May 22, 2024 7:52 pm

The 10 Most Anticipated Films of Cannes 2024
The 10 Most Anticipated Films of Cannes 2024

The 10 Most Anticipated Films of Cannes 2024

Every year, the Cannes Film Festival is an embarrassment of riches, offering moviegoers a smorgasbord of exciting, challenging cinema. In recent times, the likes of “Parasite,” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” “The Worst Person in the World,” “Triangle of Sadness,” “Drive My Car,” “The Zone of Interest” and “Anatomy of a Fall” debuted on the Croisette, and there are plenty of potential heavy-hitters appearing at the 77th edition, which kicks off on Tuesday. We’re about to enter one of the best two-week periods on the annual movie calendar.

But what movies are most anticipated this year? It’s always difficult to narrow down such a list, but sight unseen—and in alphabetical order—I came up with 10 films I’m greatly intrigued by. 

First though, here are some important things to keep in mind. For one thing, Cannes isn’t like most festivals, which front-load their biggest and best movies at the start. Instead, each day of Cannes is devoted to new films, and there’s no rhyme or reason to which movies are slotted for which days. (The best explanation is which films’ starry casts are available to walk the red carpet.) This year’s edition could premiere the eventual Palme d’Or-winner on the very last day of the festival—or the first, or somewhere in the middle. 

Another caveat is that my list is highly subjective. I bypassed some high-profile choices—such as Part One of Kevin Costner’s comeback Western “Horizon: An American Saga”—simply because there were other pictures that piqued my interest more. Even so, I’m pained that three movies—David Cronenberg’s “The Shrouds,” Claire Simon’s “Elementary” and Sean Baker’s “Anora”—just missed the cut. Like I said, there’s just too much great cinema going down in Cannes this year. 

One last thing to remember: There are also always those surprises that take the festival by storm. In 2023, how many people would have put “Anatomy of a Fall” on the top of their most-anticipated list? Not many, but Justine Triet proved herself a major auteur with her crime-thriller/domestic drama. Such under-the-radar stunners may be on the way this year as well. But for now, let’s lick our lips as we prepare to feast our eyes on these 10 must-sees.

“The Apprentice”

I’m not sure if I could stomach an American film about Donald Trump. But I am very curious about one made by Ali Abbasi, an Iranian-Danish director who’s behind “The Apprentice.” The filmmaker responsible for the somber serial-killer thriller “Holy Spider” is about to unveil his first English-language drama, casting Sebastian Stan as a young Trump who is mentored by nefarious lawyer Roy Cohn (Jeremy Strong). “The Apprentice” sounds like it could be Trump’s dark origin story, and Abbasi has made it clear the movie isn’t a satire. (Which is amusing considering that “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” breakout star Maria Bakalova plays Ivana Trump.) I’m specifically interested in Abbasi’s outsider’s perspective on one of our country’s most despicable public figures—actually, two, if you count Cohn, who The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta called “the worst human being I ever profiled.”

Bird

Barry Keoghan and Franz Rogowski are among the hottest actors in international cinema, but neither is technically the star of “Bird.” Apparently, that will be Nykiya Adams, a newcomer who plays a 12-year-old living in poverty alongside her dad and his brother. But the film’s other star is writer-director Andrea Arnold, one of the most distinctive filmmakers of the last two decades. Her “Red Road” was how we first met Kate Dickey. Her “Fish Tank” was, for many of us, our introduction to the dynamo that is Michael Fassbender. And “American Honey” made Sasha Lane an arthouse sensation. Arnold has had a knack not just for discovering new talent but for creating immersive worlds for those actors to populate. It’s been eight years since she’s made a feature—her last movie was the compassionate documentary “Cow”—so it’s good to have her back. 

“Caught by the Tides”

In films like “The World,” “Still Life” and “Mountains May Depart,” Chinese director Jia Zhangke has explored how his country has evolved culturally, politically and economically in his lifetime. His follow-up to 2018’s “Ash Is Purest White” is ostensibly a love story, but national commentary will certainly be part of the story as well. Supposedly incorporating footage Jia has shot over the last two decades, “Caught by the Tides” stars his wife Zhao Tao, who’s often the lead in his movies, as a woman who tries to reconnect with a lover she met in the early 2000s. And according to a press release, Jia “delivers an unprecedented film epic that goes through all of his films and more than 20 years of the history of a changing country.” I imagine that might lead some journalists to call “Caught by the Tides” Jia’s “Boyhood,” but we’ll see exactly how this amalgam of past and present plays out.

The Damned

Born in Italy but now residing in Texas, Roberto Minervini has recently made probing documentaries about specific pockets of American life in Louisiana, whether it’s poor whites (“The Other Side”) or an imperiled Black community (“What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?”). But with “The Damned,” he’s turning his attention to narrative cinema for the first time, focusing on Civil War soldiers who become disillusioned about their mission. In keeping with his fascination for this country’s contradictions, peculiarities and bigotry, Minervini has said “The Damned” will “go back to a moment where a lot of these roots were being planted: the great divide between North and South, Christianity, a kind of toxic masculinity. I wanted to understand how these issues persist, why there is still a lot of nostalgia for the Civil War, how that time shaped a sense of distrust toward institutions.” I’m very excited to see how he tackles subject matter we think we’ve seen before—what will Minervini bring to it?

“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga”

Nine years ago, “Mad Max: Fury Road” had its grand unveiling at the Cannes Film Festival, knocking out audiences on its way to becoming one of that summer’s biggest hits and eventually winning six Oscars. Director George Miller returns to the Croisette for this prequel, which introduces us to a younger version of Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, this time played by Anya Taylor-Joy. With Chris Hemsworth and Tom Burke co-starring, “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” is the first installment of this franchise in which Max is not a main character, and the early buzz suggests viewers will hardly miss him. Honestly, this new film’s greatest challenge will be living up to its predecessor, which every action movie of the last decade has tried to as well. 

The Invasion

Sergei Loznitsa’s name may not be as familiar to world cinema fans as his starrier Cannes peers, but this Ukrainian filmmaker has been a frequent critic of Russia, his two most recent features (“A Gentle Creature” and “Donbass”) playing at the French festival and portraying Russia as nightmarish and cruel. Loznitsa’s latest is a documentary that, according to SEE NL, has been shot over the last two years of Russia’s war on Ukraine and features “funerals, weddings, scenes showing citizens filling up plastic bottles with water, shots of target practice with new army recruits and of war veterans who’ve lost limbs at the rehab center, and grim imagery showing destroyed bridges and abandoned classrooms.” There have already been superb documentaries about the invasion—“20 Days in Mariupol” won Best Documentary at the Oscars—but “The Invasion” is the one I’ve been waiting for. I can’t even imagine how this war will look through Loznitsa’s enraged eyes. 

“Kinds of Kindness”

Based on the initial teasers, it seemed that Yorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up to “Poor Things” and “The Favourite” might be a fun, almost Tarantino-esque romp. But then we found out that “Kinds of Kindness” is a whopping 165 minutes, which is just barely shorter than the two longest films in the Cannes Competition. Telling three separate stories, “Kinds of Kindness” might need the extra runtime to give each tale its due. (And the film is certainly star-studded, featuring Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Mamoudou Athie and, of course, Emma Stone, who won her second Oscar for “Poor Things.”) No question Lanthimos is on a roll—his last two films have taken home five Oscars, including two Best Actress prizes—but will this new one be too much of a good thing? What initially sounded like just a breezy lark now feels like his next big swing. 

“Megalopolis”

Francis Ford Coppola’s long-hoped return was enough to merit consideration for this list. (His last movie was 2011’s “Twixt,” and afterward, he suggested he had retired from filmmaking.) But the recent passing of his wife and collaborator Eleanor will make the premiere of “Megalopolis” an even more emotional event for him and for those of us who know how important she has been to his creative process over the last several decades. Plus, critics cannot resist a master director finally realizing his epic vision after years of starts and stops—does he have one last masterpiece in him? Here’s hoping. You couldn’t ask for a better cast for this tale of a destroyed metropolis trying to be rebuilt, which stars Adam Driver, Giancarlo Esposito, Nathalie Emmanuel, Aubrey Plaza, and Laurence Fishburne, who was part of Coppola’s Palme d’Or-winning “Apocalypse Now” 45 years ago.

“Rumours”

Sometimes, “most anticipated” means “Wait, what the heck is this?” Such is the case with “Rumours,” a dark comedy from avant-garde Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin, who in recent years has been collaborating with co-director brothers Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson. (The trio’s 2017 picture “The Green Fog” was a playful reimagining of “Vertigo” made entirely through San Francisco-set found footage from other films, TV shows and music videos.) “Rumours” could be less experimental than Maddin’s earlier work, but it should still be plenty weird, starring Cate Blanchett, Alicia Vikander, and Charles Dance in a story about the G7 summit. Apparently, the summit leaders get lost in the woods during the conference, leading to bizarre happenings. I have faith in the filmmaker of “Brand Upon the Brain!,” teaming up with down-for-anything Blanchett for the first time, to give us something totally unexpected. 

“The Seed of the Sacred Fig”

In recent years, the international film community’s focus has been on Jafar Panahi, the acclaimed Iranian director who in 2010 was arrested by authorities and sentenced to a six-year prison term for what they said was conspiring against the government. Panahi’s imprisonment deservedly generated global headlines and industry outcry, but also arrested and imprisoned during that time was his colleague and fellow filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, whose jail time, thankfully, was not as long. 

However, just this week, it was announced that Rasoulof has been sentenced to eight years in prison and flogging for “examples of collusion with the intention of committing a crime against the country’s security.” It’s just the latest example of the Iranian government’s horrendous treatment of artists, and the premiere of Rasoulof’s latest drama, “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” will garner significant attention when it plays in the Cannes Competition. Not surprisingly, it’s been reported that Iranian officials tried to pressure the festival to pull the film, but thankfully Cannes refused. The film, said to be about a conflicted judge set against the backdrop of Iranian political protests, could be a Palme d’Or favorite—it would certainly give the Competition jury (led by Greta Gerwig) a means of condemning Rasoulof’s incarceration. At the very least, the director of stunners like “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” will be on the minds of many at Cannes—especially because he cannot attend himself.

Every year, the Cannes Film Festival is an embarrassment of riches, offering moviegoers a smorgasbord of exciting, challenging cinema. In recent times, the likes of “Parasite,” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” “The Worst Person in the World,” “Triangle of Sadness,” “Drive My Car,” “The Zone of Interest” and “Anatomy of a Fall” debuted on the Croisette, and there are plenty of potential heavy-hitters appearing at the 77th edition, which kicks off on Tuesday. We’re about to enter one of the best two-week periods on the annual movie calendar. But what movies are most anticipated this year? It’s always difficult to narrow down such a list, but sight unseen—and in alphabetical order—I came up with 10 films I’m greatly intrigued by.  First though, here are some important things to keep in mind. For one thing, Cannes isn’t like most festivals, which front-load their biggest and best movies at the start. Instead, each day of Cannes is devoted to new films, and there’s no rhyme or reason to which movies are slotted for which days. (The best explanation is which films’ starry casts are available to walk the red carpet.) This year’s edition could premiere the eventual Palme d’Or-winner on the very last day of the festival—or the first, or somewhere in the middle.  Another caveat is that my list is highly subjective. I bypassed some high-profile choices—such as Part One of Kevin Costner’s comeback Western “Horizon: An American Saga”—simply because there were other pictures that piqued my interest more. Even so, I’m pained that three movies—David Cronenberg’s “The Shrouds,” Claire Simon’s “Elementary” and Sean Baker’s “Anora”—just missed the cut. Like I said, there’s just too much great cinema going down in Cannes this year.  One last thing to remember: There are also always those surprises that take the festival by storm. In 2023, how many people would have put “Anatomy of a Fall” on the top of their most-anticipated list? Not many, but Justine Triet proved herself a major auteur with her crime-thriller/domestic drama. Such under-the-radar stunners may be on the way this year as well. But for now, let’s lick our lips as we prepare to feast our eyes on these 10 must-sees. “The Apprentice” I’m not sure if I could stomach an American film about Donald Trump. But I am very curious about one made by Ali Abbasi, an Iranian-Danish director who’s behind “The Apprentice.” The filmmaker responsible for the somber serial-killer thriller “Holy Spider” is about to unveil his first English-language drama, casting Sebastian Stan as a young Trump who is mentored by nefarious lawyer Roy Cohn (Jeremy Strong). “The Apprentice” sounds like it could be Trump’s dark origin story, and Abbasi has made it clear the movie isn’t a satire. (Which is amusing considering that “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” breakout star Maria Bakalova plays Ivana Trump.) I’m specifically interested in Abbasi’s outsider’s perspective on one of our country’s most despicable public figures—actually, two, if you count Cohn, who The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta called “the worst human being I ever profiled.” “Bird” Barry Keoghan and Franz Rogowski are among the hottest actors in international cinema, but neither is technically the star of “Bird.” Apparently, that will be Nykiya Adams, a newcomer who plays a 12-year-old living in poverty alongside her dad and his brother. But the film’s other star is writer-director Andrea Arnold, one of the most distinctive filmmakers of the last two decades. Her “Red Road” was how we first met Kate Dickey. Her “Fish Tank” was, for many of us, our introduction to the dynamo that is Michael Fassbender. And “American Honey” made Sasha Lane an arthouse sensation. Arnold has had a knack not just for discovering new talent but for creating immersive worlds for those actors to populate. It’s been eight years since she’s made a feature—her last movie was the compassionate documentary “Cow”—so it’s good to have her back.  “Caught by the Tides” In films like “The World,” “Still Life” and “Mountains May Depart,” Chinese director Jia Zhangke has explored how his country has evolved culturally, politically and economically in his lifetime. His follow-up to 2018’s “Ash Is Purest White” is ostensibly a love story, but national commentary will certainly be part of the story as well. Supposedly incorporating footage Jia has shot over the last two decades, “Caught by the Tides” stars his wife Zhao Tao, who’s often the lead in his movies, as a woman who tries to reconnect with a lover she met in the early 2000s. And according to a press release, Jia “delivers an unprecedented film epic that goes through all of his films and more than 20 years of the history of a changing country.” I imagine that might lead some journalists to call “Caught by the Tides” Jia’s “Boyhood,” but we’ll see exactly how this amalgam of past and present plays out. “The Damned” Born in Italy but now residing in Texas, Roberto Minervini has recently made probing documentaries about specific pockets of American life in Louisiana, whether it’s poor whites (“The Other Side”) or an imperiled Black community (“What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?”). But with “The Damned,” he’s turning his attention to narrative cinema for the first time, focusing on Civil War soldiers who become disillusioned about their mission. In keeping with his fascination for this country’s contradictions, peculiarities and bigotry, Minervini has said “The Damned” will “go back to a moment where a lot of these roots were being planted: the great divide between North and South, Christianity, a kind of toxic masculinity. I wanted to understand how these issues persist, why there is still a lot of nostalgia for the Civil War, how that time shaped a sense of distrust toward institutions.” I’m very excited to see how he tackles subject matter we think we’ve seen before—what will Minervini bring to it? “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” Nine years ago, “Mad Max: Fury Road” had its grand unveiling at the Cannes Film Festival, knocking out audiences on its way to becoming one of that summer’s biggest hits and eventually winning six Oscars. Director George Miller returns to the Croisette for this prequel, which introduces us to a younger version of Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, this time played by Anya Taylor-Joy. With Chris Hemsworth and Tom Burke co-starring, “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” is the first installment of this franchise in which Max is not a main character, and the early buzz suggests viewers will hardly miss him. Honestly, this new film’s greatest challenge will be living up to its predecessor, which every action movie of the last decade has tried to as well.  “The Invasion” Sergei Loznitsa’s name may not be as familiar to world cinema fans as his starrier Cannes peers, but this Ukrainian filmmaker has been a frequent critic of Russia, his two most recent features (“A Gentle Creature” and “Donbass”) playing at the French festival and portraying Russia as nightmarish and cruel. Loznitsa’s latest is a documentary that, according to SEE NL, has been shot over the last two years of Russia’s war on Ukraine and features “funerals, weddings, scenes showing citizens filling up plastic bottles with water, shots of target practice with new army recruits and of war veterans who’ve lost limbs at the rehab center, and grim imagery showing destroyed bridges and abandoned classrooms.” There have already been superb documentaries about the invasion—“20 Days in Mariupol” won Best Documentary at the Oscars—but “The Invasion” is the one I’ve been waiting for. I can’t even imagine how this war will look through Loznitsa’s enraged eyes.  “Kinds of Kindness” Based on the initial teasers, it seemed that Yorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up to “Poor Things” and “The Favourite” might be a fun, almost Tarantino-esque romp. But then we found out that “Kinds of Kindness” is a whopping 165 minutes, which is just barely shorter than the two longest films in the Cannes Competition. Telling three separate stories, “Kinds of Kindness” might need the extra runtime to give each tale its due. (And the film is certainly star-studded, featuring Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Mamoudou Athie and, of course, Emma Stone, who won her second Oscar for “Poor Things.”) No question Lanthimos is on a roll—his last two films have taken home five Oscars, including two Best Actress prizes—but will this new one be too much of a good thing? What initially sounded like just a breezy lark now feels like his next big swing.  “Megalopolis” Francis Ford Coppola’s long-hoped return was enough to merit consideration for this list. (His last movie was 2011’s “Twixt,” and afterward, he suggested he had retired from filmmaking.) But the recent passing of his wife and collaborator Eleanor will make the premiere of “Megalopolis” an even more emotional event for him and for those of us who know how important she has been to his creative process over the last several decades. Plus, critics cannot resist a master director finally realizing his epic vision after years of starts and stops—does he have one last masterpiece in him? Here’s hoping. You couldn’t ask for a better cast for this tale of a destroyed metropolis trying to be rebuilt, which stars Adam Driver, Giancarlo Esposito, Nathalie Emmanuel, Aubrey Plaza, and Laurence Fishburne, who was part of Coppola’s Palme d’Or-winning “Apocalypse Now” 45 years ago. “Rumours” Sometimes, “most anticipated” means “Wait, what the heck is this?” Such is the case with “Rumours,” a dark comedy from avant-garde Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin, who in recent years has been collaborating with co-director brothers Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson. (The trio’s 2017 picture “The Green Fog” was a playful reimagining of “Vertigo” made entirely through San Francisco-set found footage from other films, TV shows and music videos.) “Rumours” could be less experimental than Maddin’s earlier work, but it should still be plenty weird, starring Cate Blanchett, Alicia Vikander, and Charles Dance in a story about the G7 summit. Apparently, the summit leaders get lost in the woods during the conference, leading to bizarre happenings. I have faith in the filmmaker of “Brand Upon the Brain!,” teaming up with down-for-anything Blanchett for the first time, to give us something totally unexpected.  “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” In recent years, the international film community’s focus has been on Jafar Panahi, the acclaimed Iranian director who in 2010 was arrested by authorities and sentenced to a six-year prison term for what they said was conspiring against the government. Panahi’s imprisonment deservedly generated global headlines and industry outcry, but also arrested and imprisoned during that time was his colleague and fellow filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, whose jail time, thankfully, was not as long.  However, just this week, it was announced that Rasoulof has been sentenced to eight years in prison and flogging for “examples of collusion with the intention of committing a crime against the country’s security.” It’s just the latest example of the Iranian government’s horrendous treatment of artists, and the premiere of Rasoulof’s latest drama, “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” will garner significant attention when it plays in the Cannes Competition. Not surprisingly, it’s been reported that Iranian officials tried to pressure the festival to pull the film, but thankfully Cannes refused. The film, said to be about a conflicted judge set against the backdrop of Iranian political protests, could be a Palme d’Or favorite—it would certainly give the Competition jury (led by Greta Gerwig) a means of condemning Rasoulof’s incarceration. At the very least, the director of stunners like “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” will be on the minds of many at Cannes—especially because he cannot attend himself. Read More