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Will the 2021 Cannes Film Festival Begin to Shape the Oscar Landscape?

Yesterday, the 2021 Cannes Film Festival began. Launching the fest was Leos Carax‘s hotly anticipated Annette, starring Marion Cotillard, Adam Driver, and Simon Helberg. It kicked off a Cannes that was more than a year in the making. Obviously, last year’s COVID-19 pandemic kept the festival from occurring. This year, however, the novel coronavirus has not kept the South of France from hosting some of the finest that international cinema has to offer. As things get underway, the movies aren’t just attempting to draw in critical acclaim. They’re also hoping to get Academy Award buzz, helping to launch the beginnings of an awards season that’s aching to begin. Today, we’ll look at what’s hoping to capitalize on the buzz, as well as whether that’s something that usual happens at the festival.

Historically, Cannes doesn’t launch Oscar fare, or at least more than one or two a year. Even then, it’s more often in the Best International Feature (formerly the Best Foreign Language Feature) category. The recent success of something like Bong Joon Ho‘s Parasite is far more the exception than the rule. To that end, will something this year be another Parasite, or are we looking at a quiet Cannes, Oscar wise?

Amazon Studios

So far, Annette is the biggest title to have screened, but it always felt like an Oscar long shot. Our quick round-up yesterday (here) of the early word says as much. Anyone who has seen a Carax flick should know that this was unlikely to happen. Maybe an acting or Original Song contender emerges here, but a shut out is likeliest outcome. If Holy Motors couldn’t make a dent, Annette will struggle too. Someone on Twitter called it this year’s Vox Lux, and that seems about right. Maybe it catches on more than than expected, but the smart money says to look elsewhere for your main awards contender.

Searchlight Pictures

What else is a possibility then? Well, that depends. The most likely player is Wes Anderson‘s The French Dispatch. Other options include Sean Baker‘s Red Rocket, Asghar Farhadi‘s A Hero, Sean Penn‘s Flag Day, and Paul Verhoeven‘s Benedetta, at least among the In Competition titles. Elsewhere at the fest, there’s Kogonada‘s After Yang, Justin Chon‘s Blue Bayou, Ari Folman‘s Where is Anne Frank?, and Tom McCarthy‘s Stillwater. These are the more likely contenders, at least on the surface. Perhaps a surprise player emerges, but these movies suggest the easiest fits for the Academy to consider.

Focus Features

Usually, Cannes is not a massive Oscar launching pad. So, it’s not a huge shock that we may have to wait for the true awards season contenders to rear their heads. That being said, if you’re looking for films to back for awards contention here, look at Blue Bayou, The French Dispatch, and Stillwater. Those three are the safest bets, especially going by some of the early buzz. It all remains to be seen, though, so sit tight for the rest of the cinematic year…

Stay tuned to see how the 2021 Cannes Film Festival impacts the Academy Award race!


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