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The 72nd edition of the French Riviera’s premiere film festival returns this year from 14-25 May, with a jury presided over by Oscar-winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu. On the line-up? Quentin Tarantino’s Manson-era thriller Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, fantasy musical Rocketman and four female directors vying for the top prize – an improvement on last year following the red-carpet protest led by Cate Blanchett. Ahead of the opening, Vogue shortlists the 11 biggest releases to watch.
The hotly anticipated musical biopic of Elton John’s life, co-produced by the pop icon himself, sees Taron Egerton take the lead, with Richard Madden and Jamie Bell as his manager John Reid and lyricist Bernie Taupin respectively, while Bryce Dallas Howard plays his mother Sheila. The film covers over a decade of John’s life, from his early years at the Royal Academy of Music to his struggles with substance abuse and eventual acceptance of his sexual orientation. The soundtrack includes cover versions of his greatest hits, as well as “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”, a newly written duet between Egerton and John. A rendition at the 2020 Oscars is almost guaranteed.
The narrative, feature-length debut of acclaimed director Mati Diop has made her the first black woman to participate in the main competition at Cannes. An actress and filmmaker of French-Senegalese descent, Diop’s latest offering is based on her 2009 documentary short Atlantiques, in which a group of Senegalese men recount stories of their life-threatening boat crossings to Europe. Its big-screen counterpart follows a young woman whose life is disrupted by the sudden disappearance of her lover. As the bodies of his friends begin to wash up on the beaches of Dakar, she wonders if he could have survived the treacherous journey north.
Pain and Glory
A new release from Pedro Almodóvar is always cause for celebration, but never more so than when his longtime collaborators Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas are involved. The trio return to the Croisette with Pain and Glory, the tale of an ageing auteur overcome with nostalgia for his past. Brooding and confessional, he reflects on his greatest loves and losses – from his troubled friends and colleagues to his mother and the sun-drenched promise of his childhood. Expect all of Almodóvar’s usual trademarks: a bold, saturated colour palette, sweeping vistas and an operatic score that packs an emotional punch.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
French filmmaker Céline Sciamma came to prominence after her debut film Water Lilies was screened in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes in 2007. In 2014, she returned to the festival with the electrifying Girlhood, and this year graduates to the main competition with Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Building on her previous explorations of female sexuality, it is an intimate study of desire and deception between an artist and her model in 18th-century Brittany.
A Hidden Life
After a slew of experimental projects, Terrence Malick marks his return to structured, narrative filmmaking with A Hidden Life, the story of an Austrian conscientious objector who refuses to fight for the Nazis during the Second World War. The American director last came to Cannes in 2011, when he was awarded the Palme d’Or for The Tree of Life. With ravishing visuals and rave reviews from the earliest screenings, his latest historical drama is poised to become an even bigger critical hit.
The Dead Don’t Die
What better film to occupy the opening slot at Cannes than a Jim Jarmusch zombie comedy starring Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton and Selena Gomez? Injecting lightness into an otherwise weighty line-up, The Dead Don’t Die is crowd-pleasing popcorn fare at its finest: a satirical romp about small-town cops fighting against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Seeing Swinton play a sword-wielding Scottish mortician is worth the price of admission alone.
Matthias & Maxime
Xavier Dolan has long been a festival favourite. His first film, I Killed My Mother, earned him a spot in the Director’s Fortnight section of Cannes in 2009 at the age of just 20. In 2014, he scooped the Jury Prize for Mommy and in 2016 landed the Grand Prix for It’s Only the End of the World. This year, the French-Canadian prodigy directs and stars in Matthias & Maxime, a tense drama chronicling the intense friendship of two young men.
Sorry We Missed You
Ken Loach’s politically charged polemics have won the Palme d’Or twice before – The Wind That Shakes the Barley in 2006 and I, Daniel Blake a decade later – and Sorry We Missed You acts as a spiritual sequel to the latter. It charts the story of a Newcastle-based delivery driver and his family who are plunged into debt and struggling to survive. Exploring complex issues that range from the gig economy and zero-hour contracts to the long-term impacts of the financial crisis, it offers up a harrowing and moving portrait of contemporary British life.
Three generations of a European family come together for one last holiday in Ira Sachs’s new drama, which unfolds over the course of a single day and sees them grappling with a crisis that will change their lives forever. Starring Isabelle Huppert as the matriarch and title character, support comes in the form of Marisa Tomei, Jérémie Renier and Greg Kinnear, while the Portuguese town of Sintra provides a fairy-tale setting.
Bong Joon-ho’s Okja became collateral damage during Cannes’s battle with Netflix in 2017, after it ignited a debate over the importance of exclusive theatrical release windows (the Netflix-funded film landed on the streaming platform only a month after its Cannes premiere). This year, the South Korean director is back with the more traditionally financed Parasite. Examining class differences, poverty and cross-generational dynamics in his native Korea, it follows a young man who applies to be a private tutor and soon becomes entangled in the lives of another family.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
25 years after Quentin Tarantino won the Palme d’Or for Pulp Fiction, he returns to the festival with a rip-roaring thriller set in Manson-era Hollywood starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie. The ensemble cast also includes Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Lena Dunham and Luke Perry, in the actor’s final role. While the film was conspicuously absent from Cannes’s line-up announcement in April due to a delay in the editing suite, it is now firmly on the roster – and organisers are hoping it will have been worth the wait.