Tim Burton named Cannes jury president

Posted by · 4:07 am · January 26th, 2010

Tim BurtonIn a move that should remind some of his more disenchanted fans of the high esteem with which he is still held in the industry, Hollywood’s resident kook-auteur Tim Burton has been tapped to head the jury of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. He said in a statement:

After spending my early life watching triple features and 48-hour horror movie marathons, I’m finally ready for this … It’s a great honor and I look forward, with my fellow jurors, to watching some great films from around the world. When you think of Cannes you think of world cinema. And as films have always been like dreams to me, this is a dream come true.

The selection makes him the first full-time American filmmaker to preside over Europe’s most sanctified cinematic institution since Quentin Tarantino in 2004. (Actor-director Sean Penn took the gig two years ago). A more mainstream pick than usual, he’s nonetheless one of the industry’s most identifiable directorial brands, and therefore an obvious candidate for the position.

In keeping with festival tradition, he’s a former Cannes alumnus of sorts, having competed for the Palme d’Or with “Ed Wood” in 1994 — the year “Pulp Fiction” came up trumps. (Was that really 16 years ago?)

Following this announcement, some will try to draw convenient conclusions about what type of films now have an advantage in this year’s competition. But while the jury president can certainly exert a lot of influence on the race — it’s widely assumed Isabelle Huppert tipped the balance towards her former collaborator Michael Haneke last year, while Tarantino openly favored “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Oldboy” in 2004 — a safer rule of thumb, particularly when a filmmaker is in charge, is that the winning film will have little in common with the president’s own oeuvre.

Four years ago, for example, Ken Loach’s “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” was hardly an obvious choice from a jury led by Wong Kar-Wai. Neither, in 1996, did “Secrets and Lies” exactly scream “a Francis Ford Coppola film.” What people make and what people like are not one and the same.

For Burton, meanwhile, the news comes as a healthy endorsement of his auteur credentials following criticism from some cinephile types, with “Alice in Wonderland” looming large, that he has lost his edge. As one of those who misses the shabby eccentricity of his earlier work — and who thinks he hasn’t made a great film since “Mars Attacks!” in 1996 — I’m hoping this particular movie marathon excites his imagination.

The 63rd Cannes Film Festival takes place from May 12 to 23.

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38 responses so far

  • 1 1-26-2010 at 4:27 am

    matsunaga said...

    Wow that’s a great news! At least a different kind of director will helm the Cannes Film Fest this year…

    I really like Burton.. He’s such a visionary director that and it seems like he knows what he’s doing everytime directing a film.. And people loved him for being like that…. Wierd.

    Can’t wait to see Alice in Wonderland this March…

  • 2 1-26-2010 at 5:13 am

    Ryan Hoffman said...

    You don’t like Big Fish?

  • 3 1-26-2010 at 5:27 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I can’t stand Big Fish.

  • 4 1-26-2010 at 5:45 am

    James D. said...

    Big Fish is great. Explain, Lodge.

  • 5 1-26-2010 at 6:03 am

    Megan said...

    That’s….pretty cool.

    I guess I would fall in the category of “disenchanted fan,” but I haven’t yet lost total respect for the guy. At one point in time, he was my favorite film-maker.

    So….congrats, Mr. Burton.

  • 6 1-26-2010 at 6:05 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    It’s twee, it’s maudlin, it’s suffocatingly overscored, and it never once complicates things for itself by suggesting that there’s more than one morally responsible way to judge Edward Bloom for his fabulism. I really hate it.

    But that’s just me. In other words:

    Big Fish sucks. Explain, James.

  • 7 1-26-2010 at 6:06 am

    The Dude said...

    I loved the idea behind Big Fish, although I do believe the execution is a bit flawed (real-world and fantasy elements never fully mesh, and some fantasy scenes were too over-the-top compared to the rest of the film). I’m surprised, though, that you “can’t stand it.”

  • 8 1-26-2010 at 6:14 am

    half empty said...

    I’d rather rewatch Planet of the Apes than suffer through Big Fish again. What’s most depressing is that it seems like Burton made the exact movie he wanted to make. Apes is a big, goofy mess; Fish is focused, deliberate shmaltz. Ugh.

  • 9 1-26-2010 at 6:59 am

    Kyle said...

    Tim Burton directed Ed Wood, his best collaboration with Depp to this day….thus he gets a lifetime pass from me.

  • 10 1-26-2010 at 7:31 am

    pony said...

    Like you say, it’s like he doesn’t even try since “Mars Attacks!”. His films for the last decade only work on an eye candy level; they’re more enjoyable as Colleen Atwood movies than Tim Burton’s (the one I like the least is the one she wasn’t involved in). I wish he would stop making stuff we’ve already seen (in some cases a million times over).

  • 11 1-26-2010 at 7:46 am

    david said...

    Burton and Cannes?? Interesting…

    I tend to agree with Guy, but I’ll continue to stand up for Sweeney Todd until I take my last breath. I implore those who didn’t like that film the first time around to give it a second chance. I think it is very successful on it’s own terms. I guess I’m just such a huge fan of the source material, that it made it virtually impossible for me not to find a particular fondness for it. I also found Sleepy Hollow to be fun (in a Mario Bava kind of way), despite it’s obvious flaws. The Oscar winning art direction in both those films is just so beautiful. Each frame of film is like a wonderful gothic painting.

  • 12 1-26-2010 at 7:50 am

    Hans said...

    Guy, you didn’t like Sweeney Todd? That film is probably on my top 10 list of all time.

  • 13 1-26-2010 at 7:52 am

    red_wine said...

    Wow. This is a great gig for Burton. I wonder what it will be like for him to judge the decidedly art film heavy Cannes slate.

    I’ve never really been a fan, so I was never disenchanted but his out-there sensibility seems a bit tired now. His films are now nothing more than mild dark-humor amusements.Though I must say I’m really looking forward to Alice In The Wonderland. I think the trailer looked magnificent and I was astounded by the visual design of the film. It really looked sensational.

    I was looking forward to sweeney todd a few years ago but that barely registered as a mild beat(best director from NBR????). Charlie was again amusing but nothing to think twice about. But again, superb visual design for both movies. As someone said above, his films are really a showcase for the art department.

  • 14 1-26-2010 at 9:02 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    I’m sure you all already know this, but Avatar has just surpassed Titanic to become the highest-grossing film of all time.

  • 15 1-26-2010 at 9:14 am

    average joe said...

    I actually think Sweeney Todd is his best film, but maybe that’s just me.

  • 16 1-26-2010 at 9:21 am

    Paul Outlaw said...

    Flawed as they are, I prefer Sweeney Todd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sleepy Hollow and Big Fish–not to mention Corpse Bride–to Mars Attacks!, which is awful a mess as Planet of the Apes.

  • 17 1-26-2010 at 9:22 am

    Filmoholic said...

    David, I’m glad I’m not the only one here who unabashedly loves Sweeney Todd.

    I love the chemistry between Depp and Carter and while Depp is not exactly Bob Dylan, his voive works for the film.

    It’s a strange, violent and hilarious revenge tale and easily Burton’s most underrated work.

    Guy, I’m curious, what do you have against Sweeney Todd?

  • 18 1-26-2010 at 9:25 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I don’t have anything “against” Sweeney Todd. It just didn’t do very much for me. It looks terrific, but I found it a bit overworked and soulless, to be honest.

  • 19 1-26-2010 at 9:27 am

    Megan said...

    Hans and average joe:

    I loved Sweeney Todd, too. Saw it three times in theaters (I’m one of those tools who pays to see a film in theaters 3-5 times if I like it enough). It was one of his more masterful and mature works, and took the darkness beyond its usual light and whimsical goth. Sure, Bonham-Carter and Depp are only so capable vocally, but tackling Sondheim’s insane melodies is no easy task.

    My other favorite is Sleepy Hollow. It’s a Halloween tradition in my family. Just a simple, to-the-point interpretation (the silly, Scooby-doo criminal intrigue aside) that doesn’t take itself too seriously and has some special and makeup effects that still look decent over a decade later. And it has my favorite Elfman score.

    So there’s a lot to celebrate with Burton, but just as much to dislike. He’s always got a special place with me nonetheless.

  • 20 1-26-2010 at 9:38 am

    /3rtfu11 said...

    “Did “Secrets and Lies” exactly scream “a Francis Ford Coppola film?”

    It’s exactly the type of character feature he talks of making whenever discussing the kinds of pictures he wants to get around to making – so yeah I think it is.

  • 21 1-26-2010 at 9:50 am

    Ziyad Abul Hawa said...

    Off Topic:

    Anne Hathaway To Read Oscar Nominations

    Beverly Hills, CA — Nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards® will be announced on Tuesday, February 2, by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak and Oscar-nominated actress and Academy member Anne Hathaway. Sherak and Hathaway will unveil the nominations in 10 of the 24 categories at a 5:30 a.m. news conference at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, where hundreds of media representatives from around the world will be gathered. Nominations information for all categories will be distributed simultaneously to news media in attendance and via the Internet on the official Academy Awards Web site, http://www.oscar.com. Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2009 will be presented on Sunday, March 7, 2010, at the Kodak Theatre.

  • 22 1-26-2010 at 10:01 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    He does indeed. But I don’t include hypothetical films in his oeuvre. I’m a stickler like that.

    The point is that festival-watchers often forecast Cannes success for some films based on certain parallels with the jury president’s work, when said president might actually want to consciously avoid rewarding them for the same reason.

  • 23 1-26-2010 at 10:26 am

    Adam Smith said...

    @Guy: Didn’t stop Tarantino helping Oldboy win the Grand Prix.

  • 24 1-26-2010 at 10:30 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Like I said in the article, Tarantino exerted more force than others!

  • 25 1-26-2010 at 10:32 am

    Speaking English said...

    “Sherak and Hathaway will unveil the nominations in 10 of the 24 categories at a 5:30 a.m.”

    And we all know that REALLY means oh, somewhere around 5:45. ;)

  • 26 1-26-2010 at 10:44 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Big Fish is a straight F. I’m with Guy. But I’d actually say he hasn’t made an interesting film since Mars Attacks! but he hasn’t made a great one since Ed Wood.

  • 27 1-26-2010 at 5:13 pm

    Andrew R. said...

    Corpse Bride is a beautiful, wispy delight. I simply don’t get the hate for Big Fish – question Guy, how can you find Big Fish overscored, and yet find a score say like A Single Man’s which you’ve said you love to not be suffocating?-and Sweeney Todd is the best adapted musical of this decade (think about it, Dreamgirls, Phantom, Nine, Rent, Mamma Mia) so i’d say he’s still got it.

  • 28 1-26-2010 at 5:26 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I personally think it’s pretty faint praise to say a film is better than “Dreamgirls,” “Phantom,” “Rent,” “Nine” or “Mamma Mia.”

    Anyway, I prefer “Chicago” to the lot.

    As for the scoring issue, each film is its own case — some can sustain more ornamentation than others. I personally didn’t find “A Single Man’s” score at all obtrusive, but it’s an entirely subjective thing.

  • 29 1-26-2010 at 5:37 pm

    Andrew R. said...

    Regardless of if you think it’s faint praise or not, it’s the only adapted musical that has success in it’s execution of allowing the characters to actually sing to each other (Chicago doesn’t) but that’s just me.

    Side note, by itself I think the score for A Single Man is beautiful but it’s abused to the point of exasperation in the film for the viewer in my opinion, barring a couple of the tracks namely ‘Carlos’

  • 30 1-26-2010 at 11:11 pm

    Glenn said...

    Andrew, I believe you’re forgetting “Hairspray”, which is clearly the musical from this decade that feels most like an actual cinematic musical with actors that can actually sing and characters that sing to each other and not on a stage. (Having said that “Chicago” is the best musical adapted from a stage show for the decade, then “Hedwig”, then “Hairspray”). “Moulin Rouge!” beats them all though, yes?

    I agree with Guy re Burton’s career except I’d place the line at “Sleepy Hollow” and not “Mars Attacks!” Anything before the 2000s was genius, everything since has not. “Sweeney Todd” being the only one that even approached greatness (and it didn’t get there, as watchable as it is).

  • 31 1-27-2010 at 1:37 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Alright, I’ll settle this once and for all:

    1. Edward Scissorhands
    2. Ed Wood
    3. Batman
    4. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
    5. Beetle Juice
    6. Sleepy Hollow
    7. Batman Returns
    8. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
    9. Mars Attacks!
    10. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
    11. Planet of the Apes
    12. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    13. Big Fish


  • 32 1-27-2010 at 8:11 am

    Paul Outlaw said...


    1. Ed Wood
    2. Edward Scissorhands
    3. Beetle Juice
    4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
    5. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
    6. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
    7. Sleepy Hollow
    8. Batman / Batman Returns
    10. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    11. Big Fish
    12. Mars Attacks!
    13. Planet of the Apes


  • 33 1-27-2010 at 10:54 am

    Sawyer said...

    HeHe, I love lists.

    1. Edward Scissorhands
    2. Batman Returns
    3. Ed Wood
    4. Batman
    5. Beetlejuice
    6. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
    7. Sleepy Hollow
    8. Sweeney Todd
    9. Big Fish
    10. Mars Attacks
    11. Corpse Bride
    12. Planet of the Apes

    13. (by far) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  • 34 1-27-2010 at 10:57 am

    Sawyer said...

    Scissorhands is a masterpiece. The next 4 are great. The next 5 are good. The next 2 are mediocre. The last one should be burned.

  • 35 1-27-2010 at 12:24 pm

    Andrew R. said...

    Glenn, I’d disagree about Hairspray, it’s good fun but I don’t think the numbers are staged that well. And I agree, Moulin Rouge! beats like any musical for the last 30-40 years

  • 36 4-07-2010 at 11:39 am

    SJG said...

    Well I know this is like 2 months old and no one will ever see my list, but I’m going to rank Tim Burton’s movies anyway for the hell of it.

    1. Ed Wood
    2. Edward Scissorhands
    3. Big Fish (yep, I put it 3rd)
    4. Beetlejuice
    5. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
    6. Batman Returns
    7. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    8. Mars Attacks!
    9. Sleepy Hollow
    10. The Corpse Bride
    11. Batman
    12. Sweeney Todd
    13. Planet of the Apes
    14. Alice and Wonderland