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 72nd Cannes Film Festival, after 30 screenings, it's time to present my 2019 list of my Top 9 Favorite Films. This was my 10th 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 nine 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 2019 festival - see all of these.
"I had lunch with Scacchi and Makavejev at that 1985 festival, playing the fly on the wall while they tested each other. Their conversation was a sparring match that suggested they had fought great battles on the set of The Coca-Cola Kid, while still remaining friends. We were sitting on a balcony at the Martinez." To celebrate my 10th time attending the Cannes Film Festival this year, I held a small contest to giveaway 10 copies of Roger Ebert's classic book about his experiences at the festival. The book, titled "Two Weeks in the Midday Sun: A Cannes Notebook", is one of my favorite books about cinema that I've ever read. He wrote little notes, drew sketches, and essentially "blogged" about his time at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival - it's stirring and entertaining to see how much his stories mirror my own experiences. I wanted to share this little-known book with other cinephiles and gave out 10 copies to people I met with during the 2019 festival.
The Korean master takes top prize! Winners of the 2019 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 acclaimed South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, whose new film Parasite won the Palme out of 21 other films in competition. It's one of my favorite films of the festival (read my review), and pretty much everyone here loved it. There was a big cheer from the crowd when it won! One of my other favorites, Ladj Ly's Les Miserables (read my review) took home the Grand Prix third place prize tied with Brazilian thriller Bacurau, and Céline Sciamma's incredible film Portrait of a Lady on Fire won Best Screenplay - though it should've picked up more than just this, maybe even Palme. All the 2019 winners are listed below.
The latest film made by acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Diao Yinan (who won the Golden Bear at Berlinale in 2014 with his film Black Coal, Thin Ice) is a noir feature titled The Wild Goose Lake, or Nan Fang Che Zhan De Ju Hui in Chinese. Both written and directed by Diao Yinan, this crazy cool crime thriller is about top gangster who ends up on the run from cops when a night of stealing motorbikes goes sideways. A quiet woman works with him and helps facilitate his sly getaways, and he starts to feel closer and closer to her while constantly coming under attack - both by rival gangsters and ruthless cops who put a bounty on his capture. The Wild Goose Lake is built upon old school film noir filmmaking but with a modern feel. I pretty much loved watching this film, it totally sucked me in even though I wasn't always sure what was going on.
Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu has quickly established himself as one of the most unique and clever Eastern European directors making original films these days. Between Infinite Football last year, and his new feature at Cannes this year, Porumboiu has proven that his mind is unlike any other and is giving us some of the quirkiest, weirdest, smartest, and most interesting cinema that you'll discover in tiny art house cinema all over the world. His latest film is an adventurous dark comedy titled The Whistlers, a cops and criminals story from Romania about a double-crossing cop-criminal who is recruited to help get a guy out of jail in exchange for cash. For the first half I wasn't even sure where this story was going, but by the end it was obvious he was giving a nod to Hitchcock's quirky capers and classic film noir. And having fun doing so.
For his next film, Quentin Tarantino is taking us back to the year 1969. Right at the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood. When hippies roamed the streets, men landed on the moon, and westerns were at the end of their time. Tarantino's ninth feature film is titled Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and it premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival playing in competition - a major feat. He won the Palme d'Or back in 1994 for Pulp Fiction, and has returned a few other times previously with Grindhouse and Inglourious Basterds. This sprawling, nearly-three hour "Old Hollywood" feature is one of Tarantino's most casually entertaining – part of it is a western, part of it is cruising around Los Angeles, and part of it is a story about a fading TV actor and his badass stuntman. There's plenty of slick moments in it, alas it doesn't best his previous films.
Bong Joon-ho reigns!! I didn't think he could be any better than he has already been (almost every film he has made is fantastic - from Memories of Murder to Okja), but South Korean master filmmaker Bong Joon-ho has delivered yet another near-perfect film. His latest film is titled Parasite, a dark comedy with some twists and turns and shocking moments and hilarious moments, and it's absolutely amazing. A complete and total knockout, a masterpiece of cinema. Oh my goodness gracious, it's so fucking good. This is one of Bong Joon-ho's best films, and I LOVE all of his films, so it's hard to even say that this is better than any of them before but he might just be getting better the more he makes. A complex construction of satire and social commentary worked into an intelligent, amusing, devious, uniquely-Korean script that is a total knockout.
Acclaimed filmmaker Terrence Malick returns to the Cannes Film Festival this year 8 years since winning the Palme d'Or in 2011 for The Tree of Life. His latest film is officially titled A Hidden Life (in French: Une vie cachée), originally called Radegund while in production - which is also the name of the town in Austria (St. Radegund) where most of the film takes place. This 2 hour, 53 minute-long film tells the true story of a young farmer in rural Austria during World War II who refuses to sign an oath to Hitler, landing himself in prison. We have seen and heard many stories about conscientious objectors, but this time it's told from the perspective of the Nazis - or rather, someone who was conscripted to join the Nazi army (like most Germans and Austrians) and refused to do so. His family was scorned and spat at, and he never could get out of jail.
I genuinely love animation and I always enjoy catching every new animated film, wherever they may come from, however they may be made. I Lost My Body, also known as J'ai perdu mon corps, is a charming new French animated film directed by Jérémy Clapin about a missing hand. This first premiered in the Critics' Week sidebar at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and it's wonderful. Really wonderful. One of the most imaginative, ambitious, and touching animated films of the year - there's no debate. It's unconventional and unique, but so easy to enjoy and fall deeply into, even if it is just a bit creepy at times. I'm so glad I caught this film in Cannes, as it's a smaller one and animation usually gets brushed aside at this festival. But this deserves our attention, and the acclaim, as it's a truly beautiful film and a one-of-a-kind animation creation.
Two men on a rock in the ocean slowly go mad. In 2015, Brooklyn-based filmmaker Robert Eggers made quite an impression in the film industry with his vintage indie horror film The Witch. He's back with his second feature film, titled The Lighthouse, and let me be the first to tell you that it's a masterpiece. I have no qualms proclaiming this right away, because the film is absolutely phenomenal. Perfection. Eggers' The Lighthouse premiered in the Directors' Fortnight sidebar at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, and it deserves to breakout and be adored by moviegoers all over the world because it really is an extraordinary work of cinema. Every single shot is masterful. The score is exquisite. There are frames from this that will be studied for decades. It's visceral, intense, hilarious, terrifying, engrossing storytelling about two men and madness.
There's no rules, no limits, to the kind of stories that can be told in the sci-fi genre. They can be big or small, space operas or intimate dramas or even noir thrillers, commenting on and critiquing society, politics, and culture through smart storytelling. Vivarium is another terrific indie sci-fi feature, a twisted thriller set in only one location. This premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Critics' Week sidebar, and was barely finished just a week before they brought it here. It's also yet another new sci-fi film borrowing from "Black Mirror" and "Twilight Zone" as a contained concept that doesn't provide all the answers, but it's clever and captivating enough to keep us wondering what's next. I dug this film. It's my kind of twisted, minimal sci-fi.
Maybe all we need is just a little bit of happiness. Maybe happiness is all there is. Or maybe not. Little Joe is a clever, crafty little sci-fi fairytale that is destined to become a cult classic. This low budget drama is the latest written and directed by Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner, and it's playing in competition at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The film has some flaws, and is way too slow, but there's something alluring and intelligent about it that sticks with you and buries itself in your mind. And even though it's honestly pretty easy to figure out what's going on, it's the way she brings this idea to life and portrays it all on screen very minimally that makes it especially captivating. The film achieves so much (in the way of thought-provoking storytelling) with so little, an effective example of very low budget filmmaking expanding upon bigger ideas.