The 2015 Cannes Film Festival lineup was announced this morning and all you really need to know is that “The Lobster,” the latest from Greek wunderkind Yorgos Lanthimos, of the great “Dogtooth,” is in it. That’s not true: there’s also the first film by Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien (“The Puppetmaster,” “The Flight of the Red Balloon”) in eight years, a new Todd Haynes and a new Gus Van Sant.
The biggest news, though, might be one spoiled ago: This is the first year in Cannes history that the fest has opened with a film directed by a woman. “La Tete Haute” (“Standing Tall”), from Emmanuelle Bercot (“Backstage,” “On My Way”), begins the fest, which slot sometimes to goes to deeply questionable, and sometimes outright disastrous, blockbuster fare. Past openers include Ron Howard’s “The Da Vinci Code” and, last year’s kicker, Olivier Dahan’s Nicole Kidman-starring “Grace of Monaco,” which next month will make its truant American debut on Lifetime.
As usual, the competition lineup is a mix of the old guard, the current guard and newbies. In addition to Hou (“The Assassin,” which finds the minimalist doing martial arts with regular star Shu Qi), Haynes (“Carol,” a Patricia Highsmith take with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) and Van Sant (“Sea of Trees,” with Matthew McConaughey-hey-hey), there’s the latest from Jia Zhangke, one of China’s more critical (and therefore censored) filmmakers. Last seen with the accessible-ish “A Touch of Sin,” his “Mountains May Depart” is another with three parts, this one jumping around time, including into the future. Is it Jia’s “Cloud Atlas”? Probably not.
Lanthimos represents the current guard, and “The Lobster” is his first with a name international cast, including [deep breath] Colin Farrell, Lea Seydoux, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Olivia Colman, John C. Reilly and “Dogtooth” star Angeliki Papoulia. But he hasn’t ditched his love for crazy, rich high concepts. Set in a dystopian future, it follows people in a world where people have 45 days to find a live partner; if they fail they are, of course, transformed into animals and released into the wild. Giddy up.
Also returning are such Cannes regulars as “A Prophet”’s Jacques Audiard (“Erran”), Hirokazu Koreeda (“Our Little Sister”) and “Gomorrah”’s Matteo Garrone (“The Tale of Tales”). Paolo Sorrentino, of “The Great Beauty,” has “Youth,” which has Michael Caine bumming around the Alps with Paul Dano, Jane Fonda and Rachel Weisz (again).
Perhaps more excitingly are those who are still, debatably, cutting their teeth. Joachim Trier (a distant relative of Lars Von) already has under his belt a traumatic film about one’s 20s (“Reprise”) and one on one’s 30s (“Oslo, August 31st”). His latest, “Louder Than Bombs,” gives him Jesse Eisenberg, Isabelle Huppert, David Strathairn and Amy Ryan to play with, and it will assuredly be a heady mix of funny and depressing.
Also worth being stoked over is “Mon Roi,” from actress-turned-filmmaker Maiwenn. You might know her as the blue tentacled space opera diva in “The Fifth Element,” but she also directed the tough and devastating cop saga “Polisse.” Her fellow French-person Valerie Donzelli herself made the tough and devastating “Declaration of War,” a sick kid movie (that was more than a little autobiographical) that made room for musical numbers and lots of jokes. She’ll Cannes it up with “Marguerite and Julien,” about which details are meager so let’s just assume it might be terrific too, maybe.
All the aforementioned titles are in competition, and there are, as ever, many notable films in “Un certain regard” (French for “sorry, though you almost made the cut, so there is that!”), its tiny midnight slot, the mysterious “special screenings” alleyway and the one just called straight-up “out of competition.” There’s new films by Kiyoshi Kurosawa ("Journey to the Shore") and Romanian great Corneliu Porumboiu ("The Treasure"), plus a new Amy Winehouse doc, "Amy," by Asif Kapadia, who made the thrilling, talking heads-free “Senna.”
And just to sate those terrible elitist snobs who turn their noses up at international art films that aren’t based on comic books, the “out of competition” section includes the new Pixar film “Inside Out,” the new Woody Allen film (“Woody Allen Fall Project 2014,” aka “Irrational Man”) and what very well could be the entire fest’s greatest work of cinematic achievement: George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road.” We are not being flip. If “The Lobster” and the new Hou is better than “Mad Max 4,” then it’s to humanity’s benefit.
The complete list follows:
Opening night film
La Tête Haute (Emmanuelle Bercot, France).
The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan)
Carol (Todd Haynes, US-UK)
Erran (Jacques Audiard, France)
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece-UK-Ireland-Netherlands-France)
Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan)
Louder Than Bombs (Joachim Trier, Norway-France-Denmark)
Macbeth (Justin Kurzel, UK-France-US)
Marguerite and Julien (Valerie Donzelli, France)
Mon roi (Maiwenn, France)
Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke, China-Japan-France)
My Mother (Nanni Moretti)
The Sea of Trees (Gus Van Sant, US)
Sicario (Denis Villeneuve, US)
A Simple Man (Stephane Brize, France)
Son of Saul (Laszlo Nemes, Hungary)
The Tale of Tales (Matteo Garrone, Italy-France-UK)
Youth (Paolo Sorrentino, Italy-France-Switzerland-UK)
Out of competition
Inside Out (Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen)
Irrational Man (Woody Allen, US)
The Little Prince (Mark Osborne)
Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, US)
Un Certain Regard
The Chosen Ones (David Pablos)
Fly Away Solo (Neeraj Ghaywan)
The Fourth Direction (Gurvinder Singh)
The High Sun (Dalibor Matanic)
I Am a Soldier (Laurent Lariviere)
Journey to the Shore (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Madonna (Shin Suwon)
Maryland (Alice Winocour)
Nahid (Ida Panahandeh)
One Floor Below (Radu Muntean)
The Other Side (Roberto Minervini)
Rams (Grimur Hakonarson)
The Shameless (Oh Seung-uk)
The Treasure (Corneliu Porumboiu)
Amy (Asif Kapadia, UK)
Office (Hong Won-chan, South Korea)
Amnesia (Barbet Schroeder)
Asphalte (Samuel Benchetrit)
L’esprit de l’escalier (Pabla Lucavic)
Hayored lema’ala (Elad Keidan)
Oka (Souleymane Cisse)
Panama (Pavle Vuckovic)
A Tale of Love and Darkness (Natalie Portman)