10 films you need to see at cannes 2016

Kristen Stewart, Lily Rose Depp, and a strong band of young female directors to watch out for on the Croissette.

by Colin Crummy
10 May 2016, 1:20pm

The Neon Demon

The French Riviera rolls out the red carpet this week for the Cannes Festival, bringing with a healthy dose of high end international filmmaking and an injection of Hollywood pizazz. Festival favorites from mainland Europe — like the Dardenne Brothers and Pedro Almodóvar — return to the main festival competition; while out of competition, there's global premieres for Steven Spielberg's The BFG and Jodie Foster's Money Monster, starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Jack O'Connell. Elsewhere on screen, that strong headcount of A-List talent continues with turns from Marion Cotillard to Kristen Stewart (both appearing in two films each). The festival — which runs from Thursday to May 22 — looks set to showcase strong emerging talent from across the globe, in front of and behind the camera. Here, i-D picks out 10 to watch out for on the Croisette.

American Honey by Andrea Arnold
Andrea Arnold won the Jury Prize in 2006 with her audacious directorial debut Red Road and again in 2009 for her second, Fish Tank. No pressure then as she returns this year with her first U.S. based film, American Honey, a road movie about a teenage girl who gets embroiled with a crowd selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door. Sounds quaint, but under Arnold's social realist lens, should be anything but. And just as the director made a great spot when she cast unknown Katie Jarvis in the lead for Fish Tank, she'll be hoping to repeat the trick here with Sasha Lane playing troubled teen. Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough play in support.

The Neon Demon by Nicolas Winding Refn
It looks — from the trailer at least — as luxe as any high end fashion campaign, but The Neon Demon, Nicolas Winding Refn's tale of a young model set upon by a vampiric mob of Los Angeles' most beauty obsessed, drips with the director's trademark style perfected in Drive and a little overcooked in Only God Forgives. In this, a horror story with more than a little bite, Elle Fanning stars as the seemingly angelic new girl, with Christina Hendricks, Abbey Lee, Bella Heathcote, and Jena Malone playing it real thirsty.

Café Society by Woody Allen
The opening film of the festival is a Woody Allen comedy about a boy-girl courtship in 1930s Hollywood which looks set to be both playful send up of the studio system (not dissimilarly to the Coen Brothers' recent Hail, Caesar) and witty treatise on the pratfalls of romantic love. Here, the charm could lie in the casting, reuniting Adventureland co-stars Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg as the star crossed lovers, with Blake Lively as glamorous seducer and Steve Carell as Hollywood bigwig.

Rester Vertical by Alain Guiraudie
After his gay cruising drama Stranger by the Lake created waves in the Un Certain Regard category in 2013, French filmmaker Alain Guiraudie steps up a gear and into the main competition. Staying Vertical is about a filmmaker whose encounter with a shepherdess brings unexpected consequences for both his art and real life. With Guiraudie at the helm, audiences can be assured of strange surprises.

Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade
Another filmmaker on the rise is German writer and director Marden Ade whose third feature plays in competition. Her last, Everyone Else, won the Grand Jury Prix at Berlin in 2009. Details about Toni Erdmann are scant, except that it's about father who re-enters his daughter's life in a bid to lighten up her joyless corporate lifestyle by way of some practical jokes.

Julieta by Pedro Almodóvar
A perennial favorite at Cannes, it's good to see the spiky Spanish auteur back in competition after his light-on-laughs financial crisis comedy I'm So Excited from 2013 didn't show on the Croisette. Julieta looks like Almodóvar on more serious, substantive form, in a female heavy ensemble about a widow whose daughter disappears without any explanation, adapted from three short stories by Alice Munro.

Personal Shopper by Olivier Assayas
After Twilight, Kristen Stewart can green light movies, a power she seems determined to harness into getting interesting, intelligent scripts unto the screen. It's a strategy that's clearly working for her, with a great spot in this year's Certain Women and the small matter of French cinema's highest acting honor, a Cesar for her part in Clouds of Sils Maria. In Personal Shopper, she reunites with Sils Maria director Olivier Assayas, for what sounds like a supernatural companion piece about ghostly goings on in the Parisian fashion underworld.

It's Only the End of the World by Xavier Dolan
Cannes favorite since he was knee high to an awards podium, Xavier Dolan shared the Jury Prize in 2014 for Mommy. This year, the 27-year-old returns with It's Only the End of the World, adapted from Jean-Luc Lagarce's play about a writer returning home after 12 years to announce his imminent death. It's Only the End of the World looks set to strike a more solemn tone than Mommy; its starry line up of Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux, Vincent Cassel, Nathalie Baye, and Gaspard Ulliel serves to illustrate Dolan's unstoppable rise.

Voir Des Pays by Delphine Coulin, Muriel Coulin
Cannes will be under scrutiny for its female representation in front of and behind the camera (there's just three female-directed films in the main competition) so it's encouraging to see the Coulin sisters make a return to the festival with their second feature. The Stopover is about two young female soldiers who, on return from a tour of duty in the French army in Afghanistan, are given a three-day stay in Cyrus to decompress. The violence they encountered at war is not so easy to forget, in this adaptation of Delphine's novel.

The Dancer by Stéphanie Di Giusto
One of the stars of Voir des Pays is French singer songwriter Soko, who gossip surfers among you may recognize as a close associate of Kristen Stewart. Soko takes the lead again in Stéphanie Di Giusto's directorial debut, The Dancer, about the real life late 19th Century performer Loie Fuller, who was influential in making dance an art form in its own right. But Fuller was also to encounter fellow dancer Isadora Duncan — played here by Lily Rose Depp — in a meeting that brings about her downfall.

Cannes Festival is on May 11 - 22. 


Text Colin Crummy

Cannes 2016
Colin Crummy