The 13 best movies from Cannes Film Festival 2018 you HAVE to see

John David Washington and Laura Harrier in BlacKkKlansman
(Image credit: Universal)

It is over. Eleven gone-in-a-blur days, more movies than is good for our health, and some of the most criminal attempts to order in French ever attempted (“Je voudrais un glass of red wine, s'il vous plait” being a particular classic.)

After a slow first few days wheeled out a platter of surprisingly mediocre films given this is the most prestigious film festival on Earth and can cherry-pick from the cream of world cinema, Festival de Cannes clicked into gear. There followed a host of quality films, though our favourite two choices both played outside of the main competition, meaning there was no chance of snaffling the Palme d’Or for them. What were they? Scroll down to find out…

13. Under the Silver Lake

Andrew Garfield in Under The Silver Lake

(Image credit: A24)

The movie: David Robert Mitchell’s follow-up to It Follows is an opaque, labyrinthine, Lynch-meets-Hitchcock LA noir as a disenchanted Andrew Garfield searches for his mysterious neighbour after she disappears. Divisive, but we liked it plenty.

Our reaction: “Reminiscent of classic LA noirs The Long Goodbye, Inherent Vice and Mulholland Drive this is a story of dashed dreams, and the arrogance of a generation who believes the world orbits around them… And while there’s a certain indulgent quality to Silver Lake which smacks of a director handed carte blanche, the film's merits far outweigh its shortcomings.”

Read our full review of Under The Silver Lake here

12. Happy As Lazzaro

A still from Happy As Lazzaro

(Image credit: Cannes)

The movie: Alice Rohrwacher’s first feature since 2014’s warmly received The Wonders starts as a story of sharecroppers in rural Italy, where a naive farmhand befriends a marquis, before taking a surreal and inspired turn...

Our reaction: “Rohrwacher’s rural/social/magical realist fable may be the most humane film of the festival. The first half is beguiling, and beautifully shot on Super 16mm, but it’s only in the socially conscious second half that it becomes truly bewitching. Don’t read too much before watching.”

11. Wildlife 

Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan and Ed Oxenbould in Wildlife

(Image credit: Kaleidoscope)

The movie: Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan star in actor Paul Dano’s directorial debut. Adapting Richard Ford’s ’91 novel, it’s the story of a crumbling marriage in ’60s Montana told from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy.

Our reaction: “As an actor Paul Dano specialises in unassumingly brilliant supporting performances studied in subsurface emotion and precise restraint. He brings these exacting qualities to his directorial debut Wildlife, a quietly devastating coming of age movie dipped in poison.”

Read our full review of Wildlife here

10. Cold War

A still from Cold War

(Image credit: Curzon)

The movie: British-Polish writer-director Pawel Pawlikowski’s first film since his Oscar-winning Ida tracks a doomed romance across Europe, spanning the entirety of the 1950’s.

Our reaction: “Its dazzling monochrome compositions favour placing actors low in the square frame and achieving IMAX impact by oppressing them with towering structures and huge, weighty skies…  Cold War is humane even as it digs for social truths.”

Read our full review of Cold War here

9. The Wild Pear Tree

A still from The Wild Pear Tree

(Image credit: Cannes)

The movie: Palme d’Or winner (Winter Sleep) Nuri Bilge Ceylan returned to the competition with this 188-minute tale of a struggling writer, freshly graduated, returning to his small hometown.

Our reaction: “Plays something like a 188-minute Turkish take on Linklater’s Slacker - walking and talking about everything from the responsibility of the artist to the Koran, from technology to free love vs arranged marriage. A heavyweight fathers and sons tale, too.”

8. Dogman

A still from Dogman

(Image credit: Cannes)

The movie: Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone returns to grit-paved mean streets for the tale of a gentle dog groomer who’s strong-armed into criminal activities with devastating results.

Our reaction: “This is a movie about the grubbiness, pointlessness and cowardliness of crime, while simultaneously recognising that such behaviour is the inevitable consequence of terrible circumstances. The protagonists find themselves on a slide towards ruination that is both authentic and inexorable.”

Read our full review of Dogman here

7. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Alden Ehrenreich in Solo: A Star Wars Story

(Image credit: Disney)

The movie: Prequel to A New Hope in which a cocky wannabe pilot called Han meets-not-so-cute with a hairball named Chewbacca and embarks on a thrilling adventure.

Our reaction: “Hitting lightspeed from its opening sequence and rarely letting up, Solo doesn’t have the emotional heft or lingering impact of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi or, indeed, Rogue One, but it’s the most fun entry since A New Hope. Don’t expect this movie to fly solo – a flyboy franchise is a guarantee.”

Read our full review of Solo: A Star Wars Story here

6. Burning

Steven Yeun in Burning

(Image credit: Cannes)

The movie: Based on a Haruki Murakami short story, Lee Chang-dong’s slow-burn, sublimely ambiguous thriller revolves around two guys and a girl but Twilight it most certainly isn’t.

Our reaction: “A trio of expertly judged performances glide through this enigmatic, discombobulating film which is at once a genre piece, a disquieting character study and a haunting reflection on Korea’s socio-economic divide.”

5. Ash is the Purest White

A still from Ash Is Purest White

(Image credit: Cannes)

The movie: A gangster’s moll gets five years in prison for firing a gun to protect him. Getting out, she goes on a startling journey as she searches for the man she gave up so much for.

Our reaction: “The final chapter stumbles but this is two-thirds of a masterpiece from A Touch of Sin director Jia Zhang-ke, and is powered by a remarkable performance from the great Zhao Tao.”

4. Capharnaüm

A still from Capharnaüm

(Image credit: Cannes)

The movie: A 12-year-old boy is in court to sue his parents for giving him life. Extended flashbacks show us why.

Our reaction: “A touch schmaltzy in places and the wraparound story distracts, but, for the main part, this is stunning social-realism from Lebanese director Nadine Labaki as a 12-year-old boy and his one-year-old charge battle to survive on the streets. Brilliantly made, superbly acted.”

3. BlacKkKlansman

Adam Driver and John David Washington

(Image credit: Universal)

The movie: Spike Lee’s latest joint, starring Denzel’s son David John Washington and Adam Driver, is the crazy true-life tale of a black cop infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan in ‘70s Colorado.

Our reaction: “As well as being consistently funny, BlacKkKlansman throbs with f-bombs, disco dancing, split screens, loaded movie clips (Gone With the Wind, The Birth of a Nation), big collars and bigger hair, and also makes for a riveting undercover procedural thriller replete with all the tropes. It is also one of Lee’s most angry, focused, politically charged films, primed to detonate in Trump’s America.”

Read our full review of BlacKkKlansman here

2. Mandy

Nic Cage in Mandy

(Image credit: Universal)

The movie: Nic Cage loses his wife to a Satanic cult and the trio of leather-clad hell-demons they summon. Revenge is a dish best served bonkers…

Our reaction: “Cage breaks out a cross-bow, a chainsaw and a gigantic silver axe like something out of a Manowar photo shoot, his grin getting bigger and brighter with each fresh gallon of blood that sprays his face.”

Read our full review of Mandy here

1. Climax

A dance scene in Climax

(Image credit: A24)

The movie: A dance troupe down some spiked Sangria and turn on each other in an orgiastic frenzy of rutting and killing.

Our reaction: “It’s electrified filmmaking, and full credit goes to Noé’s crew for the magic they work staging, lighting and capturing a thoroughly convincing underworld, bathing the dance hall in demonic red light as the camera performs the kind of gymnastics an Olympic athlete would win a gold medal for…”

Read our full review of Climax here

Jordan Farley
Deputy Editor, Total Film

I'm the Deputy Editor at Total Film magazine, overseeing the features section of every issue where you can read exclusive, in-depth interviews and see first-look images from the biggest films. I was previously the News Editor at sci-fi, fantasy and horror movie bible SFX. You'll find my name on news, reviews, and features covering every type of movie, from the latest French arthouse release to the biggest Hollywood blockbuster. My work has also featured in Official PlayStation Magazine and Edge.