At long last, Cannes returns to its proper May slot. With the event kicking off next week, running from the 17th through the 28th, much cinematic greatness awaits.

Ahead of the festivities we’ve rounded up what we’re most looking forward to—and while we’re sure many surprises await, per every year, one will find twenty films that should already be on your radar. Check out our picks below and be sure to subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest updates from the festival.

20. Holy Spider (Ali Abbasi)

Following his one-of-a-kind, Oscar-nominated fantasy drama Border, Iranian-Danish director Ali Abbasi is heading into Cannes competition with his next feature, Holy Spider. Based on a true story, it follows a female journalist (Zar Amir-Ebrahimi) investigating a serial killer who believes it is his righteous duty to murder sex workers and cleanse society. We imagine a provocative feature is in store from Abbasi, who is already in production on his next project: a few episodes of the Last of Us adaptation. – Jordan R.

19. R.M.N. (Cristian Mungiu)

The Romanian New Wave has enjoyed quite a substantial few years with Bad Luck Banging, Malmkrog, Întregalde, and The Whistlers. One of its forebearers, Cristian Mungiu, is now back with R.M.N., marking his first film since 2016’s Graduation. The story reportedly follows a man returning to his multi-ethnic mountain village in Transylvania after working abroad. Exploring the changes in the community, gripped by irrational fear, as the local factory hires foreign workers, Mungiu has the makings of a timely, piercing drama. – Jordan R.

18. Paris Memories (Alice Winocour)

Alice Winocour, director of the criminally underappreciated Proxima and writer of the critically acclaimed feature Mustang, returns behind the camera for her fourth feature Paris Memories. It concerns Mia, who finds herself caught in a Paris terrorist attack one Saturday night, and three months later decides to recollect the attack and memory of the man who may have saved her life. Headlined by Benedetta‘s Virginie Efira, Winocour’s latest has the makings of a resonating, cathartic drama. – Margaret R. 

17. Will-o’-the-Wisp (João Pedro Rodrigues)

Six years after his evocative character study The Ornithologist, Portuguese director João Pedro Rodrigues is returning with a new feature. The 67-minute Will-o’-the-Wisp will premiere in Directors’ Fortnight and follows a royal highness who, on his deathbed, recalls distant memories of his youth when he dreamt of becoming a fireman. “The encounter with instructor Afonso from the fire brigade, opens a new chapter in the life of the two young men devoted to love and desire, and the will to change the status quo,” the logline reads, hitting at another sexually charged odyssey from Rodrigues.

16. Funny Pages (Owen Kline)

Jesse Eisenberg isn’t the only Squid and the Whale star bringing his A24-backed directorial debut to Cannes. Owen Kline’s Funny Pages, produced by the Safdies and shot by Sean Price Williams, will premiere in Directors’ Fortnight. Described as a “a bitingly funny coming-of-age story of a teenage cartoonist who rejects the comforts of his suburban life in a misguided quest for soul,” we’re curious how Kline’s performance skills translate behind the camera.

15. Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind (Ethan Coen)

There are more questions about the current state of the Coen brothers than one could even begin to ask, none of which are remotely answered by news that Ethan has completed a documentary on the (for better and worse) legendary Jerry Lee Lewis. Characteristically sui generis subject matter and—let’s be honest—probably less-trod than the Scottish play, so: good enough. Early sources say his film could inspire a kind of furious discourse, walking a fine line between avoiding sensationalization and acknowledging the, let’s say, particulars of Lewis’ life. Killer music to follow, at least. – Nick N.

14. Pacifiction (Albert Serra)

And now for something completely different, courtesy Catalan slow-cinema classicist Albert Serra. Turning from his grotesquely sexualized and lugubrious takes on the European canon (for now), he seems to have generated a sinister little yarn informed by the urgent issue of colonialism in its modern guise (as is also being tackled by many peers). A successful novelist returns to French Polynesia, where she accepts a translator job with an ambassador for whom she eventually falls. A dark web of international politics and intrigue is summarily revealed. Sounds not unlike last year’s Azor. – David K.

13. Enys Men (Mark Jenkin)

Bursting onto the festival circuit with his formally adventurous debut Bait––equipped with a sense of rough-and-tumble experimentation that made The Lighthouse, another black-and-white oceanside drama also released in 2019, seem fairly tame by comparison––Mark Jenkin returns with his follow-up. Enys Men, also shot on 16mm, is a Cornish folk horror film that “unfolds on an uninhabited island in the Celtic Sea where a wildlife volunteer’s daily observations of a rare flower takes a dark turn into the strange and metaphysical.” The makings of a true breakout; we’re excited to see the strangeness in store. – Jordan R.

12. Triangle of Sadness (Ruben Östlund)

As acclaim and notoriety for Ruben Östlund go up so do the production budgets and scope. This seems a natural marriage for his talents that shouldn’t instill creative compromise. It’s exciting to have a sharp, ambitious satirist given freer reign, putting him on a closer level to directors like Adam McKay and Terry Gilliam, and this cruise-set look at the luxury and fashion worlds—with Woody Harrelson in tow as a Marxist theory-spouting sea captain—should be an enjoyable provocation, even as risk of underwhelming slightly (e.g. The Square) is always present. – David K.

11. Brother and Sister (Arnaud Desplechin)

We just remarked that Arnaud Desplechin’s recent work has been severely overlooked here in America—his riveting Philip Roth adaption Deception serves as the top pick to see this month. He’s already back with another film at Cannes, Frère et soeur (aka Brother and Sister), which follows Marion Cotillard and Melvil Poupaud as estranged siblings who reunite after the death of their parents. With the makings for quite an emotional drama, here’s hoping it causes a re-evaluation of the director’s recent work. – Jordan R.

10. Scarlet (Pietro Marcello)

Pietro Marcello’s follow-up to the staggering Martin Eden should be a must-see, even just based on that film’s sublime quality. The Directors’ Fortnight opener L’envol (aka Scarlet) marks the Italian director’s first French-language effort and concerns a young woman living in northern Normandy after World War I. It has been described as an inspirational film couched between reality and fantasy, with musical elements to boot. Impossible to imagine, incredibly exciting to think about. – Logan K.

9. Three Thousand Years of Longing (George Miller)

In between Mad Max: Fury Road and his forthcoming prequel Furiosa, George Miller has directed the fantasy drama Three Thousand Years of Longing. Led by Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba, it follows a scholar who encounters a Djinn that offers her three wishes. Described by Miller as the anti-Fury Road, we imagine this will be yet another strange detour in the director’s varied career and are all the more excited he’s not repeating himself. – Jordan R.

8. Broker (Hirokazu Kore-eda)

One of the major titles of the 2022 lineup is from Hirokazu Koreeda, who last visited the festival with Shoplifters and took home the Palme d’Or. Broker, which is his first South Korean project features the all-star cast of Song Kang-ho (Parasite), Bae Doona (Cloud Atlas, The Host), Kang Dong-won (Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula), and the popular artist IU aka Lee Ji-eun. Shot by cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo (Parasite, Burning) the film centers on baby boxes, in which parents who aren’t able to provide for their babies anonymously give them. – Jordan R.

7. God’s Creatures (Anna Rose Holmer & Saela Davis)

Anna Rose Holmer made a grand entrance with her debut feature The Fits, and has partnered with her editor (now co-director) Saela Davis for their second feature God’s Creatures. The psychological gothic drama set in an Irish fishing village conveys the story of a mother whose lie to protect her son leads to devastating consequences for her community, her family, and eventually herself. Emily Watson, Paul Mescal, and Aisling Franciosi headline the A24 production, which premieres in Directors’ Fortnight. – Margaret R.

6. Armageddon Time (James Gray)

Notwithstanding Gray’s own reservations, Ad Astra was a monumental step in this most essential of American careers—a veritable sci-fi epic integrating career-long fixations on family with the director’s penchant for operatic structure. No reason to anticipate Armageddon Time, a story heavily rooted in Gray’s upbringing and strange connection to a horrific American empire, hitting hollow emotional depths. And as shot on 35mm by world’s greatest cinematographer Darius Khondji it’s sure to look fabulous. – Nick N.

5. One Fine Morning (Mia Hansen-Løve)

Being shot in two sections—first from late spring to mid-summer, then late fall to early winter—suggests another emotional-structural masterstroke by Mia Hansen-Løve. (If I propose she’s compacting Rohmer’s Tales of the Four Seasons into a single feature I’d have to list my address so I could be summarily executed.) Few directors are as perceptive about the relationship between time’s passing and the heart’s yearning, and Hansen-Løve told me this story of a woman (Léa Seydoux, currently at something like a career peak), who begins an affair amidst her husband’s deteriorating health, might recall her stellar debut All is Forgiven. Wherever she goes, we follow. – Nick N.

4. Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt)

After her last feature, First Cow, topped our list of the best films of 2020, it’s no surprise Kelly Reichardt’s follow-up is one of our most-anticipated at this year’s Cannes. One of the great American filmmakers reteams with longtime collaborator Michelle Williams and Cow‘s John Magaro for the comedy Showing Up. Also starring André Benjamin, Hong Chau, Judd Hirsch, Maryann Plunkett, Heather Lawless, Amanda Plummer, Larry Fessenden, and James Le Gros, the A24 production has been described as a vibrant, sharply funny portrait of an artist on the verge of a career-changing exhibition. As she navigates family, friends, and colleagues in the lead up to her show, the chaos of life becomes the inspiration for great art. – Jordan R.

3. Decision to Leave (Park Chan-wook)

Marking Park Chan-wook’s first feature since 2016’s The Handmaiden, anticipation is sky high for his melodrama mystery Decision to Leave Led by Tang Wei (Lust, Caution, Blackhat) and Park Hae-il (The Host, Memories of Murder), it follows a detective investigating a man’s death who begins to develop feelings for the widow. With cinematography from Ji-yong Kim (The Age of Shadows, A Bittersweet Life), we expect a stylish, twist-filled adventure. – Jordan R.

2. Stars at Noon (Claire Denis)

With a Hamaguchi-like approach to 2022, Claire Denis premiered her stellar, small-scale melodrama Both Sides of the Blade at Berlinale and now debuts a higher-profile feature at Cannes. Stars at Noon, her adaptation of Denis Johnson’s 1986 novel, follows a mysterious English businessman and headstrong American journalist who strike up a passionate romance in Nicaragua circa 1984. With Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn leading the cast, and an ensemble that includes Benny Safdie and John C. Reilly, Denis’ first Cannes competition selection since 1988’s Chocolat is long overdue; hopefully she’s received accordingly. – Jordan R.

1. Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg)

Eight long years since Maps to the Stars (a film that only grows stronger and truer in time) and well after I expected him to retire with many lifespans’ laurels to rest on, David Cronenberg returns by (maybe) looking back. Word has it 2022’s Crimes of the Future bears narrative tethers to 1970’s Crimes of the Future—both concern medical professionals, for one—though a revisit of that early whatsit yielded few tangible ideas as to how. All the same: who cares. Everything thus far suggests body horror from days past shot through the more austere (and personally preferable) lens of his later style, its cast sure to fit that antiseptic mold. And at least he’s pleased—Cronenberg was blunt enough to tell me Crimes is “a beautiful kidney stone.” Let it pass. – Nick N.

Honorable Mentions

Of course, 20 selections merely scratch the surface of what’s in store. We’re also looking forward to the Dardennes’ Tori and Lokita; Brett Morgen’s Bowie doc Moonage Daydream; Lee Jung-Jae’s thriller Hunt; Riley Keough’s directorial debut War Pony, helmed with Gina Gammell; the Vicky Krieps-led Corsage; Hlynur Pálmason’s Godland; Agnieszka Smocynska’s The Silent Twins; and Jerzy Skolimowski’s Eo.

Along with the high-profile premieres of Elvis and Top Gun: Maverick (reviewed here), smaller on the radar but no less anticipated is Serge Bozon’s Don Juan; Léonor Serraille’s Un petit frère; Louis Garrel’s L’Innocent; Patricio Guzmán’s Mi Pais Imaginario; Damien Manivel’s Magdala; Léa Mysius’ The Five Devils; and Véréna Paravel & Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica.

While not on the film side, we couldn’t be more intrigued by Olivier Assayas’ adaptation of his own Irma Vep, which will screen a few episodes at Cannes and arrive on HBO Max June 6.

Last but certainly not least, Cannes Classics brings an incredible slate of restorations, including Jean Eustache’s The Mother and the Whore––the first in a number of long-awaited restorations from his filmography.

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