargo” (1996), “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000), “The Man Who Wasn’t There” (2001), “The Ladykillers” (2004) and “No Country For Old Men” (2007).

(7) Alexander Payne’s black & white drama “Nebraska,” starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte as a father and son heading to Nebraska to pick up some prize money. Payne’s drama “About Schmidt” was a Palme d’Or nominee in 2002.

(8) Susanne Bier’s romantic drama “Serena” set in 1920s North Carolina reteams Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper after the success of “Silver Linings Playbook.” Bier’s drama “In a Better World” won 2011’s best foreign language film award.

(9) Roman Polanski’s French language drama “Venus in Fur” stars Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric and is based on the 2011 Broadway play by David Ives about a man auditioning actresses to appear in an adaptation of a play by Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch. Polanski’s thriller “The Tenant” was a Palme d’Or nominee in 1976. His 2002 drama “The Pianist” won the Palme d’Or.

(10) Terry Gilliam’s drama “The Zero Theorem” stars Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swindon and Matt Damon and is the story of a computer hacker exploring the reasons for human existence. Gilliam’s drama “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” was a Palme d’Or nominee in 1998.

Bottom line: This year’s Cannes Film Festival will kick off in high style with “The Great Gatsby” and could put it on track for Oscar nominations.