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Our 20 Most-Anticipated Films of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival

Written by on May 13, 2019 

10. Parasite (Bong Joon-ho)

After the gloriously entertaining and emotional Okja, Bong Joon-ho is back with the mysterious thriller Parasite. Starring Song Kang-Ho, Lee Sun-Kyun, Cho Yeo-Jeong, Choi Woo-Shik, and Park So-Dam, the story follows two families from different classes who have peculiar characteristics. There’s bound to be many more surprises in store and we can’t wait to discover them, courtesy of NEON, who will distribute the film stateside following the Cannes premiere.

9. The Dead Don’t Die (Jim Jarmusch)

Kicking off Cannes Film Festival with a bite, Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy features the epic cast of Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, Sara Driver, RZA, Selena Gomez, Carol Kane, Austin Butler, Luka Sabbat and Tom Waits. While Jarmusch looks to be going a bit broader with his latest film, hopefully it’ll still contain his distinct voice, and we imagine it’ll break the curse of the Cannes opener.

8. Oh Mercy! (Arnaud Desplechin)

Speaking of Cannes openers, one of the few recent ones to not disappoint was Arnaud Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts. He’ll now return with the Arnaud Desplechin’s detective story Roubaix, A Light, which he co-wrote with Ava director Léa Mysius. Starring Léa Seydoux, Roschdy Zem, Antoine Reinartz, and Sara Forestier, it takes place on Christmas night as detectives investigate the murder of an older woman.

7. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma)

After taking on the tumultuous period known as adolescence in Tomboy and Girlhood, Celine Sciamma turns to the 1760s for his next feature, Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Starring Adèle Haenel, the film follows a woman who is tasked with painting a wedding portrait of a bride-to-be, though her subject is not allowed to know of the commission. As the painting process occurs, their bond grows tighter leading up to the wedding. Sciamma has shown a keen, initiate vision in her previous films, which we expect to carry through here.

6. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers)

Not a great deal is known about Robert Eggers’ follow-up to his horror The Witch, which sets the stage for a genuinely surprising work. Shot in black-and-white with camera equipment from early Hollywood, The Lighthouse, starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, follows a pair of lighthouse keepers in brutal terrain as fantasy elements creep in. “It’s less Friday the 13th and more Tarkovsky,” Dafoe recently told Indiewire. “It was very, very tough physically, but that was kind of the point.”

5. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino)

Sure to generate the most coverage out of the festival is Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, his star-studded drama centered on a TV actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and stuntman buddy’s (Bradd Pitt) attempt to enter the studio system, all the while living next door to Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and Roman Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha) in the summer of 1969. Also featuring Al Pacino, Bruce Dern, Timothy Olyphant, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Scoot McNairy, Zoë Bell, Dakota Fanning, Damian Lewis, Lena Dunham, Luke Perry, and many, many more, it’ll arrive just a few months after its Cannes premiere.

4. Frankie (Ira Sachs)

Love is Strange and Little Men director Ira Sachs will have his first Cannes competition film with Frankie starring Isabelle Huppert, Marisa Tomei, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, Jérémie Renier, Ariyon Bakare, and André Wilms. Starring Huppert as a famous actress who learns she only has a few months to live and takes a vacation with her family, Sony Classics recently picked up the film for what we imagine will be a fall release.

3. Little Joe (Jessica Hausner)

After landing on our radar with the formally thrilling, adventurous Amour Fou, we’ve been desperately waiting for Jessica Hausner’s follow-up, and now it’ll premiere in competition at Cannes. Little Joe, starring Emily Beecham, Ben Whishaw, and Kerry Fox, is set in the near-future where a plant is invented that begins to psychologically alter those who come in contact with it. This plays out in the story of a mother who is afraid of losing her son, while she also struggles with her own mind.

2. Zombi Child (Bertrand Bonello)

One of the best directors working today, Bertrand Bonello continually pushes boundaries in thrilling ways. Following his provocative terrorist thriller Nocturama, he’ll be paying homage to Jacques Tourneur with his next film, Zombi Child, premiering in Directors’ Fortnight. Starting in 1962 in Haiti, it finds a man brought back to the dead, then 55 years later in Paris, we center on a boarding school, with a Haitian girl confesses dark, strange family secrets.

1. A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick)

Regardless of what festival it premieres at, a new film by Terrence Malick will likely be our most-anticipated of the lineup, and it’s certainly the case when it comes to his latest work. A Hidden Life, formerly titled Radegund, gets the added cachet of premiering in competition at Cannes. Marking the director’s return to World War II dramas, this one takes a much different perspective than The Thin Red Line, following Austria’s Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), a conscientious objector who was put to death at the age of 36 for undermining military actions. Also starring Valerie Pachner, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Jürgen Prochnow, as well as the late Michael Nyqvist and Bruno Ganz, it’ll mark the director’s longest theatrical release at 173 minutes.

Honorable Mentions

Despite a hint that Pedro Costa may make it into the lineup, it looks like he’s still working on his next film, so let’s turn to some others what we know will be making their premieres. A number of Cannes regulars will return, including Ken Loach (Sorry We Missed You), Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne (Young Ahmed), Xavier Dolan (Matthias and Maxime), Marco Bellocchio (The Traitor), and Takashi Miike (First Love).

Also at the festival is Rebecca Zlotowski’s An Easy Girl, Gael García Bernal’s Chicuarotes, Quentin Dupieux’s Directors’ Fortnight opener Deerskin (trailer above), Asif Kapadia with a new documentary Diego Maradona, Lav Diaz’s The Halt, Hlynur Pálmason’s Winter Brothers follow-up A White, White Day, Justine Triet’s Sibyl, Lorcan Finnegan’s Vivarium, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots, and Albert Serra’s Liberté. There’s also a few films we’ve already reviewed: Give Me Liberty, Wounds, Share, and For Sama.

What are you most looking forward to at Cannes?

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