The summer blockbuster season is officially upon us. It is the time when theatres are full of popcorn-munching and superhero fatigue that has officially set in everywhere. With the 10th installment (oh lord!) of the Fast and Furious franchise also upon us, theatres will be like a no-surprise zone for a while. However, for those of us who are always on the lookout for something original, real, and groundbreaking, the Mecca of movies, i.e., the Cannes Film Festival, is also here for its 2023 edition. 

For those of us who are into the religion of Cinephelia, it is an interesting time. It is the time of the year when we get to know what movies we need to look forward to and what anticipated movies to avoid.

In the following list, I have noted down those movies that I think are the ones that I most look forward to watching at some point. This list can be used by those lucky few who will be able to attend the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival. 

Interestingly, The Cannes Jury made the controversial choice of including the film ‘Jeanne du Barry’ which boasts the unexpected inclusion of Johnny Depp in a period piece and is directed by French filmmaker Maïwenn, who was recently alleged of assault. In the last few years, Cannes has also had the inclusion of tentative blockbusters in the roaster, with the latest in the Indian Jones Franchise,  “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” making an appearance in the program. Robert Rodriguez’s “Hypnotic” will also be screened at the fest and will not be a part of this list, sadly. 

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So, without further ado, here are the movies that you have to check out at Cannes 2023: 

1. Astroid City

One of the most anticipated premieres at the Cannes Film Festival 2023 is the latest offering from Wes Anderson. This star-studded film takes audiences on a whimsical journey set against a Junior Stargazer convention backdrop that is unexpectedly disrupted by world-changing events. 

Titled Asteroid City, the film boasts of an impressive ensemble cast featuring the likes of Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Tilda Swinton, Steve Carell, Margot Robbie, and an array of other talented actors. 

Co-written by Roman Coppola, the film promises to deliver Anderson’s signature visual style and idiosyncratic storytelling. The film’s plot, centered around a convention for young astronomy enthusiasts, provides a charming and imaginative setting for unfolding a story that combines Anderson’s trademark quirkiness with thought-provoking themes.

The film, which will have a wider release later this summer, is definitely one of the most interesting movies to check out at Cannes 2023. 

Related to Movies to Watch at Cannes 2023 – All Wes Anderson Films Ranked

2. A Brighter Tomorrow

Movies at Cannes 2023 - A Brighter Tomorrow

A Brighter Tomorrow (Il sol dell’avvenire), directed by Italian director Nanni Moretti, feels like a really personal self-realization exercise. His movie follows a renowned Italian filmmaker named Giovanni, who finds himself at a crossroads as he embarks on the production of a politically charged film. 

However, his personal life takes a toll as his marriage teeters on the brink of collapse. To add to his woes, Giovanni’s co-producer faces imminent bankruptcy, amplifying the challenges he must confront in an industry undergoing rapid transformation. This leads to Giovanni finding himself on a constant edge, forced to reassess his approach and strategies to steer his film project and the people around him toward a hopeful future.

For those of you who know of Moretti, it is easy to anticipate his new film just for the sheer love he has for filmmaking in general. 

3. Monster

After heading to South Korea for Broker, Japanese master Hirokazu Koree-eda returns to his homeland for Monster (Kaibutsu). 

Centered around a young boy named Minato, whose increasingly peculiar behavior becomes a cause for concern for his mother. Instinctively, she senses that something is amiss and embarks on a quest for answers that will upend their lives. Seen through the perspective of the mother, the teacher, and the child, the film unravels a complex web of secrets that bind them all together. 

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Palme d’Or-winner Koreeda has been wildly known for his simplistic stories that often look into the intricacies of family dynamics, societal expectations, and the consequences of suppressed truths. With Monster, we can expect another addition to those stories, making it one of the most interesting movies to see at Cannes 2023. 

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4. Fallen Leaves

Fallen Leaves (Kuolleet lehdet) unfolds a tender and bittersweet narrative that revolves around two individuals brought together by chance in the vibrant backdrop of Helsinki’s night. Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen portray the protagonists, embarking on a quest to discover the elusive and ultimate love of their lives. However, their journey is beset by numerous obstacles, including the man’s battle with alcoholism, lost contact information, and the whimsical nature of life itself, which often hinders the pursuit of happiness.

This poignant tragicomedy, previously believed to be lost, represents the fourth installment of esteemed director Aki Kaurismäki’s renowned working-class trilogy. Following the success of “Shadows in Paradise,” “Ariel,” and “The Match Factory Girl,” the new film stands as a testament to Kaurismäki’s distinctive storytelling style and his exploration of the lives of everyday people.

Marking the return of the elusive Finnish filmmaker after 2018’s The Other Side of Hope, Fallen Leaves is must-see for everyone who hasn’t had a dose of Kaurismaki in a while. 

5. About Dry Grasses

Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan also returns this year to Cannes with his new film About Dry Grasses (Kuru Otlar Üstüne). 

Following Samet, a young teacher stationed in a remote village nestled in the Anatolian region, the film revolves around his ardent desire for a transfer to the bustling city of Istanbul, a dream he has cherished for several years. However, a string of events unfolds, shattering his hopes and leaving him devoid of any optimism.

Just when all seems lost, Samet’s life takes an unexpected turn with the arrival of Nuray, a fellow young teacher. Their encounter ignites a spark of hope within Samet, breathing new life into his aspirations.

Set against the backdrop of a remote village, like other Ceylan movies, the new one feels like a proper clash between the new and old, the desires and mandatory ideations, and if you are aware of the filmmaker’s older works, there’s a chance you might wanna wait for the movie with batted breathes. 

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6. La Chimera

If you were bowled out by the magic realistic flourishes of Italian director Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy in Lazzaro, her latest film La Chimera should automatically roll up on your watchlists. 

Starring acting legend Isabella Rossellini and the young talent of Josh O’Connor, the film, set against the nostalgic backdrop of the 1980s, centers around Arthur, who finds himself drawn back to a quaint seaside village nestled by the picturesque Tyrrhenian Sea.

As a hunter of Etruscan artifacts, Arthur engages in the clandestine pursuit of unearthing these ancient treasures alongside a mischievous group of fellow outlaws. However, Arthur carries a burden within him that sets him apart: a unique gift to perceive emptiness. This haunting sensation stems from the lingering memory of his lost love, Beniamin. The film intertwines Arthur’s quest for Etruscan remains with his personal journey to confront the void left behind by his past relationship.

7. May December

May December Juliaane Moore Portman 2023 Movie

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May December, the latest film by Todd Haynes, follows Julianne Moore (a former actress) and Charles Melton as a married couple whose enduring 20-year partnership becomes the subject of a national tabloid fascination.

As they prepare to bid farewell to their grown children and confront the challenges of an empty nest, their lives take an unexpected turn when a renowned actress, portrayed by Natalie Portman, immerses herself in their family to prepare for a film role where she has to play the character played by Moore. 

The narrative unfolds when Portman’s character embeds herself within the family, meticulously studying their dynamics in pursuit of an authentic portrayal. This intrusion tests the couple’s resilience and puts their relationship under immense pressure. As she delves deeper into their lives, seeking emotional truth, the couple grapples with their own vulnerabilities, exposing the cracks beneath their seemingly idyllic exterior.

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8. Perfect Days

Perfect Days Wim Wenders Cannes 2023

In Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days, the director follows the contemplative world of Hirayama, a seemingly unassuming Tokyo toilet cleaner. Content in his routine-driven existence, Hirayama finds solace and fulfillment in life’s simple pleasures. With a deep appreciation for music, literature, and the beauty of trees, he seeks solace and inspiration amidst the ordinary.

However, as the story unfolds, a series of chance encounters disrupt the tranquility of Hirayama’s life, gradually unveiling fragments of his enigmatic past. Through these unexpected interactions, Wenders provides the viewers with an insight into the depths of his character and the experiences that have shaped him.

Wim Wenders, who is renowned for his thought-provoking and visually stunning storytelling, delves into the profound human desire to find meaning and beauty within the everyday world that surrounds us. 

9. The Old Oak

The Old Oak presents a poignant and timely narrative set in a once-thriving mining community that has faced decades of decline. At the heart of this community stands the eponymous pub, the last remaining public space where people can gather and connect. However, even the pub’s survival hangs precariously in the balance as the determined landlord, TJ Ballantyne, fights to keep it afloat amidst immense challenges.

The arrival of Syrian refugees in the village adds a new layer of complexity to the story. The Old Oak becomes a contested territory, with tensions rising as the community grapples with the unfamiliarity and uncertainty brought by the newcomers. Against this backdrop, an unlikely friendship emerges between TJ and Yara, a young Syrian woman armed with her camera, seeking to capture the essence of this changing community.

As their paths intertwine, TJ and Yara embark on a journey of understanding, compassion, and bridging the divides that separate their respective communities. Together, they navigate the complexities of loss, fear, and the profound struggle to find hope in a world marked by uncertainty.

British filmmaker Ken Loach, who is known for his socialist narratives that mostly deal with social issues like poverty and what it does to people, presents The Old Oak, another humanist drama that is sure to be a certain head-turner among the movies premiering at Cannes 2023. 

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10. The Zone of Interest

After being dormant for almost a decade, Jonathan Glazer, after his masterful 2013 film Under the Skin, is back with The Zone of Interest starring German actors Sandra Huller and Christian Friedel. 

While not much is known about the film, the narrative is supposed to follow the harrowing story of Rudolf Höss, the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and his wife, Hedwig.

Set against the backdrop of one of history’s darkest chapters, the film explores their relentless pursuit of a seemingly idyllic life as they endeavor to build a dream house and garden adjacent to the camp’s horrors.

Within the confines of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss oversaw unimaginable atrocities, perpetuating the systematic extermination of millions of innocent lives. Amidst this horrific environment, the couple’s quest for normalcy and domestic bliss unfolds. The Zone of Interest shall provide a chilling glimpse into the moral and psychological complexities of those who were intimately connected to the Holocaust.

11. Kennedy

Indian filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s newest film brings the director back to his grassroots. A seeming selection to the Midnight section of the Cannes film festival, the film follows the world of an insomniac ex-cop whose existence was believed to be a thing of the past. This enigmatic character continues to navigate the treacherous waters of a corrupt system while desperately seeking redemption.

Haunted by his troubled past and burdened by a heavy conscience, Kennedy is caught in a perpetual struggle between loyalty and morality. As he tirelessly operates within the confines of the corrupt system, his ultimate quest for redemption becomes a driving force in his life.

Starring the unlikely pair of Rahul Bhatt and Sunny Leone, the latest film from Kashyap feels like another deep dive into the depths of human complexity. Known for his bold and gritty storytelling, the movie will most likely provide an exploration of the blurred lines between good and evil, the consequences of one’s actions, and the possibility of finding redemption in a morally compromised world.

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12. Killer of the Flower Moon

American legend Martin Scorsese’s Killer of the Flower Moon will finally be seen by a live audience after multiple delays. Based on David Grann’s critically acclaimed best-selling book, the movie brings to life a chilling true story set in 1920s Oklahoma.

Revolving around the sinister serial murders that plagued the oil-wealthy Osage Nation, an indigenous community, the film looks at the string of brutal crimes, known as the Reign of Terror, unfolding against the backdrop of the nation’s increasing wealth from oil reserves, adding an intriguing layer of intrigue and greed to the narrative.

With Scorsese at the helm, viewers can expect a masterful blend of storytelling, visual artistry, and compelling performances. Starring Leonardo Di Caprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone in the lead roles, the film delves deep into the dark underbelly of corruption, conspiracy, and the pursuit of justice in the face of immense adversity.

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