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Our 25 Most-Anticipated Films of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival

Written by on May 9, 2016 


The Cannes Film Festival, cinema’s most esteemed yearly event, begins this week. While we’ll soon be on the ground for coverage, today brings a preview of what we’re most looking forward to among the eclectic line-up, ranging from films in competition to special screenings to select titles on the various sidebars. We should note that while we’re greatly looking forward to The Nice Guys, we’ve elected to make room for films that won’t be getting a wide release next week. Check out our most-anticipated features below and follow our complete coverage here throughout the month.

25. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie)

Hell or High Water 1

Following up his acclaimed prison drama Starred Up, featuring Jack O’Connell’s best performance thus far, director David Mackenzie is back. The film, previously titled Comancheria, is now going by Hell or High Water, and will premiere in the Un Certain Regard section ahead of an August release. Featuring a script by Sicario writer Taylor Sheridan, Chris Pine and Ben Foster lead the story of two brothers — a divorced father and ex-con, respectively — who plan a bank robbery to save their farm, and the illustrious Jeff Bridges as the Texas ranger who’s soon on their heels.

24. Endless Poetry (Alejandro Jodorowsky)

Endless Poetry

After returning to filmmaking a few years back, Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky — known for his landmark surrealist films such as The Holy Mountain and El Topo — is back with a new feature. Endless Poetry, premiering in the Directors’ Fortnight section of Cannes, is yet another autobiographical tale, this time focusing on his young adulthood in the ’40s and ’50s as it recounts his introduction to the Latin American literature scene. As with any Jodorowsky feature, we’re not sure what to expect (in the best sense), but it’ll certainly look beautiful, having been shot by the one and only Christopher Doyle.

23. Neruda (Pablo Larraín)


The Club finally arrived earlier this year in the United States, and Pablo Larraín is back with his next film, Neruda, a biopic of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, here played by Luis Gnecco. His No star Gael García Bernal plays Inspector Oscar Peluchoneau, who led the police manhunt for the title character. The director, who recently finished up his Hollywood debut, the Natalie Portman-led Jackie, has been a rising star on the international scene, and there’s no reason to believe his latest will break this streak.

22. Café Society (Woody Allen)

Cafe Society 1

Set to kick off the Cannes Film Festival this year is Woody Allen‘s 1930’s-set Café Society, which looks to be a fittingly lavish spectacle, having been shot by the great Vittorio Storaro. The promising first trailer and trio of clips show off the intriguing mix of characters, played by the likes of Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Parker Posey, Blake Lively, Corey Stoll, Paul Schneider, and Judy Davis, hopefully making for one of the director’s better films from this decade.

21. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)

Toni Erdmann

With it being seven years since her last feature, the wait for Maren Ade‘s Everyone Else follow-up has been a long one, but hopefully worth the wait. The German director, who also produced last year’s Cannes premiere Arabian Nights, is back with Toni Erdmann, which depicts a strange father-daughter relationship in which the former plays pranks on the latter, who he believes to be too self-serious.

20. Risk (Laura Poitras)


With the secretly shot Citizenfour cementing itself as one of the most important and thrilling documentaries of the decade thus far, director Laura Poitras has now set her sights on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for her latest feature. As one might expect, there’s little known about Risk, premiering as part of the Directors’ Fortnight line-up, but if she can once again examine the governmental overreach and those that battle it in the typically fascinating light, we could have another fantastic documentary on our hands.

19. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)


While he won the Un Certain Regard’s top prize around a decade ago for The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu, director Cristi Puiu will now compete in the official line-up for the first time at Cannes. His first narrative feature in six years, Sieranevada, follows a doctor who goes to attend a family gathering remembering his recently passed father, as well as reflecting on the recent terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo. It sounds like heavy, dense material, but Puiu has given himself great time to explore it, as it’s the longest-running feature in the competition line-up at 173 minutes.

18. After the Storm (Hirokazu Koreeda)

After the Storm

Being a recurring figure amongst Cannes’ competition line-up, it’s not much of a surprise that Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s next film will premiere at the festival — albeit in the Un Certain Regard section. Titled After the Storm (Umi yori mo Mada Fukaku, which literally translates to Still Deeper Than the Sea), it follows an author-turned-private-detective who is attempting to regain contact with his estranged ex-wife and their young son. With a promising first trailer, we imagine it’ll be a stand-out in its section.

17. Staying Vertical (Alain Guiraudie)

Staying Vertical

After earning a larger audience with his Cahiers du Cinéma-topping feature Stranger by the Lake, director Alain Guiraudie has made Staying Vertical. The story centers on a filmmaker, on a journey in French wilderness, who fosters a child. Following a promising first clip, we’re looking forward to seeing Guiraudie take on a larger scope with what we imagine will be the same uncompromising style.

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