Catherine Bray runs her eye over this year’s line-up and selects ten films she can’t wait to watch at the 69th Cannes Film Festival
The official line-up is now locked and loaded, so time to have a rummage and work out what we’re keenest on seeing at Cannes this year. Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week have yet to announce, and as ever, it’s undoubtedly the case that I’ll walk away after the festival with favourites that came nowhere near my radar at this stage. Equally, it’s possible and indeed probable that some of what I’m currently salivating over will belly-flop spectacularly. Therein, of course, lies the excitement…
American Honey dir. Andrea Arnold
American Honey is a Film4-backed film, and perhaps since you’re reading this on the Film4 website you may be able to work out that we have a stake in this one, but I’d be excited even if that wasn’t the case: Arnold is quite simply one of the UK’s most gifted filmmakers. Word has it she has marshalled extraordinary performances from her young ensemble (including Sasha Lane, pictured above) in this director’s first US-based drama.
It’s Only the End of the World dir. Xavier Dolan
Love or loathe Xavier Dolan (and there are certainly plenty who fall into the latter camp), his filmmaking is always undeniably arresting, whether it’s for a 1:1 aspect ratio, unconventional take on sexual tension or costume design fit to make established designers retire in despair. The Marion Cotillard-starring It’s Only the End of the World marks Dolan’s second film to premiere in Competition at Cannes, and, following a shared Jury Prize for Mommy in 2014, could be a good bet for a prize in 2016.
Apprentice dir. Boo Junfeng
In Un Certain Regard
A prison drama from the Singaporean director Boo Junfeng may not sound all that exciting on a first read, but the rumour is that this will be one of those films where we critics reel out clutching our pearls. Fingers crossed.
Sierra-Nevada dir. Cristi Puiu
With a formidable tally of around 50 international festival prizes for his second feature film, The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu (including the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes), expectations are sky-high for Romanian auteur Cristi Puiu’s family drama Sierra-Nevada.
The Handmaiden dir. Park Chan-wook
As a passionate defender of Park Chan-wook’s Wentworth Miller-scripted Stoker (whose semi-camp, semi-serious, all-delicious sensibility certainly didn’t click with everyone), I can’t wait to see what the man who brought us Oldboy has in store for the Croisette this year. Lashings of the old ultra-violence seem the likeliest call.
Elle dir. Paul Verhoeven
Paul Verhoeven (Spetters, Showgirls, RoboCop) is a filmmaker capable of everything but good taste, and pairing him with one of our greatest living actors, Isabelle Huppert, is surely a recipe for dramatic fireworks. When the Verhoeven-directed erotic thriller Basic Instinct played Cannes in 1992, it generated controversy aplenty; it could be time for history to repeat itself.
Personal Shopper dir. Olivier Assayas
Kristen Stewart is shaping up to trace one of the most interesting career trajectories of any of her contemporaries, leveraging her promising early childhood roles and subsequent Twilight exposure into career choices that speak to a genuine engagement with world cinema, assisted by directors able to look beyond the vamp-loving shadow of Bella Swan. Credit for a major part of that assist goes to Oliver Assayas, who cast her in Clouds of Sils Maria, resulting in the first ever win for an American woman of a Cesar award.
Money Monster dir. Jodie Foster
Out of Competition
Jack O’Connell tore up the screen with Starred Up and ’71 in 2014, so it should be fun to see him as a sort of Rupert Pupkin figure opposite George Clooney, who plays the host of a television financial-advice program taken hostage by O’Connell’s character.
The Neon Demon dir. Nicolas Winding Refn
I wasn’t personally a fan of Only God Forgives, which took a divisive bow in Competition at Cannes in 2013, but Nicolas Winding Refn remains a filmmaker of considerable style (leaving aside for a moment those Grey Goose vodka ads), and as a self-confessed genre fan, I’m keen to see what the billing “Los Angeles-set cannibal film about models starring Elle Fanning” adds up to in the hands of the man who brought us Drive.
Staying Vertical dir. Alain Guiraudie
Alain Guiraudie set pulses racing in the Un Certain Regard strand in 2013 with homoerotic killer-thriller Stranger by the Lake and, on that basis alone, I’m here for whatever he wants to show us next.