Cannes! It’s upon us!

At this stage last year, I offered my pre-festival wishlist for what films might screen at Cannes (and got six out of eighteen picks correct in the process), which was based on rumors and guesswork from around the net. This year, in the interest of embracing the spirit of imagination, the emphasis is on spurious gossip and pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking.

Plucking films that might have an outside chance of screening on the Croisette this year (in some cases so far outside they won’t even be in France until months after the fest, probably), I’ve compiled my Ultimate Cannes 2012 Wishlist. The caveat to this of course is that probably very few of the bloody things will actually screen – at least not to the majority of the collected press – but what’s life without whimsy?

Yes, the bent is firmly on American films, and English language ones, but in my defense, I don’t care. It says “wishlist” up there for a good reason. Realism aside, here are 13 movies I hope play at Cannes this May.

1. The Master

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

It just has to be shown. PTA’s probably barbed take on Scientology, starring the wonderful Philip Seymour Hoffman and the always watchable Joaquin Phoenix will be one of the films of the year and though the Cannes powers that be might be a little wary of attracting powerful controversy, the extreme established by last year’s Nazi joke might well have made them a touch braver.

And nobody can deny how important this film is surely going to be – let alone how good it has the potential to be.

2. Cosmopolis

Directed by: David Cronenberg

The name David Cronenberg should be explanation enough for Cosmopolis appearing on this list, but the fact that it is a dark thriller makes it even more enticing.

Added to that is the presence of Robert Pattinson who will hopefully get more opportunity to show off his talent in the rewarding presence of an auteur director. Either that or he’ll crash and burn horribly – whatever the outcome, compelling possibilities.

3. Prometheus

Directed by: Ridley Scott

He might have insisted for a good while that Prometheus isn’t a prologue-proper to his Alien films, all the while teasing footage and characters that suggest entirely the opposite, but Ridley Scott has made an Alien canon film, and that makes it a more than intriguing prospect.

Add to that a massively impressive cast, some incredible looking art design, and a tempting plot tease (and the connotations of that title) and we’re looking at one of the films of the year – as if you need telling it’s going to be incredible. The outside chance of this showing as a Special Screening makes me giddy and moist.

4. The Place Beyond The Pines

Directed by: Derek Cianfrance

Derek Cianfrance in the director’s chair and Ryan Gosling as a stunt bike rider.

It’s like Gosling’s Cannes films of the last two years had filthy, indie sex and made a phenomenally cool baby.

What’s not to love?

5. The Grandmasters

Directed by: Wong Kar-Wai

Intriguing not only because it represents a massive swerve in direction for the director who last released My Blueberry Nights, The Grandmasters‘ story, which follows Yip Man – famed as the martial arts teacher of Bruce Lee – is a major, major draw.

Marrying Kar-Wai’s aesthetic with a Wing Chun martial arts action setting is just mouth-watering, and after last year’s inclusion of Takeshi Miike’s Hara-Kiri, the Cannes schedulers might well now have a taste for martial arts, though Miike’s film was uncharacteristically bare of action, and on first reflection, The Grandmasters would seem a pleasant link to the atypicalness offered by Hara-Kiri last year.

Brave6. Brave

Directed by: Mark Andrews & Brenda Jackson

My first year in Cannes was but three short years ago, when Disney Pixar’s Up opened the festival (for the first time in 3D) and it was a bloody magical experience.

So to have something similar this year would be grand – and moron’s logic would suggest that another Pixar film would surely be the best way to achieve it.

7.  Stoker

Directed by: Park Chan-Wook

Chan-Wook is already a Cannes favourite, thanks to Oldboy and Thirst screening, and the opportunity to see his first English language offering play at the festival would be as exciting as the opportunity to see what the hell a script penned by Wentworth Miller about an incestuous love triangle and possible vampirism will look like realized on screen through the mind of the creator of Oldboy.

An easy sell.

8. No Bloody Terrence Malick

Directed by: Anyone but Terrence Malick.

I can not sit through another Tree of Life, no matter how much my peers insist it is an important film, and that is precisely the only dynamic I can expect from any future Malick films. No offense Terrence, but balls to that.

The director has been spotted not-at-all-covertly filming a couple of projects, so there’s the distinct chance that something he’s been working on will be ready for May. Hopefully not.

9. Indie Game: The Movie

Directed by: James Swirsky & Lisanne Pajot

In my other life, I’m a video games writer, sharing my time avidly consuming games as much as I do films, and the very suggestion of an intellectual-level documentary was enough to prick up my ears when I first heard. And now buoyed by good reception at Sundance, and arguably boasting the high-brow credentials that wouldn’t usually be associated with gaming, but which the Cannes selectors might lap up for the Un Certain Regard selection, especially considering the inclusion of the comic book animation Tatsumi last year.

The inclusion would also be something of a watershed moment for the festival, as the film was funded by two successful Kickstarter funds. A good opportunity for the festival to take a showy step into the future.

10. The Angels’ Share

Directed by: Ken Loach

It’s nice to have the comfort of familiarity on alien ground, and to call Ken Loach a festival veteran is something of an understatement, since the English has had an astonishing ten films in competition already on the Croisette. Seems a bit unfair really, but even as a festival programmer if you know what you like, why buck the trend of a lifetime?

Loach’s latest will focus on the story of a Glaswegian criminal turning his life around, and will certainly continue the auteur’s kitchen sink social realist film-making agenda. I don’t think it particularly matters if I actually want to see The Angels’ Share, because the smart money is on its inclusion now that it’s said to be complete.

11. To Rome With Love

Directed by: Woody Allen

Again, another veteran choice, but this time not chosen for the same reason as Ken Loach’s film. Having spent time in the usually dependable company of Woody Allen films for the past two years, I – like every other Allen fan – have been offered the thrill of seeing a resurgence in the director’s talent. Unfortunately stagnating (in terms of his general success rate, and not individual triumphs), Allen seemed content to make non-challenging films that sought only to extend his own mythology – Allenian films that stuck to conventions established in an earlier, superior body of work that appealed to established fans and made no allowance for new potential fans.

But 2010 saw You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger offer some new sparkle, and last year saw the wonderful Midnight In Paris charm its way to a Best Film nod, and all of a sudden even the most cynical of old Allen fans are beginning to dream of a proper revival from the director. To Rome With Love will hopefully confirm as much, and the sooner I see it, the better.

12. Big House

Directed by: Matteo Garrone

A purely selfish motivation prefigures this choice, as Garrone’s Gomorrah was easily one of the best crime films of the past ten years, and I will eat up whatever the Roman offers.

Big House focuses on the current, ludicrous obsession with reality TV, with a hopefully more well-formed post-modern commentary than Halloween: Resurrection managed.

13. The Dark Knight Rises

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

I mean, obviously. If my calculations are correct, two months or so before release isn’t very long at all, and if the Great God of Cinema wants to really reward the years I have spent dutifully in awe at his creations, he will bloody well listen and just show Nolan’s triumverate ending just for me in France.

I will now predict that about 90% of the above films have absolutely zero hope of making it to Cannes. Some might, others I know for a fact aren’t even in with a tiny shout, but then I didn’t say this was going to be a realistic wishlist now did I?

The official Cannes line-up should be out any day now…


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