If you’re lucky enough to be heading to Cannes in the next few days, you’re probably sufficiently plugged in to know what the most buzzed-about, must-see new releases on the screening schedule are. But for the rest of us, this seems like a good time to get smart about what film aficionados are seriously excited about. Personally, we’re all about the red carpet – but we should all be conversant in what’s new for Cannes, and what it says about the future of film. Herewith, from blockbusters (Indiana Jones!) and famous directors (Scorsese! Wes Anderson!) to new discoveries and hidden gems, here’s our expert’s take on the top 10 movies to know about in the run-up to the Cannes Film Festival 2023.
which films are must-see at Cannes this year?
On May 16th, the famed Cannes Film Festival returns to southeastern France for its 76th year. Until May 27th, the year’s most-anticipated films will screen in competition for the festival’s highest award, the Palme d’Or. There are also special screenings and short films, as well as major pictures that are shown outside of the main competition.
We can think of few annual events that are as important in the world of cinema, and we can’t wait to hear the headlines from this year’s fest.
Top 10 movie releases screening at Cannes Film Festival 2023
1. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny needs no introduction. Though it will not play as part of the competition, the latest installment in the legendary franchise will have its premiere at the festival. Dial of Destiny is directed by James Mangold, but the series’ original leaders – Steven Spielberg and George Lucas – do serve as executive producers. And yes, Harrison Ford returns, of course, and stars alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Antonio Banderas, and Shaunette Renée Wilson. The first Indiana Jones movie in fifteen years, we’re sure that this title will be drawing many eyes.
2. Asteroid City
You may have already seen the trailers for Asteroid City, the latest film from the aesthetically iconic Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, Grand Budapest Hotel). Well, before its June 16th release, the movie will premiere in competition at Cannes, and we’re already jealous of the festivalgoers who will get to see it first. The film takes place at a stargazing competition, and its enormous and star-studded cast is led by Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, and Jeffrey Wright. Anderson has had few misses over his career, and we can’t wait to see his latest feature unveiled.
Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters, Broker) is one of our favorite directors of the twenty-first century, and we can’t wait to see the film he has in competition at this year’s festival. Written by Yûji Sakamoto, Monster stars Sakura Ando, Eita Nagayama and Soya Kurokawa, and follows a mother who must speak with her son’s teacher when she notices a worrisome change in his behavior. Kore-eda’s films often feature dysfunctional families who manage to charm audiences despite their dark sides – will Monster follow the same trajectory?
Cannes offers a unique opportunity to see the latest films from the world’s most prominent directors, but it also offers a unique opportunity to see feature debuts from newer filmmakers who are steadily on the rise. Omen comes from the multi-talented Belgian-Congolese musical artist Baloji, who has already directed several short films. According to Variety, the fantastical Omen tells the story of a man who was accused of sorcery and rejected by his family. The film was chosen as part of the festival’s Un Certain Regard section, which is designated for newer and younger filmmakers. Though ineligible for the Palme D’or, these films compete for the parallel prize, Prix Un Certain Regard.
5. The Old Oak
The Old Oak deserves special attention, and not only because it reportedly may be the final film from its 86-year-old director, Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake, The Angel’s Share, Kes). The film is written by Paul Laverty, and “the old oak” refers to the name of a pub – the last pub open in a small village, which many residents have abandoned since the closure of the mines. When the area becomes a new home for a group of Syrian refugees, one of them befriends the failing pub’s landlord. Dave Turner and Ebla Mari star in the lead roles. The film will play in the fest’s competition.
6. May December
Todd Haynes (Carol, Dark Waters) directs what sounds like one of the juiciest films of the festival. Natalie Portman plays Elizabeth, an actress set to portray a woman whose marriage attracted public attention because of its troublesome age gap. When Elizabeth wants to study the woman for her upcoming film, her visit causes unwanted strife in the relationship. The screenplay is by Samy Burch, and Julianne Moore and Charles Melton will also star.
7. Occupied City
There are very few directors who are on par with Steve McQueen (Shame, 12 years a Slave, Small Axe) and here he returns for his first feature film since the 2018 Widows. Occupied City is based on the book Atlas of an Occupied City, Amsterdam 1940 – 1945, which was written by McQueen’s wife, Bianca Stigter. The film is a documentary about Nazi occupation in Amsterdam during World War II, and it will play outside of the festival’s competition, as a special screening.
8. Killers of the Flower Moon
Another film to be screened outside of this year’s competition is Killers of the Flower Moon. Much has already been said about this highly-anticipated feature – for one thing, it is almost four hours long – and we can only hope that it lives up to the hype. But since it is directed by Martin Scorsese himself, we aren’t too worried. The film is based on the bestselling non-fiction book of the same name, and it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, and Tantoo Cardinal. It tells the story of the murder of members of the Osage tribe, and the following FBI investigation by J. Edgar Hoover.
9. Strange Way of Life
We would not always take the time to tell you about a short film – not because they aren’t wonderful, but because they tend to attract less buzz and attention than full-length features – but when the short film comes from favorite writer and director Pedro Almodóvar, we have to make an exception. Strange Way of Life stars Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal, and chronicles an evening spent between two friends.
10. The New Boy
And one last film that’s caught our eye. From Australian writer and director Warwick Thornton, The New Boy tells the story of a young child who comes to a far-away monastery in the middle of the night. The film stars Cate Blanchett, Deborah Mailman, and Wayne Blair, and is set to appear in the Un Certain Regard category, competing for Prix Un Certain Regard. Thornton has directed many well-received films already, and acted as cinematographer.
Top new movie releases at Cannes Film Festival 2023
That’s our expert’s take on the top, most highly anticipated movie releases, including blockbusters, new discoveries and hidden gems, screening at the Cannes Film Festival 2023. What’s at the top of your must-see list, dear reader?