5. Okja (Bong Joon-ho)
Bong Joon-ho is a breath of fresh air to anyone interested in thrillers or action films. He made the monster genre pop in The Host, created some of the finest crime movies of our times with Memories of Murder and Mother, and even pulled the sci-fi Snowpiercer off. Okja looks like it’s a different beast altogether, but if the cast is anything to go by, one just as interesting.
Okja is massive animal, held by a multi-national company. Mija, a young girl, risks her life to save it. And that’s about all we know. Ahn Seo-hyun plays the lead, with Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano and Lily Collins also making appearances.
Thankfully, of the ten films we’re waiting for the most, at least we won’t be waiting for one of them very long. Netflix is in charge of distribution for Okja, and the current release date is set as June 28, so regardless if it wins anything (and it looks like the sort of thing that could nab the Jury prize), it’s the one general public will get to see first.
4. You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)
For someone with that much talent, Lynne Ramsay’s career so far looks like a disappointment. Her ability to catch the very essence of a personal tragedy with a single shot or few lines of dialogue is peerless, but since debuting in 1999 with Ratcatcher, her first great work, she only made two other movies, both of which impressed, but didn’t entirely convince.
Thankfully, her fourth feature ventures into unfamiliar territory. A Joaquin Phoenix played war veteran attempts to save a young girl from a sex trafficking ring, but things go wrong. And violent.
At 48, this is the perfect chance for Ramsay to show everyone what she’s truly capable off, and our money is on this one being the best she’s ever done. Even if isn’t, at least we’ll see the return of Phoenix, and that in itself raises the movie a few spots on our list. Also, the film is based on a short story by Jonathan Ames, the man behind Bored to Death, and is scored by none other than Johnny Greenwood. Sounds like a perfect storm of the weird and the competent.
3. A Gentle Creature (Sergei Loznitsa)
Sergei Loznitsa’s third feature has the right combination of attributes to win the whole thing: it’s topical, it’s bound to be a slow-burn philosophical drama and it’s made by a director many critics believe to be one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. Loznitsa is responsible for some of the most genre-bending documentaries of our times, has two impeccable features under his belt and is long overdue for a major Cannes recognition.
His latest focuses on a woman living in a small village in Russia. One day she receives the parcel she sent to her husband, serving a sentence in prison. Confused and angered, she sets out to find why her package was returned to sender. The movie is inspired by a short story from Dostoyevsky, so expect a lot of ethically grey areas and as the official synopsis lets us know – a land of crime without punishment.
With that many big names in the Competition, predicting an eventual winner is impossible, but A Gentle Creature is a good bet – the jury will surely be more inclined to pick a fantastic director who isn’t that well-known for the western audiences than an already famous name. The latter option would go down as the third or fourth year in a row Palme goes the boring route, and you can be sure Loznitsa will deliver the goods necessary for going the opposite way.
2. Happy End (Michael Haneke)
Do we really need to talk about this one in length? It’s a Michael Haneke movie. Even if he wasn’t on a two Palme winning streak (meaning it’s been ten years since the Austrian made a movie and DIDN’T win the Cannes Competition), Haneke is arguably the greatest director of the 21st century and as long as he’s making movies, we’ll be watching them.
Little is known on the plot of Happy End, other than the fact it focuses on one family in Calais, France. Initial reports suggested we’re getting a movie on the refugee crisis, but the lead Isabelle Huppert clarified that while it will be strong theme, the film itself is more on an ensemble piece, focusing on the family much more.
Michael Haneke won’t win his third Palme d’Or in a row. Or maybe he will, it didn’t seem possible to win twice in four years, so why not win trice in nine? If anyone can do it, it’s Haneke. But even if he doesn’t, Happy End will certainly be one of the year’s best.
1. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Yorgos Lanthimos is the man of the moment in the European cinema lately, and it’s not hard to see why – even if you didn’t love The Lobster as much as the Cannes jury or the critics, it’s undoubtedly one of the funniest art-house comedies of the decade and coming from a man who delivered Dogtooth, one of the most bleak movies ever, it proved Lanthimos is as diverse as any director working today.
As with so many movies on the list, there isn’t much to go on at the moment, other than the synopsis claiming a teenager’s attempt so bring a brilliant surgeon into his dysfunctional family takes a turn for the worse. Back in 2016 Colin Farrell claimed the screenplay made him feel sick and that one of the genres the official information offers is horror, so don’t expect anything like The Lobster here.
But not knowing what to expect is exactly what the public, us included, wants from the Greek director. If he can deliver a third movie as original the first two (let’s forget Alps even exists), he surely deserves a Cannes award, and not some measly Jury prize, but the Palme d’Or itself.
Author Bio: Vladas is a film journalist and a festival programmer with a degree in Philosophy. He is confident that one day he will write a comedy at least as good as Hot Fuzz, although all evidence so far points otherwise. He also likes to read and crush the opposition in old Fifa games.