Cannes Film Festival 2017: Ten films to look out for
Well, it’s that time of year again. In case you didn’t know, mid-to-late May is cinematic Christmas, aka “Party in the Palais”, or the Cannes Film Festival, where auteurs and newcomers alike prepare to display their work at the world’s most prestigious showcase. This year is the festival 70th incarnation – as marked by Claudia Cardinale’s photoshopped figure – and might well prove to be a vintage year.
The Competition selection is, as ever, stuffed with auteurs. Proceedings kick off with Arnaud Desplechin’s latest, Ismael’s Ghosts, and new films from Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola, Bong Joon-ho, Michael Haneke, Yorgos Lanthimos, Lynne Ramsay, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Ruben Östlund, François Ozon, Hong Sang-soo and Noah Baumbach will soon follow.
Presiding over them is the jiggiest jury in years. Pedro Almodovar will serve as president, while Jessica Chastain, Park Chan-wook, Maren Ade, Paolo Sorrentino and Will Smith, are but some of the jury members who will decide which work will win the prestigious Palme d’Or.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s plenty of talent to go round in the sidebar sections. While Un Certain Regard – which is, depending on who you ask, a more authentic festival line-up or a selection of also-rans – has snagged new films from Mathieu Amalric, Michel Franco and Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Some real treasures are likely to be found in the Director’s Fortnight, which contains offerings from Clair Denis, Abel Ferrera, Sean Baker and Bruno Dumont.
As ever, there are some exciting special screenings – with nary a Hollywood movie in sight. John Cameron Mitchell and Roman Polanski bring the glitziest material, whereas documentaries from Agnes Varda, Claude Lanzmann and the late Abbas Kiarostami may be equally nourishing.
And for the first time in the festival’s history, there will be screenings of television shows, representative of an ever-blurring line between two mediums. David Lynch will show off the first two episodes of Twin Peaks on the night of its terrestrial premiere, whereas Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake: China Girl will screen in full.
How exciting. It will, of course, be impossible to see everything, but here are ten projects that are just too appealing to miss.
One of those things you didn’t know you needed until it was announced, Sofia Coppola has made a daring choice to remake Don Siegel’s terrifically underrated 1971 Southern Gothic thriller. Colin Farrell takes over from Clint Eastwood as the wounded Union soldier who preys upon the inhabitants of an all-female boarding school, themselves played by Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman. It’ll almost certainly do fascinating things with the feminine aspect of the story – and will also be one of four Kidman projects to premiere here, a welcome comeback for the capital-G great actress.
In a time of unprecedented moral and social strain, it’s a relief to have Michael “Chuckles” Haneke return with another film that will surgically ascertain the extent to which people suck. It’s supposed to be about a middle-class family in Calais with the refugee crisis in the background, so it probably won’t be a musical. Isabelle Huppert is in it. Obviously.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
There are number of reasons to be excited about Yorgos Lanthimos’s latest film, which comes off the back of The Lobster – quite possibly a masterpiece – and stars Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman (again). But the biggest is probably its third-billed name: Alicia Silverstone. Cher from Clueless has finally earned her comeback, and from none other than the director of Dogtooth. Prepare yourselves. This is gonna be great.
Andrey Zvyagintsev was unjustly denied the Palme d’Or in 2014 for Leviathan, so hopes are high for his latest, which will likely be another meticulous and merciless evisceration of Russian society and family dynamics.
One of the big talking points ahead of the festival is Netflix and their frustrating position on theatrical releases. (Their position: dump on the site and run.) Cannes is still sorting out its rules on this kind of thing, and hopefully it won’t overshadow the films themselves, both Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories and Bong Joon-ho’s Okja. From Memories of Murder to Snowpiecer, Bong has proved to be the most consistently excellent South Korean director in the business and his latest, Tilda Swinton-starring creature feature will almost certainly a) include every dramatic mode known to mankind, and b) look incredible on the big screen.
A single promotional image is likely all you need to be persuaded that The Square will be a blast, following the insatiably playful (and often devastating) cringe-comedy-drama that was Force Majeure. I mean, look at it. It’s awesome.
Todd Haynes, Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams. What do you need, a road map? But seriously, any sane person would have retired after Carol, confident it could never be topped. That Haynes is back in the game is a clear signal that Wonderstruck – adapted from Brian Selznick’s popular young-adult novel – could be very special indeed.
You Were Never Really Here
Like Terence Davies, Lynne Ramsay is one of those artists who would be capable of regular greatness if financing wasn’t tied to popularity. As it stands, we have to make do with a film of hers every five-ten years – and it’s almost always worth the wait. This one stars Joaquin Phoenix and is about sex trafficking, so your guess is as good as ours.
Based on a True Story
Yes, Roman Polanski is not a cool person to like, but he’s a good filmmaker and you’d be a fool to suggest otherwise. Furthermore, his latest unites him with none other than Personal Shopper director Olivier Assayas (on screenplay duties) and actress Eva Green, two people who stand well astride their respective professions. The story of a writer who gets involved with an obsessive fan, this could be really good, trashy fun – and isn’t that often the highlight of Cannes?
Bruno Dumont is a French film director whose filmography is famed for its extreme violence and explicit sexuality. He has repeatedly divided critics over whether he is a genius or mad, which has been exacerbated by a recent move to slapstick comedy. His latest film is a rock-and-roll musical about the early life of Joan of Arc, and features dancing nuns. It will either be terrible or brilliant. It will definitely be worth seeing.