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Cannes 2018: 15 Movies We Can’t Wait to See at the World’s Most Exciting Film Festival

From the latest Spike Lee joint to an essay film by Jean-Luc Godard, this year's Cannes lineup offers a range of exciting possibilities.

“Yomeddine” “BlackKklansman,” “Happy as Lazzaro,” “Under the Silver Lake”

“The Image Book”

When French New Wave legend Jean-Luc Godard’s “Goodbye to Language” premiered at the festival in 2014, the beguiling cinematic essay was met with cries of “Godard, forever!” from an ecstatic audience of cinephiles (they later applauded when his mastery of film form delivered). It turns out that while “Goodbye to Language” could have been the coda for one of the most significant filmmakers in history, he had more to say, and he’s saying it in his own baffling terms as usual. The 87-year-old filmmaker is back in competition with another essayistic effort, “The Image Book,” which will almost certainly confound and enlighten viewers keen on engaging with Godard’s cryptic approach to filmmaking as he continues to experiment into his twilight years. The decision to put Godard in competition is a notable one — prior to “Goodbye to Language,” his “Film Socialism” landed in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, but now he’s back in the top section with another unique filmmaking experiment made on his own terms. The fragmented images and encounters of “Goodbye to Language” often felt like interfacing with Godard’s fast-paced creative whims, and they forced viewers to do the legwork; no matter what, it’ll be riveting to see what’s on his mind this time. —EK

“Happy as Lazzaro”

Rising Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher was last in competition at Cannes back in 2014 with her sophomore effort “The Wonders,” which helped propel her to international acclaim and ultimately landed her a spot as NYFF’s filmmaker in residence in 2016. It was during that time that she set about drilling down on her long-in-the-making third film, which follows a man who travels through time, though she assured IndieWire back in 2016 that it wasn’t science-fiction. Instead, it’s another rural tale sure to combine delicate, rustic imagery with a soul-searching core. Still, it’s an ambitious jump forward for Rohrwacher, whose previous effort dramatized her offbeat coming of age with her beekeeping family. Expectations are higher this time around, and this filmmaker’s been revving her engine for a few years now. —KE

“Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

Bi Gan made one of the most beguiling debuts in recent memory with “Kaili Blues,” which premiered at Locarno three years ago and made the first-time filmmaker a talent worth watching. If making it into Un Certain Regard at the age of 28 is any indication, he’s fulfilling his potential with “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Not much is known of his sophomore feature, but based on the title one might reasonably presume that it’s a new take on Eugene O’Neill’s classic play; though it’s been adapted several times already, there’s no doubt that Bi has put a unique spin on it. —MN

“Pope Francis – A Man of His Word”

“Pope Francis”

Focus Features

German auteur Wim Wenders has turned, in the later phase of his career, to documentaries. He boasts a rare three Oscar nominations for “Buena Vista Social Club,” “Pina,” and “Salt of the Earth.” After producer Alessandro Lo Monaco worked closely with the Vatican on Gianfranco Pannone’s documentary about the Vatican’s Swiss Guard, the Vatican approached him about co-producing a documentary about outspoken Pope Francis. Wenders devised a direct-to-camera visual and narrative concept to engage the audience face-to-face with the pope, creating a dialogue between him and a cross-section of humanity as he responds to questions from farmers, workers, refugees, children, the elderly, and prison inmates. Intended as a personal journey with the Pope rather than a biography, the movie films Pope Francis addressing his audience on the big subjects: life, death, social justice, immigration, ecology, wealth inequality, materialism, and the role of the family. —AT

“Three Faces”

Iran’s Jafar Panahi was one of the country’s most celebrated filmmakers when he was banned by the country from making movies in 2010. A lot of good that did: Panahi’s beguiling self-portrait “This is Not a Film” snuck into Cannes the next year, and he has continued to make fascinating projects about living under artistic oppression and finding a way forward through his own unique control over the medium. “Closed Curtain” was a thriller that transformed into a manifesto, while “Taxi” (which won the Golden Bear in Berlin) followed the filmmaker as he drove through the city streets and encountered a series of characters who spoke to modern day Iranian society. After all that, Panahi’s filmmaking under censorship has finally cracked Cannes competition with a film said to focus on three actresses at different stages of their careers. Panahi’s innovative storytelling typically blends complex formalism with strong performances and disarming emotional hooks; “Three Faces” seems likely to keep that tradition alive, so that whether or not Iran allows Panahi to travel to the festival, his presence will be felt on the screen. —EK

“Shoplifters”

One of the most prolific major filmmakers in the world — and also one of the most consistent — Hirokazu Kore-eda has been a regular fixture at Cannes since “Distance” premiered there in 2001. Still, in the immediate aftermath of the director’s first real disappointment, it’s very encouraging to see him return to the festival, and even more so to see that it’s been programmed in Competition. Continuing Kore-eda’s recent focus on family-driven stories, “Shoplifters” is a tender domestic tale about a poor thief named Osamu (“Like Father, Like Son” star Franky Lily) who makes ends meet by stealing with his son. Their tenuous financial circumstances are jeopardized after the two of them rescue a little girl they find abandoned in the cold, Osamu’s decision to bring her into his home eventually threatening to destroy his small family from the inside out. Promising to deliver the humane and masterfully calibrated drama that gave life to films like “Our Little Sister” and “After the Storm,” “Shoplifters” is poised to reaffirm Kore-eda as one of the greats. —DE

Under the Silver Lake

“Under the Silver Lake”

All three of writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s features have vied for Cannes hardware, but “Under the Silver Lake” is his first to chase the main competition’s top prize. Andrew Garfield, a 2017 Best Actor Oscar candidate (“Hacksaw Ridge”), stars as a 33-year-old East Angeleno. After he notices his new neighbor (Riley Keough) swimming in their complex’s pool, Sam finds himself besotted; then he can’t find her. Convinced Sarah’s vanishing is linked to the slaying of a billionaire business titan, Sam (according to distributor A24) embeds himself with “dog killers, aspiring actors, glitter-pop groups, nightlife personalities, It girls, memorabilia hoarders, masked seductresses, homeless gurus, reclusive songwriters, sex workers, wealthy socialites, [and] topless neighbors,” who co-star, as do Topher Grace, Zosia Mamet, and “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” breakout Grace Van Patten, making her second successive trip to the Croisette. Produced by “Moonlight” Oscar winner Adele Romanski and three-time nominee Michael De Luca (“The Social Network”), “Under the Silver Lake” is designed to join a tradition of scrappy noir classics like Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye” and “Mulholland Drive,” which scored David Lynch a Best Director win at Cannes. —JM  

“Yomeddine”

It’s rare to see a directorial debut in competition at Cannes, so when one shows up there, it automatically stands out. That was the case most recently for “Son of Saul” in 2015, when Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes went from newcomer to celebrated auteur overnight and eventually won an Oscar. This time, the distinction falls to Egyptian-Austrian director A.B. Shawky, whose debut “Yomeddine” is the sole first feature in the 2018 competition. Shawky has previously tackled timely issues with a series of shorts (including 2011’s Arab Spring-themed “Martyr Friday”) but for his debut, he turns to a lesser-known subject: The experience of a man raised in a leper colony who finally decides to leave his community to discover the reason he was left there in the first place. Early reports compare the movie to classic works of Italian neorealism, a tradition of filmmaking that excelled at bringing underrepresented lives to the big screen. With “Yomeddine,” Shawky is poised to do just that — all within the context of a survival story sure to generate interest as it premieres for thousands at Cannes. —EK

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