Ebert makes a bold prediction

Posted by · 12:08 pm · May 22nd, 2009

Xavier Giannoli's In the BeginningOscar talk hasn’t surfaced that much on the Croisette this year, with “Bright Star” the only competition title prompting much speculation from the pundits. Roger Ebert, however, believes he has spotted an under-the-radar title that we’ll still be discussing come February:

I think I may have just seen the 2010 Oscar winner for best foreign film. Whether it will win the Palme d’Or here at Cannes is another matter. It may be too much of a movie movie. It’s named “A l’origine” (“In the Beginning”) by Xavier Giannoli, and is one of several titles I want to discuss in a little festival catch-up.

This is one of those movies that catches you in its spell. It’s a hell of a story. There’s a difference between caring what happens in a movie, and merely waiting to see what will happen.

As someone who thoroughly enjoyed Giannoli’s gentle character study “The Singer,” I’m pleased to hear good word for the new film. Still, Ebert’s statement is surprising for several reasons, not the least of which is that “In the Beginning,” a comic fable about a con man who devises a plan to build a highway in a small French town, has enjoyed a mixed critical reception so far.

The American trades seem quite impressed, with the Hollywood Reporter drawing favorable comparisons to “Being There,” while Variety calls it “a smooth, good-looking package.” Others, however, have complained that the 155-minute running time is a serious hindrance.

It’s certainly not the most buzzed-about French entry in the competition, with Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet” and, to a lesser extent, Alain Resnais’s “Wild Grass” garnering rather more attention. And this is but one festival — as was the case last year, it looks like the French selection committee will have a rich array of choices for their Oscar candidate.

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7 responses so far

  • 1 5-22-2009 at 12:11 pm

    head_wizard said...

    Wow like Being There! That sounds great. Ebert is hit or miss with his predictions but shouldn’t be ignored. He called Crash but also claimed Babel would win best picture as well

  • 2 5-22-2009 at 1:50 pm

    the world said...

    Ebert has lost most of his credibility with me earlier this year after proclaiming “Knowing” as the greatest sci-fi movie EVER.


  • 3 5-22-2009 at 4:54 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    “Among the best,” he writes.

    Ebert’s always been a hit-and-miss critic for me, and I agree he’s off-base in that review, but be fair.

  • 4 5-22-2009 at 7:31 pm

    N8 said...

    Ah, but Best Foreign Language Film contenders don’t need critical raves to win that category. All it as to be is conventional enough and satisfying enough to please the brain-dead foreign film branch of the Academy.

  • 5 5-23-2009 at 6:06 am

    Anthony said...

    A Prophet certainly seemed to draw more excitement. But, like N8 said…

    As an aside: it’s undoubtedly a minor work, but Assayas’ L’heure d’été (Summer Hours) was quite a treat. I’d definitely recommend checking it out if it’s screening near you. Probably my favorite film of the year thus far.

  • 6 5-23-2009 at 6:25 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Agreed, Anthony. “Summer Hours” came out in the UK a year ago, but I loved it then. I had it in my “best of 2008” review: