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Variety critics Scott Foundas, Justin Chang, Peter Debruge, Guy Lodge, Jay Weissberg and Maggie Lee weighed in with their choices for the 21 best films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (listed in alphabetical order):
1. “Amy.” British director Asif Kapadia followed up his 2010 “Senna” with this even more daring and revealing portrait of the brilliant but tragic jazz diva Amy Winehouse. Drawing on a wealth of professional and user-generated video, Kapadia again eschews the usual talking-heads interview format to keep WInehouse front and center for two harrowing hours, during which we come to understand how thoroughly the troubled singer lived her life under the camera’s relentless and unforgiving gaze. The result is an unforgettable portrait of the cult of celebrity in the iPhone era. (Scott Foundas)
- Variety Staff
Given the number of films in competition (19), the correspondingly infinite number of possible award/talent configurations, and the sheer impossibility of guessing at the individual and collective tastes of nine jurors, predicting the major award winners at the Cannes Film Festival is obviously a fool’s errand — and one that our critics on the Croisette have gladly undertaken.
Palme d’Or: “The Assassin.” Word on the street — and among British bookies — is that my own favorite film of the fest, Yorgos Lanthimos’ high-wire relationship fantasy “The Lobster,” is the one to beat, though whether that’s based on honest hearsay or a projection of the Coen brothers’ taste for dryer-than-dust comedy, I can’t say. As much as it would thrill me to see such a singular combination of concept-y formalism and perverse heart-tugging take the prize, I have a hard time seeing it as the unifying consensus »
- Guy Lodge and Justin Chang
Broad Green Pictures has acquired U.S. rights to Brad Furman’s “The Infiltrator,” which stars Bryan Cranston as an undercover U.S. Customs agent who became a pivotal player for drug lords cleaning their dirty cash. Bgp announced the deal on Thursday after negotiating the terms at Cannes, and said it plans to add the film to its growing 2016 slate. “The Infiltrator,” which Ellen Brown Furman adapted from the autobiography by Robert Mazur, co-stars Diane Kruger (“Inglourious Basterds”), John Leguizamo (“Chef”), Benjamin Bratt (“Traffic”), Yul Vazquez (“Captain Phillips”), and Oscar nominee Amy Ryan (“Gone Baby Gone”). Also Read: Jon Hamm »
- Jeff Sneider
Sicario: Bring Out the Popcorn
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Written by Taylor Sheridan
Denis Villeneuve’s narco-thriller Sicario is likely the most broadly accessible film in this year’s competition, a very watchable, schematically Hollywoodian production more at home at the Oscars than at Cannes. It stars, tragically, Emily Blunt as FBI agent Kate Macer and, unsurprisingly, Benicio Del Toro as special drugs advisor Alejandro. Kate is recruited from her hostage crisis unit to a secretive anti-drugs mission at the margins of legality following a gruesome, finely crafted opening sequence in which she leads the bust of a safe house full of rows of executed hostages concealed into the walls. Gradually she clues in as to the nature of the mission – her role is merely procedural, as the presence of an FBI agent is apparently obligatory as a front for Alejandro and rogue operation head Matt (Josh Brolin »
Cannes — In 2001 Benicio Del Toro won an Oscar for his portrayal of a Mexican police officer attempting to take down the drug cartels in Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic.” Fourteen years later he’s starring in another film about North America’s “drug war,” Denis Villeneuve’s “Sicario,” and the picture makes the disheartening argument that things may have actually gotten worse. The film begins during an FBI operation in Phoenix, Arizona where veteran agent Kate Macy (a superb Emily Blunt) is leading a Swat team to take down a hostage situation. They soon discover a home with no hostages to be found but over 20 dead bodies hidden within its walls, all victims of a Mexican drug cartel. Kate is shaken by the murders enough that she reluctantly signs on to be the FBI liaison for what she’s told is a DEA and Dept. of Justice task force. This group »
- Gregory Ellwood
Two years after making his U.S. debut with the crackerjack kidnapping drama “Prisoners,” French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve ups his own ante with “Sicario,” a blisteringly intense drug-trade thriller that combines expert action and suspense with another uneasy inquiry into the emotional consequences of violence. A densely woven web of compelling character studies and larger systemic concerns, Villeneuve and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan’s bleaker, more jaundiced riposte to Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 “Traffic” may prove too grim and grisly for some audiences and too morally ambiguous for others. But with its muscular style and top-flight cast, this fall Lionsgate release should score solid (if less than “Prisoners”-sized) business from discerning adult moviegoers, along with dark-horse awards-season buzz.
- Scott Foundas
By the end of the 2000s, getting number one at the American box office was a valuable marketing commodity. As such, studios pumped more and more money into making sure they at least had a great opening weekend for their product.
The consequence of this was that it was harder and harder for smaller and quirkier films to take a brief spot in the sun. Certainly towards the second half of the decade, it seems that the number one movie each week was pre-ordinained in a marketing meeting somewhere.
Still, there were some films that have since fallen out of public view that clawed their way to number one. How many of these do you remember?
January 2000, one week
Based on Marc Behm's book of the same name, »
Earlier this month, we showed you the first photos from the upcoming film Sicario.
Today you get a first look at the poster for director Denis Villeneuve’s searing emotional-thriller that descends into the intrigue, corruption and moral mayhem of the borderland drug wars.
Lionsgate’s drama will screen this month In Competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2015.
When Arizona FBI agent and kidnap-response-team leader Kate Macer (Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt) uncovers a Mexican cartel’s house of death, her shocking find leads to profound consequences on both a personal and global level. Kate is recruited to join a covert black-ops mission headed by a mysterious Colombian operative known only as Alejandro (Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro, Best Supporting Actor, Traffic, 2000) along with special agent Matt Graver (Academy Award nominee Josh Brolin, Best Supporting Actor, Milk, 2008).
Even as Kate tries to convince herself she’s on a hunt for justice, »
- Michelle McCue
"Sicario," slang for hitman, stars Emily Blunt as an FBI agent and Josh Brolin as the CIA official who lead the charge against a horrific drug lord on the streets of Juarez, just outside El Paso, Texas. Tasked with doing the deed is Benicio del Toro's titular assassin. New images below, courtesy of Hitfix. Villeneuve described the film to The Guardian as “a very dark film, a dark poem, quite violent... It’s about the alienation of the cycles of violence, how at one point we are in those spirals of violence and ask ourselves, ‘Is there a solution?' My movie raises the question; it doesn’t give any answer.” The Canadian filmmaker is aware of the connections to Steven Soderbergh's powerful "Traffic," del Toro's 2001 best supporting actor winner that also dwelled in the far-reaching runoff of the Mexican-American drug trade. Villeneuve said that while “The drug problem on the Mexican border, »
- Ryan Lattanzio
All week long our writers will debate: Which was the greatest film year of the past half century. Check here for a complete list of our essays. Just one glance at the Oscar nominees for 1998 might make it seem less a questionable choice for “best year in film” — and more an insane one. Instead of a 1974 – The Godfather II, The Conversation, Chinatown, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, etc – or even a 1994, where Shawshank, Quiz Show, and Pulp Fiction lost to Gump – you choose a year where the Oscars would allow Roberto Benigni to climb atop both the figurative and literal chairs of the Shrine? Fine, step away from the Oscars. Would you still celebrate a year that saw not one, but two movies about asteroids threatening the Earth? A year that saw such scars carved across cinematic history as Patch Adams, My Giant, Stepmom, and Krippendorf’s Tribe? It bears repeating: Krippendorf’S Tribe? »
- Michael Oates Palmer
Denis Villeneuve offered just a taste of what to expect for his latest in The Guardian on Friday. "Sicario," slang for hitman, stars Emily Blunt as an FBI agent and Josh Brolin as the CIA official who lead the charge against a horrific drug lord on the streets of Juarez, just outside El Paso, Texas. Tasked with doing the deed is Benicio del Toro's titular assassin. Villeneuve said: “a very dark film, a dark poem, quite violent... It’s about the alienation of the cycles of violence, how at one point we are in those spirals of violence and ask ourselves, ‘Is there a solution?' My movie raises the question; it doesn’t give any answer.” It will be hard to avoid comparisons to Steven Soderbergh's powerful "Traffic," del Toro's 2001 best supporting actor winner that also dwelled in the far-reaching runoff of the Mexican-American drug trade. Villeneuve »
- Ryan Lattanzio
Alex Garland, screenwriter of “28 Days Later,” “Sunshine” and “Never Let Me Go,” makes an impressive directorial debut with cerebral sci-fi thriller “Ex Machina” (in theaters today), but Garland waves off the achievement of leaping to directing as “just next in a continuum.” “The truth was that there was no epiphany moment about directing, because I just don’t dignify the directing role the way we’re supposed to,” the British filmmaker told The Dissolve. “There are a few people — like Woody Allen, he’s an auteur, and I’m cool with that. But for me, directing is about collaboration.” Whether directing is a logical next step or a hard-sought achievement for screenwriters, it’s often done by telling studios, “Hey, here’s my next screenplay. You can have it as long as I get to direct.” Preston Sturges — at the time the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood — is noted for »
- Emily Rome
But make no mistake, the midseason thriller (premiering Sunday at 10/9c) is inspired by the epic poem.
RelatedApril Calendar: Justified’s Finale, Mad Men‘s Return and 54 More Dates to Save
As series co-creator Peter Horton explains, “Three-and-a-half years ago, I had been working with my writing partners, Adam Armus and Kay Foster, on a different project that didn’t work out, so we were looking for something else to do. [British producer] Simon Maxwell came to us and said, »
Beijing Galloping Horse, which has appointed former Ivanhoe co-chief Ray Chen as general manager, is lining up two Us-China co-productions with producers Jerry Weintraub (Ocean’s Eleven) and Cameron Jones (Traffic).
Weintraub is executive producing martial arts action title Legion Of One, to be directed by Christopher Cain (Young Guns). Cain’s Angry Monkey Entertainment is the Us producer on the project, about a foreign orphan who is raised as a kung-fu master in the Shaolin temple.
Galloping Horse is also developing three Chinese projects – New York-set youth dram, Lost In New York, to be directed by newcomer Frank Zhu; Love From Another Planet to be directed by Huang Lei (Angry Kid) and executive produced by Zhang Yibai; and a feature version of hit TV »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Liz Shackleton)
The Venezuela-born actor, Golden Globe-nominated for Olivier Assayas' sprawling 2011 crime miniseries "Carlos," will join Matthew McConaughey in Black Bear Pictures' mining drama "Gold," Deadline reports. Directed by Stephen Gaghan, Oscar-winning writer of "Traffic" who went his own way to steer 2005 oil drama "Syriana," and written by Patrick Massett and John Zinman, "Gold" revolves around the true story of the 1993 Bre-x Mineral Corporation mining scandal. Ramírez plays geologist Michael Acosta who, alongside McConaughey as prospector Walsh, journeys to Indonesia in search of the titular soft metal. Filming launches in June and will occur in New York, New Mexico and Thailand. Ramírez's globally revered performance in Oscar-shortlisted "The Liberator" didn't land the film a foreign nom this year, but he does have a lot of Hollywood projects now on the docket including David O. Russell's »
- Ryan Lattanzio
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray and DVD release of writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, The Master) latest film Inherent Vice, which will arrive in the States on April 28th.
Pre-order Inherent Vice On Blu-ray Here
Adapted from the novel by Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice features an all-star cast heading by Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), as well as Josh Brolin (Oldboy), Owen Wilson (Zoolander), Katherine Waterston (Night Moves), Benicio Del Toro (Traffic), Martin Short (Three Amigos), Jena Malone (Donnie Darko), musician Joanna Newsom and Oscar Winner Reese Witherspoon (Wild).
When private eye Doc Sportello’s (Phoenix) ex-old lady suddenly shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend — whom she just happens to be in love with — and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him in a loony bin… well, easy for her to say. »
- Scott J. Davis
Paul Thomas Anderson's weird and wild noir adventure, Inherent Vice, is making it's way to blu-ray in April, and Warner Bros. has revealed all the details on when you can pick it up, and what to expect on the disc. Come inside for all the details!
Chill out and get groovy when “Inherent Vice” arrives onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on April 28 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. With an ensemble cast of characters that includes surfers, hustlers, dopers, rockers, and more, “Inherent Vice” is the seventh feature from Oscar® nominee Paul Thomas Anderson and the first ever film adaption of a Thomas Pynchon novel.
“Inherent Vice” stars Oscar® nominees Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master,” “Walk the Line”), Josh Brolin (“True Grit,” “No Country For Old Men”), Owen Wilson (“The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Midnight in Paris”), Katherine Waterston (“Michael Clayton,” TV’s “Boardwalk Empire”), Oscar® winners Reese Witherspoon »
- email@example.com (Jordan Maison)
With director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) at the helm, the cast includes Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony-Award-winning actor Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Argo, Drive), Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds, The Bridge) John Leguizamo (Chef, Kick-ass 2, John Wick), Benjamin Bratt (Love In The Time Of Cholera, Traffic), Elena Anaya (The Skin I Live In), Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck, Steel Magnolias) , Juliet Aubrey (The Constant Gardener, The White Queen) and Academy Award and Tony Award nominated Amy Ryan (Birdman, Gone Baby Gone).
- Michelle McCue
Harrison Ford injured in plane accident (image: Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff in 'Ender's Game') Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark actor Harrison Ford was supposed to be in critical condition – later reports have upgraded that to "fair" or "stable" condition – following an accident with a small airplane on Los Angeles' Westside. Earlier this afternoon (March 5, 2015), a vintage, one-engine two-seater crash landed at the Penmar Golf Course, located in the Los Angeles suburb of Venice, not far from the Pacific Ocean and just west of Santa Monica Airport. Its pilot, 72-year-old Harrison Ford, was found "seriously" injured. He was alone on the plane. There were no injuries on the ground. As explained in the Los Angeles Times, "fire officials would not identify the victim of the crash but said he was conscious and breathing when paramedics arrived." Ford was later transported to an unidentified hospital. Eleven »
- Zac Gille
How many greats have found themselves on the short end of Oscar glory after being nominated for Best Director? Frankly, some of the greatest filmmakers of all-time: David Fincher, Gus Van Sant, Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Pedro Almodóvar, Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, Terrence Malick, Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman and Mike Leigh, among others. We're personally hoping that eventually "Birdman's" Alejandro G. Iñárritu, "Boyhood's" Richard Linklater and "The Grand Budapest Hotel's" Wes Anderson make it off that list, but only one will join the winner's club Sunday night. Last year the Academy faced a similar quandary between the incredible work of Alfonso Cuarón ("Gravity") and Steve McQueen ("12 Years A Slave"). Eventually, Cuarón distanced himself from his contemporary and his win was "expected." That's truly not the case this season. Linklater has earned raves for his 12-year journey making "Boyhood" since it debuted at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival over a year ago. »
- Gregory Ellwood
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