Cannes is calling: HUNGER’s guide to the must-see films

The place to be this May? If you're a film buff, it's the French Riviera. Here's our picks for the films premiering at Cannes that need to be added to your watchlist.

While a deep-dive into how the film festival circuit operates might take a little too long, let us just tell you this: the films that premiere at Cannes tend to be the ones you’ll be running out to see over the coming year, and ones that scoop a fair few Oscars. Competing for the top prize (the Palme d’Or) last year, for example, were Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall (which, by the way, won), Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest, and Todd Haynes’ May December. As well as sun and sand that’s on-brand for a film festival taking place in the South of France, what you can also expect from Cannes is iconic photo-calls and (nowadays anyway) viral-moments like Florence Pugh strutting around with an aperol spritz. Okay, that was actually the Venice festival, but you get the idea. The top dogs of the film world also pop up in the jury of the festival — last year, director Ruben Östlund and actors Paul Dano and John C. Reilly played a part in crowning the best films of the festival, and this year Barbie director Greta Gerwig will act as the jury chair. 

The lineup for this year’s film festival – the 77th edition of Cannes – was unveiled in Paris yesterday. There’s nineteen potential Palme d’Or winners this year, and we’re going to give you the lowdown on which of those you should go searching up on Letterboxd as soon as you finish this article. 

The Apprentice 

Right off the back of the critically acclaimed Holy Spider (2022), director Ali Abbasi is blessing (or cursing) our screens with The Apprentice, a biopic of none other than Donald Trump. Focusing on Trump’s career in New York real estate in the 1970s and 80s, The Apprentice will see Marvel actor Sebastian Stan take on the orange-faced role, and will feature Succession‘s Jeremy Strong as Roy Cohn, the guy who mentored Trump back in the day. While Hollywood has shown its hankering for biopics doesn’t always make for great results, The Apprentice should be good. Director Abbasi has shown he’s pretty subversive – check out 2018’s Border for proof of that – and Stan has demonstrated he’s got acting chops that extend far beyond the Winter Soldier. One word: Fresh. You might need a few more words than that, actually. In Mimi Cave’s 2022 film, Stan plays a chameleon-like cannibal, and that puts him in good stead to play Trump.

The Apprentice / Scythia Films


While not much is yet known about Sean Baker’s eighth feature film, it’s likely that Anora is already forging its path to a cult favourite. IMDb have called Anora a “comedy about a sex worker shot in New York City and Las Vegas”, but just a few days ago World of Reel said that the film will, in a first for Baker, follow “wealthy people”. Director Baker’s most famed flicks are Tangerine, which was shot entirely on an iPhone, and The Florida Project, which earned Willem Dafoe an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor. Starring in Anora is Mikey Madison of the Scream franchise, who also had a role in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. We’ll have to wait and see for this one, but we reckon it’s the kind of film that will birth countless fancams and TikTok sounds. See: this haunting TikTok


Where to start with Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis? The upcoming sci-fi epic first came about way back in 1979, when the iconic director was filming his war drama Apocalypse Now. When people got word of what the script entailed a few years on – an opera that jumps between New York and ancient Rome – they said it was “so big and complicated that it would seem impossible”. Fast forward to now and Adam Driver’s been roped into the central role (Coppola asked everyone from Leonardo Dicaprio to Jude Law to Shia LaBeouf over the years) and the film is an actual, real thing that will hit Cannes for its world premiere on May 17th. Other Megalopolis whispers include that the film is “too experimental” to secure a healthy marketing budget, and that there’s a “cringey” sequence involving Jon Voight and a huge erection. Cinema is back. 

Kinds of Kindness

Yorgos Lanthimos’ Kinds of Kindness is the only film on this list that’s so far released any kind of trailer. The trailer is most definitely a teaser – and by that we mean you literally zilch about the film from it – but from what we can see, it features Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, and Hunter Schafer in a seemingly mismatched array of roles. To be entirely honest, we’re not quite sure about this one. Emma Stone’s dancing in the teaser – which has made the rounds on social media already – reminds us a little too much of that cringe-inducing music video for Sparks where Cate Blanchett does something very similar. The film also sounds, well, mad. In a statement put out by Searchlight Pictures, they described Kinds of Kindness as a “triptych fable” with segments following a wife who returns from being missing at sea, a “prodigious spiritual leader”, and “a man without choice who tries to take control of his life”. Could “pretentious” be the word we’re looking for here? Perhaps, but ultimately we trust Lanthimos. 

The Shrouds

Two years after giving us that Kristen Stewart performance with Crimes of the Future, auteur David Cronenberg is back with The Shrouds, a horror film that’s being described as the director’s most personal yet. It’s probably wise to take that with a pinch of salt, however. Though The Shrouds is said to be about a grieving widower who builds a device to help connect people with the dead, Cronenberg’s film isn’t going to some Eternal Sunshine-esque, subtle meditation. It’s going to be typically Cronenberg, with visceral, ghastly scenes of whatever Cronenberg bloody wants — this is the man that gave us The Brood and The Fly after all. Starring as the widower in The Shrouds is Vincent Cassel (Black Swan; La Haine). Diane Kruger and Guy Pearce are taking on supporting roles. 


Perhaps the film we’re most excited for on this list is Andrea Arnold’s Bird. Bird will mark the Kent-born director’s first narrative film in eight years, her last being 2016’s American Honey, which saw Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf go on a gritty, Tumblr-ready odyssey across America. If you’re familiar with Arnold’s work, you’ll know that a good way to describe it is “intimate”. In Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights and American Honey, Arnold’s camera almost enmeshes the performers, and it’s for that reason that the top talent flocks to her sets. The (naked) man of the moment, Barry Koeghan, purportedly left Gladiator 2 to be in Bird — just the other day, photos were released of the Irish actor tatted up for the film. Also making an appearance in Bird is Top Boy‘s Jasmine Jobson, Passages star Franz Rogowski, and newcomer Nykiya Adams. 

Bird / BBC Films

The Substance

The second body horror flick on this list comes in the form of The Substance, which will see Demi Moore, Margaret Qualley and Dennis Quaid take on leading roles. With a cast as star-studded as that, you might expect a bigger name to be behind the camera, but it’s French director Coralie Fargeat that’s taking the reins on this one. Fargeat is the woman behind 2017’s Revenge, which saw her offer up a modern take on the western genre, and was, impressively, her debut feature. Expect genuine thrills, and genuine deep-dives into whatever philosophical ideas are at play in The Substance. Writing on Revenge, for example, David Sims of The Atlantic said that “winking title aside, this is a movie more about transformation and transference”. 

Oh Canada 

No, this is not a film about the thing that Ralph Wiggum says in The Simpsons. Oh Canada is legendary filmmaker Paul Schrader’s first film since 2022’s Master Gardener, which premiered out of competition at Venice. It’s a tough one with Schrader: despite giving us classics like 1980’s American Gigolo and having writing credits on films as influential as Scorsese’s Raging Bull, over the years he’s become more renowned for being a cinephile than his work behind the camera. He’s known as that director that enjoys a ramble on Facebook; there’s actually a whole X account dedicated to his posts. Still, we’re hopeful that Oh Canada will be something like 2017’s First Reformed, which earned Schrader a Best Original Screenplay nomination at the 91st Academy Awards. Oh Canada follows a tormented writer who fled to Canada to avoid the Vietnam War draft, and it will star Richard Gere, Jacob Elordi, Michael Imperioli (who’s fresh off the back of something of a renaissance thanks to The White Lotus), Uma Thurman, and actress-stroke-Instagram-It-girl Kristine Froseth. 

WriterAmber Rawlings
Banner Image CreditBird / BBC Films