Cannes 2017: Top 15 Films of Interest

by keithsim | last updated - 10 May 2017

Full disclosure: One of my roles is as the Amazon Studios liaison and they have two films in the following list, Todd Haynes's Wonderstruck and Lynne Ramsay's new film, You Were Never Really Here.

Wind River, the Taylor Sheridan film would have been on this list if I hadn't caught it in Sundance. It's recommended and should be on your list as well.

Other titles missing that I still plan to see: Takashi Miike's Blade of the Immortal, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Before We Vanish and Loveless by Andrey Zvyaginstev.

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1. Wonderstruck (2017)

PG | 116 min | Drama, Family, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
71 Metascore

Tells the tale of two children separated by fifty years. In 1927, Rose searches for the actress who's life she chronicles in her scrapbook; in 1977, Ben runs away from home to find his father.

Director: Todd Haynes | Stars: Oakes Fegley, Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Millicent Simmonds

Votes: 5,440 | Gross: $1.03M

In Competition - Based upon a book by Brian Selznik, who also wrote the mesmerizing "The Invention of Hugo Cabret." I read the latter to my kids but I became as engrossed in the tale and the images as they were. That book also captured the imagination of Martin Scorsese who turned it into, simply, Hugo. Scosese courageously struggled to capture the delicate, mysterious, and quite miraculous nature of Selznick's text and illustrations to the screen. How the very detail-oriented Haynes will approach Selznick's followup to "Hugo" has me very excited and a little bit nervous.

2. Godard Mon Amour (2017)

R | 107 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

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55 Metascore

During the making of one of his films, French film director Jean-Luc Godard falls in love with 17-year old actress Anne Wiazemsky and later marries her.

Director: Michel Hazanavicius | Stars: Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin, Bérénice Bejo, Micha Lescot

Votes: 2,316 | Gross: $0.08M

In Competition - I'm jubilant that The Artist's writer/director Michel Hazavanicius has rebounded from the painful experience of The Search and intrigued that he's chosen the still-alive Jean Luc-Godard as the subject of his new film. Doubling the interest level is the period he's chosen, around the 1968 French protests that included the cancelling of Cannes that year (and the creation of Director's Fortnight), which is captured in the preview trailer. Also glad to see that the talented Stacy Martin (Nymphomaniac Vol. 1, Tale of Tales) is getting such a prominent role.

3. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

R | 121 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
73 Metascore

Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos | Stars: Barry G. Bernson, Herb Caillouet, Bill Camp, Raffey Cassidy

Votes: 60,479 | Gross: $2.29M

In Competition - Lanthimos's The Lobster made around $9 million in the U.S./Canada and was up for a slew of awards including the Academy's Best Original Screenplay category. He is always a challenging and original artist. He reteams with his Lobster star Farrell (who should never make another studio film again) and with his first magazine cover star, Nicole Kidman. Okay, okay, Colin Farrell has graced a cover or two but he's not on newsstands throughout the calendar like Kidman.

4. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017)

TV-MA | 112 min | Comedy, Drama

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79 Metascore

An estranged family gathers together in New York for an event celebrating the artistic work of their father.

Director: Noah Baumbach | Stars: Adam Sandler, Grace Van Patten, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Marvel

Votes: 23,497

In Competition - I'm hoping that Meyerowitz is more in the vein of Mistress America and Frances Ha than While We're Young. Though there is no Greta Gerwig-muse in sight (she also buoyed his fascinating misfire Greenberg, which also starred Stiller) Baumbach is always worth watching.

5. Good Time (2017)

R | 101 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

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80 Metascore

After a heist goes awry, a bank robber spends a night trying to free his mentally handicapped brother from being sent to Riker's Island prison.

Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie | Stars: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Buddy Duress

Votes: 38,516 | Gross: $2.01M

In Competition - The Safdie brothers made quite a stir with their feature before this, Heaven Knows What, which earned them a John Cassavetes Award nomination at the last Film Independent Spirit Awards and some other noms to boot. Plus it's a fearless cast.

6. You Were Never Really Here (2017)

R | 89 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

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84 Metascore

A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe's nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.

Director: Lynne Ramsay | Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov, John Doman

Votes: 30,217 | Gross: $2.47M

In Competition - If Ramsay's 2011 feature film, We Need to Talk About Kevin hasn't stuck with you then I'm not sure I do want to go to lunch with you on Friday. The Taxi Driver-esque plot leaves me with a feeling a dread, a feeling I'm sure makes Ramsay gleeful.

7. Jupiter holdja (2017)

129 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

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56 Metascore

Aryan is a Syrian refugee trying to make his way into Hungary from Serbia, along with his father and many other wretched souls. They are all caught, and find themselves in a web of cynicism and corruption.

Director: Kornél Mundruczó | Stars: Merab Ninidze, Zsombor Jéger, György Cserhalmi, Mónika Balsai

Votes: 1,452

In Competition - Mundruczo's last film was White God, which won him the Un Certain Regard Director prize and recognition State-side. His reputation internationally, however, has been building for years including winning Un Certain Regard for Johanna and being nominated for the Palme d'Or for 2008's Delta and 2010's Tender Son: The Frankenstein Project.

8. Double Lover (2017)

Not Rated | 107 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
70 Metascore

Chloé, a fragile young woman, falls in love with her psychoanalyst, Paul. A few months later she moves in with him, but soon discovers that her lover is concealing a part of his identity.

Director: François Ozon | Stars: Marine Vacth, Jérémie Renier, Jacqueline Bisset, Myriam Boyer

Votes: 5,217 | Gross: $0.17M

In Competition - The prolific Ozon returns with Marine Vacht the young star of his shockingly frank (and dead-eyed) 2013 film, Jeune & Jolie. In that film Vacth played a young woman who becomes an escort out of, what? boredom? a result of sex-saturated society? daddy issues? It's probably all of the above. Regardless a new offering from Ozon is a must and even if it misses there's still Vacth to watch for two hours.

9. The Beguiled (2017)

R | 93 min | Drama, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
77 Metascore

The unexpected arrival of a wounded Union soldier at a girls school in Virginia during the American Civil War leads to jealousy and betrayal.

Director: Sofia Coppola | Stars: Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Colin Farrell

Votes: 34,896 | Gross: $10.58M

In Competition - Not to be superstitious or anything but I'm not sure that the Croissette is the best place for director Sofia Coppola. True she scored with the out-of-competition The Virgin Suicides in '99 but she also debuted the clunky Marie Antoinette there in '06 (though In Competition for the Palme d'Or) and The Bling Ring ended up in Un Certain Regard in 2013, garnering little regard whatsoever. The original, 1971, Don Siegel-Beguiled, starring Clint Eastwood, still packs a punch today but that's because it was so shocking for the era, including an imagined menage-a-trios and Eastwood's Union soldier planting a kiss on a 12-year-old girl. Watching Coppola go genre though could be a kick.

10. Happy End (2017)

R | 107 min | Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
72 Metascore

A drama about a family set in Calais with the European refugee crisis as the backdrop.

Director: Michael Haneke | Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Mathieu Kassovitz, Fantine Harduin

Votes: 6,734 | Gross: $0.30M

In Competition - The last time Haneke was at Cannes was in 2012 with Amour which was arguably his biggest success and garnered him the Best Foreign Language Oscar. Returning with a refugee drama seems out of sorts for the director, who is not long on sentimentality, so this could prove to be the most harrowing film of the festival.

11. In the Fade (2017)

R | 106 min | Crime, Drama

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64 Metascore

Katja's life collapses after the death of her husband and son in a bomb attack. After a time of mourning and injustice, Katja seeks revenge.

Director: Fatih Akin | Stars: Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Numan Acar, Samia Muriel Chancrin

Votes: 10,864 | Gross: $0.32M

In Competition - - Okay, okay, I've been a bit remiss in keeping up with all of Fatih Akin's films since 2004's Head On. Not only did I respond to that taut film but it launched Sibel Kekilli's legit career and won the Golden Bear in Berlin. So I missed his 2007 Palme d'Or film, The Edge of Heaven and 2009's Soul Kitchen, nominated for Venice's Golden Lion. I actually did see his 2014 Venice entry The Cut, another in a long-line of long and earnest Armenian holocaust films. Akin also had Kruger who has been crafting an excellent filmography for herself the last few years.

12. The Square (2017)

R | 151 min | Comedy, Drama

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73 Metascore

A prestigious Stockholm museum's chief art curator finds himself in times of both professional and personal crisis as he attempts to set up a controversial new exhibit.

Director: Ruben Östlund | Stars: Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, Terry Notary

Votes: 31,965 | Gross: $1.50M

In Competition - Ostlund directed 2014's Force Majeure and, if you haven't seen that, then stop reading this and watch it. The Un Certain Regard jury of that year would certainly agree with me as they awarded it a Jury Prize that year. Ostlund had previously been in Un Certain Regard with Involuntary so this certainly isn't his first time at the Cannes rodeo, so to speak. Plus Elisabeth Moss.

13. Okja (2017)

TV-MA | 120 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

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75 Metascore

A young girl risks everything to prevent a powerful, multinational company from kidnapping her best friend - a fascinating beast named Okja.

Director: Joon-ho Bong | Stars: Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Seohyun An, Jake Gyllenhaal

Votes: 59,809

In Competition - I realize that I'm one of the few people on the planet who was not bowled over by Snowpiercer, which delivered its political and societal methaphors by way of plunger, but there, I said it. I was a much bigger fan of The Host and remain creeped out by Mother. Though the setup for Okja seems precious the director is anything but.

14. D'après une histoire vraie (I) (2017)

100 min | Comedy, Drama, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
43 Metascore

A writer goes through a tough period after the release of her latest book, as she gets involved with an obsessive admirer.

Director: Roman Polanski | Stars: Emmanuelle Seigner, Eva Green, Vincent Perez, Dominique Pinon

Votes: 1,481

Out of Competition - Sony Pictures Classics has already picked up this Polanski team-up with Olivier Assayas so there's a good chance you'll get to see it outside of France. Here Polanski again directs his real-life wife of some 28 years, Seigner. Let's hope it's better than Bitter Moon and Venus in Fur and more like The Ninth Gate (which I love most of).

15. How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2017)

R | 102 min | Comedy, Music, Romance

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
47 Metascore

An alien touring the galaxy breaks away from her group and meets two young inhabitants of the most dangerous place in the universe: the London suburb of Croydon.

Director: John Cameron Mitchell | Stars: Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, Stephen Campbell Moore

Votes: 1,484

Out of Competition - John Cameron Mitchell is so inordinately talented (see either the Broadway or film version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch? did you see Rabbit Hole?) that any entry from him is required viewing.