Cannes Film Festival 2019: The Roundup


As the Cannes Film Festival winds to a close on the chic, sun-drenched shores of the French Riviera, countless films impressed critics in what turned out to be one of the highest-regarded festivals in recent years. Though sadly the Indie’s film team could only top up their tans from the comfort of Blighty, that hasn’t stopped us getting extremely hyped about newly premiered films. The Croisette was witness to many events that rocked social media this year; Tarantino told a journalist that he “rejected her hypothesis” about the amount of lines given to Margot Robbie in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Margot Robbie wore a rather noughties ensemble on the red carpet, Taron Egerton wept during the Rocketman standing ovation, Elle Fanning fainted because her Prada dress was too tight, and people queued for three hours to be the first to feast their eyes on Tarantino’s latest. However, it was Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite that clinched the top prize of the festival this year, beating strong competition from Tarantino and Sciamma and warming hearts with his dark comedy family caper. As well as the full list of winners, we’ve compiled a list of all the films to watch out for that premiered at the festival, from zombie comedies to bio-sci-fi.


Palme d’Or: Parasite (dir. Bong Joon-ho)

Grand Prix: Atlantics (dir. Mati Diop)

Jury prize: Les Misérables and Bacurau (tie)

Best director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne for Young Ahmed

Best screenplay: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Best actor: Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory

Best actress: Emily Beecham for Little Joe


Films to watch out for


Atlantics (dir. Mati Diop)

Described as “intriguingly ruminative and poetic,” Atlantics is French-Senegalese Mati Diop’s debut feature film. This wasn’t the only first: Diop was the first black female director to appear in competition at Cannes, where she won the esteemed Grand Prix. Straddling the unique genres of “voodoo-realist drama” and “docu-supernatural mystery,” the story follows a community of people grappling with the migrant crisis, exploited workers and gender politics. – Steph

The Dead Don’t Die (dir. Jim Jarmusch)

After their previous collaboration on the largely unseen masterpiece Paterson, the re-teaming of Adam Driver and director Jim Jarmusch was always going to be a tantalising prospect. Add Bill Murray, Chloe Sevigny and Tilda Swinton amongst a host of stars from both music and film into a zombie movie that is supposedly a critique of big business, then you have The Dead Don’t Die. Although the initial reaction coming out of Cannes wasn’t overwhelmingly positive, expect this film to still be hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable. – Elliott

Little Joe (dir. Jessica Hausner)

With star Emily Beecham receiving the Best Actress prize at the festival, one can immediately see the draw of this sci-fi drama that has been said to portray a bleak picture of the future similar to Black Mirror. Likened to a modern variation of Invasion of the Body SnatchersLittle Joe follows a single mother who is trying to breed a new species of plant, which she then brings home to her son, to horrifying consequences. – Elliott

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood (dir. Quentin Tarantino)

This is a film that surely needs no introduction. Quentin Tarantino’s 9th film Once Upon A Time in Hollywood follows the lives of actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who find themselves at a loss as the Golden Age of Hollywood draws to a close. Throw in a subplot that includes Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and the Manson murders and Tarantino has created a film he describes as his most similar to Pulp Fiction. The initial reaction for the film was very strong following its screening, resulting somehow in the creation of even more hype for its summer release. – Elliott

Parasite (dir. Bong Joon-ho)

Winner of the festival’s esteemed Palme d’Or, Parasite was a huge success with festival-goers, who got #BongHive trending on twitter after the premiere. The latest film from the Okja director is a dark comedy thriller about social dynamics, combining “note-perfect pantomimic performances” with the “uncanny extreme.” – Steph

Portrait of A Lady on Fire (dir. Céline Sciamma)

The contemporary queen of French realism, Céline Sciamma is no stranger to films that focus on burgeoning female desire, gender dynamics and the beauty of the everyday. With the highly-acclaimed Portrait of A Lady on Fire, though, Sciamma dives out of the contemporary and into the sumptuous eighteenth century, telling the story of a young painter who falls in love with the woman she is commissioned to paint. IndieWire called the film “razor-sharp and shatteringly romantic.” – Steph

Sorry We Missed You (dir. Ken Loach)

Director Ken Loach has never relied on subtlety in his endless political crusade on-screen, and his latest film, Sorry We Missed You, appears to have followed the same mantra. Focusing on a delivery driver in England struggling to make enough money to provide for his family, Loach’s film has been described by Screen International  as “an angry skewering of today’s gig economy”, which doesn’t seem to much of a far cry from his last effort, the brillaint I, Daniel Blake. – Elliott

Rocketman (dir. Dexter Fletcher)

The one film on this list that I have actually been able to see, Rocketman is joyous explosion of music, love, hope, pain and glory. Following Elton John’s early years, from his emergence as a musical prodigy to his drug-addled journey through the 1980s, Taron Egerton beautifully plays the singer with ease, boasting a decent set of pipes too as he sings all the songs himself (sorry, Rami Malek). Thankfully not being a painfully predictable or formulaic adaptation of Elton John’s Wikipedia page, or glossing over John’s drug use or sexuality, the film merges musical numbers with surreal touches that makes it a unique look at the life of a legend. Richard Madden and Jamie Bell are excellent in their supporting roles of manager John Reid and songwriting partner Bernie respectively. “There’s a moment in Rocketman when I’m playing onstage in the Troubadour club in LA and everything in the room starts levitating, me included,” Elton John wrote for The Guardian,  “and honestly, that’s what it felt like.” – Steph

The Lighthouse (dir. Robert Eggers)

Director Robert Eggers really announced himself with 2015’s The Witch, now it seems he has raised the bar even higher with his existential drama, The Lighthouse. Starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as two lighthouse keepers in the early 20th-Century, the film has been lauded by critics at Cannes for its balancing of absurdist comedy, disturbing horror and exploration of existence, with Pattinson’s performance forming the crux of some early awards buzz. Keep a real eye out for this one. – Elliott

Matthias & Maxime (dir. Xavier Dolan)

Aged just 30, Xavier Dolan is no stranger to the Cannes Film Festival, with his debut feature premiering there ten years ago. His newest venture, Mathias & Maxime, was positively reviewed, with many hailing it as a return to form after a string of films that failed to catch critical attention. Dolan, who often casts himself in his own films, stars as Maxime, whose lifelong friendship with Matthias is tested when they act in a short film whose script calls for them to kiss each other, leaving them both questioning their sexual identities when the experience awakens their long-dormant feelings for each other. – Steph

Bacurau (dir. Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles)

Joint-winner of the Grand Jury Prize, Bacurau takes the faux-documentary angle to amalgamate genres such as mystery, sci-fi, drama and supposedly even western. Following a filmmaker who travels to a remote Brazilian village to make a documentary, he discovers that the villagers are hiding dangerous secrets. Critics have called the film “strange”, “disturbing” and “not a tonally coherent film”, all in a positive context, which suggests this could be a surprise hit later in the awards season. – Elliott

Pain and Glory (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)

Pain and Glory stars the Best Actor-winning Antonio Banderas as an ageing painter in ill-health wistfully looking back at his past. The Spanish-language, semi-autobiographical film is Pedro Almodóvar’s 21st, and he has once again teamed up with his muse Penelope Cruz for the occasion. – Steph

Words by Elliott Jones and Steph Green


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