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The Best Films of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival

Written by Giovanni Marchini Camia and Rory O'Connor on May 23, 2016 

The Red Turtle (Michaël Dudok De Wit)

THE RED TURTLE - still 7

Motion, love for the Gaia, and lush orchestral music provide the backbone of Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle, a dialogue-free, feature-length animation about a man stranded on a desert island, co-produced by the legendary Studio Ghibli, their first-ever such production to be made off Japanese soil. The story goes that producer Vincent Maraval from Wild Bunch showed De Wit’s Oscar-winning short animation Father and Daughter to Hayao Miyazaki in 2007. The legendary animator much admired the film, calling it “very Japanese,” and asked Maraval to locate De Wit. They sent the Dutchman an email, and so The Red Turtle came into being. – Rory O. (full review)

Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)


For this critic’s money, of the several excellent filmmakers to emerge from the Romanian New Wave, Cristi Puiu ranks as the most formidable. After kicking off his career in 2001 with the outstanding Stuff and Dough, a small-scale but expertly modulated road/drug-deal movie, Puiu made two bona fide masterpieces back to back: The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and Aurora. While his newest dramatic feature, Sieranevada, may fall just short of M-word classification by not reaching the same level of radical invention as its two predecessors, it is nonetheless another proud entry in Puiu’s stellar filmography. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)

Staying Vertical (Alain Guiraudie)

Staying Vertical

Those only familiar with Alain Guiraudie’s sublime Stranger By the Lake, which finally brought the gifted French director to a (relatively) wider audience following a laureled Un Certain Regard premiere in 2013, will likely find themselves confounded by its follow-up, Staying Vertical. With his first entry in Cannes’ main competition, Guiraudie returns to the psychoanalytic mode of the features preceding Stranger, where he gradually and stealthily eroded the boundary between reality and fantasy to probe the complexities of human desire — particularly of the sexual kind — exposing the stifling effects of social norms and conventions to thoroughly bewildering results. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)

Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)

Toni Erdmann 3

Maren Ade has kept us waiting. It’s been seven years since her superb second feature Everyone Else premiered at the Berlinale, taking home the Jury Prize, and she’s spent the interim collaborating on the production of other people’s films (e.g. Miguel Gomes’) rather than releasing one of her own. Now that her new directorial effort is finally here, it validates all the eager anticipation, as Toni Erdmann is one of the most stirring cinematic experiences to come around in a long time. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)

The Rest

Endless Poetry (A-)
The Nice Guys (A-)

Captain Fantastic (B+)
Mimosas (B+)
The Wailing (B+)

After Love (B)
The Dancer (B)
Graduation (B)
Hell or High Water (B)
Julieta (B)
Personal Shopper (B)
Risk (B)

Dog Eat Dog (B-)
Gimme Danger (B-)
The Handmaiden (B-)
The Salesman (B-)

The BFG (C+)
Café Society (C+)
It’s Only the End of the World (C+)
Sweet Dreams (C+)
The Unknown Girl (C+)

Slack Bay (C)
Two Lovers and a Bear (C)

From the Land of the Moon (D)
The Neon Demon (D)

The Last Face (F)


Jim Jarmusch Talks Paterson, His Love for Poetry & Hip-Hop, Tilda Swinton, and Being Grateful

Paterson 5

Maren Ade on Toni Erdmann, Being Inspired By Andy Kaufman, and Finding a Dramatic Balance

Maren Ade

Emma Suarez on the Inspirations Behind Julieta and Being Part of Pedro Almodóvar’s World


Adriana Ugarte on Pedro Almodóvar’s Meticulousness and Transforming for Julieta


Watch William Friedkin’s 80-Minute Masterclass From the 2016 Cannes Film Festival

William Friedkin

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