Cannes Film Festival: 9 Films To Name Drop This Year

Your Cannes cheat sheet

Nicole Kidman stars in Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled

by Katie Rosseinsky |
Published on

It's time for film's finest to dust off their couture and practice their best red carpet walk: the 2017 Cannes Film Festival is upon us, bringing some of the industry's biggest names to La Croisette for eleven days of premieres, parties and soon-to-be fashion moments.

As well as the usual clutch of films with surefire awards potential (many of which come courtesy of returning Cannes favourites), this year's schedule has had something of a shake up: confirming the rise and rise of so-called 'event' television, TV shows have made the cut for the first time in the festival's 70 year history, as have productions from streaming service Netflix (a decision which has not been without controversy). While we can't all drop our plans to spend the next week or so on the Riviera (we're saving the super yacht for next year...), we can start name-dropping the titles that will doubtless prove the festival's most talked-about...

1. The Beguiled

A new film from Sofia Coppola is always an event, and The Beguiled, her first since 2013's The Bling Ring, is arguably the most buzzed-about on the festival line-up. Offering a female-focused take on a 1971 Clint Eastwood vehicle (based in turn on a pulpy Southern Gothic novel by Thomas P. Cullinan), The Beguiled brings Coppola's distinctive vision to the Civil War Antebellum to tell the story of a wounded soldier who finds himself trapped in an eerie all-female boarding school. Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, plus a host of talented newcomers, this Palme D'Or hopeful boasts the sort of ensemble cast that most directors could only dream of.

2. Happy End

Fresh from her Oscar-nominated turn in Elle, screen legend and unexpected Instagram hero (anyone else obsessed with her regular Insta-dispatches on her friendship with Moonlight's Barry Jenkins? Just me?) Isabelle Huppert's next release will be the misleadingly titled Happy End, the latest film from two-time Palme D'Or-winning director Michael Haneke. Huppert stars as the matriach of an upper-middle class family whose life becomes enmeshed with the unfolding refugee crisis on a trip to Calais. With its timely subject matter and international ensemble cast, could a record-breaking third trophy be on the cards?

3. Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks season three
Twin Peaks season three ©Sky Atlantic / HBO

If you needed a sign that the film industry is undergoing something of a sea change, this is it: 2017's festival marks the first time in Cannes' 70-year history that TV shows have been granted a slot on the official line-up. Appropriately, television doesn't get more cinematic than David Lynch's Twin Peaks, which returns after a 26 year hiatus (25 if we're counting 1992's companion film Fire Walk With Me, which also made its debut at Cannes). Lynch has been teasing the cameo-soaked revival in a series of haunting, characteristically oblique trailers: prepare for levels of confusion, awe and wonderment last experienced in the early Nineties.

4. How To Talk To Girls At Parties

The Cannes Film Festival might as well be re-named The Nicole Kidman Film Festival for 2017: the prolific actress's fourth project on the line-up is How To Talk To Girls At Parties, an adaptation of a Neil Gaiman short story rooted in the 1970s punk scene. A coming-of-age tale with added extra-terrestrials, it's fair to say that this isn't your typical Kidman role: promo pictures show her channeling David Bowie in Labyrinth as a peroxide-haired punk empresario. She'll reunite with her Beguiled co-star Elle Fanning, who plays an alien singer who has landed in Croydon from outer space.

5. Top Of The Lake: China Girl

Nicole Kidman in Top Of The Lake
Nicole Kidman in Top Of The Lake ©BBC Pictures

The second TV show to join the Cannes line-up is just as impeccable in its pedigree as Twin Peaks. Set to arrive on the BBC later this year, China Girl is the sophomore series of Top of the Lake sees previous Palme D'Or winner Jane Campion's foray into the world of prestige TV. Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss returns as detective Robin Griffin, who is attempting to re-forge a relationship with the daughter she gave up for adoption. Joining her is Nicole Kidman, going full Hours in prosthetics and a grey wig as the adoptive mother. Pair this with her devastating turn in HBO's Big Little Lies, it appears that Kidman is mounting a dual-pronged attack on this year's Emmys, We're not complaining.

6. Wonderstruck

Reuniting Julianne Moore with her Far From Heaven director Todd Haynes (also the man behind the camera on last year's achingly beautiful Carol), Wonderstruck was always going to ignite awards buzz. Add the never-less-than-brilliant Michelle Williams (who, four nominations in, is surely due her Oscar any time now) to the cast and our anticipation can only increase. Adapted from a children's book by Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck weaves together the stories of two deaf children: Ben, a young boy in 70s Minnesota dealing with the death of his mother, and Rose, a girl journeying through 1920s New York to meet her actress idol (Moore).

7. Okja

OKJA on Netflix
OKJA on Netflix ©Netflix

In another departure for the most traditional of festivals, 2017 marks the first time that films backed by streaming service Netflix have been selected as part of the official competition line-up. One of these is The Meyerowitz Stories, a family drama from Frances Ha's Noah Baumbach; the other is Okja, an intriguing piece of sci-fi from Korean director Bong Joon How. With a premise that smacks of a creepier ET, the film follows a young girl (Ahn Seo-hyun) who must prevent a sinister multi-national (headed up by a terrifyingly peroxide Tilda Swinton) from kidnapping her friend, a mysterious animal named Okja. Jake Gyllenhaal, Lily Collins and Paul Dano also star.

8. You Were Never Really Here

Director Lynne Ramsay last competed at Cannes with her chilling adaptation of We Need To Talk About Kevin back in 2011. Her next effort is You Were Never Really Here. Another adaptation, this time from a novella by Jonathan Ames, it stars Joaquin Phoenix as a traumatised military vet who has taken it upon himself to deliver justice for victims of sex trafficking. Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood provides the soundtrack.

9. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Part two of Cannes' Colin Farrell - Nicole Kidman double bill comes in the form of The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, the second English-language film from arthouse director Yorgos Lanthimos. Billed as a psychological thriller, it stars Farrell as a surgeon who attempts to welcome a sinister teenage boy into his family. Given that Lanthimos is the man behind 2015's wilfully surreal surprise hit The Lobster (a blacker-than-black comedy that should not be embarked upon on a Sunday evening), expect something beguilingly weird and left of field - with the added advantage of the Alicia Silverstone comeback we've waited 20 years for.

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