The Ten Best Movies From Cannes 2015

woman in red dress lying on the forest floor, Tale of Tales

For two weeks every year in May, all eyes in the media world are firmly on a seaside town in the south of France.

The Festival de Cannes is the largest showcase for new movies in the world, and its status as the best in its field is unparalleled by any other festival on the planet. There is simply nothing bigger than Cannes.

Alongside the “Official Selection” is the “Directors’ Fortnight” and “Critics’ Week” sidebar programmes. As well as the great “Cannes Classics” line-up. These strands offer reviewers and industry folk a wide variety of fresh titles from old masters of the medium to up and coming filmmakers.

Top: Matteo Garrone’s “Tale of Tales” is full of breathtaking compositions and imagery.
Hitchcock/Truffaut movie 2015
Two masters of cinema sit down to chat in Kent Jones’s superb documentary.

10

Hitchcock/Truffaut

Kent Jones’s excellent documentary explored the story behind François Truffaut’s landmark 1967 book, “Hitchcock/Truffaut.” With its mix of archival footage, audio clips and interviews with David Fincher, Wes Anderson and Peter Bogdanovich, among others, Jones has directed an affectionate portrayal of two artistic giants forming an unlikely but unique friendship. It’s a joyous celebration of cinema that’ll warm the hearts of all cinephiles.

Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel in youth (2015)
Paolo Sorrentino’s latest film takes place in an exclusive Swiss hotel.

9

Youth

Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel formed an endearing double act in Paolo Sorrentino’s latest picture, “Youth.” Set in an exclusive Swiss hotel, a retired composer (Caine) and a Hollywood movie director (Keitel) reflect on their lives, their creative struggles and what it means to be staring old age and the prospect of death right in the face. Caine’s performance is tremendous.

SALMA HAYEK in Tale of Tales
Salma Hayek stars in “Tale of Tales” as a queen in a fairy tale kingdom.

8

Tale of Tales

Matteo Garrone’s “Tale of Tales” is one of the films from the festival that I initially dismissed as no great shakes, but found myself returning to it, in my mind, and subsequently finding much to appreciate. Given that we live in a world where Disney pretty much has the monopoly on fairy tales, Garrone has made a film for adults that is full of beauty, magic and wonder.

kids having fun on the street in Sleeping Giant
“Sleeping Giant” is a very impressive debut from Canadian director, Andrew Cividino.

7

Sleeping Giant

Andrew Cividino’s directorial debut screened in the “Critics’ Week” programme. “Sleeping Giant” is a coming-of-age drama, where class conflict, desire and unsteady friendships slowly walk the path to tragedy. Capturing the boredom and baking heat of long summer days and weaving into it an air of menace and tension, “Sleeping Giant” is riveting and tightens around the viewer like a knot.

the assasin, 2015. asian action



“The Assassin” won a major prize at this year’s Festival de Cannes.

6

The Assassin

Eight years in the making and winner of this year’s “Prix de la mise en scène,” Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s “The Assassin” makes “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” look like a kid with Attention Deficit Disorder speedballing Coca-Cola and popping candy. It’s the most chilled out, Zen martial arts movie ever made. Jaw-dropping in its sheer beauty, “The Assassin” also comes with silky and graceful camera work.

sniper in Sicario
The mysterious assassin (Benicio del Toro) takes aim in Denis Villeneuve’s exciting and soulful war film.

5

Sicario

Denis Villeneuve’s gripping war film is set not in a far off land, but along the border between America and Mexico. “Sicario” is a study in the current philosophy behind the war against the drug cartels. Each side is trying to destroy the other, and neither side will ever give in. Chaos reigns and innocent lives continue to be lost daily.

indian in front of volcano, Embrace of the Serpent
Cirro Guerra’s “Embrace of the Serpent” is unlike any Amazonian adventure ever seen before.

4

Embrace of the Serpent

Cirro Guerra quite perversely shot his Amazon-set adventure in black-and-white. Think about it. A world of the richest colours reduced to shades of grey. And yet it works on a profound level, as we adjust our eyes to a new way of seeing. “Embrace of the Serpent” is a majestic experience and unlike any other film at Cannes this year.

girl with pig in forest, The Lobster movie
French star, Léa Seydoux, walks a pig in Yorgos Lanthimos’s deadpan sci-fi comedy, “The Lobster.”

3

The Lobster

Winner of the “Special Jury Prize,” “The Lobster” is a deadpan sci-fi comedy-drama set in a world in which lonely people are turned into animals if they’re unable to find a partner within 45 days. Yorgos Lanthimos made his English-language debut and cast movie stars Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw and Léa Seydoux. “The Lobster” is a continuation of the director’s studies in control and social conformity.

worker in son of saul
Géza Röhrig as Saul, a concentration camp worker attempting to bury his son.

2

Son of Saul

Once in a while, a movie comes along that is pretty much unlike anything else you’ve ever seen. Prepare yourself for “Son of Saul.” László Nemes’s astonishing debut, which earned him the “Grand Prix” award, is set in Auschwitz and follows a deeply traumatised man trying to bury a corpse that he believes is his son. The film is nothing short of a masterpiece and was robbed of the “Palme d’Or.”

couple holding each other, Marguerite & Julien
Anaïs Demoustier and Jérémie Elkaïm star as siblings in love, in Valérie Donzelli’s latest film.

1

Marguerite & Julien

Valérie Donzelli’s “Marguerite & Julien” was my favourite film at this year’s festival. A grand and transgressive love story and tragedy (the lovers happen to be brother and sister), Donzelli’s playful approach, as well as her use of surrealism (it felt like a love letter to Walerian Borowczyk), was strikingly presented. It’s a shame that most other critics seemed to hate its guts.

All images courtesy of Cannes, © respective film studios.
Martyn Conterio

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Martyn is based in London, England and writes about movies. He has had work published by Little White Lies, The Guardian, Total Film, Grolsch Film Works, Rue Morgue and other quality publications and websites. He is the author of a monograph on Mario Bava's classic horror film, "Black Sunday." An avid soccer fan, he supports... Follow the author @ Twitter and view more articles.

June 1, 2015 Cinema Special Feature