It’s May, which means Hollywood is jetting off to the south of France for the Cannes Film Festival (May 13–24), where projects from around the world will compete for prizes awarded by a jury chaired by directors Joel and Ethan Coen. Here’s your guide to the 10 movies that are already generating heat majeure.
Todd Haynes returns to the festival with his first theatrical feature since 2007’s schizophrenic Bob Dylan fantasia, I’m Not There. This romantic drama (pictured above) stars Rooney Mara as a department-store clerk who falls for an older married woman (Cate Blanchett) in 1950s New York.
Australian director Justin Kurzel (husband of The Babadook‘s Essie Davis) takes on Shakespeare with the help of two of world cinema’s brightest—and if Kurzel sticks to the story, soon-to-be-bloodiest—actors: Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard star as the murderous Scottish couple.
What would an Amy Winehouse film be without a bit of controversy, right? The family of the late soul singer, who died in 2011 at age 27, has already come out against Asif Kapadia’s documentary, but the British director showed a knack for capturing complicated lives with 2010’s Senna.
French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve proved that he wasn’t afraid of the dark with 2013’s Prisoners. He’s once again plumbing the depths of despair with this crime story about an FBI agent (Emily Blunt) out to take down a drug lord. Benicio Del Toro (above), in Traffic mode, costars as a sharpshooting mercenary.
THE SEA OF TREES
In 2003 Gus Van Sant won Cannes‘ coveted Palme d’Or with Elephant. He’s back this year with an existential drama about a lost man trying to find himself on a walkabout at the foot of Japan’s Mount Fuji. Sounds tailor-made for the film’s ever-musing star, Matthew McConaughey.
From the wonderfully odd mind of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) comes this equally odd English-language fantasy about people who have 45 days to find love or risk being turned into animals and cast off to live in the woods. Colin Farrell stars alongside John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw (Skyfall).
LA TÊTE HAUTE
The opening-night slot can be a blessing or a curse at Cannes. But Emmanuelle Bercot’s La Tête Haute—about a young delinquent (Rod Paradot, above) and the judge (Catherine Deneuve) who tries to step in—marks the first time a female director’s film has kicked off the fest since Diane Kurys’ Un Homme Amoureux in 1987.
TALE OF TALES (clip NSFW)
Best known for his grittily realistic portrait of the Mafia in 2008’s Gomorrah, Italian auteur Matteo Garrone based his latest epic on the fairy tales of Giambattista Basile, and it looks to be a total 180 into visually sumptuous 17th-century trippiness. Salma Hayek and John C. Reilly star under serious wigs as the Queen and King of Longtrellis.
A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS
Making her feature-directing debut, Black Swan star Natalie Portman tackles Israeli author Amos Oz’s 2003 memoir of the same name about growing up during the early years of the state of Israel. Portman, who was born in Jerusalem, has burned to make the film for years.
Can you still be an enfant terrible at 51? Gaspar Noé is certainly giving it a shot. The director of 2002’s brutal Irréversible has already created a scandalous marketing sensation with his 3-D film’s provocatively porny NSFW poster. Now he just has to deliver on the tease.