What are the best films out of this year's Cannes Film Festival? Which ones should you be taking an interest in? What films should be a priority for you to see? After 12 days at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, after 33 screenings, it's time to present my 2018 list of my Top 8 Favorite Films. This was my 9th time back to this festival, and I love being there in the middle of all, committing fully to seeing as many films as I can. These eight listed below are the ones that I adore, that connected with me emotionally or intellectually, and I hope everyone plans to check them out when they arrive in their neighborhood. They are worth the wait. There were many outstanding films this year, and this is my final recap of the 2018 festival - see all of these.
There are not that many comedies that play at the Cannes Film Festival every year, only a few good ones slip in. The World is Yours, titled Le monde est à toi in French, is the latest feature film made by acclaimed music video director Romain Gavras. The film is a comedy about a small-time drug dealer from Paris who as aspirations to get out of the drug world once and for all, and settle down selling Mr. Freeze ice pops in Morocco. The biggest thing in his way - his own mother, who actually is one of the top gangsters in the city, and still has a steady hand on all of his money. This film plays like Snatch meets Spring Breakers with some serious French attitude, a mobster "coming-of-age" for the new age that is so much ludicrous fun. It's about time Gavras breaks out and gets the attention he deserves as a talented, always-fresh filmmaker with spunk.
Looking back on Cannes this year, everything did turn out pretty well. No disasters, nothing bad happened, no big complaints, they actually let us bring in water to the cinemas this year (they didn't last year). At the start of the festival, I wrote about how they were entering a new era and starting out by making some major changes - and who knew how this would all affect us. Now that the 71st Cannes Film Festival is finished, the awards handed out, looking back on the experience - it was a great year. It went smooth, they showed a ton of outstanding films, plus a few bad ones. Even though it wasn't exactly perfect, they seemed to actually be making some good progress getting into a new era and slowly setting a precedent for the next few years. Dare I say, they're making the right steps. Little by little, they're cleaning up their act and still remaining relevant - even without Netflix films (for now). Don't listen to the naysayers, Cannes is as important as ever.
Every year at the Cannes Film Festival, there are one or two films that I see at the right time and right place for me to suddenly get that visceral feeling where I'm screaming inside about "holy shit I'm at the Cannes Film Festival!!!!!" This year, watching Gaspar Noé's latest film Climax gave me that feeling, and it was sublime to experience. Noé's return to Cannes with his latest work came with an immense amount of hype and expectations and buzz, but he's actually made his least controversial film to date. It's half a dance film, half a drug-trip horror film and that's pretty much it, but it's pure artistic joy and cinematic expression. It's the kind of film you can only properly experience on the big screen, not because it really needs a big screen, but because it's the epitome of what great cinema is - the vibrant art and unique magic of visual storytelling.
Why do I keep doing this? Why do I write reviews, why do I write about films? Why do I even watch films? What is the point of pursuing a creative life when you know that maybe there's nothing waiting for you at the end - no fame, no fortune, no glory. Why? My favorite films are those that challenge me and stimulate me intellectually, that ask big questions and stoke discussions about existence and society and humanity. The Wild Pear Tree, originally titled Ahlat Agaci in Turkish, is the latest film to do this. It's the very last film to premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, and they saved the best for last. Acclaimed Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan is a master of words. His dialogue is incomparable, on a whole other level. And he continues to prove this with each and every film he makes. His latest film is one of his best yet, an existential examination of his own fears while taking us on a journey about life focusing on a father and son.
Congrats Kore-eda! Winners of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival awards, including the coveted Palme d'Or, were revealed at a glamorous ceremony in Cannes, France this weekend. The big winner this year is beloved Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, whose new film Shoplifters won the Palme out of 21 films in competition. One of my other favorite films of the festival, Nadine Labaki's powerful drama Capharnaüm, won the Jury Prize (essentially third prize) which is a relief at least. Spike Lee's superb BlacKkKlansman won the second prize Grand Prix award. All three of these top winners are very strong, and they're excellent films worthy of the attention. I wanted Capharnaüm to win the Palme, but at least many of the best films from the fest did earn accolades in other categories (except for Burning). All of the winners are listed below.
Show me a movie with dogs being treated with love and compassion, and it's already a favorite. I admit that I'm a bit biased and therefore I probably love this film more than I should, but then again, it's a great film. Dogman is the latest feature from acclaimed Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone (of Gomorrah, Tale of Tales) and it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year. The film is not as profound as Garrone's past work, but it is as engaging and still satisfying in its own ways, making it a worthy and admirable cinematic story anyway. Dogman is inspired by a true story of a dog groomer from a small town in Italy who fought back against a thug in the Italian drug underworld, and still kept his dignity (for the most part) while at it.
One of the biggest discoveries and best films of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival is a Belgian dramatic feature titled Girl, from first-time filmmaker Lukas Dhont. I am still stunned by this film, still thinking about it days later. It's always wonderful to see first feature films that have such assured, confident filmmaking, and this is one of those films that is impressive in every way. Girl is about a transgender teenager who dreams of a being a ballerina, and she struggles with the pressures of school and teenager life, along with the intense desire to be perceived and feel like a beautiful woman. It's such an achingly beautiful, emotionally resonant, intelligent, breathtaking film. Perhaps the best transgender film we've seen to date, on a whole other level of excellence above even the Academy Award-winning A Fantastic Woman. One of my favorites of the festival.
"To the ones forgotten by history by those who shape it." While there have been many powerful, important war films over the years, including a few directed by women, Girls of the Sun is a very unique and one-of-a-kind film. Made by French filmmaker Eva Husson, Girls of the Sun (or Les filles du soleil in French) tells the story of a band of Kurdish women fighters, warriors, you could even say, participating in the war in Iraq. This is one of the first and only times we've ever seen a war film about female fighters, focusing entirely on them and their experiences, and it's an engaging and intense experience. More than anything it proves that Eva Husson has the chops to direct even bigger, better action movies and/or features that aren't just simple dramas in a city. And there's a very honorable, empowering aspect to telling this story about these fighters.
"We are not born equal. We must be made equal by the fire, and then we're happy." There's a reason why they've made a new Fahrenheit 451 movie in 2018 - because the world it depicts is a perfectly accurate representation of the society we live in today. The very prescient concept of Ray Bradbury's dystopian novel "Fahrenheit 451" is: to prevent any unhappiness, we must rid the world of alternative opinions and artistic expression and free thinking. To make sure we are all happy, all we have to do is pretend like everyone is equal and not let anyone tell us the truth - and this is exactly what is happening all over the world. They don't want you to know the truth about racism and inequality and sexuality and greed, and we manufacture a fake world of happiness in turn. What happens when we finally learn the truth? We must burn it all down.
I love a good survival film. I don't really know what it is about them, even though they're all quite similar, I still enjoy every last one - The Grey, All is Lost, Gravity, Styx, Buried, The Martian, Life of Pi, 127 Hours, The Revenant, Tracks, Cast Away, The Way Back, Kon-Tiki. The latest survival thriller offering which just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival is a film titled Arctic, about a man trying to survive all by himself in the freezing, cold, snowy arctic. Produced in Iceland and filmed in Iceland, the film is the feature directorial debut of Brazilian filmmaker Joe Penna, and features some very real survival tactics. It also has all of the usual survival film tropes: just when you think everything is fine, something else goes wrong. There's always some animal that makes things worse (in this one, it's a polar bear). Rescuers never see them when nearby.
It's fairly easy to throw around the phrase that a film is an "instant cult classic", but this time I really mean it. Border, which is the translation of the title Gräns in Swedish, is a new film from filmmaker Ali Abbasi (Shelley) and it just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section. File this one under "what the fuck did I just watch?!?" It's one of those kind of "WTF" films, but it's actually damn good. The more I think about it, the more I love it, so quirky and ridiculous and weird and wild and disgusting yet surprisingly amusing and tender. The only problem - I don't want to give away the big reveal, and it's hard to talk about this film without discussing that aspect of it. For this early festival review, I'll be as vague as I can, and I won't spoil it - because this is best experienced without knowing the big reveal before watching it.