For a fortnight each May, one French city becomes the centre of the film world. If you're not lucky enough to be there, then you're likely to have a huge case of cinephile envy. Stars, scandals, movies that are applauded, flicks that half the theatre walks out on — that's the Cannes Film Festival each and every year. And, of course, 2018 didn't prove any different — even for those watching from afar.
Indeed, taking place from May 8 to 19, this year's fest was filled with off-screen highlights. Firstly, the stacked main jury was led by Australia's own Cate Blanchett — alongside Kristen Stewart, Blue Is the Warmest Colour star Léa Seydoux, A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay and Blade Runner 2049 filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, among others. Then there was the 82-woman march, protesting the paltry number of female filmmakers who've had titles selected in the festival's competition (if you're wondering, 1866 movies directed by men have made the cut over Cannes' 71 years). Finally, Melancholia and Nymphomanic auteur Lars von Trier was allowed back after famously being banned in 2011, only to make a flick that caused throngs of people to leave. Oh, and Netflix was shut out and people weren't allowed to take selfies on the red carpet.
That's all well and good, but it's what's on the festival's screens that really matters — and this year's program boasted plenty of movies to add to your must-see list. Some are definitely headed our way, with release dates already set, like Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman. And some will show up at Sydney Film Festival this month (three on this list, in fact), with others bound to be announced in the Melbourne International Film Festival full lineup. Others we might have to cross our fingers for, including Jean-Luc Godard's Image Book. With all of that in mind, here's our top five to look out for.
One of Japan's most prolific and consistent filmmakers of late, Hirokazu Kore-eda is also one of the country's best — and he has the resume to prove it. His last movie, The Third Murder, only premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year and then went on to win six awards at Japan's version of the Oscars. His newest, Shoplifters, premiered at Cannes and is now this year's Palme d'Or winner. Well known for his thoughtful, emotionally resonant explorations of family life in films such as I Wish, Like Father, Like Son, Our Little Sister and After the Storm, he's up to his usual, wonderful tricks in Shoplifters, which tells of a family of small-time crooks who take in a young girl they find on the streets. Kore-eda's works always challenge their scenarios in unexpected ways, and by all reports, this applauded effort delivers.
It has been four years since David Robert Mitchell creeped everyone out with his smart, unsettling take on the horror genre. If you followed It Follows into Aussie cinemas, you'll want to follow his latest flick, Under the Silver Lake, there as well. This time around, the writer/director spins a Los Angeles-set mystery about a directionless 33-year-old (Andrew Garfield) suddenly caught up in the disappearance of his attractive neighbour (Riley Keough). If that doesn't intrigue you enough, then the fact that It Follows composer Disasterpiece will make another appearance should. As demonstrated in his last film, Mitchell knows how to nod to his influences but still deliver his distinctive sense of mood and tone, so seeing how he does just that with LA noir is certainly enticing.
HAPPY AS LAZZARO
Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher has already starred in one of the best movies doing the rounds of the international festival circuit this year, thanks to the Berlinale-bowing Daughter of Mine. Now, with Happy as Lazzaro, it seems like she might've featured in another. This year's winner of Cannes' best screenplay award — tying with 3 Faces — it was written and directed by her sister Alice Rohrwacher. And while the story might seem straightforward, the film has a few twists up its sleeves. The feature steps into the life of its titular character (Adriano Tardiolo), a peasant, who forms a bond with Tancredi (Tomasso Ragno), a nobleman. If you're keen on movies that start out one way and end up as something different, this sounds like it'll be right up your alley.
Plenty of films won plenty of awards at this year's Cannes, as always, but Burning seems to have won the most hearts. It also took home the festival's FIPRESCI prize, which is awarded by a panel of film critics — so that should tell you how widely it was loved. Directed by South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong (2010's Poetry, a best screenplay winner at Cannes) and featuring The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun, the slow-building effort focuses on three characters connected in different ways, with a romance between former neighbours only part of the ambiguous, enigmatic narrative. Plus, Burning is based on a Haruki Murakami short story — and while it also clocks in at 148 minutes, it'll be worth it.
Everyone has an opinion on Gaspar Noé. Indeed, his movies are nothing if not divisive. Irreversible, Enter the Void and Love all have their passionate fans and their avid haters, and Climax is bound to fall into the same camp. The French-based Argentinian filmmaker was reportedly annoyed that not enough people walked out of his latest picture, which featured in one of the Cannes Film Festival's sidebars, Directors' Fortnight. Its clearly provocative title aside, the movie has been called Noé's best, so perhaps that's why most of the audience stuck around. The Sofia Boutella (Atomic Blonde)-starring effort also been praised for the director's typically vivid visuals, in a film that's an ultra-violent dance movie as well as a lurid horror flick. It features acid-spiked sangria, which says plenty, really.