Cannes has begun: your guide to the 2024 lineup

The 77th annual Cannes Film Festival lineup has plenty for Rory Doherty to get excited about; stay tuned for his coverage of some of the fest’s biggest movies and moments. 

The word on the street was, due to the production hiatus caused by last year’s joint SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, this edition of the Cannes Film Festival would be devoid of big Hollywood productions. We’ll never know what films were aiming for a Cannes premiere that haven’t finished being made yet, but with the announcement of what titles will be vying for the Palme d’Or, it’s hard to feel like we’re suffering any great loss—the 2024 line-up promises eclectic, challenging, and thoughtful new work from filmmakers young and old, local and international, strange and sobering.

Big Names, Big Spectacle

Some of the biggest hitters all belong to a pre-millennium era of stardom—yes, the ’90s are back at Cannes. Francis Ford Coppola brings his self-financed, decades-long passion project Megalopolis to Cannes in the wake of Hollywood executives vowing that his biggest film in decades, an epic sci-fi drama about Adam Driver pioneering a drastic renovation project for New York, is pure unsellable decadence. This may be factually true, but doesn’t disqualify it from being actually good.

Kevin Costner, fresh off the hit show Yellowstone, is also launching the first chapter of his 10-hour-long American West saga Horizon, while Aussie legend George Miller takes a less-serious look at Earth’s desert plains with his Fury Road prequel Furiosa, with all the guzzoline-belching and scorching engines you’d expect this deep into the Mad Max project.

They may not be offering pure spectacle, but esteemed directors David Cronenberg and Paul Schrader continue their late-period streak with The Shrouds and Oh, Canada respectively; two mature films premised on the usual combination of death, history, and regret. These five male directors boast an average age of 78, so their shared thematic concerns are no surprise.

Tough Competition

Hollywood’s former titans have tough competition in the awards-qualifying strand of the festival, however. Fresh off the multi-Oscar-winning Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos brings a triptych of modern cruelty with Kinds of Kindness—starring Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Hunter Schafer… Look, it’s three hours, there’ll be a lot of actors in it. The film reunites him with Greek screenwriter Efthimis Filippou, with whom Lanthimos co-wrote his initial arthouse hits Dogtooth, The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

Sebastian Stan IS Donald Trump, at least he is in The Apprentice, an account of the real-estate magnate’s early New York years from Ali Abbasi, who most recently directed the final two episodes of The Last of Us. Indie iconoclast Sean Baker brings an adventure-comedy Anora, so here’s hoping it’ll be as splashy as his last Cannes debut, Red Rocket. British idol Andrea Arnold is debuting her first fiction feature in 8 years with the Barry Keoghan-Franz Rogowski starring Bird. (Huge news for fans of unconventionally hot actors.)

An interesting trend found in the rest of the competing titles: European filmmakers with English-speaking actors leading their new projects. The Substance is the long-awaited body horror follow-up to director Coralie Fargaet’s debut Revenge (which was in English), and stars Demi Moore, Margaret Qualley, and Ray Liotta in his final role. One of the more unusual picks: Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, The Sisters Brothers) dips into musical crime caper territory with Emilia Perez, starring Selena Gomez and Zoe Saldana. Limonov: The Ballad of Eddie from Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov stars British darling Ben Whishaw; Paolo Sorrentino’s latest Parthenope stars a monochromatic Gary Oldman.

Gems Found Further Afield

Un Certain Regard is the competition reserved for debuting or early-career filmmakers, so there’s not a lot of recognisable names there—yet. But we finally have a follow-up to the BAFTA-winning I Am Not a Witch from Zambian-Welsh director Rungano Nyoni—On Becoming a Guinea Fowl is top of our watchlist. Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann’s grandson Halfdan Ullmann Tøndel is also debuting here, with the elementary school drama Armand, starring Worst Person in the World’s Renata Reinsve.

That’s not all! There’s special screenings and out-of-competition delights still to wow us. Winnipegian weirdo Guy Maddin co-directors a fantastical dramedy about world leaders thrust into a crisis lost in the woods in Rumours, which stars a diverse international cast including Cate Blanchett and Alicia Vikander.

And no, we wouldn’t forget to mention the most delightful surprise of the line-up – Lorcan Finnegan’s The Surfer starring Nicolas Cage as a man humiliated by a bunch of surfers in front of his son on the Australian coast. The idea of Cage dropping a coastal Australian accent is perhaps too much to comprehend at this present moment, so stick around for future updates.