13 Must See Films and Shows at Cannes 2017

With coverage beginning on Thursday, here are 13 films we can’t wait to see at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
By  · Published on May 16th, 2017

With coverage beginning on Thursday, here are 13 films we can’t wait to see at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Based on a True Story (Roman Polanski)

Four years since his last feature, the excellent, yet financially underwhelming Venus in Fur, Roman Polanski reunites with Emmanuelle Seigner (also his wife) for Based on a True Story. The erotic thriller stars Seigner as a writer who enters into a dangerous relationship with an obsessive fan, played by Eva Green. This will be Green’s first French-speaking role since 2004. While he is widely despised due to his statutory rape conviction, Polanski shows no signs of slowing down. If he can maintain the tension presented in Venus in Fur and his 2010 film The Ghost Writer, Based on a True Story is sure to be one wild ride.

Claire’s Camera (Hong Sang-Soo)

One of the most consistent Korean directors, Hong Sang-Soo, has shocking stamina. Claire’s Camera is one of three films Hong is releasing in 2017, and his second at this year’s festival. For Claire’s Camera, Hong reunites with Oscar-nominee Isabelle Huppert, who gave one of her greatest performances in his 2012 film In Another Country. The reunion of two artists at the top of their respective games is sure to result in something special. The film is set in Cannes and was shot during last year’s festival, which makes its appearance tremendously appropriate.

Happy End (Michael Haneke)

This one is a given. Michael’s Haneke’s Happy End is already a favorite to win the Palme d’Or, and it doesn’t even have an official poster. Haneke won back-to-back Palmes for his last two films, Amour and The White Ribbon, and he can do it again. Happy End sees Haneke reuniting with Amour stars Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant in a film that tackles the European refugee crisis through the lens of a bourgeoisie family. Sign me up.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties (John Cameron Mitchell)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell returns to the director’s chair after a seven years absence for How to Talk to Girls at Parties. Based on a short story by Neil Gaiman, the film is set in 1970s London and follows two teenaged boys as they search for love. The impressive cast features Elle Fanning, Alex Sharp, and Nicole Kidman, who will appear in four (four!) films at this year’s festival.

Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (Bruno Dumont)

The life (and death) of Joan of Arc has graced the screen since the birth of narrative cinema. The story has most famously been filmed by Carl Theodore Dreyer in 1928 and portrayed by Ingrid Bergman in 1948. Leave it to Bruno Dumont to tackle the subject in an entirely unique fashion. Dumont’s film forgoes Joan’s death to instead focus on her childhood. Also, it’s a musical.

Let the Sunshine In (Claire Denis)

Since her 1988 debut Chocolat (not the Chocolat with Johnny Depp), director Claire Denis has explored difficult subjects from post-colonialism to cannibalism. Soon to debut as the opening night film for Director’s Fortnight, Let the Sunshine In seems like a new direction for Denis. The love story stars Juliette Binoche (the Chocolat with Johnny Depp), Gerard Depardieu, and frequent Denis collaborator Alex Descas.

Okja (Bong Joon-Ho)

Producer Harvey Weinstein plagued Bong’s last film, Snowpiercer. It sat on the shelf for over a year while Weinstein insisted that Bong makes cuts. Bong refused, so Weinstein eventually gave it a quiet, poorly timed release. Now, Bong has joined forces with Netflix, who, as always, gave full creative control to the filmmaker. This will be Bong’s first English-language film where he is allowed to go in his direction. We can’t wait.

Redoubtable (Michel Hazanavicius)

The latest film from the Oscar-winning director of The Artist is sure to be one of the festival’s most interesting. It has the potential to be a massive dud, but with the right direction Redoubtable could be among the best of the fest. Louis Garrell stars as French New Wave icon Jean-Luc Godard as he directs his famed 1967 film La Chinoise. Nymphomaniac star Stacy Martin appears as Anne Wiazemsky, the young actress whom Godard fell in love with during production. Godard himself called the film a “Stupid, stupid idea.” Though I do like Godard, unlike the auteur, I’m definitely on board.

The Square (Ruben Östlund)

Swedish Director Ruben Östlund shocked Cannes audiences in 2014 with his film Force Majeure. The dark comedy saw a husband and wife pushed to madness following an unexpected encounter with an avalanche. With The Square, Östlund enlists Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss and The Wire star Dominic West to play out his latest experiment. The film uses an interactive performance art piece to explore the human condition once again. Madness will most definitely ensue.

Top of the Lake: China Girl (Jane Campion and Ariel Kleiman)

The long anticipated second season of Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake will debut its entire six hours at this year’s festival. Intermission not included. China Girl reunites audiences with Robin Griffin (Elizabeth Moss, again) four years after solving the case of a missing girl in New Zealand. It doesn’t seem like any of the other actors from the first season will be back for round two, but the new season does recruit Nicole Kidman in an excellent wig.

Twin Peaks (David Lynch)

Did I say the new season of Top of the Lake was long anticipated? Scratch that. It’s been twenty-five years since audiences last saw Agent Dale Cooper in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. In what it surely the longest gap between seasons in television history, Lynch reunites the cast of his original series with plenty of newcomers; including Laura Dern and Naomi Watts. Due to a carefully planned marketing strategy little is known about the new season. What we do know is that is most definitely the most anticipated event at this year’s festival.

Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes)

For me, Todd Haynes can do no wrong. I’ve loved his six features and early shorts. It will be nearly impossible to top his previous film Carol, but I’m holding high hopes for Wonderstruck. Julianne Moore stars in her third collaboration with Haynes, dons old-age makeup in a role that is likely to garner attention come awards season. The film screens for press on the first day of the festival, which has some pundits predicting a flop, but we’re holding out nonetheless.

You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)

Scottish director Lynn Ramsay likes to take her time between features. Her last, We Need to Talk About Kevin came in 2011. The feature gave Tilda Swinton the platform for one of her strongest performances to date and is among the most disturbing films in recent memory. Her latest film stars Joaquin Phoenix as a war vet who tries to save a young woman from a sex trafficking ring. For many, the plot may bring the plot of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver to mind. Considering Ramsay’s last film, You Were Never Really Here may be one of the most shocking of the festival.


Other films to keep an eye on: Sophia Coppola’s The Beguiled, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Francois Ozon’s L’amant double, Josh and Ben Safdie’s Good Time, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless, Mathieu Amalric’s Barbara, Arnaud Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts, Agnes Varda’s Visages Villages, Abbas Kiarostami’s 24 Frames, Kristen Stewart’s Come Swim, and Sean Baker’s The Florida Project.

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Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films.