Although films like Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” and David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” look like Cannes shoo-ins, the festival’s 2014 lineup is still very much a work in progress. That hasn’t stopped Variety’s top film critics from naming what they’d like to see included when the official selection is announced April 17.
“Inherent Vice,” Paul Thomas Anderson
When people talk of ambition in Hollywood, they usually mean big budgets and visual effects, but what impresses me about Anderson is his ability to render cinematic the most challenging of subjects — from Scientology to, in this case, a Thomas Pynchon novel.
“A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” Roy Andersson
It takes the Swedish master so long to make his meticulously composed absurdist satires that there have only been two in my lifetime: “Songs From the Second Floor” and “You, the Living.” This pic, which rounds out that trilogy, is rumored to be ready for Cannes.
“Serena,” Susanne Bier
No director today achieves a better balance of melodrama and authenticity, and in novelist Ron Rash’s great frontier romance, Bier has found a strong, saucy heroine nicely suited to Jennifer Lawrence, reteaming with Bradley Cooper.
“Tourist,” Ruben Ostlund
As an admitted “cinemasochist,” I can’t wait to see the new feature from the guy responsible for my least favorite Cannes entry, 2011’s “Play,” while remaining open to reports that suggest this avalanche-triggered family drama is completely different from that ice-cold formal exercise.
“Two Days, One Night,” Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
With two Palmes d’Or already in the bag, the Belgian brothers are ever so gradually incorporating movie stars into their naturalistic, street-level narratives. After “Rust and Bone,” which they produced, I’m curious to see how they direct Marion Cotillard.
“The Assassin,” Hou Hsiao Hsien
Arguably our greatest living narrative filmmaker, Hou is an artist who cultivates and rewards the viewer’s patience, and so I’ve (almost) made peace with the fact that his long-gestating wuxia epic is rumored to be in post-production for another year.
“Eden,” Mia Hansen-Love
A filmmaker whose oeuvre teems with quietly turbulent emotions (“The Father of My Children,” “Goodbye First Love”), Hansen-Love tackles her most ambitious canvas yet with this decades-spanning drama set against the French electronic music scene.
“Leviafan,” Andrei Zvyagintsev
Zvyagintsev has been unusually secretive about this drama set in a northern Russian mountain village, but fans should prime themselves for another work of great visual beauty and psychological intricacy if “The Return,” “The Banishment” and “Elena” are any indication.
“Mr. Turner,” Mike Leigh
“Topsy-Turvy” is one of the finest films ever made about the creative process, and it augurs very well indeed for this British master’s latest portrait of a 19th-century artist.
“Winter Sleep,” Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Ceylan being a big Bergman fan, I couldn’t help but think of “Winter Light” when I heard the title of his likely Cannes competition-bound new drama — his first feature since his sublime 2011 Grand Prix winner, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.”
“Birdman,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
An actor who richly deserves a grade-A comeback role, Michael Keaton stars for “Babel” director Inarritu as — what else? — an actor angling for a comeback, in this all-star comedy that features Naomi Watts, Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis.
“Phoenix,” Christian Petzold
The greatest German director of his generation teams for the sixth time with his muse, the spellbinding Nina Hoss, here playing an Auschwitz survivor who returns to postwar Berlin with a reconstructed face in search of the husband who betrayed her to the Nazis.
“Queen and Country,” John Boorman
In what’s shaping up to be a rich year for British cinema on the Croisette, one hopes there’ll be room for this long-in-the-works project, starring David Thewlis, Richard E. Grant and rising star Caleb Landry Jones, a sequel of sorts to Boorman’s masterful 1987 “Hope and Glory.”
“The Rover,” David Michod
Shades of “Mad Max” would appear to color this second feature from Australian director Michod (“Animal Kingdom”). Guy Pearce stars as a man wandering a neofuturistic outback in search of the criminal gang responsible for stealing his last worldly possession: his car.
“Welcome to New York,” Abel Ferrara
The always edgy and unpredictable godfather of New York indie cinema offers his thinly fictionalized take on the Dominique Strauss-Khan affair, with Gerard Depardieu in the lead and Jacqueline Bisset as the Anne Sinclair figure.