The Cannes Film Festival, cinema’s most esteemed yearly event, begins this week. While we’ll soon be on the ground providing 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. Check out our most-anticipated features below and follow our complete coverage here throughout the month.

25. Filmworker (Tony Zierra)


There’s perhaps no filmmaker that has more documentaries made about them than Stanley Kubrick, but a new one premiering at Cannes Film Festival proves not every angle about his legendary filmography and life has been explored. Filmworker takes a look at the life of Leon Vitali, who first met Kubrick playing Lord Bullingdon in Barry Lyndon then would go on to become a close assistant to the director, even overseeing restorations of his films after his passing. With interviews from Vitali himself and many others in Kubrick’s close circle, hopefully this brings more insight into a unique relationship.

24. Jupiter’s Moon (Kornél Mundruczó)


Most animal-related features in cinema today are geared towards offering up the cutest depictions imaginable for a family-friendly audience, but when White God premiered a few years back, Kornél Mundruczó brought some style to the subgenre. He’s now returning to Cannes with what sounds like an even more ambitious follow-up, Jupiter’s Moon, which follows an immigrant who gets shot while crossing the border and then finds out he can levitate. With this peculiar mash-up of timely issues and superhero-esque abilities, it will certainly be unlike anything else at the festival.

23. In the Fade (Fatih Akin)


Fatih Akin hasn’t had a narrative feature premiere at Cannes in a decade, but he’s now back this year with one of his most promising dramas in some time. In the Fade, starring Diane Kruger, follows a woman who attempts to recover after her husband and son die in a terrorist attack. To help heal the pain she begins a path of revenge. Shockingly, it’s the first German-language film for the German-American actress, one that hints at one of her most dramatically compelling roles yet.

22. Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (Bruno Dumont)


Following the success of Li’l Quinquin, Bruno Dumont returned to Cannes with his Juliette Binoche re-team Slack Bay, which just got a U.S. release last month, and now he’s coming back to the festival with quite an interesting project, to say the least. Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, which will premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight section of Cannes, takes a look at the early days of France’s heroine, albeit in the form of a rock ‘n’ roll musical. The first trailer shows off Dumont’s singular vision, injecting some fun into the life of a figure who has always been captured in less perhaps strictly entertaining ways in cinema past.

21. Alive in France (Abel Ferrara)


After garnering controversy with Welcome to New YorkAbel Ferrara‘s first documentary in some time depicts a series of concerts and a film retrospective in France which celebrates the music in the director’s work. It sounds a little meta to direct your own documentary about a series dedicated to your own work, but that’s just the set-up that could yield fascinating results, especially for a director like Ferrara.

20. Before We Vanish (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)


Kiyoshi Kurosawa is back at Cannes with the fascinating-sounding Before We Vanish, an alien movie which looks to be conveyed in the striking manner only he can deliver. The film follows three aliens who travel to Earth on a reconnaissance mission in preparation for a mass invasion. Stripping their host bodies of their human characteristics, they leaving a damaging path. Even in a year that includes new Blade Runner and Star Wars film, this might be the most appealing sci-fi film.

19. L’Amant D’Un Jour (Philippe Garrel)


Like clockwork, another Philippe Garrel is ready for a debut at Cannes Film Festival. Perhaps its his small-scale films and similar aesthetic, but it seems like the director continually gets overlooked when compared some of the other premieres, but his films often end up being the finest amongst the offerings. His latest, translated to Lover for a Day, follows a father and his 23-year-old daughter, who comes to live with him, finding he’s dating a woman who is her same age.

18. Visages, Villages (Agnès Varda and JR)


The involvement of Agnès Varda is the only fact one genuinely needs to anticipate a project. But considering her new documentary is her first feature in nearly a decade and one that looks to find the filmmaker just as fascinated with the playfulness of cinema as ever (see the trailer), our excitement is at a fever pitch. Visages, Villages sees the French New Wave legend teaming with artist JR as they take a journey through the countryside of France in search of unique images and their source.

17. Okja (Bong Joon-ho)


After providing thrills solely on a train with Snowpiercer, Bong Joon-ho is expanding his scope with the monster movie Okja. Starring Ahn Seo-hyun, Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Devon Bostick, Byun Hee-bong, and Shirley Henderson, we shouldn’t expect another creature a la The Host, rather something more shy. The Netflix-produced and distributed feature tracks the struggle to stop a multinational corporation from kidnapping the titular monster, and it certainly has the makings of the most entertaining film of the summer.

16. The Florida Project (Sean Baker)


While it wasn’t his directorial debut, Sean Baker’s crackling, bold drama Tangerine certainly served as his break-out project, offering much more than its initial shot-solely-on-an-iPhone selling point. He’s now returning this year with The Florida Project, following a group of kids who grow up around Orlando (including Willem Dafoe as one of the parents). Baker has a keen awareness of setting and personalities, which we expect to be on full display here when it premieres in the Directors’ Fortnight section.

15. Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev)


Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s follow-up to his acclaimed 2014 drama Leviathan is Loveless, co-written with creative partner Oleg Negin (also of Elena and The Banishment). Following an estranged couple who are going through a divorce, their relationship shifts when their 12-year-old son disappears. With that set-up ripe for an exploration about a flailing relationship, with no doubt some political undercurrents, we imagine this will continue quite a streak for the Russian director.

14. The Square (Ruben Östlund)


After Force Majeure proved to be a major break-out for Ruben Östlund quickly prepped his next feature, The Square, which follows an ambitious museum director (Claes Bang), who is preparing to make a major impact with a new exhibit. Elisabeth Moss is also on board as reporter who is on the beat of the exhibit, meant to provide people with “a symbolic space where only good things can happen.” Things escalate and get wildly out of hand (it is an Östlund film, after all) when the PR firm in charge come up with some far-reaching publicity plans. Also starring Dominic West, this will hopefully be a highlight in the competition line-up.

13. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (Noah Baumbach)


It was early last year we got the surprise news that Noah Baumbach was already shooting his next feature. Starring Adam Sandler and Baumbach’s Greenberg and While We’re Young star Ben Stiller, the film will now debut in competition at Cannes. Following the story of an estranged New York family coming together in preparation of their father’s (Dustin Hoffman) retrospective, it sounds like an arena that the director knows well, and if anything, hopefully it marks a career high point for Sandler, who last came to Cannes with Paul Thomas Anderson.

12. How to Talk to Girls at Parties (John Cameron Mitchell)


John Cameron Mitchell is back with an adaptation of the Neil Gaman short story How To Talk To Girls At Parties. Led by Elle Fanning and Alex Sharp, the cast also includes Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, and Matt Lucas as we follow an alien who breaks away from her group to head to a London suburb. Coming from A24, who are on a streak like few other production companies, it’s been a seven-year-wait for Mitchell’s return behind the camera and we can’t wait to see the results.

11. Based on a True Story (Roman Polanski)


Olivier Assayas doesn’t have a new directorial project this year at Cannes, but he did script Roman Polanski‘s latest film, an enticing romantic thriller starring Eva Green and Emmanuelle Seigner. Based on a True Story follows an author with writer’s block who finds inspiration in a friendship that soon becomes disturbing. With the combination of talent behind the camera leading to what should be an intense experience, we’ll find out when it premieres later in the festival.

10. Ismael’s Ghosts (Arnaud Desplechin)


Kicking off the Cannes Film Festival is one of our most-anticipated films, Arnaud Desplechin‘s Ismael’s Ghosts. Following up his tremendous drama My Golden Days, his new film follows a widowed film director who is in the middle of making a film about an atypical diplomat inspired by his brother. When his past lover returns from the dead, complications ensue. Starring Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Mathieu Amalric, and Louis Garrel, the mere prospect of Cotillard playing a ghost has us intrigued.

9. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos)


After coming to Cannes two years ago with The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos returns, once again alongside Colin Farrell, with The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The film follows a surgeon who is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart. Also starring Nicole Kidman and Alicia Silverstone, word has it that it’s even more subversive and dark then their last collaboration, which should make it one of the most divisive of Cannes.

8. Good Time (Joshua Safdie and Ben Safdie)


Few recent films have had the vision and energy found within Josh and Benny Safdie‘s Heaven Knows What. They are back this year with Robert Pattinson in the thriller Good Time. Described as an “indie neo-grindhouse caper,” it follows a bankrobber’s flailing efforts to evade the dragnet closing in on him. With an August release already set by A24, it’s one of the few films in the Cannes line-up we won’t have to wait long to see.

7. You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)


It’s hard to believe it’s been six years since the last feature from Lynne Ramsay, the haunting We Need to Talk About Kevin. You Were Never Really Here follows Joaquin Phoenix as a tormented war veteran with a troubled past who now takes it upon himself to rescue women trafficked into the sex trade. However, a vengeance is unleashed when the extraction of a girl goes wrong. Based on Jonathan Ames‘ novel, this sounds like Ramsay’s take on Taxi Driver, and despite being finished under the wire, hopefully it lives up to expectations.

6. Claire’s Camera and The Day After (Hong Sang-soo)


Hong Sang-soo already brought one of the year’s best films so far to Berlinale with On the Beach at Night Alone, and now he’s back with a pair of new films at Cannes. Premiering as a Special Screening is a film he actually shot at the festival, Claire’s Camera, which stars Isabelle Huppert and Kim Min-hee, following a part-time high school teacher and writer. Then he will also be in competition with the black-and-white drama The Day After. One can get a preview of both films here, both of which look to contain his signature style, which is reason enough to anticipate.

5. The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola)


Before a summer release, Sofia Coppola will be returning to Cannes Film Festival with The Beguiled. This time the filmmaker will be in competition, showcasing a group of “vengeful bitches” includes Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, and Kirsten Dunst, while Colin Farrell plays the wounded soldier under their care. Having recently seen Don Siegel-directed, Clint Eastwood-led original for the first time, this material is tailor-made for Coppola to fashion one of the sexiest, impassioned thrillers of the year.

4. 24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami)


Passing away at the age of 76 last summer, Abbas Kiarostami was one of our greatest directors. The Iranian filmmaker was able to extract the essence of the human soul throughout his career, leaving behind a number of essential films. For his last work, he directed the experimental project 24 Frames, which is a collection of four-and-half-minute films that takes inspiration from still images, including paintings and his own photographs.  “I always wonder to what extent the artist aims to depict the reality of a scene. Painters capture only one frame of reality and nothing before or after it. For the 24 Frames I decided to use the photos I had taken through the years,” Kiarostami said when it comes to his final film. “I included 4’30” of what I imagined might have taken place before or after each image that I had captured.”

3. Let the Sunshine In (Claire Denis)


A rare film that we didn’t even know was going to exist at the start of the year, Claire Denis is back with a new drama starring Juliette Binoche, Gérard Depardieu, and Xavier Beauvois. Set to open Directors’ Fortnight, the film is adapted from Roland Barthes‘ A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, which deconstructs the language of love. Directors’ Fortnight Artistic director Edouard Waintrop says of the film, “What touched us is that it marks a radical change in tone for Claire Denis. We like it when filmmakers try something new.” With that mighty curious statement, we’ll find out the results soon considering its opening night slot.

2. Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes)


Being that he usually takes as much as five years in between projects, it seems like we don’t deserve another film from Todd Haynes this soon. However, after making perhaps the best work of his career with Carol, he quickly segued to Wonderstruck, an adaptation by Hugo author Brian Selznick, which tells a story that oscillates between two deaf children: Ben, a boy in Minnesota, circa 1977, dealing with the death of his mother; and Rose, a girl in New Jersey, circa 1927, who ventures to New York to meet her idol, an actress named Lillian Mayhew. An ambitious undertaking, as half of the movie plays out like a silent film, the project starring Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, as well as newcomers Millicent Simmonds and Jaden Michael, premieres early in the festival and will hopefully set the bar.

1. Happy End (Michael Haneke)


With only the description “a snapshot from the life of a bourgeois European family,” details are spare when it comes to Michael Haneke‘s next film, but his name alone brings the utmost anticipation. Add in the ensemble (including Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant), the sure-to-be ironic title of Happy End, and the first still which looks like it could be from a Hollywood comedy, and we simply can’t wait to see what the Austrian director has up his sleeves.

Honorable Mentions

It’s rare for one to go to a film festival and only catch up on restored classics, but Cannes also offers that. In terms of premieres, there’s also new films from Barbet Schroeder, André Téchiné, Vanessa Redgrave, Eugene Jarecki, Claude Lanzmann, François Ozon, Takashi Miike, Naomi Kawase, Sergei LoznitsaJonas Carpignano, and Michel Franco, as well as an intriguing Cary Grant documentary. Lastly, when it comes to television, they’ll be showing off some of Twin Peaks, but after it already airs in the United States, as well as Jane Campion’s second season of Top of the Lake.


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