When the 68th Cannes Film Festival kicks off Wednesday night, it will do so with only the second opening night feature directed by a woman in the festival’s history. That movie, La Tete Haute, is just one of the buzzed-about films unspooling in the south of France over the next 12 days.
Fellow female director Natalie Portman will unveil her first feature, her all-Hebrew passion project, A Tale of Love and Darkness, in a special screening. Also getting out-of-competition screenings are potential summer blockbusters Mad Max: Fury Road, which will premiere in Cannes the day before the Tom Hardy– and Charlize Theron-starring prequel hits U.S. theaters, and Disney-Pixar’s latest movie, Inside Out, with director Pete Docter returning to the Croisette after opening the 2009 festival with Up.
Additional out-of-competition films that are drawing the interest of Cannes-watchers include Amy, the eponymous Amy Winehouse documentary; Woody Allen‘s Irrational Man, also getting a summer release; and shocking director Gaspar Noe‘s latest, Love.
In terms of films vying for the coveted Palme d’Or, eagerly anticipated titles include Todd Haynes‘ ’50s-set lesbian love story Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara; Gus Van Sant‘s Matthew McConaughey starrer Sea of Trees; Denis Villeneuve‘s Sicario, starring Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin; and the latest big-screen version of Macbeth, this one starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.
Read on for more highly anticipated movies screening at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, presented in alphabetical order, with trailers where available.
Amy: The eponymous Amy Winehouse documentary, set to be released in the U.K. on July 3, will get a Cannes out-of-competition midnight screening. The movie, directed by British filmmaker Asif Kapadia, who also helmed the 2010 eponymous documentary about late Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, has already caused controversy. The family of the late singer, who died of alcohol poisoning in 2011, has spoken out against the film, saying it’s “both misleading and contains some basic untruths.” A24 plans to release Amy in the U.S. this summer, sources previously told The Hollywood Reporter.
The Assassin: Just before this year’s Cannes began, Well Go USA Entertainment acquired North American rights to Hou Hsiao-Hsien‘s martial arts epic, his first feature in eight years. The competition film stars Shu Qi as the title character, based on a female assassin during the Tang dynasty, and Chang Chen. The trained killer is sent back to her homeland with orders to assassinate the man to whom she was promised. The latest movie from the Taiwanese master is eagerly anticipated, with THR‘s chief film critic Todd McCarthy calling Hou’s return, “the number one attraction of Cannes 2015.”
Carol: Todd Haynes’ eagerly awaited Carol is his first film in Cannes competition since 1998’s Velvet Goldmine. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star in the 1950s-set lesbian love story based on Patricia Highsmith‘s novel The Price of Salt.
Cemetery of Splendour: Thailand director Apichatpong Weerasethakul returns to Cannes, where he won the 2010 Palme d’Or for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. His latest film, screening in the Un Certain Regard section, centers around a middle-aged housewife who watches over and becomes interested in a young soldier suffering from sleeping sickness. Magic, healing, romance and dreams all factor into the film about the housewife and volunteer’s journey to understand herself and the world around her. Cemetery of Splendour takes place in a memory-filled temporary clinic in a former school.
Inside Out: Pete Docter makes his Cannes return, after debuting Up as the festival’s opening night film in 2009. This year, Docter will debut his latest Pixar film, Inside Out, in an out-of-competition screening. The movie, which features the voice talents of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black and Mindy Kaling, goes inside the head of an 11-year-old girl, where five different emotions manage their keeper and maintain her memories — a task that becomes difficult after the girl is forced to move to a new city, leaving her friends behind. Cannes filmgoers will get an early look at the potential summer blockbuster, which hits U.S. theaters on June 19.
Irrational Man: After premiering a dozen movies on the Croisette, Woody Allen returns to Cannes with his latest, out-of-competition movie, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone and Parker Posey. In the movie, which Sony Pictures Classics is releasing on July 17, Phoenix plays a down-and-out philosophy professor who finds a renewed purpose after getting close with his best student (Stone).
The Lobster: In this bizarre love story set in the near future, single people are forced to find a mate in 45 days. If they fail, they’re transformed into animals and released into the wild. Colin Farrell, John C. Reilly, Lea Seydoux, Rachel Weisz and Ben Whishaw star in the competition entry, which also marks the English-language debut of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth).
Louder Than Bombs: Norwegian director Joachim Trier makes his English-language debut with this competition film starring Gabriel Byrne, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Ryan, David Strathairn, Rachel Brosnahan and Isabelle Huppert, who plays photographer Isabelle Reed. The film takes place three years after Reed’s death, when an upcoming exhibition brings her eldest son, Jonah (Eisenberg), back home. There, Jonah, his father (Byrne) and younger brother, Conrad (Devin Druid), struggle to reconcile their feelings about Reed, whom they all remember differently.
Love: Visually assaulting director Gaspar Noe (Irreversible, Enter the Void) returns to Cannes with a 3D pornographic odyssey, premiering at a midnight screening. In the film, a man alone in his apartment reminisces about his two-year affair with a now missing woman, Electra.
Macbeth: Australian director Justin Kurzel brings his interpretation of Shakespeare’s classic to Cannes’ competition. Michael Fassbender plays Macbeth with Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth. The Weinstein Co. has already acquired U.S. and Canadian rights.
Mad Max: Fury Road: The prequel to the Mel Gibson trilogy from more than 30 years ago will get an out-of-competition screening at Cannes the day before its U.S. theatrical release. George Miller, who directed the original films, helms the latest entry, in which Tom Hardy plays the eponymous road warrior, who teams up with Charlize Theron’s Furiosa to survive in a postapocalyptic desert environment. The film had a 13-year journey to the big screen, dealing with changes to the shooting location and actors. The elaborate final film co-stars Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Sea of Trees: Gus Van Sant’s eagerly anticipated Sea of Trees stars Matthew McConaughey as a suicidal American who travels to the titular Japanese forest intending to take his own life. There he meets and decides to help a lost Japanese man, played by Ken Watanabe. The two set off on a journey of reflection and survival, reaffirming McConaughey’s character’s will to live and reconnecting him with his wife, played by Naomi Watts, a relationship told through flashbacks. McConaughey promoted Sea of Trees to foreign buyers at last year’s Cannes, saying the script was the best he’d read in five years. “It’s like [reading] a whole bunch of haikus back-to-back,” the actor said. “I got the chills, which doesn’t usually happen. And with Gus, I thought it was the perfect match.” The film marks Van Sant’s fourth competition film. He won the Palme d’Or for 2003’s Elephant.
Sicario: The latest from Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve is a Mexican cartel drama starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. The competition title centers around an idealistic FBI agent (Blunt), who’s enlisted by a government task force to track down a drug kingpin in the lawless border area between the U.S. and Mexico. Lionsgate has already acquired U.S. rights to the film, written by Taylor Sheridan, and is set to release it in theaters on Sept. 18.
A Tale of Love and Darkness: Natalie Portman‘s feature directorial debut will get a special screening at Cannes. The drama, which she shot in Hebrew, is based on Israeli writer and journalist Amos Oz‘s memoir and centers on his relationship with his mother, who killed herself when Oz was 12 years old and whom Portman plays.
The Tale of Tales: Matteo Garrone, the Italian director behind Cannes grand jury winners Gomorrah and Reality, ventures into fantasy horror with this competition movie about royal kingdoms, sorcerers, fairies, fearsome monsters, ogres, acrobats and courtesans. The loose interpretation of 17th century fairy tales stars Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly and Vincent Cassel.
La Tete Haute: Only the second opening night film directed by a woman in Cannes’ history, Emmanuelle Bercot‘s drama tells the story of a juvenile delinquent and the efforts of a judge (Catherine Deneuve) and counselor to save him. The film, which is getting an out-of-competition screening, will be released theatrically the same day in France.
Youth: Oscar winning Great Beauty director Paolo Sorrentino‘s second English-language film stars Michael Caine as a retired orchestra conductor with Harvey Keitel as his director friend Mick, with whom Caine’s conductor is vacationing in the Alpine foothills. The competition entry also stars Jane Fonda, Rachel Weisz and Paul Dano. Youth marks the Cannes favorite’s sixth competition film.