The lineup for this year’s Cannes Film Festival was released early this morning (or early this afternoon, if you’re continental like that). And it’s a good one, stacked with films from A-list actors, auteurs, and Amazon, which has an impressive five films screening at the festival, and also starts with “A.” That being said, there also aren’t a lot of surprises in the lineup: Woody Allen’s latest, Café Society, will open the festival, and a handful of upcoming big Hollywood releases—including Shane Black’s The Nice Guys, Jodie Foster’s Money Monster, and Steven Spielberg’s The BFG—will screen out of competition.
The competition slate, meanwhile, is an exciting blend of indie and arthouse auteurs, with new films from Pedro Almodovar, Andrea Arnold, Olivier Assayas, Xavier Dolan, Jim Jarmusch, Ken Loach, Jeff Nichols, Park Chan-Wook, Nicolas Winding Refn, Paul Verhoeven, and noted dick-holder Sean Penn, among others. (This is one of two films Jarmusch will be premiering at this year’s festival. The other, Gimme Danger, will screen out of competition at midnight.)
And then theres Un Certain Regard, the sort of junior varsity league of the festival whose films compete in a parallel race to that of the official competition slate. (They’re in competition, but not for the Palme D’or, basically.) This year’s Un Certain Regard includes many films by first-time directors from all over the world. Veterans on the slate include Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-Eda (Nobody Knows, Still Walking) and American actor/director Matt Ross—a.k.a. Silicon Valley’s Gavin Belson— who brings his Viggo Mortensen-starring hippie parenting drama Captain Fantastic to the festival.
You can read a complete list of the Cannes Film Festival’s 2016 lineup here. We’ve also included summaries for some of the bigger competition titles below, with some help from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and IndieWire.
Julieta, based on three short stories from Alice Munro’s Runaway, is being described by director Pedro Almodovar as his “return to the cinema of woman.” Emma Suarez stars as the title character, whose mental state is on the verge of collapse after her husband dies and her daughter runs away. So Julieta goes searching for the 18-year-old girl, a story that’s interwoven with scenes from her life 30 years earlier.
Fish Tank’s Andrea Arnold returns with another tale of restless youth in American Honey, about a young woman—played by newcomer Sasha Lane—who adopts a hard-partying lifestyle after joining up with a traveling band of magazine salespeople. Shia LaBeouf co-stars as one of the wild itinerant ‘zine-peddlers.
Adam Driver stars as the title character in Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, depicting a week in the life of a bus driver named Paterson in Paterson, New Jersey. Golshifteh Farahani co-stars as Paterson’s wife Laura, an aspiring artist who encourages her husband to transcend his workaday existence and pursue his talent for writing poetry.
Midnight Special’s Jeff Nichols directs this drama about Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), an interracial couple who were sentenced to a year in prison in ‘60s Virginia for the crime of getting married. The couple was eventually exiled from their home state, and spent the next decade fighting the ruling, a case that eventually made it all the way to the Supreme Court.
The Last Face
Charlize Theron stars in Sean Penn’s romance set in the world of international aid workers. Theron, the director of a relief organization, meets and falls in love with an impulsive doctor played by Javier Bardem. Their affair is passionate, but the couple disagrees on how to solve the conflict that has brought them to this war-torn African country in the first place, an argument that should cause about as much trouble as the casting call for a newborn baby for the film that came out last summer.
Paul Verhoeven takes on both the French language and the rape-revenge genre in Elle, starring Isabelle Huppert as a video-game executive who decides to put some of those hand-eye coordination skills to work after being violently assaulted in her own home.
The Neon Demon
Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest, The Neon Demon, comes to Cannes courtesy of Amazon, which plans to release it in theaters later this year. Elle Fanning stars as an aspiring model who gets caught up in some very creepy—and highly stylized, naturally—shit when she moves to Los Angeles to pursue her dream.