Despite the fact David Lynch had already doused wild rumors that he would be attending Cannes with a top secret project (reportedly starring Laura Dern), many watching the lineup announcement for the festival’s 75th edition on Thursday were still patiently waiting for artistic director Thierry Fremaux to work his way through the alphabet to get to the Ls.
While Lynch’s name — as expected — wasn’t called out, the films and directors that were should prove enough to underline Cannes’ credentials as the world’s premiere film festival as it returns to full form following a quieter, pushed-back event in 2021 and non-existent 2020.
A heady mix of filmmakers heading to the South of France in May for official selection slots in and out of competition includes numerous festival veterans and previous Palme d’Or winners, a very healthy assortment of A-list indie titles, a solid selection of interesting genre fare out, and — as was already known — at least one major tentpole. And across all this there’s the sort of Hollywood star-power that should see the crowds and cameras return in force.
Among the Cannes returnees are James Gray (Armageddon Time), Claire Denis (Stars at Noon), Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave), Michael Hazanavicius (festival opener Z), Ruben Östlund (Triangle of Sadness), Hirokazu Kore-eda (Broker), Kelly Reichardt (Showing Up), George Miller (Three Thousand Years Of Longing) and David Cronenberg (Crimes of the Future), Östlund and Kore-eda also among the previous Palme winners. From this impressive selection of auteurs, several — notably Cronenberg and Reichardt — return to the festival after over a decade away from the Croisette, Reichardt last in town with 2008’s Wendy and Lucy and Cronenberg not seen since 2012’s Cosmopolis.
Over in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, which has provided a springboard for several directors in the main competition this year (Ali Abbasi makes the leap with Holy Spider after winning the Un Certain Regard award in 2018 with Border, while Lukas Dhont moves over with his second feature Close), there are several opportunities for potential breakthrough titles and next big thing filmmakers. First-timers include Chie Hayakawa (Plan 75), Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret (Lles Pires), Saim Sadiq (Joyland), Lola Quivoron (Rodeo), Maksim Nakaonechnyi (Butterfly Vision), and Alexandru Belc (Metronom), while Agnieszka Smocynska’s Silent Twins will likely attract attention thanks to its MCU star lead Letitia Wright, as should Beast, marking the filmmaking debut of Mad Max: Fury Road and Zola star Riley Keough, who co-directed the film with Gina Gammell.
And of course, all of this isn’t without forgetting the two major films previously announced in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis and, arguably the hottest ticket in town, Tom Cruise’s return to the skies for Top Gun: Maverick.
For the star-spotters, a casual glance at the names that should be hitting up the red carpet — alongside Cruise — includes Kristen Stewart, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Andre 3000, Idris Elba, Jeremy Strong, Léa Seydoux, Miles Teller, Viggo Mortensen, Margaret Qualley, Song Kang-ho, Woody Harrelson and Tilda Swinton.
Having lost ground to Venice over the last two years due to COVID-19 and the timing of its various iterations and mutations, Thursday’s announcement — even without Lynch — shows one clear sign: Cannes is back.
And, as has already been noted by at least one festival watcher, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was a very late entrant to the 2019 edition. So who knows what might happen?