The Mother of the French New Wave, Agnes Varda was at Cannes in spirit this year, honored with a touching tribute. The festival memorialized the pioneering French filmmaker who passed away this year in its official poster, showing a still of Varda peering at the sea through the eyes of a camera. The Festival de Cannes, one of the most important events for filmmakers, actors, critics, and cinephiles everywhere, tends to pave the way for the year in film ahead. It’s an event known for audiences giving standing ovations, and storming out of the theatre, in equal measure.
Cannes serves up haute couteur looks on the red carpet, while also maintaining a precedent that essentially bars Netflix films from being in contention. According to French law, a film must have had a theatrical release and then wait to be selected for a streaming service for 90 days, in order to play at Cannes. This rift played out last year in regards to Alfonso Cuaron’s neorealist tour de force, “Roma.”
The festival, which wrapped on May 25, gave opportunities for relative newcomers to shine, recognizing Florence Pugh (“Midsommar”) and Francois Civil (“The Wolf’s Call”) with Chopard Trophy Awards. It also publicized some controversial blunders, like Quentin Tarantino’s comments in response to criticism of his latest film, who “rejected” a journalist’s “hypothesis” that he didn’t give Academy Award-nominee Margot Robbie enough dialogue in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” This year’s festival was largely celebrated for its efforts to showcase work from up-and-coming independent filmmakers while ushering in the return of well-known auteurs. Below, you’ll find a roundup of some of the buzziest films at Cannes this year:
“Parasite,” directed by Bon Joon-ho
Boon Joon-ho previously directed such meticulous films as “Okja” and “Snowpiercer,” and now he has won the Palme D’Or, Cannes’ top prize for his latest film, the first Korean director to ever win the award. The “Parasite” is a sharp satire about a man who fakes his credentials to win a job tutoring for a wealthy family in order to provide for his own. The film won over the Cannes jury, with the decision to award the tragicomedy the Palme d’Or unanimous.
“The Lighthouse,” directed by Robert Eggers
From the director of “The Witch” comes a sensuous New England Gothic thriller. The film stars Willem Dafoe as a lighthouse keeper, and Robert Pattinson as the lighthouse keeper-in-training. Shot in a somber black-and-white, the horror film is a moody spectacle set in Maine, captivating audiences at Cannes about isolation and confinement. This A24 vehicle is surely set to make an impact at the box office.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Directed by Quentin Tarantino
The much-anticipated, if expectedly controversial, new film from Quentin Tarantino is an homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood. The movie centers on the story of a washed-up actor named Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double and friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they try to rebuild their careers. The year is the tumultuous 1969. Dalton’s neighbors are none other than Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and husband Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha).
“A Hidden Life,” Directed by Terrence Malick
The Palme d’Or-winning Terrence Malick is back at Cannes with a film inspired by a true story centering on the life of a conscientious objector in World War II. Austrian Franz Jagerstatter (August Diehl) is living on a quiet farm with his wife and children. Despite the local priest’s suggestions, he holds firm to his conscientious objector beliefs, even with the fatal consequences. Pope Benedict XVI named the real Jagerstatter a martyr.
“Sorry We Missed You,” Directed by Ken Loach
Ricky (Kris Hitchen) and Abby (Debbie Honeywood) are a married couple from Newcastle struggling to make ends meet on zero-hour contracts. This superbly compassionate and humanistic film, directed by Ken Loach, received great acclaim. Many viewers and critics were captivated by strength of the performances and the profound, if devastating, honesty of the film.
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” Directed by Celine Sciamma
The gorgeous historical drama was the first film directed by a woman to ever win the Queer Palm. Sciamma also won Best Screenplay at the festival. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” depicts the story of a young 18th century painter named Marianne (Noemie Merlant) who is commissioned to paint a marriage portrait for Heloise (Adele Haenel). Marianne knows that Heloise has often refused to sit for many such portraits, and in so doing, she disguises herself as a maid in order to gain her trust. As a result, a romance kindles between them.