For the 72nd time in film history, Hollywood (and the rest of the movie-making world) arrive on the French Riviera for the industry insider festival known as Cannes . The fest gets the ball rolling on a season of film events that happen across the globe in cities like Toronto, Telluride, Venice, and beyond—meaning this debut, and the buzz that follows, can often predict a film’s chances with the Academy the following year. Oh la la! The pressure!
The Croisette is never an easy road for a film to travel—at Cannes, boos are as likely to follow a film as wild applause—but these five movies are already being talked about as the screenings to catch if you’re in the south of France from May 14-25. And of course, if you can get your hands on an impossibly rare ticket.
Having moved on from vampires (2014’s Only Lovers Left Alive), director Jim Jarmusch embraces the zombie horde with the festival’s opening film, The Dead Don’t Die. The comedy (yes, you read that right) features an all-star cast including Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Selena Gomez, Chloë Sevigny, Bill Murray, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, and (insert drum roll here) Iggy Pop! As the undead and their insatiable appetite for brains invade a formerly sleepy small town, the local police are forced to fight them off—think: Fargo meets Dawn of the Dead. Yes, we are here for it.
When Quentin Tarantino first set foot in Cannes with his movie Pulp Fiction, it was booed heartily by French audiences (despite the fact that it won the Palme d’Or). This year, the director returns with his latest: a dramedy starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Lena Dunham, and the late Luke Perry (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the 90210 idol’s final role). The exceedingly stylish film is set in 1969 Los Angeles, with Robbie playing Charles Manson murder victim Sharon Tate and Fanning as Manson acolyte Squeaky Fromme, so despite very little being revealed about the storyline, that dark time Hollywood’s history will play a critical role.
Timing is everything. With his three-year-long worldwide farewell tour already underway, this living legend co-produced his own biopic tracing the story of how Reginald Kenneth Dwight become the pop icon we all know as Elton John. Rocketman, with Taron Egerton (who you *might* recognize from the Kingsman movies) in the lead, spans 10 years of John’s tumultuous early career, the decade during which he struggled to define himself. Expect to hear the hits plus a brand new Elton banger that’s probably safe to start thinking of as next year’s “Shallow.” Bonus: Bohemian Rhapsody’s pinch-hitting director Dexter Fletcher is at the helm of this one.
Bring on the Can-Con! Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan is Cannes’ very own boy wonder, making his fest debut there when he was just 20 years old with his first feature, I Killed My Mother. Since then, he’s made a total of eight feature films, directed a music video for Adele, and picked up two previous awards at the festival. Will this be the year he takes the coveted Palme d’Or? His latest film, Matthias & Maxime, features the director himself in one of the title roles, his return to appearing in front of the camera since 2018’s Boy Erased, and examines a close friendship between two young men that’s unexpectedly disrupted by a single kiss.
You might not have heard of director Ira Sachs but his star is a big deal in France and, um, basically everywhere else. Cannes fixture Isabelle Huppert (Elle, Amour, The Romanoffs, Louder Than Bombs, I Heart Huckabees… we could go on) returns as is Frankie, a woman at the head of a family that has embarked on one final holiday just as a major crisis strikes. While holding their own opposite Huppert, co-stars Marisa Tomei, Greg Kinnear and Brendan Gleeson also have to compete with the film’s setting of Sintra, Portugal—a seriously magical place and, we’re going to imagine, a bonefide scene-stealer.