Cannes Film Fest 2021: Anticipated (Buzzy?) Competition Titles


With the Cannes Film Festival back after last year’s pandemic-enforced hiatus, what competition titles are most anticipated?

Highlights in Main Lineup


Director Leos Carax

Nine years after Holy Motors, his darkly comic take of an actor’s existence, France’s punk poet returns with an English-language debut that takes him into a romantic of genre, the movie musical.

Adam Driver plays a stand-up comic married to Marion Cotillard’s famed opera singer in a story that revolves around their surprisingly gifted daughter.

The original screenplay, music and songs are by brothers Ron and Russell Mael of the art-pop band Sparks, recently celebrated in Edgar Wright’s documentary.


Director Paul Verhoeven

The Dutch provocateur has returned to European stories, first with World War II thriller Black Book and then rape revenge psycho-drama Elle, which offered Isabelle Huppert a memorable, Oscar-nominated role.

The director has always been known for his frank treatment of sexuality, and this latest, starring Virginie Efira and Charlotte Rampling, explores the life of a lesbian nun in Renaissance Italy.

Bergman Island

Director Mia Hansen-Løve

The director casts Tim Roth and Vicky Krieps as a filmmaker couple seeking inspiration during a summer retreat to the Swedish island that served that function for Ingmar Bergman.

But their pilgrimage causes lines to blur between reality and fiction in a drama that also stars Mia Wasikowska.

Compartment No. 6

Director Juho Kuosmanen

The Finnish director’s idiosyncratic 2016 black-and-white boxing drama, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, was an original debuts, earning the top prize in Un Certain Regard.

He graduates to the main competition with this adaptation of Rosa Liksom’s 2011 novel about a woman traveling by train to Moscow in the dying days of the Soviet Union, and the eruption into her solitude of a Russian former soldier whose lurid stories throw open a whole world beyond her experience.


Director François Ozon

The prolific Cannes regular reunites with writer Emmanuèle Bernheim, his collaborator on Swimming Pool and 5×2, for this drama about an 85-year-old man who summons his daughter to his bedside after being semi-paralyzed by a major stroke, asking her to help end his life.

Sophie Marceau, André Dussollier, Charlotte Rampling and Hanna Schygulla star.

The French Dispatch

Director Wes Anderson

Back on the Croisette almost a decade after Moonrise Kingdom, Anders has assembled a heavyweight ensemble — Timothée Chalamet, Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Saoirse Ronan and Bill Murray among them — in a comedy-drama spinning three stories published out of the French foreign bureau (in the town of Ennui-sur-Blasé) of a fictional Kansas newspaper preparing its final issue.

A Hero

Director Asghar Farhadi

The Oscar-winning Iranian director behind A SeparationThe Salesman and The Past received mixed reviews for his 2019 foray into mystery, Everybody Knows.

Plot details of his Farsi-language film are kept under wraps, though the suspenseful narrative does appear to be a return to the home turf of the intimate domestic dramas of internal family conflict.


Director Apitchatpong Weerasethakul

The contemplative director who won the Palme d’Or in 2010 for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives makes his English-language debut.

Tilda Swinton plays a woman traveling in Colombia investigating the origins of a strange sound that startles her reflect the director’s fascination with dreams and nature.


Director Justin Kurzel

The Australian director follows his iconoclastic outlaw Western, True History of the Kelly Gang, with a raw account of the worst mass shooting in the country’s history.

Caleb Landry Jones, Anthony LaPaglia, Essie Davis and Judy Davis star in this examination of events leading to the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre in Tasmania, which caused 35 deaths and prompted changes in national gun-control laws.

Red Rocket

Director Sean Baker

The indie director who scored breakout attention with his underclass tales, Tangerine and The Florida Project, has used the porn industry as backdrop before, in his 2012 drama Starlet.

His latest work is described as a darkly funny portrait of a uniquely American hustler, starring Simon Rex as a washed-up adult star returning to a small Texas hometown.