For two weeks every May, hundreds of actors, directors, models, and industry professionals descend upon the city of Cannes, France for the 12-day Cannes International Film Festival. Like every year, there were moments that garnered attention, like a historic Palme D’Or victory and the world’s most awkward press conference moment (courtesy of Quentin Tarantino) but in an industry filled with controversy, Cannes 2019 was refreshingly uneventful. Below, Art & Science breaks down our key films, awards and moments of this year’s festival.
Zombies and Bill Murray Open Cannes
Cannes opened with The Dead Don’t Die, a star-studded film starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover and Selena Gomez – and further proving that the zombie movie is nowhere near being played out. Murray, Driver and Sevigny play a trio of hard-working police officers in the sleepy, fictional town of Centerville. Almost instantly, ‘’polar fracking’’ has knocked the Earth off its axis, meaning the sun doesn’t set, animals disappear and – you guessed it – zombies crawl out of the ground. Plagued by the expectations set by previous films in the genre like Shaun of the Dead, the film opened to luke-warm applause and mixed reviews at Cannes, with some audience members saying it was almost too self-aware. Regardless, we’re excited to see Bill Murray and his signature dry humour on the big screen in June.
Elton John and Rocketman Touch Down
Rocketman, one of Cannes’ most anticipated premieres, did not disappoint. The film follows the early life and career of Elton John, played to perfection by Taron Egerton (of Kingsman movie fame). Rocketman is directed by Dexter Fletcher, who stepped in to finish Bohemian Rhapsody after the previous director was fired. It’s evident he is completely in control of this film, which fully embraces the fantasy and theatrics that made its’ subject famous. Inevitably, Rocketman has already raised comparisons to last year’s Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which went on to win countless awards including a Best Actor Oscar for Rami Malek’s portrayal of the famed Queen frontman. There are some noticeable differences – Egerton sings all of the film’s songs himself, where as Malek lip-synched, and Rocketman is categorized as a musical, not a drama. Regardless, the film premiered to an extremely warm welcome at Cannes and a seven minute standing ovation for the cast. The main question – will Malek and Bohemian Rhapsody’s historic run dampen Rocketman’s award chances?
Tarantino’s Triumphant Return
Returning to the city where he famously premiered Pulp Fiction in 1994, director Quentin Tarantino brings with him Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. Set in 1969 Hollywood, the film follows Rick Dalton, a television actor and his stunt-double Cliff Booth, played by Tarantino sophomores Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Set on the backdrop of the Manson murders, the film also stars Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate. The film is a love letter to everything the director loves – spaghetti westerns, martial arts and the Hollywood of his childhood. The film opened to applause and a six-minute standing ovation, but mixed reviews from critics. Like many, the director was asked by a reporter about the lack of female representation, causing this awkward moment, while others say it’s the closest the director has come to Pulp Fiction.
This year’s Palme D’Or, the prize awarded to the best film of the festival, went to Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, making it the first Korean film to win the honour at Cannes. Parasite is a film about two families of very different fortunes, and unfolds in a way standard of Joon-ho’s other films (if you’ve seen 2013’s Snowpiercer or 2017’s Okja, you’ll know what we mean). In the Best Actress category, Emily Beecham won for her role as a scientist in Little Joe, a psychological thriller. Antonio Banderas was awarded Best Actor for his role in Pain & Glory, and is considered to be serious competition for DiCaprio’s 2020 run for the Best Actor Oscar.
Interested in our previous work with film festivals? Check out what we did with the Toronto International Film Festival