Best of the Fest
And so it is done. Twelve days, untold movies, and so many croissants that we half-expected Morgan Spurlock to make a documentary.
It wasn’t a vintage Cannes line up, with no outright masterpiece in show and only 20 or so movies of real quality. But that’s fine when it comes to selecting our dozen favourites: each of the films listed below is a cracker; they will shock or delight you, probably both, and once more prove that the Cannes Film Festival is an essential event in the film calendar.
The movie: Magical realist fable of two deaf pre-teens on journeys of discovery around New York, from Carol director Todd Haynes.
Our reaction: “There’s a lack of cynicism and an innocence to Haynes’ work here, so often a filmmaker of pristine sophistication, that will leave you, well, wonderstruck.”
11. The Beguiled
The movie: Remake of the overlooked Clint Eastwood gem about a girls’ school that takes in a wounded solider during the Civil War.
Our reaction: “As far as remakes go, it’s one of the best in recent memory, Sofia Coppola putting her own staunchly feminist and frothily witty twist on the tale without drastically retooling its story beats.”
10. Good Time
The movie: A criminal (Robert Pattinson) negotiates a night of escalating violence and mayhem after a botched heist, and attempts to break his brother out of the slammer.
Our verdict: “As urgent and gaudy as the lights flashing on the many cop cars that pass through this poetically pulpy crime-thriller, Good Time sees Robert Pattinson give a career-best performance.”
9. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
The movie: Dysfunctional family comedy from Noah Baumbach about three fully grown children who put their differences aside when their oddball father (Dustin Hoffman) falls gravely ill.
Our verdict: “A Baumbach movie to both delight his admirers and widen his audience, The Meyerowitz Stories is his best since The Squid and the Whale.”
8. Happy End
The movie: A portrait of a bourgeois French family whose apparent prosperity hides darker truths, from director Michael Haneke.
Our verdict: “Haneke, as ever, is a master of fluid, textured composition, demanding viewers scrutinise every inch of the screen in search of clues and meaning.”
7. Wind River
The movie: An FBI agent and a local hunter investigate a murder on a frost-filled Indian reservation.
Our verdict: “Taylor Sheridan’s terse direction is soaked in atmosphere, savouring the rhythms and rhymes of this hardscrabble environment before shattering the spell with bouts of explosive violence.”
6. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The movie: A twisted teen causes chaos for a brilliant surgeon and his off-kilter family in the latest from Yorgos Lanthimos.
Our verdict: “Lanthimos’ idiosyncratic offering is both bracingly uncomfortable and blackly funny, wringing from viewers the kind of thin, high-pitched squeals of laughter that must be tamped straight back down for fear of looking like one sick puppy.”
5. 120 Beats per Minute
The movie: French ensemble drama set in the late-‘80s, focusing on ACT UP, the direct-action movement that campaigned for Aids research.
What we said: “A robust mix of the personal and the political that skilfully mixes debate and action, humour and tragedy. Performances across the board are strong, and nominal lead Nahuel Pérez Biscayart is surely a contender for Best Actor.”
The movie: A young girl from South Korea sets out to rescue her lovable ‘super-pig’ from a heartless corporation.
Our verdict: “This thrillingly peculiar movie shuffles genres and tones to offer a supersized dose of entertainment while force-feeding its urgent politics down viewers’ necks until we wretch.”
3. You Were Never Really Here
The movie: Hitman for hire Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is commissioned to rescue the teenage daughter of an ambitious politician from a sex-trafficking ring.
Our verdict: “This is no Taken-style thriller. It is instead cloaked in the slouch-shouldered shadow of Travis Bickle, as Joe shambles about New York on his mission to deliver a young girl from her sordid fate.”
The movie: A couple in the midst of an inflammatory divorce return home one day to find their son has gone missing.
Our verdict: “A bleak and increasingly mesmerising film full of indelible images smothered in rain, snow and ambiguity.”
1. The Florida Project
The movie: A destitute mother and daughter living in an Orlando hotel have a summer of fun in the shadow of Disneyland.
Our verdict: “Superbly acted, The Florida Project gives viewers full residency in this sun-scorched microcosm… It’s vital filmmaking in every sense.”