Earlier this week, Cannes, the granddaddy of highfalutin film festivals, released its 2018 selection. This year’s festival was the target of controversy before even a hint of the slate was announced. Earlier this week, festival director Thierry Fremaux announced that no films would be allowed to compete inside the festival without having a French theatrical release. Netflix, the sole and likely target of this rule change, fired back saying they would pull all of their films, including the posthumously completed Orson Welles satire, The Other Side of Wind, and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, regardless of eligibility. Fremaux then said that Netflix films are still welcome, but Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos claimed this was a slight on their films.
All caught up on the back-and-forth? Good. Now let’s get to what’s definitely playing. The absence of hotly anticipated 2018 heavy hitters like Barry Jenkins‘ If Beale Street Could Talk, Terry Gilliam‘s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Felix Van Groeningen‘s Beautiful Boy (with Timothée Chalamet), and Claire Denis‘ High Life makes this year’s selection seem a bit light on the surface. But industry insiders caution festivalgoers to be patient; there are still several films yet to be announced, including three potential slots in the festival competition. Plus, the current slate could hold some hidden gems. Either way, there are some clear standouts playing the festival, and these are the films we are most excited about – so far – from Cannes this year.
Spike Lee is still salty (as he should be) that Do the Right Thing (93%) did not win the Palme D’or in 1989, and 20 years later he returns to the French Riviera with BlacKKKlansman. Produced by Jordan Peele’s MonkeyPaw Productions, and starring Adam Driver, Topher Grace, John David Washington, and Laura Harrier, BlacKkKlansman arrives at Cannes on a wave of heavy buzz. The film is based on Ron Stallworth’s novel of the same name, which details how the author infiltrated the Klu Klux Klan in Colorado. That premise alone is enough to garner attention, but with such pedigree in front of and behind the camera, this is one to watch for the top prize.
In 2014, David Robert Mitchell debuted at Cannes with It Follows and wowed critics and audiences with his fresh take on horror — the film went on to become one of the best reviewed genre pics of the decade at 97% on the Tomatometer. This year he returns with Under the Silver Lake, a neo-noir black comedy starring Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, and Topher Grace. Grace, starring in this and BlacKkKlansman, is destined to be this year’s Nicole Kidman, who went to Cannes with two much-anticipated films in 2017. The new trailer, released by A24 earlier this month, hints at a hipster chic love story gone awry.
Only three women will compete for the Palme d’Or at this year’s festival, and director Eva Husson made the cut. Husson’s 2015 film, Bang Gang, was a divisive yet enjoyable peek into adolescent sexuality that earned her 66% on the Tomatometer. This year she screens Girls of the Sun, a story of resistance, sisterhood, and women joining forces to stand against barbarism. Starring Golshifteh Farahani, Emmanuelle Bercot, and Julie Delpy, the story centers on a battalion of female resistance fighters who unite to take back their small Kurdish town, which has been conquered by extremists.
Disney announced earlier this month that the next Star Wars Story will debut at Cannes — so, who’s questioning their confidence now? The move is not as unusual as you might think: Inside Out (98%) and Revenge of the Sith (79%) both screened at Cannes, out of competition. Why are we so excited? Well, two words really: Donald Freaking Glover (OK, three words). Plus, we’re still very curious to see if Ron Howard was able to right the ship on the reportedly troubled production. And we want to know who that other Wookiee in the trailer is. As for Solo himself, Alden Ehrenreich looks the part, but embodying Star Wars’ most beloved character is a tall order for anyone. We’re crossing our fingers.
The Cannes Film Festival will run from May 8 through May 19.
The official selection for the 2018 Cannes Film Festival can be found here.