The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most celebrated and prestigious film festivals in the world. Each year, filmmakers from all continents congregate in the Mediterranean city on the French Riviera to judge, compete and enjoy a host of new and yet-to-be-released films.
Everyone at Cannes has their eye on the festival’s top prize, the Palme D’Or. To win it would put one in the company of such auteurs as Roberto Rossellini, Akira Kurosawa, Luis Buñuel and Francis Ford Coppola (to name just a few).
While the general public may not see many of the films competing for the Golden Palm (films screened at Cannes have a reputation for being a smidge too experimental), the French film festival offers some very early tips about which films might make it big in the upcoming awards season.
These are the six films from this year’s Cannes Film Festival that look poised for a big year.
1. “Todos Lo Saben (Everybody Knows)” directed by Asghar Farhadi
Renowned Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who directed the acclaimed films “A Separation” and “Le Passé,” is back this year at Cannes with the Spanish-language “Todos Lo Saben,” starring the husband-and-wife duo of Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem.
A psychological thriller, “Todos Lo Saben” tells the story of a woman returning to Spain for her sister’s wedding after spending years living in Argentina and the chaos that follows after the disappearance of a family member. Though the film itself has garnered a lukewarm reception, a powerhouse cast and crew (with at least four Academy Awards between Farhadi, Cruz and Bardem) make “Todos Lo Saben” a film worth watching out for come next fall.
2. “Cold War” directed by Paweł Pawlikowski
Pawlikowski, director of “Ida,” the best foreign language film-winner at the 2015 Academy Awards, also returns to the cinematic spotlight with “Cold War.” The film is loosely based on the love story of Pawlikowski’s parents and is a multi-year tale of two musicians living in 1950s Poland. “Cold War,” like “Ida,” is shot in black and white and uses a 4:3 size ratio.
And, “like Ida,” as Guy Lodge of Variety writes in a review of the film, “Cold War” is a soberly moving study of the disappointment and insecurity that can blossom from supposed renewal: “It’s a romance in which new beginnings and endings can be hard to tell apart.” With one Oscar already under his belt, Pawlikowski could very well be looking at another fruitful awards season.
3. “BlackKkKlansman” directed by Spike Lee
The last Spike Lee film to compete for the Palme D’Or at Cannes was his 1989 masterpiece “Do the Right Thing.” The film was hailed as a deeply felt, richly textured exploration of racial conflict in the inner city and is also known for being the film Barack and Michelle Obama went to see on their first date in Chicago’s Southside.
“Do the Right Thing” did not shy away from confronting harsh social truths and, from the looks of it, neither does “BlacKkKlansman.” The film takes place in the 1970s and is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, a black police officer with the Colorado Springs Police Department who has to pose as a racist and infiltrate the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan.
“BlacKkKlansman” puts white supremacy on trial and is not afraid to shoehorn contemporary parallels into its equation. A fiercely political period drama, “BlacKkKlansman” will no doubt have its day in the awards limelight to come.
4. “Under the Silver Lake” directed by David Robert Mitchell
“Under the Silver Lake” comes from the mind of up-and-coming director David Robert Mitchell, who is best known for his subdued horror film, “It Follows.” The movie takes place in Los Angeles’s East Side, where, as Alissa Wilkinson of Vox puts it, “a place where the young and carefree and not particularly ambitious go to parties and dance to music on rooftops and in underground clubs, and are haunted, figuratively, by the ghosts of departed movie stars.”
“Under the Silver Lake” is rife with vaguely unsettling mysteries and neo-noir conspiracies. Andrew Garfield, who is continuing his star turn in “Angels in America” on Broadway, fresh off his Academy Award nomination for “Hacksaw Ridge,” heads up this metamodern thriller. Following in the wake of last year’s horror headliner “Get Out,” “Under the Silver Lake” looks to have a very fine day in the awards season sun.
5. “Capernaum” directed by Nadine Labaki
“Capernaum,” which won the festival’s Jury Prize, features a 12-year-old boy who sues his parents for bringing him into horrible, miserable existence and what some critics are calling “the best baby performance ever.” Labaki, who won “Un Certain Regard” at the festival’s 2011 iteration, draws on her experiences with war and conflict to craft this drama about identity and oppression in contemporary Lebanon.
While “Capernaum” has not received singularly gushing reviews, the film was nevertheless a festival favorite and many believe that Lebanon will be sure to pick the film for Oscar consideration. Keeping in mind too the general absence of female directors in the industry, “Capernaum” will surely get its fair share of awards attention this year.
6. “Shoplifters” directed by Hirokazu Kore-Eda
The festival’s top prize, the Palme D’Or, went to Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s “Shoplifters,” a domestic family drama about a clan of petty thieves trying to hold their themselves together in the face of poverty. Though Kore-Eda is no stranger to the Cannes stage, the win still comes as a surprise, considering that no Japanese film has won since 1997 and because of the jury’s tendency towards more avant-garde selections.
In any case, “Shoplifters” has been winning over crowds on both the Japanese and international cinematic scenes and, with a Palme D’Or under its belt, the film’s chances for being chosen as Japan’s submission for best foreign language film at the Oscars are looking pretty good. Though it may have been a surprise at Cannes, “Shoplifters” will very likely become quite a familiar presence at red carpet events.