The 7 Best Films We Saw at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, And Where You Can See them Soon

From Tarantino's Hollywood to Palme d'Or winner Parasite and the black-and-white horrors of The Lighthouse.

by | May 30, 2019 | Comments

(Photo by Courtesy the Cannes Film Festival)
The crowds have bid ‘au revoir’ to the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival, where films about inequality and injustice, as well as some avant-garde horror, riveted audiences. This year’s jury, led by Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu, bestowed the golden laurels of the Palme d’Or (the festival’s top prize) on Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite. Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or win for his twisty social satire follows Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s 2018 win for Shoplifters, making him the third Asian director to take home the top prize and the first Korean filmmaker. The runner-up prize, the Grand Prix, also made history when actress-turned-director Mati Diop won for her debut film Atlantique, becoming the first Black female director to be awarded a competition prize. (It was a second coup for Diop, who made history when she became the first Black female director to be selected in competition).

Elsewhere, our rumored next Batman, Robert Pattinson, continued his run of stellar indie performances and sparked early Oscar talk for his turn alongside co-star Willem Dafoe in the black-and-white horror tale, The Lighthouse. It was one of several films that critics are betting will make a deep run this awards season, along with Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Rocketman, and Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory, for which Antonio Banderas was named best actor.

Here are the seven buzziest films we saw at Cannes 2019; you’ll definitely want to check them out when they reach theaters near you or land on streaming.

Atlantics (2019) 96% 

Cannes 2019 saw four films in the competition from female filmmakers and three took home prizes; the most prestigious prize went to Mati Diop for Atlantique. A haunting ghost story about the disappearance of exploited construction workers at a Dakar high-rise sets the stage for the tale of two star-crossed lovers. A Black Romeo and Juliet, Ada and Souleimen plan to run away together, but the high-rise builder is refusing to pay the crew over three months of backpay; forced to find work elsewhere, Souleimen and the others set sail for Spain, but their ship capsizes. The young men proceed to bend the laws of death, trying to reunite with their lady loves.

When can you see it? Acquired by Netflix, the film is expected for release globally sometime later this year.

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) 85% 

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
(Photo by Columbia Pictures)

Quentin Tarantino’s latest adventure came up short on major prizes at the festival, but that has not put even the slightest damper on the director’s long-term awards hopes. Tarantino is poised for accolades alongside his two male leads – Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio – especially for the dynamic script, which provides an alternate history of the Manson Family murders. There was some controversy about the role of Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie, and the character’s lack of dialogue – and that may catch up with the filmmaker as awards season kicks into gear. As with Inglourious Basterds after its Cannes premiere in 2009, the word is Tarantino wants to recut Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. Will this rumored new cut have more for dialogue for Robbie? We shall wait and see.

When can you see it? Sony has Once Upon a Time in Hollywood set for a July 26 release; expect it to do well at the box office as an alternative bit of original programming in a summer laden with superheroes and sequels.


(Photo by Courtesy the Cannes Film Festival)

A skillfully shot genre flick, this gory The Raid-meets-Seven Samurai mashup set in rural Brazil lit up the early days of the festival. The film tied Les Miserables, the French dramatization of the 2005 Paris riots, for the third-place Jury Prize. Part modern western and part political statement, Bacarau throws social commentary and deadpan humor into a no-holds-barred action blender and turns everything up to full blast. A film built for midnight drive-ins, it has the chops to be a Train To Busan-style cult hit.

When Can You See It? SBS Distribution and Vitrine Filmes are handling the French and Brazilian distribution but no word yet on the North American rights.

Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) 99%

(Photo by Courtesy Cannes Film Festival)

For the second year in a row – and only the third time for the festival – an Asian director took home the Palme d’Or. We think Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-ho could not be a more worthy winner. Critics raved about this story of two families who reflect the evils of wealth, inequality, and class discrimination. A hilarious farce that also works as a thought-provoking drama, Parasite follows in Joon-ho’s tradition of setting class dissections in the most unlikely of places. A. A Dowd of the AV Club wrote that the film “shifts tonal gears in total service of its class politics, infecting the film’s breezy dark-comedy with notes of rage and melancholy.”

When can you see it? NEON acquired the North American rights for Parasite before release; following the Palme d’Or and rave reviews, they’ve announced the film will open in New York and Los Angeles on October 11, presumably before it expands to more theaters on a later date.

The Lighthouse (2019) 90%

The Lighthouse
(Photo by Courtesy the Cannes Film Festival)

The Witch writer-director Robert Eggers has proven he’s just getting started with his peculiar brand of horror. The Lighthouse, which won the Cannes Critics Award, was one of the best-reviewed films of the festival. Those lucky enough to catch a screening have dubbed the story of two men trapped in a 1800s lighthouse a gothic horror masterpiece. Utilizing 1940s camera techniques – it’s shot in black-and-white on 35mm film – the atmospheric thriller could be a dark horse awards contender, and co-stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are getting early Oscar whispers. The two worked through grueling conditions on the film, something that worked for Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant. 

When can you see it? Produced and distributed by A24, The Lighthouse will hit U.S. theaters soon but no word yet on the date. 

Rocketman (2019) 89%

Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody seem to destined for comparison: They’re both the stories of flamboyant, hard-partying, larger-than-life ’70s rock icons who struggled with their sexuality. They even shared a manager – and the films kind of share a director: Rocketman director Dexter Fletcher was tapped to finish and edit Bohemian Rhapsody after original director Bryan Singer was unceremoniously fired. However, after Rocketman‘s Cannes premiere, we can confirm that the two films could not be more different. A musical theater adaptation of Elton John’s life, Rocketman is a wholly unique cinema experience. Taron Egerton disappears into the role of John for this psychedelic fantasy version of the singer’s early career and his struggles with depression and addiction. After Rami Malek walked away with the Oscar in 2018 for his lip-sync take on Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, it will be hard to argue that Egerton is any less deserving of a nomination given that he sings and dances throughout the entire runtime.

When can we see it? Rocketman hits theaters May 31.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu) (2020) 98%

A Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Céline Sciamma was awarded best screenplay for period lesbian love story Portrait of A Lady on Fire; but for much of the festival many pundits thought she was about to become the first female director since Jane Campion to win the Palme d’Or. A film that many are calling an LBGTQ version of The Piano, or a lesbian Call Me By Your Name, Portrait of A Lady on Fire is a taut love story between a painter and her subject, two women desperately in love but living on borrowed time. The film is an awards-season threat for production design, cinematography, and acting prizes for the leads Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel.

When can you see it? NEON acquired the North American rights to A Portrait of Lady on Fire and has scheduled it for release on December 6.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Pride Month composers Logo nature sitcom Lucasfilm spider-man ITV concert Sci-Fi Kids & Family Infographic stop motion Rocky Grammys Rom-Com Women's History Month ABC Lifetime Christmas movies WGN cars DC Universe Action Brie Larson Countdown Holidays chucky singing competition zero dark thirty Captain marvel BAFTA teaser FOX Comedy Ghostbusters Film stand-up comedy TBS PlayStation Watching Series TruTV Red Carpet comedies independent Emmy Nominations 72 Emmy Awards X-Men Star Wars critics BET Hulu AMC Oscars The Witch Trophy Talk HBO Max best Disney Channel Mystery book comics boxoffice Comedy Central YouTube Bravo Comic Book slashers ghosts indiana jones Awards Christmas Holiday game show Mudbound DC streaming service CMT comic diversity harry potter superhero Mary poppins directors The Arrangement Shudder E3 mockumentary Hallmark Christmas movies First Look Teen LGBT Classic Film Star Trek documentary series Cartoon Network TCM 2019 Peacock based on movie mutant science fiction Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sequel FXX dogs Television Critics Association IFC Horror dark APB President Turner Marvel Studios screen actors guild crossover Binge Guide OWN Baby Yoda natural history Thanksgiving zombies TCA 2017 Video Games The CW hispanic Animation San Diego Comic-Con award winner politics Endgame Black History Month Universal emmy awards television SDCC franchise Certified Fresh HBO reviews canceled TV shows See It Skip It Country Interview Freeform classics child's play Pirates Polls and Games Esquire nbcuniversal 20th Century Fox Musicals psycho crime drama Toys cats Election Reality golden globes jamie lee curtis laika children's TV Britbox latino Fox News witnail Best and Worst zombie Calendar Quiz Television Academy Film Festival Martial Arts foreign hist Amazon Prime Spike HBO Go finale Amazon The Walking Dead dragons Sundance Now Trivia TCA films werewolf Hear Us Out blaxploitation asian-american Elton John universal monsters fast and furious justice league Shondaland Apple CBS 2016 DC Comics batman miniseries dc free movies Crackle blockbuster TV Land political drama Western NBC cancelled television rotten movies we love SundanceTV Apple TV Plus Biopics talk show medical drama thriller CNN mission: impossible canceled binge Mary Poppins Returns anime Extras Family USA Network aliens richard e. Grant sequels police drama LGBTQ name the review BBC America Valentine's Day biography Acorn TV ratings TLC Character Guide comiccon crime cooking New York Comic Con 21st Century Fox versus Vudu halloween Lionsgate cops Music Premiere Dates Marathons quibi Ovation theme song Song of Ice and Fire green book cults Cosplay toy story romance anthology Year in Review serial killer Chernobyl Warner Bros. spanish language Disney Plus Syfy OneApp Pixar video Netflix DirecTV BBC One Paramount Network Rocketman GLAAD movie rotten spy thriller Tomatazos festivals 24 frames A&E hollywood documentaries Reality Competition MTV video on demand Nat Geo Sony Pictures cancelled TV shows YouTube Premium scary movies 2018 Travel Channel Tarantino Arrowverse E! American Society of Cinematographers Photos BBC RT21 Box Office TV Netflix Christmas movies Funimation spain revenge obituary TIFF indie renewed TV shows sports Dark Horse Comics Winners Turner Classic Movies joker Academy Awards news History Emmys TCA Awards docudrama Spring TV Disney Anna Paquin twilight A24 Marvel Television all-time Crunchyroll war Amazon Studios ESPN GoT psychological thriller Pop VOD RT History Pet Sematary Drama Heroines dramedy elevated horror Spectrum Originals NYCC Musical true crime Amazon Prime Video historical drama Showtime Paramount Schedule satire adventure animated dceu movies Superheroes Podcast Columbia Pictures stoner Sundance TV Set visit BET Awards Summer MCU disaster CBS All Access Writers Guild of America parents ABC Family transformers TNT Fantasy social media Opinion spinoff Masterpiece Discovery Channel Fall TV Food Network die hard 45 WarnerMedia romantic comedy Sundance Marvel Trailer Tubi Walt Disney Pictures unscripted Disney streaming service CW Seed Starz cinemax YA Lifetime Tumblr First Reviews crime thriller Ellie Kemper adaptation GIFs Superheroe Nominations Winter TV FX worst El Rey PBS Awards Tour criterion Creative Arts Emmys cancelled MSNBC VH1 Apple TV+ 2020 2015 TV renewals TCA Winter 2020 PaleyFest Epix sag awards reboot Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt breaking bad game of thrones Hallmark christmas movies Cannes period drama YouTube Red doctor who Super Bowl Adult Swim technology screenings Mindy Kaling 4/20 south america Nickelodeon Black Mirror strong female leads Rock Mary Tyler Moore facebook Disney+ Disney Plus FX on Hulu VICE travel cancelled TV series SXSW robots streaming 007 discovery IFC Films casting what to watch 71st Emmy Awards The Purge space supernatural cartoon Sneak Peek vampires Comics on TV Pop TV National Geographic DGA kids a nightmare on elm street tv talk Avengers USA Stephen King 2017