"Foxcatcher" is based on the true story of Olympic gold medalist wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), who to step out from the shadow of his brother and fellow Olympian, Dave (Mark Ruffalo), moves in with a wealthy benefactor on his Pennsylvania estate. The interest from the millionaire, John du Pont, who Carell plays with a prosthetic nose and a creepy stillness, develops into a tragic psychological drama.
"It was so far outside of his comfort zone," Miller said of Carell. "I've never seen Steve do anything that would give any material evidence that he could do this. We just chatted and I heard how he thought and was thinking about the character, and I had a vision for it working."
As the two pillars of the movie year, Cannes and the Academy Awards are often distinct epicenters. But they are often tenuously connected through the long Oscar campaigns. Cannes is where many Academy Awards hopefuls debut.
While this year's festival has already seen several films that could become award season players — including Mike Leigh's "Mr. Turner" and Tommy Lee Jones' "The Homesman" — "Foxcatcher" premiered with larger expectations that it generally met. Miller's first two films — "Capote" and "Moneyball" — both received a bundle of Oscar nominations.
Anticipation for the film also increased after its release was postponed so that Miller could spend more time finishing it from last year's award season to this year's. Sony Pictures Classics will release the film November 14.
While the film boasts several fine performances (Tatum has never combined his physical presence with vulnerability better), Carell's dramatic turn is the most eye-catching.
"None of it felt like an acting exercise," said Carell. "It was a different experience altogether and I credit Benedict for that."
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake—coyle