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It won’t be the best — that would probably be 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which screened out of competition. Nor will it be the worst — that honor goes to 2016’s The Last Face, a Sean Penn film that screened in competition, where it was heckled mercilessly.
Theron’s first appearance in the Cannes lineup was in 2000’s competition contender The Yards, directed by James Gray. The unlikely crime drama, set in the world of New York commuter rail maintenance, was based on a corruption scandal involving Gray’s own father. It featured a cast of heavyweights: Mark Wahlberg plays an ex-con trying to get his life back on track; Joaquin Phoenix is his best friend; Theron is his cousin; James Caan is a corrupt contractor; Ellen Burstyn is his ailing mom; and Faye Dunaway plays Theron’s mother.
Nevertheless, The Hollywood Reporter wasn’t impressed. Its review called the Miramax film “less GoodFellas than DullFellas,” and found it to be “drab and seriously under-plotted … the picture will most likely be riding the fast track to the video station.”
THR wasn’t far off: The $24 million film ($32 million in 2021) made a measly $890,000 at the box office ($1.4 million today). The muted reception didn’t hamper Gray, however, who went on to direct films like 2016’s The Lost City of Z and 2019’s Ad Astra.
Theron next appears in Paul Feig’s fantasy adventure The School for Good and Evil, due in 2022.
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