It’s that time of year again, when the stars line the Croisette for the Cannes International Film Festival. This year promises to be bigger than ever, with high-wattage celebs including Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Josh Brolin and Charlize Theron planning to show off their star power on the French Riviera. Even the jury is heavy with Hollywood insiders like Jake Gyllenhaal and Sienna Miller, while filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen serve as co-presidents. Here are 11 films the movie world will be buzzing about over their glasses of rosé.
Carol: Blanchett wades back into Oscar-buzz territory with an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s controversial novel The Price of Salt. She stars as a 1950s married woman who falls for a department store clerk (Rooney Mara). Director Todd Haynes knows exactly what to do with emotionally entangling high drama like this. His 2002 film Far From Heaven nabbed four Academy Award nods, including a best actress bid for Julianne Moore.
The Sea of Trees: It’s another surprising turn from McConaughey in this contemplative drama. He plays a man who wanders into a forest near Mt. Fuji, where people often commit suicide. When he encounters another lost man (Ken Watanabe) the two try to find their way out. Naomi Watts costars as McConaughey’s wife, but look for this one to be a mano-a-mano acting class.
The Lobster: This one is, um, well just go with it. The scene is in a hotel, somewhere in the near future. Single people have 45 days to find the love of their lives (or the closest thing to it), or they’re turned into animals and released into the woods. If anyone can make sense of this wild premise, it’s this cast, including Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seydoux and John C. Reilly.
Sicario: Remember the name Denis Villeneuve, because his films tend to get critical acclaim that could translate to some love during awards season. The French-Canadian directed morally challenging dramas like 2013’s Enemy and Prisoners, and he’s back with his take on the drug war. Emily Blunt stars as a CIA agent trying to bring down a Mexican cartel boss. Brolin, Benicio Del Toro and Victor Garber fill out the cast.
Macbeth: Shakespeare’s tragic king can’t accept the evil that men do – particularly himself. So it should be most exciting to see Michael Fassbender take on the role, particularly with his penchant for playing characters who can’t face themselves. No less an actress than Marion Cotillard tackles Lady Macbeth, and you know how much the Academy loves her.
A Tale of Love and Darkness: Portman steps into the director’s chair with what should be a meaty adaptation of Amos Oz’s memoir. She also stars in the film about a journalist who’s an advocate of the two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Amy: The late Amy Winehouse gets the documentary treatment in this hotly anticipated film. She couldn’t hope for better than to put her story in the hands of director Asif Kapadia, who did the masterful 2010 Ayrton Senna documentary, Senna, also about a rising star in his field (Formula One racing), who died tragically and too soon.
The Little Prince and [Inside Out]: Pixar’s Inside Out, with emotions (voiced by Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and other stars) battling it out inside a little girl’s mind, isn’t the only animated feature hitting the Riviera. The adaptation of Antoine de-Saint Exupery’s beloved novel The Little Prince (from the director of Kung Fu Panda) looks sumptuous and has an all-star cast, including Rachel McAdams, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Cotillard, and Del Toro.
Youth: Ostensibly about the friendship between Fred (Michael Caine) and Mick (Harvey Keitel), Youth is also about aging, art and love. Jane Fonda and Weisz add the female energy, while director Paolo Sorrentino (foreign film Oscar winner The Great Beauty) makes it all look like la dolce vita.
The Hateful Eight: Buzz is that Quentin Tarantino will reveal footage from his latest, about a bunch of tough characters snowed in by a Wyoming blizzard. Samuel L. Jackson, Channing Tatum, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and a whole slew of folks star. Q’s taken the opportunity to show footage at Cannes before, giving the swells a peak at Django Unchained a few years back. It’ll be the hottest ticket in town.