It’s the most exciting time of the year for a cinephile: the Cannes Film Festival is set to kick off next week, running May 14-25. Ahead of 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 20 films that should 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.

All We Imagine as Light (Payal Kapadia)

After one film, Payal Kapadia is a name you should know––a fresh, intrepid voice in cinema. And in the wake of student protests turning the world upside-down, she’s an essential up-and-comer. Her lone feature to date, 2021’s A Night of Knowing Nothing, is an experimental immersion into India’s own student revolutions––a brutal awakening into the shockingly violent scene of protest against caste-based discrimination at the Film and Television Institute of India and across the country. Her next feature, All We Imagine as Light (she’s off to a great start with titles), will mark her first narrative feature and debut in competition. The film follows two women in Mumbai who take a road trip to a beach town that “allows them to find a space for their desires to manifest.” – Luke H.

Anora (Sean Baker)

After career-best work with Red Rocket, Sean Baker returns with his longest feature yet. Clocking in at two hours and 19 minutes, Anora follows Mikey Madison as a young sex worker from Brooklyn who gets her chance at a Cinderella story when she meets and impulsively marries the son of an oligarch. Once news reaches Russia, the fairytale is threatened as her parents set out for New York to get the marriage annulled. While not much more has been unveiled yet, here’s hoping Baker has crafted another morally murky character study that continues to push the boundaries of indie filmmaking. – Jordan R.

Bird (Andrea Arnold)

Barry Keoghan could use a win after the whiffs that were Saltburn and Masters of the Air. Andrea Arnold, on the other hand, could retire right now and go down in film history for her five-feature streak from Red Road to Cow. So Keoghan is in good hands. The English writer-director’s first narrative feature since American Honey debuts in competition and follows Bug, Bailey, and Hunter––a father and his two sons––in Kent, Arnold’s birthplace. A little Franz Rogowski doesn’t hurt either. – Luke H.

Caught by the Tides (Jia Zhangke)

There’s little more one needs to do to understand the significance and creative weight behind Jia Zhangke’s first narrative feature since 2018’s Ash Is Purest White than read our very own Rory O’Connor’s astute interview with the Chinese auteur from last week. The film, which debuts in competition on the Croisette, was shot loosely, organically, and without narrative aim over the past 23 years with the same cast and crew, and Jia only began revisiting footage for the edit after the pandemic brought the world to a halt. – Luke H.

Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point (Tyler Taormina)

When it comes to American indie filmmaking, Tyler Taormina has stood out as a unique voice with the woozy Ham on Rye and nocturnal odyssey Happer’s Comet. He’s now back with his third and most high-profile feature yet, Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point. Boasting a cast that includes Michael Cera, Francesca Scorsese, Gregg Turkington, Elsie Fisher, and Sawyer Spielberg, the film follows a holiday get-together for the members of an eccentric Italian-American family. “As the night wears on and generational tensions arise, one of the teenagers sneaks out with her friend to claim the wintry suburb for her own,” the synopsis notes. – Jordan R.

The Damned (Roberto Minervini)

Carving out a fascinating body of documentary work forming a deep relationship with his subjects, Roberto Minervini returns this year with his first narrative feature The Damned. Premiering in Un Certain Regard, the film is set in the winter of 1862 during the Civil War, following a company of volunteer U.S. soldiers sent to the western territories, who have the task of patrolling the unchartered borderlands. As their mission ultimately changes course, the meaning behind their engagement begins to elude them. “It was a very conscious choice to go back to a moment where a lot of these roots were being planted: the great divide between North and South, Christianity, a kind of toxic masculinity,” the director said. – Jordan R.

Eephus (Carson Lund)

If the perfect sports movie illuminates precisely what makes one fall in love with the game, there may be no better movie about baseball than Carson Lund’s Eephus. Structured solely around a single baseball game, Lund’s debut beautifully and humorously articulates the particular nuances, rhythms, and rituals of an amateur men’s league game. Carrying an aura of bittersweetness through its tranquil frames, it’s the final game for this team as the dilapidated stadium will begin to be demolished the very next day to make room for a new school. By subverting the tropes of the standard sports movie, which often capture peak physical performance in front of legions of adoring fans, Lund has crafted something far more singularly compelling in capturing this group of weathered yet passionate misfits. – Jordan R.

Grand Tour (Miguel Gomes)

A blend of shadowy jungle haze and cityscapes with an old-world Metropolis bent, Miguel Gomes’s trailer for Grand Tour has already been released, giving plenty to both pique curiosity and anticipate. Styled and shot to look like a film in the early 20th century, Grand Tour follows a civil servant in 1917 Rangoon who bails on his fiancée on their wedding day, only for her to trail him across Asia, amused at his parting. If Gomes’s Arabian Nights trilogy or his more recent The Tsugua Diaries are any indication, this could be one of the better-kept secrets going into the fest. – Luke H.

It Doesn’t Matter (Josh Mond)

It’s been nearly a decade since Josh Mond directed Christopher Abbott’s best performance in James White; now the duo have reunited for It Doesn’t Matter, a drama premiering in the ACID sidebar at Cannes. The film follows the cross-country wanderings of Alvaro, a man from Staten Island, and his fortuitous relationship with a young filmmaker. Over the course of seven years, Alvaro comes to confront the issues that have left him down and out, and how he begins to heal. – Jordan R.

It’s Not Me (Leos Carax)

As rumors swirl that Leos Carax is prepping a new feature, he’s following Annette with a 41-minute self-portrait. Not a great deal is known about the career-spanning It’s Not Me (aka C’est pas moi), but Carax has this to say earlier this year: “It was supposed to be a 10 to 15-minute film. It was the first time that I edited anything myself without [Nelly Quettier]. Although I didn’t do the exhibit, I ended up making this film… it’s about 40 minutes. It’s so interesting to work alone. We did shoot for a good week with Denis [Lavant] but the rest of it is images from my archive and from other people and me with my iPhone.” If anything, we imagine this cinematic memoir will hold Carax’s singular style. – Jordan R.

Megalopolis (Francis Ford Coppola)

One thing for this to be the return of Francis Ford Coppola, whose filmography stands on the shoulders of four films from the 1970s but runs much deeper and far stranger than that suggests, hitting the wildest of late-career resurgences between 2007 and 2011. It’s quite another that Coppola’s dreamed of Megalopolis longer than I––and likely you, and probably almost anybody reading this––have been alive, the commitment so profound he traded an entire portion of his wine fortune for budget, which (standing somewhere between $100-120 million) is about the biggest he’s ever had. Smallest peeks at the final result foretell a work of staggering ambition, genuinely utopian vision, and creative abandon never permitted at this scale. (On the basis of his recent work, this also suggests something less “from the director of The Godfather” and more “looks and sounds like a Star Wars prequel.”) Megalopolis fulfills Francis Ford Coppola’s decades-long dream, and with it film history might never be the same. – Nick N.

Misericorde (Alain Guiraudie)

Knowing Guiraudie’s unflinching visions of violence and sexuality (not least in his superb novel Now the Night Begins), I’m already girding my loins for Miséricorde. It’s said to follow a noir-like plot concerning Jérémie, a 30-year-old who returns to his native Saint-Martial for a friend’s funeral. While there “he must contend with rumors and suspicion, until he commits an irreparable act and finds himself at the centre of a police investigation.” The vibes are likely to be insanely bad, and with Claire Mathon (his DP on Staying Vertical and Stranger By the Lake) in tow I anticipate it’ll come packaged in perfect images. – Nick N.

Oh, Canada (Paul Schrader)

It was only two years ago that Paul Schrader was taken to the hospital after premiering Master Gardener at the Venice Film Festival. Speaking candidly about his health, he referred to it as his “last rodeo.” But it wasn’t long before the tides turned drastically and what was supposed to be a short time remaining was reborn into a fresh chapter of his career, Schrader taking to Facebook (as per usual) to celebrate the mysterious upturn. Master Gardener would have been a tender farewell; thankfully the cinema gods have smiled upon us, and we wade into the future with a hope for more heat from the fire-stoker. A cast filled out by Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Michael Imperioli, and Jacob Elordi is a great start. – Luke H.

Rumours (Guy Maddin, Galen Johnson, and Evan Johnson)

Returning with perhaps his most high-profile feature yet, Canadian auteur Guy Maddin’s Rumours boasts Ari Aster as an executive producer and Cate Blanchett and Alicia Vikander among its cast. Despite these major names, it thankfully looks to continue his delightfully strange style, following seven leaders of the world’s wealthiest liberal democracies at the annual G7 summit after they become lost in the woods and face increasing peril while attempting to draft a provisional statement regarding a global crisis. With U.S. distribution already set for this fall from Bleecker Street, the rest of the world won’t have to wait long to go on Maddin’s mind trip (which could be literally speaking, judging from the above still). – Jordan R.

Savages (Claude Barras)

Eight years after collaborating with Céline Sciamma on My Life as a Zucchini, Claude Barras is back with his next stop-motion animation premiering as a special screening. The official synopsis reads, “In Borneo, at the edge of the tropical forest, Kéria is given a baby orangutan that has been rescued from the oil palm plantation where her father works. At the same time, her young cousin Selaï has come to live with them, seeking refuge from the conflict between his nomadic family and the logging companies. With their ancestral forest home under greater threat than ever before, Keria, Selaï and the little ape, now named Oshi, will have to confront many obstacles in their battle against its planned destruction.” As one of the very few animated works at the festival, we can’t wait to see what’s in store. – Jordan R.

Scénarios and Exposé du film annonce du film Scénario (Jean-Luc Godard)

The last cinematic dispatch from Jean-Luc Godard, Scenarios was completed just a day before the legendary director died from assisted suicide. “It is a singular yet shared narrative of a life haunted by death, as this film is also a farewell, the lamentation of a funeral,” the distributor notes of the 18-minute film, which will be paired with Exposé du film annonce du film Scénario, a 34-minute film which goes behind the scenes of making the above short. Shot in October 2021, it captures Godard presenting his idea for Scénarios in a film “combining still and moving images, halfway between reading and seeing. It’s devastating to think these will be the final images from the director, but we greatly anticipate seeing such a definitive swan song. – Jordan R.

The Shrouds (David Cronenberg)

We don’t need to know the plot details of a new Cronenberg film for it to make our most-anticipated list. Having made one is enough. Over the decades, the veteran has earned the embedded anticipation: every new project further cements his singular taste for bizarre stories, strange details, and cinematic imaginations no one else could conjure. So when we finally get to the plot of The Shrouds, his 23rd feature, it’s both delightfully shocking and no surprise at all to find it follows a widower who invents technology that allows people to connect with the dead from the grave. That sweet, sweet Cronenberg brain. – Luke H.

The Substance (Coralie Fargeat)

The rare genre feature to compete for the Palme d’Or, Coralie Fargeat’s The Substance follows her 2017 debut feature Revenge. Led by Margaret Qualley, Dennis Quaid, Demi Moore, and Hugo Diego Garcia, there’s not much known yet about the supposedly bloody body horror project, just picked up by MUBI, but we’re curious to see the reactions for a gore fest (clocking in at 140 minutes, no less) in competition. – Jordan R.

Spectators! (Arnaud Desplechin)

There wasn’t exactly the need for Arnaud Desplechin to continue chronicling Paul Dedalus after 1996’s My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument, but the fulfillment from checking in with this richly drawn, low-key character has made it more necessary than any known franchise. (It’s also likely I’m just willing to watch Mathieu Amalric wherever he goes.) The follow-up to 2015’s My Golden Days is (somewhat curiously) billed as a docu-fiction about “a movie theatre from the 1960s to the present day,” with Françoise Lebrun (The Mother and the WhoreVortex) co-starring. If recent history’s any bellwether, we can anticipate Spectateurs! to be overwhelming, roundly excellent, and incapable of receiving U.S. distribution. – Nick N.

Universal Language (Matthew Rankin)

After the wildly vibrant, Guy Maddin-esque journey into Canadian history with his debut The Twentieth Century, Matthew Rankin looks to be taking an entirely different stylistic turn with his follow-up, Universal Language. Premiering in Directors Fortnight, the film follows various characters, including a man who ventures from Montreal back home to Winnipeg to visit his mother and children who attempt to retrieve money frozen in ice. Primarily in the Farsi language, the celebration of Iranian culture in Canada has earned early comparisons to the work of Kiarostami. Oscilloscope Laboratories already picked up U.S. rights, so hopefully more audiences will get a chance to see it. – Jordan R.

Honorable Mentions

Considering the breadth of the Cannes lineup, there’s plenty more to anticipate. This year, we opted not to include films that are opening shortly––among them George Miller’s Furiosa, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Kinds of Kindness, and the first part of Kevin Costner’s Horizon. While we didn’t include restorations, it should go without saying that Abel Gance’s Napoleon, the first part of which will open Cannes Classics, is more anticipated than the entire above lineup.

Shortly after Our Body, Claire Simon returns with the documentary Learn, while Karim Aïnouz is back one year after Firebrand with Motel Destino. Hopefully Soi Cheang’s Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In delivers on the action front alongside Furiosa. Christophe Honoré’s Marcello Mio, featuring Chiara Mastroianni embracing her father’s legacy, promises a fun time, as do Quentin Dupiex’s opener The Second Act and Jacques Audiard’s musical Emilia Perez starring Karla Sofía Gascón, Selena Gomez, Zoe Saldaña, and Édgar Ramírez. After having films at Sundance and Berlinale, Renate Reinsve is back at Cannes with Armand from Halfdan Ullmann Tøndel, grandson of Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman. Rúnar Rúnarsson’s When the Light Breaks is a beautifully rendered, concise portrait of immediate grief and Jonás Trueba’s The Other Way Around is a sprightly, humorous look at at the devolving of a relationship.

The Wolf House directors Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León are back with The Hyperboreans, described as a blend of “live-action and stop motion, speculative fiction and fabulated biography.” Following Sweat, Magnus von Horn has returned with The Girl with the Needle as is The Tree House director Truong Minh Quy with Viet and Nam and I Am Not a Witch director Rungano Nyoni with On Becoming a Guinea Fowl. Ariane Labed makes her directorial debut with September Says as does Agathe Riedinger with Wild Diamond. Noémie Merlant is back with her second directorial feature, The Balconettes. We’re also intrigued by Lorcan Finnegan’s psychological thriller The Surfer starring Nicolas Cage and Eat the Night, the latest from Jessica Forever directors Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel.

Here’s hoping Ali Abbasi’s The Apprentice finds something interesting to say about the early years of Trump. Despite his films not getting much play stateside, we’re curious to see Kirill Serebrennikov’s team-up with Ben Wishaw for Limonov. While Paolo Sorrentino can be hit-or-miss, A24’s pick-up of his latest film, the Gary Oldman-led Parthenope, has us curious.

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