Lineup Announcement: Cannes 1996
As the world absorbs the newly announced Cannes 2016 lineup, we (read: I) here at Nick's Flick Picks prepare our annual traditional of participating in all the madness by revisiting some Cannes Film Festival of the past. This year, I've booked a trip to Cannes 1996, roundly celebrated at the time as one of the richest Competitions in then-recent history. Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves, the Coen Brothers's Fargo, and Mike Leigh's Secrets & Lies all emerged as Palme front-runners in the top half of the festival. Not only did each reap major prizes on the Croisette, their acclaim persisted across the year, landing them on year-end Ten Best lists around the world and scoring major Oscar wins and nominations. Revisiting these three films alone would be a worthwhile errand on their 20th anniversary, since electing on a "best" among them is as tricky now as it was then. Same goes for their three leading ladies, who eventually held down three-fifths of a notably superb Best Actress roster at that year's Academy Awards.
But Cannes 1996 offered even more than its three principal breakout titles. David Cronenberg shocked the festival so completely that Francis Ford Coppola's jury had to devise a separate prize for originality, daring, and audacity. Ewan McGregor was the where'd-he-come-from ingénue of the moment, flashing his gorgeous eight-inch ...smile in both Trainspotting and The Pillow Book. Jacques Audiard and Arnaud Desplechin took major strides toward global renown in the Main Competition, where Robert Altman, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Michael Cimino staged more elegiac bids for continued relevance. New names like Paul Thomas Anderson, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Mary Harron, and David O. Russell attracted more devotees, none of them realizing that their next movies would really make their names. Iran, Japan, Romania, Australia, Russia, Poland, Senegal, and Spain extended the glorious runs of their national cinemas, while Georgia, Lithuania, and Guinea-Bissau marshaled more meager resources to yield memorable titles.
I'll fold as many sidebar titles as I can into my Cannes 1996 screenings, but at the very least, I'll have my notepad out for all the movies selected for the Main Competition (pending the availability of one elusive title, but even 21 out of 22 wouldn't be bad). There'll be no jury joining me this year. I'm too busy at my day job to coordinate another mass effort this spring. But I still hope you'll all play along as much as you can at home, especially if you notice a title that you've been thirsty to reexamine or eager to dig up for a first encounter. Here's what I can tell you about my main itinerary. More to follow, all leading up to the main action from May 9-20, the dates of the actual 1996 Cannes Film Festival.
Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier, Denmark/France/Sweden): I've seen this three or four times over the years, always with astonishment at its ambition and uniqueness, but with some upward and downward swings of real affection. How will it go down this time, especially on that recently-issued Criterion Blu-ray?
Crash (David Cronenberg, Canada): One of those movies I can't imagine my life without, and effectively the film that inspired my entire first book, despite registering only peripherally in the finished product. I'm a sucker for this one, but I noticed on my most recent return that my reactions were shifting a little.
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