Tuesday, June 6, 2023

What To Watch At Cannes This Year

The 76th annual Cannes Film Festival is back and that means a close eye on what big films are coming out and what winners will emerge for Oscar contention. Now, I am not going to play that game of predicting the Oscar so early and don’t think about it until October at the earliest. But, it was in October that last year’s Palme d’Or winner Triangle Of Sadness was hitting the festival circuit en route to three Oscar nominations including Best Picture. Elvis and Top Gun: Maverick were both major out-of-competition screenings there where they received a rousing standing ovation. The head of the jury this year is Sadness director Ruben Ostlund with actors Paul Dano and Brie Larson also part of the jury.

While not all of the films will be known or expected, the directors attached will catch the attention of everyone who attends. Wes Anderson is back with 1950s-era sci-fi comedy Astroid City, Johnny Depp stars in the opening film of the festival, Jeanne du Barry, Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki comes out of retirement with Fallen Leaves, and previous Palme d’Or winner Hirokazu Kore-eda, one year after returning with Broker, is back again with Monster. Being that it is Cannes, you are either loved or booed to death by the audience. Here are some of the more anticipated films to play at this year’s festival.

Killers Of The Flower Moon (USA)

Martin Scorsese is heading back to Cannes to play one of his films for the first time in four decades. It will be out-of-competition, but his long-awaited 3+ hour true crime drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Jesse Plemmons, and Brendan Fraser is a must-see with the weight of Apple behind it. Set in the 1920s, one of the first major FBI cases looked over a series of murders in Oklahoma of the Osage Nation led by a ruthless cattleman who wants to buy up all the land and claim the oil underneath. Power, greed, racism, and the pursuit of justice all rolled up in one explosive setting. 

May December (USA)

In competition again is Todd Haynes with his romantic drama starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore about an actress who comes to learn about a real-life woman who she will portray in a film. The woman married a teenager twenty years younger than her, which became a scandal, and now in a crucial moment in their lives, the family finds themselves challenged to deal with their past. Notably, Haynes’ main cinematographer, Ed Lachmann, is not on this film as he was recovering from an injury, so Kelly Recihardt’s main cameraman, Christopher Blauvelt, fills in as DP here. 

Occupied City (UK)

While he is busy on his next narrative feature, Blitz, Steve McQueen arrives with a special presentation of this documentary about Amsterdam under Nazi occupation. The film is based on the book written by his wife, Bianca Stigter, and the couple lives in Amsterdam. Most films of the period have consistently looked into France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Poland, and the Soviet Union. Very few films have actually gone to other nations victimized by Nazis; not much about Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, or other nations affected by the occupation.

Strange Way Of Life (Spain) 

After his opening English short The Human Voice with Tilda Swinton, Pedro Almodóvarfollows it up with his own gay Western featuring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal. For a moment, he was connected to direct Brokeback Mountain in 2005; I can only imagine how that would’ve gone, even though Ang Lee’s film is a masterpiece. In this story, Almodóvarshows two friends who reunite after many years away and reminisce about their past. Already, he’s planning his first English full-length feature and this is just another step forward to seeing it happen. 

The Zone Of Interest (UK/Polish)

Writer/director Jonathan Glazer has only made four films in a span of twenty-three years, first with his acclaimed debut Sexy Beast (2000), then his reincarnation drama Birth (2004), and then his mysterious sci-fi drama Under The Skin (2013). Ten years later, he is finally back with this WWII drama starring Sandra Huller and Christian Friedel about a Nazi officer in Auschwitz’s concentration camp who becomes infatuated with the wife of his superior, the camp commandant. A24, who also has the rights to Occupation City, is behind the film, and while his last film didn’t do well at the box office, if Zone is good, Glazer could be rewarded and A24 can cash on Glazer’s consistent strength of work. 

Follow me on Twitter: @brian_cine (Cine-A-Man)

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