As the case with every year, the Cannes Film Festival remains the peak of international cinema. More than Sundance or Toronto International Film Festival, the award embodies a prestige that few other awards can get. In a long and storied run, the festival has awarded some of the finest in world cinema including last year's winner Winters Sleep and the previous year's more successful Blue is the Warmest Color. With the festival now wrapped up, it feels like as good of a time as any to look back on the few films that may likely be worth checking out when they finally arrive stateside.
Dheepan (dir. Jacques Audiard)
It would make the most sense to start with this year's big winner. Taking home the Palme d'Or is Jacques Audiard for this film following a Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who becomes a caretaker in Paris. Along with the top honors, it has been called a breathtaking look at social views and culture in ways that the director has mastered before. If for no other reason, Audiard's latest deserves to be seen due to his consistent track record with the prison drama A Prophet and my personal favorite Rust and Bone: a film that looked at lower class with a meditative yet unflinching beauty. One can only imagine what he has in store for this one.
The Lobster (dir. Giorgos Lanthimos)
If you have been ignoring Giorgos Lanthimos, please change that immediately. He is a head trip director whose Oscar-nominated film Dogtooth has remained one of the best world cinema films of the decade. His equally trippy and funny Alps also will mess with your head. In what is being reported as one of the best at Cannes is described as a love story that tries to understand what that means. With a cast that includes Colin Farrell and John C. Reilly and serving as the director's English language debut, there's a good chance that you will be seeing this one above the others sooner than later. However, if it is as much of a head case as everyone says, it will definitely be one to keep in mind and may get some press on The Oscar Buzz when it comes out.
Louder Than Bombs (dir. Joachim Trier)
Following the events of a car crash, various characters try to recall their feelings for the lost loved one, even if they don't agree. With a cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg and Amy Ryan, there's a lot to anticipate about this movie. Despite less positive (but still high remarks) from critics, this is going to be an interesting entry out of Cannes this year. However, Joachim Trier has proven his capability to handle character dramas with the unflinching beauty of personal favorite Oslo, August 31 which followed the life of a recovering drug addict. He knows how to keep things simple while also being powerful. One can only hope that this is another case of that.
Sicario (dir. Denis Villeneuve)
I am personally split on how to feel about a new Denis Villeneuve film. While I didn't dislike Prisoners, I found its length and pacing to be problematic issues. On the other side, last year's Enemy was a personal favorite that was perfect in its intricate plotting and visual metaphors. While I worry that this story about and FBI agent going up against the Mexican cartel could fall into the former half, I still do hold out hope that he'll deliver something that is masterful, dark and full of great cinematic cues with his cast that includes Josh Brolin and Emily Blunt.
Carol (dir. Todd Haynes)
One of the bigger successes is the return of director Todd Haynes, who has been missing from cinema screens for quite some time (his last work was on the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce: which was superb). As tragic as it is to say (in that these all are interesting-sounding films), this is the most noteworthy one from Cannes that is likely to make it to the Oscars conversation at the end of the year. With nominee Rooney Mara (Best Actress - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and winner Cate Blanchett (Best Actress - Blue Jasmine), the caliber is already high. The fact that it is also a lesbian drama about a department store clerk also gives it some edge. It will be interesting to see how things play out in the race. For now, if you're looking for something to keep an eye on, Carol will likely be it.
Irrational Man (dir. Woody Allen)
I don't really need to tell you to see a Woody Allen movie at this point. You either will or you won't. You'll know I will write about it either way. However, the promise of Joaquin Phoenix given Allen dialogue is very promising and the return of Emma Stone is also something that I don't frown upon, even if Magic in the Moonlight wasn't the best.
Love (dir. Gaspar Noe)
For those who walk on the wild side, you likely are already familiar with Gaspar Noe's controversial style whether it be Irreversible or the anti-narrative epic/epileptic nightmare Enter the Void. His work pretty much defines visceral and in his latest, he chooses to tackle sex in "ground breaking" 3D. I am unsure how things will go, but with lukewarm reviews, this isn't one that is high on my list but one I may likely see out of curiosity. He is a director definitely of acquired tastes and with explicit content promised, I only recommend this for people who can handle something likely to be vulgar and visually confusing.
What films from Cannes are you looking forward to? Which ones did I miss? Will we be seeing any of them at the Oscars next year?