Standout movies to look out for at Cannes Film Festival

Film still of men and women sat in a row wearing vintage clothing

The world-famous film festival is set to make a roaring comeback after a year-long hiatus, and the schedule is packed. These are the projects our film team are most excited about.

By Matthew Walsh

The Cannes Film Festival returns this month – after a year’s enforced absence – to welcome back the global film industry to the French Riviera and usher in the next 12 months of world cinema releases.

Spread over 12 days, from 6th to 17th July, this year’s incarnation (the festival’s 74th) boasts a heavyweight line-up that looks to make up for lost time, with a host of works from Oscar winners, arthouse darlings, and exciting new talents.

Ahead of the festival, we caught up with our film programmers from across the globe to get their thoughts on the titles they’re looking forward to watching, and what we can expect to see in our Houses in 2022. 

Man with scooter helmet on kissing woman


Gülin Ustin, Istanbul

Annette (Director Leos Carax)
Last time out, French director Leos Carax confounded festival-goers with an audacious tale of shapeshifting actors, talking limousines and a Kylie Minogue cameo in the incomparable Holy Motors. For his next trick, he’s called upon Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard to star in a musical that’s been written by cult American band, Sparks, which dips in and out of reality. Another head-scratcher, then, for one of the most provocative film-makers on the circuit. 

The Velvet Underground (Director Todd Haynes)
In music circles, there’s an accepted wisdom that although The Velvet Underground never sold many records, everyone who bought one went on to form a band. The hugely influential 1960s New York group, led by Lou Reed, certainly have their fingerprints over many of the guitar acts to emerge in their wake, and are now the subject of this prestige documentary by acclaimed director Todd Haynes. Having previously reworked the stories of both Bowie (Velvet Goldmine) and Dylan (I’m Not There), there seem few better placed to tell the story of the band who, with the help of Andy Warhol, would leave an indelible mark on the landscape of both art and music.

Old and young man looking at large notice board

The French Dispatch 

Javier Garcia, Barcelona

The French Dispatch (Director Wes Anderson)
Having been scheduled to play at last year’s postponed festival, the latest from beloved American director Wes Anderson is arguably the most hotly anticipated title of the festival. The film, a typically idiosyncratic take on US journalists covering affairs in Paris, sees an A-list ensemble decamped in the French capital at a time of political and cultural upheaval. Timothée Chalamet joins a cast of Anderson regulars, including Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody and Willem Dafoe for this stylishly comic waltz around the City of Light.

Libertad (Director Clara Roquet)
Fifteen-year-old Nora has her dreary summer enlivened by an exotic new arrival in this feature debut by Spanish director Clara Roquet. Known for her screenwriting work on 2014’s 10.000 Km, Roquet’s film is a coming-of-age drama that trains its lens on an intense new friendship, pairing polar opposites together and sending them hurtling towards adolescence. 

Paloma Joseph, Mumbai

Memoria (Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul made history in 2010 when he became his country’s first to win the coveted Palme d’Or in 2010 with his reincarnation art-drama Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Weerasethakul’s latest film marks his first project outside of his native country and stars Tilda Swinton as a farmer visiting her ill sister in Colombia. The director’s films are hypnotic and sit as easily in a gallery as they do a cinema. And with Memoria, his English language debut, he has the chance to join an elite group of double Palme d’Or winners.

Rehana Maryam Noor (Director Abdullah Mohammad Saad)
Sitting under the festival’s Un Certain Regard banner comes this second film from director Abdullah Mohammad Saad, the first Bangladeshi title to feature in the festival’s long history. It follows Rehana, a single mother struggling to balance her role at medical college with a frantic family life. When she witnesses a worrying incident with a female student, it sparks an internal fury and sets her on a path against her workplace and the wider system. Saad, a unique new voice from South Asia, looks to build on the acclaim he received for his debut, Live From Dhaka.

Film still of woman looking lost


Toby King, UK

Paris, 13th District (Director Jacques Audiard)

One of the strongest authorial voices in French cinema, Audiard (Rust & Bone, Dheepan, A Prophet) returns with an enticing collaboration, co-written with Céline Sciamma (Portrait Of A Lady On Fire). Set in Paris and filmed in black and white, the film is a contemporary love story that follows four young adults who are ‘friends and sometimes lovers’. Its host of French talent in front and behind the camera is likely to play well on the Croisette.

Nitram (Director Justin Kurzel)

Following his bold retelling of the Ned Kelly legend in True History Of The Kelly Gang, Australian auteur Kurzel remains on home soil to depict one of the worst atrocities in his country’s recent history, the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania. With echoes of his striking debut, Snowtown, and already a contentious topic in Australia, this could be one of the most talked about titles of the fortnight.

Titane (Director Julia Ducournau)

Director Julia Ducournau’s debut feature Raw was an inventive hybrid of coming-of-age drama and horror about a young veterinary student who develops a taste for human flesh. Plot details for Titane are largely under wraps, but we know it involves the reappearance of a missing child that coincided with ‘gruesome’ murders. Maybe not for the squeamish, but genre fans will be eager to see what Ducournau has done next.

film still of young woman wearing patterned jacket in dark neon surroundings


Mercedes Martinez-Abarca, Amsterdam

Bergman Island (Director Mia Hansen-Løve)
Ever since the release of her first film aged just 25, Mia Hansen-Løve has caught the imagination of critics the world over. Bergman Island marks her first appearance in the main competition at Cannes, and tells the story of a film-making couple (Tim Roth and Vicky Krieps) who retreat to the island that inspired their beloved Ingmar Bergman to work on their respective screenplays. Expect an unassuming character study that subtly weaves the delicate with the personal.

The Souvenir: Part II (Director Joanna Hogg)
It’s rare that an arthouse film receives the sequel treatment, so that alone marks Joanna Hogg’s latest as something special. The fact that its predecessor (2019’s The Souvenir) was one of the finest British films of recent years only heightens expectations even more. Tilda Swinton returns alongside her daughter, Honor Swinton Byrne, as the delicate slice of autofiction follows Julie’s attempts to navigate the path to adulthood while caught up in a problematic relationship.

Jo Addy, North America

Red Rocket (Director Sean Baker)
American director Baker has established himself as a film-maker unafraid to use form and theme to deliver incredibly humane portraits of modern America. His previous two releases (Tangerine and The Florida Project) propelled him into the wider conscience, and now his new film, Red Rocket, sees him compete in Cannes for the first time. It tells the story of Mikey Saber, a ‘suitcase pimp’ who’s looking to change his lifestyle, but is unable to distance himself from his old addictions.
Jane Par Charlotte (Director Charlotte Gainsbourg)
Actor, musician, director: polymath Charlotte Gainsbourg is movie royalty. Her father, Serge, is a bone-fide icon, while her mother, Jane Birkin, has actress, muse and singer on her résumé. It’s Charlotte’s relationship with the latter that forms the centre of this intimate documentary, as the pair explore their fractious bond and a life shared in the limelight.

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