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Cannes Predictions - Part 3: The Loyalists

April 9, 2024
Hunter Friesen
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With Oscar season firmly behind us (although it never really ends), it’s time to set our sights on the next white whale barreling toward us: festival season! Sundance and SXSW have provided the appetizer with their concentration of indies and spring studio releases, opening the doors for Cannes to take center stage with glitzy red carpets and world-class talent. Last year’s edition proved to be one of its best, with Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a Fall and Grand Prize winner The Zone of Interest being two of the most acclaimed and rewarded films of the year. Also featured were About Dry Grasses, Fallen Leaves, La Chimera, May December, and The Taste of Things.

Last year’s SAG and WGA strikes will likely put a damper on the presence of Hollywood on the Croisette (and potentially at the later fall festivals), but it shouldn’t prevent Delegate General Thierry Fremaux and his team from assembling some of the best that world cinema has to offer. The festival will announce its full lineup on April 11. Until then, I’ll take a closer look at some of the films that are generating buzz and predict which ones are likely to make it up the coveted steps this year.

This final part will cover films from directors who are just as much stars as the actors that feature in their films. These are filmmakers that have either debuted several high-profile films at the festival and/or won an award such as the Palme d’Or. Cannes is a festival built upon relationships, and these auteurs have been steady as a rock for so many years.


Kinds of Kindness

It was only a few weeks ago that Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone were triumphing at the Oscars with Poor Things, and now there’s potential that they’re going to do it all over again. Lanthimos’ unique arthouse sensibilities have matched well with Cannes in the past, with Dogtooth, The Lobster, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, all winning various prizes. He partnered with Searchlight on his two previous films, both of them premiering at Venice and garnering a combined 21 Oscar nominations. The June 21 release date immediately squashes that possibility, all but confirming the Greek auteur's return to Cannes.

Emilia Perez

A previous winner for Dheepan in 2015, Jacques Audiard returns with a Mexican-set opera musical featuring Zoe Saldaña, Selena Gomez, and Édgar Ramírez. Karla Sofía Gascón will play the titular role as her character helps “an escaped Mexican cartel leader undergo sex reassignment surgery to both evade the authorities and affirm her gender.”

The Shrouds

Cannes has been the birthplace for six of David Cronenberg’s films, with Crash wreaking havoc with vehicular-related sex 25 years before Titane. The Canadian icon has been outspoken in the past about his desire to debut his films on the Croisette, and his newest should be no exception. A festival-favorite cast composed of Vincent Cassell, Diane Kruger, and Guy Pearce headline this story of a widower building a device to speak to the dead.


Andrea Arnold doesn't make movies often, but she goes to Cannes every time she does. Her latest one lured Barry Keoghan away from Gladiator 2, and has him paired up with rising star Franz Rogowski. A24 will be handling distribution, with a Palme d’Or certainly being in their sights.

Hard Truths

Mike Leigh is one of the most revered British directors of all time; competing for the Palme d’Or on four occasions, winning it in 1996 for Secrets & Lies. The last few years haven’t been kind to him, with Cannes rejecting Peterloo in 2018 and new financial backing not being easy to come by. The money eventually came in for his new story about a black British family grappling with life after the pandemic. Will he come back to Cannes after being shunned, or stick with the more welcoming fall festivals?


Sean Baker is in the company of Jerry Lewis and James Gray as American directors who are more greatly respected in France than at home. The Florida Project made its premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight, with Red Rocket netting Baker a promotion to the Official Competition. Neon has backed his latest feature, which tells the story of a sex worker between New York and Las Vegas.

Limonov: The Ballad of Eddie / The Disappearance

Cannes has shown loyalty to Russian auteur Kirill Serebrennikov during its multi-year banishment of his country’s government. His next film will continue the biopic streak from Tchaikovsky’s Wife, this time in the English language and focusing on the life of Soviet poet Eduard Limonov. Serebrennikov co-wrote the screenplay with Cold War director Paweł Pawlikowski and Ben Hopkins, and Ben Whishaw will play the titular character.

And if that’s not enough, Serebrennikov has also shot a feature about notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele during his fugitive years in South America. I’d put money down on the former premiering this year, and the latter holding out for next year, or the fall festivals.


Although Arnaud Desplechin has competed for the Palme d’Or on seven occasions (plus a few times in the sidebar), his last few films have been disappointments. Still, there’s no indication he'll be rejected for his new film, especially with its cast featuring Anatomy of a Fall star Milo Machado Graner and Mathieu Amalric.


Sure, Francis Ford Coppola hasn’t made a decent movie in over 25 years. But when you’re the director of The Godfather trilogy and a two-time Palme d’Or winner for The Conversation and Apocalypse Now, you get a free pass for life. The famed director revealed recently that his long-gestating film would be getting a large IMAX push in the fall, which keeps the door open for a long overdue return to the Croisette.

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