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Cannes 2019 Wish List: 50 Movies We Hope Will Make the Cut, From Quentin Tarantino to Kelly Reichardt

The glitziest cinephile gathering is just a few weeks away, and many films have yet to be confirmed. But we've done our homework, and these promising titles all stand a good chance.

Palais des FestivalsPreparations, 71st Cannes Film Festival, France - 08 May 2018

The Palais des Festivals at the Cannes Film Festival

Syspeo/Sipa/REX/Shutterstock

“Parasite”
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun
Bong Joon-ho knows how to shatter the boundaries between genres as well as any filmmaker working today. He is someone who seems to have no limits – and yet, external circumstances keep imposing limits upon him: his English-language debut, “Snowpiercer,” was unceremoniously dumped into theaters by The Weinstein Co. after a battle over final cut, and his most recent film, “Okja,” became the flashpoint of the Netflix vs. Cannes battle that ended with the festival banning the stream’s films from competition. For his new effort, “Parasite,” about which extremely little is known other than that it’s a drama about a family in which each member is uniquely distinguished, Bong has retreated from Hollywood altogether, choosing to make another film in Korean with an all-Korean cast. (Neon picked it up for distribution last October for a U.S. release later this year.) Bong has said the title is purely metaphorical, and it may revolve around a character played by Song Kang-ho (“Secret Sunshine,” “The Good, the Bad, the Weird”) who becomes entangled with the family in question. —CB

“The Whistlers”
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
Cast: Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon
One of the key players in the Romanian New Wave, Porumboiu’s fourth features is described as a dramatic thriller/neo-noir with a femme fatale and comedic twists. Vlad Ivanov (“Toni Erdmann,” “Graduation”) stars as a Romanian policeman sent to the Spanish island La Gomera, where he must learn the local language as a means to free a controversial Bucharest businessman who has been detained there. Porumboiu won the Caméra d’Or Prize for best first film in 2006 for his slyly comic political satire “12:08 East of Bucharest,” but his films have never played in competition at Cannes. This might be the time. —JD

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
Director: Céline Sciamma
Cast: Valeria Golino, Adèle Haenel, Noémie Merlant, Luàna Bajrami
After completing a self-described trilogy of coming-of-age films — “Water Lilies,” “Tomboy,” and “Girlhood” — Cannes regular Sciamma has shifted her interests in the female experience to her first-ever period piece. Set on an isolated island during the latter half of the eighteenth century, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” features “Heaven Will Wait” star Noémie Merlant as a young painter commissioned for a strange endeavor: to craft a portrait of young bride-to-be (Sciamma’s frequent star Adèle Haenel) without her knowing. Intent on capturing the essence of her subject, Merlant’s Marianne grows closer to Haenel’s Héloïse in the lead-up to a wedding that doesn’t sound entirely happy, leading to an unexpected bond cast against potentially dire circumstances. —KE

“Positive School”
Director: Nabil Ayouch
After most recently directing a drama set in Casablanca and largely about “Casablanca,” Nabil Ayouch — who was previously at Cannes with Directors’ Fortnight selection “Much Loved” in 2015 and Un Certain Regard offering “God’s Horses” three years earlier — is a strong contender to return to the Croisette with “Positive School.” Taking place in the actual cultural center the filmmaker established in Casablanca, the docudrama focuses on a former hip-hop artist who begins teaching his craft at the center; Ayouch himself has called it a melding of “Fame” and Palme d’Or winner “The Class.” —MN

“Radegund”
Director: Terrence Malick
Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Nyqvist, Bruno Ganz, August Diehl, Jürgen Prochnow, Franz Rogowski
It’s no secret that American auteur Terrence Malick likes to take his time on projects — remember that two-decade long stretch between “Days of Heaven” and “The Thin Red Line”? — but in recent years, his output has reached a fever pitch (well, a fever pitch for Malick) that suddenly seemed to sputter out after the initial announcement of “Radegund” way back in 2017. A World War II drama based on the life of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian conscientious objector who refused to fight for the Nazis, Malick debuted a first look at the film over two years ago, but has reportedly been tinkering with it ever since. The filmmaker has promised a more “structured” narrative than his last few features, including “Tree of Life” and “Knight of Cups,” and Jägerstätter’s tragic story certainly seems ripe for a more traditional approach. Is it finally time for “Radegund” to be revealed? Let’s hope so. —KE

“Robaix, a Light”
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Cast: Léa Seydoux, Sara Forestier, Antoine Reinartz
Desplechin has become a fixture at Cannes, as seven of his films have premiered at the festival since “La Sentinelle” in 1992. Some eyebrows may have been raised when Desplechin’s most recent feature, “Ismaël’s Ghosts” was screened Out of Competition as an opening night selection, but it’s hard to imagine that Cannes overseer Thierry Frémaux has permanently soured on one of the defining French auteurs of his tenure. Provided that it’s finished in time, Desplechin’s latest should be a lock for this year’s lineup. “Robaix, a Light” is a hard-boiled detective story that begins when a police chief (Roschdy Zem) and his hapless new hire (Antoine Reinartz) learn that an old woman has been murdered on Christmas night. The woman’s fiery young neighbours (Léa Seydoux and Sara Forestier) are the obvious suspects, but something about them suggests their guilt is more complicated than it seems. The only thing more suspenseful than the film’s premise is the question of which section it will premiere in at Cannes. —DE

“Rocketman”

“Rocketman”

Director: Dexter Fletcher
Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden
While Dexter Fletcher’s name only appears once in the credits of last year’s smash hit “Bohemian Rhapsody” — he’s billed as an executive producer, not a co-director, though everyone knows he stepped in to save the troubled production when credited director Bryan Singer left the project — but perhaps “Rocketman” is his real reward. An original, full-scale, full-tilt musical about the life and work of Elton John (Taron Egerton, Fletcher’s “Eddie the Eagle” star), early looks at the biopic don’t shy away from the more creative, nutty, and perhaps even magical elements of the story. One sequence that’s been shown to members of the press imagines John’s first American performance as one so transcendent that it literally lifted everyone in attendance off their feet. It’s that kind of freedom that “Bohemian Rhapsody” lacked, but it’s exactly what Fletcher seems to be put into his latest feature. The director is still wrapping up the film, which has a late May release date from Paramount ready to go. Perhaps that final push is in hopes of getting it done in time for an out of competition slot? —KE

“Saturday Fiction”

Director: Lou Ye
Cast: Gong Li, March Chao, Tom Wlaschiha, Pascal Greggory
Lou Ye was banned from making films in China after his controversial movies “Summer Palace” (2006) and “Spring Fever” (2009). The first film, “Summer Palace,” was set during the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests, which culminated in a horrific massacre — such a taboo topic that the Chinese government said he couldn’t make a film in the country for five years. But he did anyway: he called “Spring Fever” a Hong Kong-French co-production, even though it wasn’t, and he filmed it in Nanjing. (“Spring Fever” would win the Prix du scenario at Cannes in 2009.) Neither of those films were given a release in China, but just three years after “Spring Fever,” Lou did have a film released in his home country, “Mystery,” scored by Jóhann Jóhannsson, which would go on to win Best Film at the Asian Film Awards. His latest film “Saturday Fiction” stars an international cast — it’s a World War Two drama about an actress in Shanghai (Gong Li) who learns that the occupying Japanese are planning an attack on Pearl Harbor, but decides not to reveal what she knows about it. —CB

“Song Without a Name”
Director: Melina León)
Partially funded via a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $30,000, “Song Without a Name” is a black-and-white drama about child trafficking in Lima, Peru in the 1980s. Melina León’s debut feature follows “Georgina Condori, a young mother whose newly born disappears from a fake clinic, and Pedro Campos, a young journalist who investigates the case. The film explores the late 1980s in Peru, when we were facing one of the worst financial and political crisis in our history.” León has made a number of shorts in recent years and, though not as big a name as Cannes tends to be known for, could offer the kind of fresh perspective that many have been hoping for. —MN

“Sorry We Missed You”
Director: Ken Loach

Ken Loach

Ken Loach

Legendary British auteur Loach has premiered 13 films in Competition over the course of his long career, and — to the surprise and consternation of many critics — has managed to win two Palmes d’Or for lesser works (“The Wind that Shakes the Barley” and “I, Daniel Blake”) that nevertheless typify his signature form of working class frustration. Shot in Newcastle last September, “Sorry We Missed You” is all but certain to bring Loach back to the festival at a time when audiences from around the world might be especially receptive to stories about financial struggles. Kris Hitchen stars as Ricky, a man whose family has been underwater since the 2008 recession. Ricky’s fortunes seem to change when he comes into possession of a brand new van and starts working as a delivery driver, but things with his wife (a caregiver played by newcomer Debbie Honeywood) begin to fray when their work pulls them in separate directions. If Alejandro González Iñárritu’s jury is as moved by the filmmaker’s latest drama as George Miller’s jury was moved by his last one, Loach could become the first person to ever win a third Palme d’Or. —DE

“Terminal Sud”
Director: Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche
Algerian filmmaker Ameur-Zaïmeche has a rich history at Cannes, having won the festival’s Youth Prize in 2006 after screening his drama “Bled Number One” in the Un Certain Regard sidebar. The director returned to the Croisette in 2008 with “Dernier Maquis,” which played Directors’ Fortnight. All of this is to say Ameur-Zaïmeche has been on a track to the official Cannes competition, and it could happen this year with “Terminal Sud,” a political thriller about a medical officer who gets thrown into the chaos of war. —ZS

“Tijuana Bible”
Director: Jean-Charles Hue
Cast: Paul Anderson
After making a big impression at Directors’ Fortnight in 2014 with “Eat Your Bones,” Hue could return to the Croisette this year and crossover to Cannes’ main competition with “Tijuana Bible.” The drama stars “Peaky Blinders” actor Paul Anderson as an American war veteran who agrees to help a young Mexican woman search for her missing brother during a trip to Tijuana. The duo’s search leads them into a conflict with a powerful and ruthless group of narcos. —ZS

“To the Ends of the Earth”
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Ryo Kase, Atsuko Maeda, Shota Sometani
Eclecticism has been the defining principle of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s career: The last time he appeared at Cannes was two years ago for the science-fiction film “Before We Vanish,” which immediately followed the Parisian fantasy of “Daguerrotype” that premiered at TIFF just eight months earlier. “To the Ends of the Earth” sounds like this major auteur’s take on “Eat, Pray, Love”: a young woman finds herself changed by travel to a distant land. But, of course, in Kurosawa’s hands it’s going to become far, far more interesting than that initial logline might suggest. Atsuko Maeda plays a Japanese travel show host who finds herself disoriented when filming a show in Uzbekistan. The film, shot largely in the Central Asian nation, sounds like it will be Kurosawa’s riff on insularity in Japanese society; in other words, First World problems. —CB

“The Truth”
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Binoche
After winning the Palme d’Or for the extraordinary “Shoplifters,” Kore-eda immediately boarded a plane, slammed his new hardware on Ethan Hawke’s desk, and offered the actor a lead role in his next film — the first of his three-decade career not to be shot in Japanese. Hawke, never one to turn down an exciting opportunity, jumped at the chance. Now, only a year since becoming the toast of Cannes, Kore-eda is almost certain to return to the Croisette, and Hawke won’t be the only international star walking the red carpet beside him.

Based on an unproduced play that Kore-eda wrote 15 years ago, “The Truth” stars Juliette Binoche as a woman who returns to Paris when her mother, a famous actress played by Catherine Deneuve, publishes a controversial memoir (Hawke plays Binoche’s husband). Kore-eda told IndieWire that the story hinges on questions of performative relationships, and that while “The Truth” represents a new direction for him in some respects, it’s fundamentally another one of the family dramas that have always been his bread and butter as a filmmaker. There have been rumors that “The Truth” will premiere in the festival’s opening night slot, but one way or another it’s a safe bet that it will be in the Competition lineup. —DE

“Un Fille Facile”
Director:  Rebecca Zlotowski
Cast: Benoît Magimel, Clotilde Courau, Nuno Lopes
Bearing a provocative title in almost any language — the English title is “An Easy Girl” — the synopsis for French filmmaker Rebecca Zlotowski’s fourth feature reads like a girls’ version of “Call Me by Your Name.” The film follows a free-spirited 16-year-old girl as she falls under the influence of her seductive and attractive 22-year-old cousin one summer. Filmed on the French Riviera, venerated sales company Wild Bunch promises a “playful, intimate and intense coming of age story.” Zlotowksi’s first two features, “Belle Épine” and “Grand Central,” both premiered at Cannes, both picking up prizes along the way. —JD

Untitled Short Film
Director: Gaspar Noé
Noé’s most recent feature, “Climax,” is currently playing in cinemas in the U.S. after debuting at Cannes 2018. The provocateur extraordinaire could be back on the Croisette this year with a mysterious short film project he’s been teasing lately. “I don’t want to talk about it,” he told The Fader. “You’re always hoping the next thing you’re doing is not gonna be bad. I don’t want to sell the project before I know it’s good.” Returning with a short would be a full-circle moment for Noé who all but launched his career when his short “Carne” debuted at Cannes in 1991. —CB

“Wet Season”
Director: Anthony Chen
After winning the Camera d’Or  for Best First Feature at Cannes for “Ilo Ilo” in 2013, Singaporean filmmaker Anthony Chen’s follow-up has been one of the more anticipated sophomore efforts in a long time. With “Wet Season,” Chen will once again lean on the two stars of his first film, Malaysian actress Yeo Yann Yann and Koh Jia Ler. Yann plays a Chinese-language teacher, whose marriage and school life are falling apart because she is unable to bear a child, when she forms an unlikely friendship with a young student (Ler). Production began last Spring and, if accepted, the film is on track for a Cannes debut. —CO

“Wild Goose Lake”
Director: Diao Yi’nan
Chinese writer-director Diao Yinan’s sophomore directorial effort “Night Train” debuted in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard sidebar in 2007 and earned considerable attention as one of only two Asian films in competition for an award that year. Nearly seven years later, Yinan exploded back on to the international film scene with the thriller “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” which won the prestigious Golden Bear at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival. After taking top honors at Berlin, Yinan is more than ready to make his debut in competition at Cannes with “Wild Goose Lake,” a drama about the relationship between the leader of a biker gang and woman he meets seeking freedom. —ZS

“Yalda”
Director: Massoud Bakhshi
A woman convicted of killing her husband appears on a popular TV show to beg for her husbands’s daughter for forgiveness. Set in Tehran, the film is based on current events in modern day Iran and is the second film by film critic and documentary filmmaker turned fiction filmmaker Bakhshi. Bakhshi’s first scripted narrative feature, “A Respectable Family,” appeared in the 2012 Directors’ Fortnight and this latest project was workshopped as part of the 2017 Sundance labs.  —CO

“Zombi Child”
Director: Bertrand Bonelli
“House of Tolerance,” “Saint Laurent,” and “Nocturama” have made French auteur Bertrand Bonello one of the most critically revered filmmakers working today, and Cannes — despite passing on the controversial “Nocturama” — has been instrumental in his success. Should the festival decide to welcome Bonello back into the fold, there’s no reason to think that his latest won’t premiere there in may. Digging into the rich cultural traditions beneath films like Jacques Tourneur’s “I Walked with a Zombie,” Bonello’s “Zombi Child” is rooted in the true story of Haitian man Clairvius Narcisse, who was supposedly turned into a zombie after falling prey to a voodoo spell. Far from a straightforward biopic, the movie jumps between Port-au-Prince circa 1962 and Paris today, interweaving Narcisse’s tale with those of a 15-year-old girl and a voodoo priestess. Bonello, whose work is always headier than his synopses might suggest, has said that “Zombi Child” places the “Haitian zombie, the origins of the cinematographic genre, in its history and dimension.” Sounds like catnip for Cannes. —DE

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