12 May 20
With this year's Cannes Film Festival cancelled, I took the opportunity to look back over the last ten years of the festival, picking out twelve of the very best films that have premiered there. For each day of the originally scheduled dates of the festival, I have selected one film to watch at home. Please do join us each evening by streaming. You can find details of the films, some enthusiastic notes from myself and the team, and where to see these below. Keep safe and happy viewing.
- Clare Binns, Picturehouse Joint Managing Director
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Originally premiered on 17 May 2018
How do you best sum up a film that had the Palais audience giving one of the longest standing ovations I have ever known? Twelve uninterrupted minutes of thunderous clapping and cheering. Director Nadine Labaki's film grips us from its opening shot to its final frame, the imagery and wonderful rhythm carrying us along on the hectic journey of a 12-year-old boy Zain, born into poverty on the streets of Beirut, who wishes he had never been born. But this is a celebration of the human spirit and Labaki takes what could have been a bleak and dark subject matter and gives us a masterclass in truly visual and emotional cinema. A film fundamentally about the heart, and it's a heartbreaker.
- Clare Binns
Originally premiered on 16 May 2012
No one does it like Wes Anderson. Of course this has a cast to die for. Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton all shine, joined by newcomers to the aesthetic, the brilliant Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Edward Norton. Anderson's unique style and poetic vision bring humour and pathos to the story of two 12-year-olds who fall in love and run away together in a Wes-styled New England. Funny, compassionate and about as cine-literate as you can get while being 100% entertaining, this is cinema heaven. And boy, oh boy, what a soundtrack!
- Clare Binns
Originally premiered on 19 May 2011
Norwegian auteur Joachim Trier's second feature film - a breakout from 2011's Un Certain Regard section at Cannes - is the elegantly told story of recovering addict Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie), contemplating a return to his life and friends in Oslo. Across the course of one day, we follow Anders on a lyrical journey towards possible redemption or self-destruction. A film of striking intensity, muted emotion and fantastically evocative atmosphere, Oslo August 31 sets out Trier's stall as a filmmaker of rare talent. It's exciting to witness filmmaking of this assurance, boldness and style. Every frame is beautiful.
- Paul Ridd, Picturehouse Entertainment Acquisitions Manager
Originally premiered on 15 May 2015
Director Yorgos Lanthimos follows the success of his earlier films Dogtooth and Alps with his first film in the English language, featuring a star-studded cast including Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman and John C. Reilly. The Lobster is an off-beat relationship drama, with a neat central conceit; in the not too distant future, single people are taken to The Hotel, where they must find a romantic partner in 45 days or be transformed into an animal and sent off into the woods. The film has a dry sense of humour and razor-sharp wit, which won Yorgos Lanthimos the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2015.
- Sam Clements, Head of Marketing
Originally premiered on 21 May 2019
Is this Tarantino's best film? In my book, yes. This extraordinary film takes us on a journey through a half-imagined, half historical Hollywood of 1969. Hippies, Sharon Tate, Charles Manson and tall tales from production backlots form a tapestry of the period setting, and what a year in the history of movie making it was. This is a thrilling, giddy, roller coaster ride of cinema fun. It all just looks amazing and Tarantino gives us a riotously enjoyable ending, twisting things beautifully. Not what you expect him to do, but even better. The leads are to die for: Brad Pitt, DiCaprio and Margot Robbie shine. WOW!
- Clare Binns
Originally premiered on 14 May 2016
A sprawling, riotously funny German language comedy about a dad trying to connect with his ambitious businesswoman daughter, Toni Erdmann was one of the biggest breakouts of 2016's Cannes Competition. Directed by Maren Ade and featuring two incredible lead performances, this is a deadpan comedy of embarrassment of the highest order, culminating in a final scene of rare beauty and emotion. A film about parenthood, work and play, and the importance of tenderness, the film's greatest achievement is its lack of sentimentality. Everything here, even the most emotional moments, feels real and true. Quite possibly a perfect film.
- Paul Ridd
Originally premiered on 20 May 2012
Michael Haneke's Palme D'Or winning study of an elderly couple in crisis finds the usually unsentimental, cerebral filmmaker on rare directly emotional form. Shot through with Haneke's dark and caustic wit, and filmed in his typically minimalist style, Amour nonetheless focuses on a very human story of a husband dealing with his wife's rapidly onsetting dementia and losing the woman he loves. Absolutely devastating stuff, powered by towering performances from Emmanuelle Riva and Jean Louis Trintignant.
- Paul Ridd
Originally premiered on 15 May 2014
Before she hit worldwide notoriety with her Portrait of a Lady on Fire last year, Girlhood found director Celine Sciamma exploring the Parisian banlieue and a group of young women bonded together by shared adolescence. This is a ballsy and stylish coming of age story fuelled by wit and adolescent drama and features one of the most completely transcendent dance sequences modern cinema has produced. A wonderful film.
- Paul Ridd
Originally premiered on 23 May 2013
A vivid and refreshingly languid coming of age story which, despite its nearly three-hour runtime, is perhaps most widely remembered for its explicit sex scenes. The film centres on the development of Adèle (Adèle Exarchopolous) from her late teenage years and into early adulthood, and the formative sexual and romantic relationship she shares with confident, blue-haired Emma (Lèa Seydoux). The film sparked criticism for its graphic sex scenes, starting a renewed discourse around sexual explicitness in cinema. It's essential viewing for those interested in the conflicts and parallels between pornography and art in the moving image. But it is also a beautifully constructed and wonderfully acted story. Premiering at the 2013 edition of Cannes, the film went on to win the highest prize at the festival, the Palme d'Or.
- Laura Jacobs, PA to Joint Managing Director
Originally premiered on 15 May 2016
A stop-motion animated feature like no other. Director Claude Barras works from a script by Celine Sciamma to create one of the most raw and affecting coming-of-age stories told in contemporary cinema. After losing his mother, a young boy named Courgette is sent to a foster home where he begins to learn the meaning of trust and true love. The animation style is distinct and hugely effective. It's also a joyous 66 minutes long. What's not to like?
- Sam Clements
Originally premiered on 27 May 2017
A chilling, tactile and cathartically violent American neo-noir, You Were Never Really Here centres on the efforts of troubled hitman Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), tasked by a prominent politician with saving his underage daughter from human trafficking. On release, the film was widely celebrated for its subtleties, its novel approach to the conspiracy thriller genre. But its formal presentation is mostly concerned with how we might interpret this hitman's hallucinatory frame of mind, and it is through Ramsays's extraordinarily vivid filmmaking style that we almost feel the textures, sounds and experiences of Joe's world. Through Ramsay's long shots, we 'feel' details with our eyes - the texture of a squished green jelly bean, the weight of a hammer in a New York bodega - and the impact of these objects in motion as hitman Joe carries out his hits. With the disquieting urgency of Taxi Driver (Martin Scorcese, 1976), combined with the inventive formalism of 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963), You Were Never Really Here is impactful and momentous cinema.
- Laura Jacobs
Originally premiered on 20 May 2011
Drive made big stars of director Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling. Bloody, violent and with a pulsating, synth-heavy soundtrack which everyone had on repeat after seeing the film, this is a cinema of feeling and experience. We are on the road with getaway driver Gosling, the loner and nameless character. The music and striking images power the film along, taking us on the journey of our lives. Breathtaking, exhilarating and life-changing, this is cinema at its most essential and elemental.
- Clare Binns
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