The 2017 Cannes Film Festival will wrap on Sunday, May 28, when the coveted Palme d’Or is awarded to the event’s best film - but this shouldn’t be seen as ending. In fact, unless you attended Cannes and saw most of the films, this is really just the beginning, as we have all been only briefly introduced to some of the best pieces of cinema that will make their debuts this year.
In all, 19 films were selected in the main competition for the Palme d’Or. We’ve included all 19 of these in our list, as well as six more that have received critical acclaim and/or noteworthy buzz - including a couple surprises to show how well-rounded the festival can be! After all, in addition to the main competition, there’s also Un Certain Regard entries, as well as all the out-of-competition films shown at special, independent, or other screenings around the festival and town.
To get you started, here are 25 movies to see from this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
“120 Beats Per Minute” is a Palme d’Or frontrunner that focuses on the Paris branch of ACT UP, an HIV/AIDS advocacy group that sought to influence and improve legislation, medical research, and treatment involving the disease in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Critics have been kind to this powerful movie, which was directed by Robin Campillo and written by Campillo and Philippe Mangeot. The cast includes Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel, and Antoine Reinartz.
“A Gentle Creature” is dark, gripping, surreal, and at times very difficult to watch - yet that’s all part of writer/director Sergei Loznitsa’s plan. After his dramatic films “My Joy” (2010) and “In the Fog” (2012) earned praised at Cannes, Loznitsa shifted to documentaries (of which he made three), but has returned to fiction with “A Gentle Creature.” And what a powerful return it is. The Palme d’Or-nominated film stars Vasilina Makovtseva as a Russian woman on a frustrating and dehumanizing mission to track down her imprisoned husband.
It’s been four years since Roman Polanski last released a film, but he’s back in 2017 with “Based on a True Story,” which stars Eva Green, Emmanuelle Seigner (Polanski’s wife since 1989), Vincent Perez, and Alexia Séféroglou, and was written by veteran French screenwriter/director Olivier Assayas. Although the erotic thriller made a late debut at Cannes out of competition, Polanski’s name has already given it plenty of buzz. And if it keeps audiences engrossed at anywhere near the level of the controversial director’s recent films “Venus in Furs” (which received a Palme d’Or nod) and 2010’s “The Ghost Writer,” “Based on a True Story” could be one of the best films outside of Palme contention.
“Good Time” offers action, excitement, drama, possibly the best performance of Robert Pattinson’s career, and a chance at the Palme d’Or for directors Ben and Josh Safdie. Written by the latter Safdie and Ronald Bronstein, this botched bank heist flick also stars Barkhad Abdi, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Buddy Duress, Taliah Webster, and Ben Safdie himself.
Director/screenwriter Michael Haneke has already won two Palme d’Or awards - for 2009’s “The White Ribbon” and 2012’s “Amour” - and he could make it a record-breaking three consecutive wins if “Happy End” takes home the top prize. The film is equal parts dramatic soap opera, gripping thriller, and scathing satire, and focuses on the recent European refugee crisis and its effect on a French family. It stars Golden Globe-winner and festival darling Isabelle Huppert; veteran actor, writer, and director Jean-Louis Trintignant; and “Amélie” star Mathieu Kassovitz.
Director John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Shortbus,” “Rabbit Hole”) makes his triumphant return to feature films with “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” based on the short story of the same name by Neil Gaiman. In addition to being one of four festival films featuring Nicole Kidman, the sci-fi romantic comedy’s cast also includes Elle Fanning, Alex Sharp, and Ruth Wilson.
“In the Fade” star Diane Kruger (of “Inglourious Basterds” fame), describes the film as being “about grief, justice, and how we go on with life,” and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. In the Palme d’Or-nominated German flick, Kruger’s husband and son are killed in a neo-Nazi terrorist attack and, unable to cope with the loss, she sets her sights on revenge. “In the Fade” was written and directed by Fatih Akin, who previously found success at Cannes with the 2007 drama “The Edge of Heaven.”
Another film about the European migrant crisis, “Jupiter’s Moon” is helmed by Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó, who won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival for “White God.” However, this is no ordinary drama. After being shot while attempting to cross a border, the film’s protagonist refugee (played by Zsombor Jéger) discovers he has received superhuman powers. “Jupiter’s Moon” might be a bit far out for the Palme d’Or judges, but it’s still nominated, and is absolutely worth a watch.
Known as “The Double Lover” in English, this François Ozon Palme nominee is an erotic mystery that features Jacqueline Bisset, Jérémie Renier, and Marine Vacth, who also starred in Ozon’s critically acclaimed 2012 film “Jeune & Jolie” (“Young & Beautiful”). Ozon has yet to win big at Cannes, but the buzz around “L’Amant Double” says 2017 could be his year.
Andrey Zvyagintsev’s previous four feature-length dramas - “The Return,” “The Banishment,” “Elena,” and “Leviathan” - have all won or been nominated at numerous film festivals and award shows, and critics don’t expect “Loveless” to break that tradition, especially since it’s in contention for the Palme. Family is once again the theme of his newest film, which stars Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin, Matvey Novikov, and Marina Vasilyeva, and has script by Oleg Negin.
Korean director Bong Joon-ho directed and co-wrote the action-adventure movie “Okja” with Jon Ronson, and he enlisted big-name actors like Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal, Stephen Yeun, Lily Collins, and Giancarlo Esposito to star in it. The film centers on a young girl (Ahn Seo-hyun) and her quest to save her best friend, an enormous animal, from a multinational corporation. Unlike most of the other films here, you won’t need to head to the theater for this Palme d’Or nominee; it is scheduled for release on Netflix on June 28.
On it’s surface, Eugene Jarecki’s “Promised Land” is about the rise and fall of Elvis Presley. However, the film quickly turns its commentary to the current state of America - fat, drugged up, and dying - and how it mirrors the King’s own demise. Of course the post-2016-election documentary gets quite political, but it’s worth a watch for the unique parallels it draws and the opinions on race, government, and celebrity life given by famous figures like Ethan Hawke, Chuck D, Alec Baldwin, and Ashton Kutcher.
Writer/director Naomi Kawase has become a mainstay at the Cannes Film Festival for a large part of her 30-year career, but she has yet to win the Palme d’Or. “Radiance” (or “Hikari” in Japanese), her contribution in 2017, could change that. The film stars Masatoshi Nagase and Ayame Misaki, and has thus far received generally positive but mixed reviews from critics and other festival attendees.
“Redoubtable” is a light-hearted drama that focuses on French-Swiss New Wave film director Jean-Luc Godard (played impeccably by Louis Garrel) and his courtship and eventual marriage to actress Anne Wiazemsky (Stacy Martin) around the time of “La Chinoise.” Writer/director Michel Hazanavicius didn’t win over too many critics with his last effort, 2014’s “The Search,” but based on the current buzz, “Redoubtable” has a shot at the Palme and might achieve a level of success closer to his 2011 film, “The Artist.”
Critics won’t be kind and it probably won’t win any awards, but in an effort to show how well-rounded the Cannes Film Festival can be, we’d like to throw out a nod to the sci-fi horror comedy “Return to Return to Nuke ‘Em High aka Vol. 2.” The film is yet another cheesy B-movie gore-fest from director Lloyd Kaufman and Troma Entertainment, the folks who brought us cult classics like “The Toxic Avenger” franchise, “Cannibal! The Musical,” “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.,” “Tromeo & Juliet,” and “Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.” This sequel is just as raunchy, bloody, and cringeworthy as the others, and it actually got some attention at the festival when some Troma team members were almost arrested after their kooky horror parade spooked attendees and local law enforcement. If you love to laugh and don’t mind over-the-top gratuitous humor of all kinds, this is the film for you.
Exactly 100 years after his death, sculptor Auguste Rodin is portrayed by veteran French actor (and Cannes Best Actor winner) Vincent Lindon in “Rodin,” which was written and directed by Jacques Doillon. The cast of this Palme-nominated biopic also includes Izïa Higelin, Séverine Caneele, Rose Beuret, and Edward Akrout.
“The Beguiled” is a star-studded film from top to bottom, which bodes well for its Palme d’Or chances. It was written and directed by Sofia Coppola, and stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning, with the rock band Phoenix providing the score. The story is based on the 1966 Southern Gothic novel “A Painted Devil” by Thomas P. Cullinan, as well as the 1971 Don Siegel film of the same name that starred Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page. It will be released in the United States on June 23, and thus far has received favorable reviews from critics.
Hong Sang-soo is one of the most famous directors and screenwriters in South Korea, probably because he releases a new film almost every year. And also because, although generally not commercially successful, his films are often praised by critics and adored by festival attendees - including 2010’s comedy-drama “Hahaha,” which won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. His 2017 Palme d’Or entry, “The Day After,” stars Kim Min-hee, Kwon Hae-hyo, and Kim Sae-byeok, and tells the tale of a complicated extramarital affair with plenty of comedy, heart, and booze - all of which will seem familiar for fans of Hong. Interestingly, this isn’t the director’s only film on display at the 2017 festival, as his drama “Claire’s Camera” was shown in the Special Screening section.
One of the bigger surprises at Cannes, “The Florida Project” wowed Directors’ Fortnight audiences with its story of Florida residents struggling to scrape by just miles down the road from the Happiest Place on Earth. Then again, based on director Sean Baker’s previous success with films based on marginalized groups (like 2012’s “Starlet” and 2015’s “Tangerine”), maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. “The Florida Project” stars Bria Vinaite (who was discovered on Instagram), veteran Willem Dafoe, and Brooklynn Prince, who had one of the strongest kid-actor performances seen in any film at the festival.
The second 2017 Palme d’Or-nominated film starring both Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and written by Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, the same duo behind 2009’s “Dogtooth” and 2015’s “The Lobster” (which also starred Farrell). Instead of a black comedy, however, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” is a dramatic horror-thriller about family attempting to survive a complex and deranged revenge plot. The judges (and audiences...and you...) will likely enjoy yet another dark and absurd film from the screenwriter tag-team, even if it doesn’t win the Palme.
Like “Okja,” “The Meyerowitz Stories” is another Netflix-backed film in contention for the Palme d’Or, but this one - surprise, surprise - actually stars Adam Sandler, who hasn’t been in a critically acclaimed film in about 15 years (with the possible exception of 2009’s “Funny People”). The vignette-filled “Meyerowitz Stories” also stars Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and Candice Bergen, and was both written and directed by Noah Baumbach.
After winning the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize in 2014 for “Force Majeure” and serving as a member of the jury in the same section last year, Swedish writer/director Ruben Östlund has returned with his fifth feature length film, “The Square.” The plot focuses on a new installation in an art exhibition space, but the whole movie is really a commentary on - and criticism of - contemporary art. The Palme d’Or-nominated absurdist drama stars Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, Terry Notary, and Christopher Læssø.
Many film fans scoff at the selections offered at Cannes each year, complaining the movies shown are too long, too drawn-out, too boring, and overly artsy. In response, allow us to present “Wind River,” which is not only showing at the festival, but is in the esteemed Un Certain Regard section. Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan (the actor and Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “Hell or High Water,” who is making his directorial debut), this murder-mystery thriller has thus far received glowing reviews for its gripping direction, engrossing acting, and accurate portrayal of the “snow and silence” of the Wyoming wilderness. The film stars Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Jon Bernthal, and Kelsey Chow. Like “Hell or High Water,” it also features a score by rocker Nick Cave.
Based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Brian Selznick, “Wonderstruck” simultaneously tells the tale of two deaf children who live similar lives that are separated by 50 years. The film was helmed by “I’m Not There” and “Carol” director Todd Haynes, the script was written by Selznick himself, and it stars Julianne Moore, Oakes Fegley, Michelle Williams, and Millicent Simmonds. “Wonderstruck” has thus far received positive reviews, it earned a three-minute standing ovation after its debut at Cannes, and is among the frontrunners for the Palme d’Or.
Joaquin Phoenix leads the cast of “You Were Never Really Here,” a film about a war vet who attempts to rescue a young girl from a sex trafficking ring. It’s based on a novel of the same name by Jonathan Ames (creator of HBO’s “Bored to Death”) and was written and directed by Lynne Ramsay (“Ratcatcher,” “Morvern Callar,” and “We Need to Talk about Kevin”). With a team like this, “You Were Never Here” has a solid shot at the Palme, and we didn’t even mention that it was scored by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood.