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The Best Movies of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, According to 50 Critics

A Korean film topped the survey for the second year in a row.



The 2019 Cannes Film Festival wrapped its 72nd edition on Sunday by awarding director Bong Joon-ho with the Palme d’Or for “Parasite,” his dark comedy about a lower-class family that schemes to overtake a wealthy household. It was the first time that the Palme d’Or went to a Korean director, and many critics felt that it was the right decision: “Parasite” topped IndieWire’s annual critics survey of the best films at Cannes, with 50 critics participating from around the world.

The outcome marked the second year in a row that a Korean film topped the survey, following the first-place finish for Lee Chang-dong’s “Burning” in 2018.

“Parasite” also topped the category for best screenplay. For best director, however, another Cannes favorite ranked highly. French director Celine Sciamma topped that category with “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” which stars Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant as covert lovers in the 18th century. The film marked Cannes regular Sciamma’s first entry into the festival’s Competition, following her well-received “Girlhood” and “Water Lilies” screening elsewhere in the festival. Sciamma won the Screenplay award at the festival on Sunday.

Another female director topped the category for best first feature: French-Senegalese director Mati Diop’s “Atlantics,” the story of a young Senegalese woman abandoned by her lover after he joins a migrant ship headed to Europe, marked the sole debut feature in the festival’s Competition. Diop was also the first black woman with a film in Cannes Competition, as well as the first to win a prize, as she took home the Grand Prix at the festival. However, “Atlantics” was also the only Competition film eligible for the festival’s Camera d’Or prize, which goes to a directorial debut, and that jury instead chose to award the Guatemalan film “Our Mothers.”




As usual, the films that received the highest number of votes don’t tell the full story. This year’s participating critics threw a lot of support behind several other festival highlights, including the Robert Pattinson-Willem Dafoe two-hander “The Lighthouse,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” and Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory.”

Browse the top finalists in each category below, in addition to a full list of participating critics. Browse IndieWire’s full 2019 Cannes Film Festival coverage here.


1. “Parasite”

2. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

3. “The Lighthouse”

4. “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”

5. “Pain and Glory”


1. Celine Sciamma, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

2. Bong Joon-ho, “Parasite”

3. Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”

4. Robert Eggers, “The Lighthouse”

4. Pedro Almodovar, “Pain and Glory”


1. “Parasite” (Kim Dae-hwan, Han Jin Won, Bong Joon-ho)

2. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (Celine Sciamma)

3. Pain and Glory” (Pedro Almodóvar)

4. “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” (Quentin Tarantino)

5. “Bacurau” (Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho)


1. “Atlantics”

2. “I Lost My Body”

3. “The Climb”

4. “For Sama”

5. “A Brother’s Love”/“Bull”


Emma Stefansky

A.A. Dowd

J. Sperling Reich

Richard Porton

Wessbecher Louise

Fabien Lemercier

Marcin Radomski

Daniel Kasman

Peter Debruge

Stephen Garrett

Dija Mambu

Yo Ichikawa

Lucile Bellan

Blake Williams

Eric Lavallee

Ben Croll

Jeffrey Wells

Gregory Ellwood

Kuriko Sato

Leonardo Goi

Fionnuala Halligan

Kaleem Aftab

Nick James

Donald Clarke

Geoff Andrew

Frederic Jaeger

Nicola Falcinella

Eulália Iglesias

Luke Hicks

Anne Thompson

Ella Kemp

Nicholas Bell

Diego Batlle

Peter Howell

Richard Lawson

David Ehrlich

Robbie Collin

Caspar Salmon

Janina Perez Arias

Jordan Ruimy

Valerie Complex

Caroline Tsai

Falila Gbadamassi

Francesca D’Angelo

Alessandra De Tommasi

Steve Pond

Beatrice Behn

Karen Han

Andrew Lapin

Eric Kohn

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