CANNES, France — Last year at the Cannes Film Festival, there was one question on everyone’s lips: “What’s next ‘Parasite’?” You can see why people wondered, since that Bong Joon Ho movie had used his Palme d’Or winnings to jump-start a historic Oscar campaign.
But if last year’s festival had an heir to ‘Parasite’, that turned out to be a highly unlikely one.
Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s high-profile drama “Drive My Car” didn’t win a Palme d’Or (it became a set honor for the best screenplay) and no one had a clue of the biggest contender to come out of Cannes. But after the critics flocked to it at the end of the year, ‘Drive My Car’ received huge Oscar nominations for Picture, Direction and Adapted Screenplay, as well as one for Best International Picture, the category it won.
So since Cannes is nearing its end this year and not a single film is head and shoulders above the rest, I think it would be wiser instead of looking for the next ‘Parasite’: what’s going to be the next ‘Drive My Car’ ‘? In other words, which film from this year’s Cannes crop could continue to build buzz and take advantage of the academy’s growing international user base to land major Oscar nominations?
I see three notable contenders. Chief among these is “Close,” which is hotly tipped to take home a big prize at the party on Saturday. It is the second feature film by Belgian director Lukas Dhont and follows two 13-year-old boys as their intense friendship begins to unravel. Some of the pivotal reviews in Variety and IndieWire were remarkably mixed, citing one of the film’s melodramatic plot twists, but Oscar voters have never minded melodrama — in fact, they often crave it, and the most ardent “Close” fans consider it. as pointed the entry with four handkerchiefs of the festival. A24 bought the film on the eve of its premiere, so expect a solid fall boost.
South Korean director Park Chan-wook earned an Oscar nomination for his curvy 2016 masterpiece ‘The Handmaiden’, and while his new film ‘Decision to Leave’ at Cannes isn’t quite at that level, it’s still a good one. directed affair that could see a lot of awards attention. In a Hitchcockian romantic thriller, “Decision to Leave,” Park Hae-il plays a detective investigating the widow of a murdered man (Tang Wei) who, in her own femme fatal way, seems to welcome surveillance. After the explicit sex scenes of ‘The Handmaiden’, it’s surprising how chaste the director’s follow-up is, but that can actually work in the film’s favor for older Oscar voters.
Our coverage of the Cannes Film Festival 2022
The Cannes Film Festival returns with its signature glitz and glamour, red carpet looks and nearly 50 films projected during the event.
Hirokazu Kore-eda scored the Palme d’Or in 2018 for his sensitive drama ‘Shoplifters’, which went on to compete in the international film Oscar; although it lost to Netflix-funded juggernaut “Roma,” I suspect a movie like “Shoplifters” would play better today and compete for more nominations in various categories. Keep an eye out for Kore-eda’s “Broker”: These affectionate character study stars “Parasite” lead Song Kang Ho as one of two good-natured criminals trying to sell an abandoned baby. Sometimes the movie is so sweet it’s almost tacky, but I doubt the “CODA” wing of the academy will complain.
Some other Cannes entries could appear throughout the award season, including director James Gray’s “Armageddon Time,” about a middle-class Jewish family whose progressive stance disguises a willingness to climb a few steps at the expense of the less privileged. Gray is beloved in France and could take home a trophy here, but Oscar voters have yet to break for him in any significant way. Stars Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong and Anthony Hopkins will certainly turn heads.
Vicky Krieps should already have an Oscar nomination to her name for ‘Phantom Thread’: since she was then rejected, voters might be able to make up for it for ‘Corsage’, in which she is funny and prickly as Empress Elisabeth of Austria. I’d also be happy if groups of critics rallied behind Léa Seydoux as a single mother attempting a tricky romance in Mia Hansen-Love’s ‘One Fine Morning’, my favorite entry from the festival.
Seydoux is also very good in David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future”, where she stars opposite Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart, but the film may prove too striking for price voters; Ditto “Triangle of Sadness,” from “The Square” director Ruben Ostlund, though that classy comedy does offer some of the year’s gonzo grossest sequences and includes a memorable supporting twist from Woody Harrelson.
What about the expensive Hollywood movies that premiered in Cannes? “Elvis” comes from director Baz Luhrmann, who had an Oscar break with “Moulin Rouge,” but whose last film, “The Great Gatsby,” earned nominations only for its costumes and production design. The glittering “Elvis” looks likely to continue that trend: Reviews have been polarizing, and while the newbie Austin Butler impresses as Elvis Presley, young hunks usually have an uphill battle in the protagonist category. (And the less that is said about Tom Hanks’ misguided supporting performance as Elvis’ manager, the better.)
The last time George Miller was in Cannes, he premiered ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, which won 10 Oscar nominations (including picture and director) and eventually picked up six statuettes. Action movies rarely do so well with Oscar, but Miller broke the mold and he created something else unique with “Three Thousand Years of Longing,” his new film about a jinn (Idris Elba), a scholar (Tilda Swinton) and the unique love blossoming between them. It has drama, fantasy, romance, comedy… and you will find all of that exciting, or you will find it a little overcrowded. The film’s technical elements deserve attention, but other categories can go a long way.
And then there’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” which launched on the Croisette with a flyby of fighter jets and an opaque chat with star Tom Cruise. This highly anticipated sequel is getting great reviews and is expertly directed. If the academy wants to push really well-done blockbuster material into the best photo race, this could be the strongest hope of the summer. “Drive My Fighter Jet”, anyone?