Cannes 2019: The Films Everyone Will Be Talking About This Year


Commiserations if you're not off for a week of highbrow cinema on the Croisette at Cannes Film Festival, but there's still plenty of reasons to pay attention to what's on the bill.

The 72nd edition promises to be a who's-who and what's-what of the films and directors sure to be causing a stir around film circles, Twitter, and eventually the office kitchen, later this year.

Cannes doesn't exactly predict what will go on to succeed at the award seasons later in the year but offers a peep into the more arthouse films that might go the distance. Last year's gems at Cannes included Spike Lee's Blackkklansman, Pawe? Pawlikowski's Cold War and Hirokazu Kore-eda's Shoplifters, all of which went on to major award wins.

Late to the party after being absent from festival director Thierry Fremaux's initial announcement, it has since been confirmed that Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will be at Cannes.

he film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie in a story about two ageing film stars and Sharon Tate, all set against the backdrop of Charles Manson's cult and Los Angeles in the summer of 1969.

Amongst the films competing for the top prize is Jim Jarmusch's The Dead Don't Die which will open the festival. Starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Selena Gomez, the Paterson director's latest project is about an attack of flesh-eating zombies on a sleepy town in America. Considering Jarmusch's last film was the cerebral tale of a bus driver who writes poetry, this looks to be a bit more of a riot.


Also screening at the festival is Dexter Fletcher's Elton John biopic Rocketmanstarring Taron Egerton as the man himself, as well as Richard Madden and Jamie Bell. Though it's appearing out of competition at the festival, it will undoubtedly be hoping to generate buzz off the back off last year's unlikely Oscar success story Bohemian Rhapsody, which chronicled the life of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.

Representing the UK, Ken Loach will premier Sorry We Missed You, the story of a struggling delivery driver that will surely cast shame on the dehumanising gig economy in a similarly powerful way to how his Palme d'Or winning I, Daniel Blakehighlighted Britain's food bank crisis.

As if Kapadia, who directed Amy and Senna will be showing his new documentary about legendary footballer Diego Maradona, called, naturally, Diego Maradona. It promises a look inside the fanatical fanbase of the Napoli player and how he came to be seen has "half man, half God".

Australian director Jessica Hausner, who won praise with her Cannes selection Lovely Rita in 2001, will this year show Little Joe. Starring Ben Whishaw and Emily Beecham it is a zany Black Mirror-esque parable about a plant breeder who creates a flower that can bring happiness to whoever looks after it.

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IMAGE: Emily Beecham in Little Joe

South Korean director Bong Joon-ho returns to the Croisette with Parasite, a dark thriller where one family become obsessed with the lives of another. Joon-ho's acclaimed Netflix film Okja was one of the sparks that caused the fire between Cannes and the streaming giant, leading to them being absent from the festival last year and Alfonso Cuarón Roma not being shown.

Terence Malik will be showing his new film A Hidden Life, of which little is known other than that is follows the story of Austrian anti-Nazi conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter who was executed in 1943.

Another big name returning is Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, known for cinematic gems such as Volver and The Skin I Live In. This year he shares Pain and Glory, a series of vignettes recalling the life of filmmaker Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) such as emigrating in his childhood with mother Jacinta (Penelope Cruz), his discovery of cinema and the breakup of his relationship. It's been described as a thinly-veiled summary of Almodóvar's own life and career, but done so stylishly it doesn't feel mawkish.

With a luminescent festival poster bearing the late female director Agnes Varda on the set of her first film, and the announcement that 13 female directors will feature this year, it seems change is firmly afoot at the festival which has for years been dominated by male auteurs.

Four of these women will be competing for the festival's top prize, the Palme D'or, showing a significant improvement from last year's disappointing number of female filmmakers. The jury also includes two female filmmakers in Capernaumdirector Nadine Labaki and High Life director Claire Denis.


This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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