Killers of the Flower Moon, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Asteroid City are among the high-profile movies in contention for a Cannes splash this year.
The titles currently being bandied about for the 76th Cannes Film Festival give encouragement that the festival will once again be a launch pad both for commercial films with global aspirations and films that might be the buzz titles for the next awards season on both sides of the Atlantic.
The studio movies in the mix also offer a study in how studios and filmmakers are eyeing past successes as a template for how best to use the exposure of the world’s most fabled festival.
Start with the Martin Scorsese-directed Killers of the Flower Moon, which teams two of the director’s favorite collaborators, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, in a fact based drama about the murders of members of the Osage Nation and the birth of the FBI. Killers was adapted by Eric Roth from the David Grann book, and we’ve known it would likely be Cannes-bound since Deadline broke the story in July. The film likely will follow the successful release template of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood several years ago, which gave that film a global profile and helped it remain relevant in Oscar season. Here, Paramount will follow Cannes by giving Killers a full theatrical release before it then lands on Apple TV+. All eyes will be on that strategy as streamers weigh turning films into culturally relevant properties with press and P&A before they land exclusively on streaming sites.
RELATED: Full List Of Cannes Palme d’Or Winners Through The Years: Photo Gallery
Another film that seems a natural for Cannes given the subject matter is Napoleon, in which Ridley Scott managed to do what Stanley Kubrick never could: make an epic about the rise and fall of the French Emperor/conqueror. His way in is the relationship between Napoleon Bonaparte (Joaquin Phoenix) and the love of his life Empress Josephine (Vanessa Kirby). Talks have taken place about bringing that film to Cannes, though premiering at a fall festival such as Venice is also a possibility and we gather the latter route is more likely at present.
Following in the formidable footsteps of Top Gun: Maverick, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny might well provide the blockbuster element on the Croisette. Rumors have been circulating on Cannes-watch sites for a while that Harrison Ford’s fifth outing as Indy could make a splash on the Riviera and we understand that while nothing has been agreed, conversations have taken place about the possibility. The movie is set to unspool from late June and the last film in the series, The Crystal Skull, launched on the Croisette back in 2008. “Fortune and glory, kid!”
Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City and Johnny Depp starrer Jeanne du Barry are movies that have been widely speculated for Cannes and our understanding is that both are live candidates.
Very few movies have been guaranteed a slot so far. As every year, the shape will evolve until the day of the lineup reveal in April and there will be further tweaks after that.
But we can ascertain which movies will be ready and which are trending towards the Thierry Fremaux-led showcase according to conversations that have been had and a project’s connections to the festival. Cannes is a loyal mistress. Auteurs such as Ken Loach and Pedro Almodovar are among those considered shoo-ins whenever they have a film ready. Young filmmakers whose movies find success on the Riviera often get repeat play.
Among anticipated movies we gather are trending away from the Croisette are Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla and Jeff Nichols’ The Bikeriders. A24’s Kristen Stewart starrer Love Lies Bleeding is very much in post-production and a launch date remains uncertain. Likewise, nothing is set yet on Woody Allen’s new film, which may or may not be ready. Cannes would likely think hard about the media circus accompanying the lightning rod director (likewise Roman Polanksi who has The Palace), not only for their sake but also that of the filmmaker. Les Miserables filmmaker Ladj Ly would have been a welcome return to the Croisette but his new film won’t be ready in time having only started filming in December. We hear that Luc Besson’s DogMan — a buzz project at the recent EFM in Berlin — is also going a different route.
There was an online frisson recently when actor Matthew Modine tweeted the hashtag #Cannes2023 and the poster for Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Journalists have long hoped that a Nolan movie might explode at Cannes but we hear there was no substance to Modine’s post, which was deleted after a bunch of journalists excitedly got in touch with Universal. Nolan’s movies don’t tend to open at festivals and it seems unlikely that will change this year.
The haggling and finessing of projects is ongoing (many movies that will make the lineup have yet to be seen by the festival), but below are some of the films we believe have a real shot at Cannes premieres in May if the planets align. This is a non-exhaustive list.
About Dry Grasses
Celebrated auteur and Cannes darling Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the Palme d’Or in 2014 for Winter Sleep and it would be a surprise if this one didn’t launch on the Croisette. Following a lengthy post-production, the meticulous filmmaker’s latest –whose Turkish title translates as About Dry Grasses — is ready for for the festival. The movie follows a young teacher who hopes to get a job in Istanbul after mandatory duty in a small village. After a long wait, he loses hope of escaping his gloomy life but his colleague Nuray helps him regain perspective.
Focus Features has set this one for a Cannes-friendly June 16 limited release and we understand that a Riviera launch is a strong possibility. The film will go wide on June 23. The pic is written by Anderson and is based on a story he co-wrote with Roman Coppola, which takes place in a fictional American desert town circa 1955. The synopsis reads: ‘The itinerary of a Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention (organized to bring together students and parents from across the country for fellowship and scholarly competition) is spectacularly disrupted by world-changing events’.
The Old Oak
It would be a shocker if Cannes stalwart Ken Loach wasn’t back in Cannes after debuting 16 works at the festival. The two-time Palme d’Or winner returns to the North East of England for his next pic. The story is based around The Old Oak, the last remaining pub in a small English village where local people are leaving because the mines have closed. Houses are cheap and available, thus making it an ideal location for Syrian refugees.
Matteo Garrone’s modern-day odyssey follows the perilous journey of youngsters Seydoux and Moussa as they attempt to travel from Dakar to Europe in search of a new life, crossing deserts and the sea and navigating human nature in the process. Garrone’s last feature Pinocchio debuted as Berlinale Special Gala in 2020, before going on to be Oscar-nominated in the costume and make up and hairstyling categories. Most of Garrone’s other films have premiered in Competition in Cannes, with Reality and Gomorra winning the Grand Prize of the Jury in 2012 and 2008, respectively.
Killers of the Flower Moon
As we first revealed last year, Apple has long considered a Cannes 2023 debut for Martin Scorsese’s latest pic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. Nothing is signed and sealed yet but a likely release plan for the film includes a full-blown theatrical through Paramount following a splashy premiere on the Croisette. The Eric Roth-scripted fact-based drama follows a series of mysterious murders of wealthy Osage Native Americans after oil deposits are discovered under their land. The subsequent investigation led to the foundation of the FBI.
Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s feature Beauty And The Dogs world-premiered to strong reviews in Cannes Un Certain Regard in 2017. We have been hearing rumors within industry circles that the filmmaker could be back on the Croisette with this long-gestating docu-drama inspired by the larger-than-life character of a mother who lost two teenage daughters to radicalization, after they ran away to Libya to join ISIS with their boyfriends. Tunisian-Egyptian actress and producer Hend Sabry plays the woman in scenes recreating her real-life story, intercut with interviews. Ben Hania’s last film was well-received Venice title The Man Who Sold His Skin.
Jeanne du Barry
Noises have abounded for some time that Maïwenn’s historical drama will launch in Cannes. The film is freely inspired by the life of Jeanne du Barry, Louis XV’s last royal mistress at the Court of Versailles. The actress-filmmaker stars as the titular protagonist opposite Johnny Depp as the king. It marks Depp’s first feature film role in three years, following his victory in a turbulent defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard earlier this year. Jeanne du Barry is Maïwenn’s sixth feature and while there’s still work to be done on the film she is a Cannes regular who previously won its Jury Prize in 2011 for Polisse, while long-time collaborator Emmanuelle Bercot snared best actress in 2015 for her performance in My King.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Harrison Ford has said Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny will be his last tour of duty in the role of the intrepid archaeologist and adventurer, he has played five times, kicking off with Raiders Of The Lost Ark in 1981. Hopes are building that the film could be headed to Cannes after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull screened Out of Competition at the festival in 2008. Nothing is set but our sources have not shut down the Cannes prospect either. The new instalment unfolds against the backdrop of the US Soviet space race and also features Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas and Cannes best actor winner Mads Mikkelsen in the cast.
Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore and Charles Melton (The Sun Is Also A Star) lead festival favorite Todd Haynes’ next pic, which we hear should be ready in time for Cannes where Haynes has launched multiple movies, including last film The Velvet Underground. This film’s synopsis reads: ‘Twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, a married couple buckles under the pressure when an actress arrives to do research for a film about their past’. Samy Burch wrote the screenplay from a story by Burch and Alex Mechanik. Jessica Elbaum and Will Ferrell of Gloria Sanchez Productions are producing alongside Christine Vachon and Pam Koffler of Killer Films with Portman and Sophie Mas under their MountainA banner.
Vietnam-born French director Tran Anh Hung broke out internationally in 1993 with his debut film The Scent of Green Papaya. The film world premiered in Un Certain Regard, winning Hung the Caméra d’Or, and was then nominated in the 1994 Oscars as Vietnam’s entry to the Foreign Language category. Thirty years on, there are hopes that his French-language, 19th Century period drama The Pot-Au-Feu could mark a return to the Croisette. Cannes actor prize winners Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel co-star as a skilled cook and her gourmet employee who attempts to win her heart with his own home-cooked meal.
Il Sol Dell’Avvenire
This coming Cannes will mark the 45th anniversary of Nanni Moretti making his Competition debut with second film Ecce Bombo in 1978. In the interim, the director has shown another ten films at the festival, winning best director in 1993 for Dear Diary and the Palme d’Or for The Son’s Room in 2001. Moretti, like Loach, feels like a Cannes untouchable. His latest is a Rome-set feature set partly in the 1950s as well as the worlds of cinema and the circus. Moretti features in the cast alongside past collaborators Margherita Buy and Silvio Orlando as well as Czech-Italian actress Barbora Bobulova, France’s Mathieu Amalric, Poland’s Jerzy Stuhr and Hungary’s Szolt Anger.
Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco wrapped production on this one a year ago and we hear it should be ready in time for Cannes. No plot details for the New York-set pic have been released, but Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard play leading roles. Also starring are Merritt Wever (Birdman), Josh Charles (Dead Poets Society), and Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade). Franco is a regular on the festival circuit. He picked up the Venice Silver Lion in 2020 with the political thriller New Order, and has debuted four films in Cannes, winning three prizes.
Abderrahmane Sissako’s drama has been a regular fixture on ‘anticipated movie’ lists and we understand it should be ready by May. In the romance-drama, after saying “no” on her wedding day, Joice (played by Girlhood actress Nina Melo) leaves the Ivory Coast to start a new life in Guangzhou, China. Distribution partners include Gaumont and Cohen Media Group. Nine years ago, Sissako wowed festival crowds with Oscar nominee Timbuktu.
Bertrand Bonello’s ninth feature was due to reunite Gaspard Ulliel and Léa Seydoux – star and supporting actress of his 2014 bio-pic Saint Laurent – until Ulliel’s tragic death in a skiing accident in January 2022. George MacKay was drafted in to replace Ulliel, with the cast also featuring American actress and dancer Jiselle Henderkott. Loosely inspired by Henry James’s 1903 novella The Beast In The Jungle, the genre-merging, sci-fi romance is set in a dystopian future and revolves around a troubled young woman who decides to purify her DNA in a machine that will take her on a journey across a series of past lives. Bonello made his Cannes debut with The Pornographer in Critics’ Week in 2001 and has premiered nearly all of his subsequent films in competition in Official Selection. Given the director’s track record and the allure of French star Seydoux it would be a surprise if this wasn’t a Cannes launch.
Bruno Dumont is a Cannes habitué and this sci-fi drama is billed as the idiosyncratic French filmmaker’s most ambitious work to date. We hear it could be ready in time but as it involves a lot of VFX it is touch and go. The work brings together the intriguing trio of Anamaria Vartolomei (The Happening), Camille Cottin (Call My Agent!) and Lyna Khoudri (The French Dispatch), alongside Fabrice Luchini. Dumont has returned to his beloved Northern France for the tale revolving around two opposing forces from the depths of outer space, who unleash an apocalyptic conflict on the region’s picturesque Opal Coast. Dumont has described the work as a “space and earth opera”, saying the battle is a metaphor for the internal struggle in every human between good and evil.
How Do You Live
Legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki returns with this secretive project which is said to have been adapted for the screen by Miyazaki from Genzaburo Yoshino’s 1937 book of the same name. That story follows a teenage boy in Tokyo who moves in with his uncle after his father dies. The novel is said to be one of the director’s favorites and marks his first feature-length film in a decade. Toho is releasing the pic in Japan on July 14, 2023. A Cannes debut is conceivable and would mark Miyazaki’s first premiere at the festival as a director. The internet and film romantics are willing this one to the Croisette.
Kidnapped (aks The Conversion)
There have been suggestions that The Conversion could be octogenarian director Marco Bellocchio’s last film in a career spanning six decades and nearly 50 feature films. His last three films have debuted in Cannes but the director is also well known to Venice. The drama, which has required a healthy post-production period, revolves around the real-life story of a Jewish boy who was removed from his family in 1958 and raised as a Roman Catholic under the orders of Pope Pius IX.
The New Boy
The latest from Samson & Delilah and Sweet Country director Warwick Thornton depicts the story of a nine-year-old Aboriginal orphan boy who arrives in the dead of night at a remote monastery run by a renegade nun. The Australian feature’s cast includes Cate Blanchett and Wayne Blair. Most A-list festivals would presumably love to have Thornton’s latest. We hear it could be ready in time for Cannes — it wrapped last December — but the filmmakers also want to get the film to where it needs to be so a fall launch is also a possibility.
Austrian director Jessica Hausner has unveiled five of her seven features to date in Cannes, making it into Competition in 2019 with sci-fi drama Little Joe, for which Emily Beecham won best actress. Mia Wasikowska stars in Hausner’s new psychological drama with British-Egyptian actor Amir El-Masry, Danish star Sidse Babett Knudsen, French actors Elsa Zylberstein and Mathieu Demy as well as newcomer Luke Barker. We hear this should be ready in time.
The Zone of Interest
The latest from cult British filmmaker Jonathan Glazer has been long-anticipated and long-shrouded in mystery. Few details about the film have been shared, but the plot is said to be inspired by British author Martin Amis’s 2014 novel 2014 of the same name. The well-received book tells the story of a Nazi officer who has become enamored with the camp commandant’s wife. Cold War DoP Lukasz Zal is cinematographer and A24 is among partners on the project, which has been in post for 18 months. We hear the film is likely to be ready in time for Cannes but none of the director’s three previous films have launched on the Croisette so the guessing game will go on.
Cannes regular Hirokazu Kore-eda is reteaming with actress Sakura Ando, star of his 2018 Cannes Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters, on this drama scripted by Yuji Sakamoto (We Made a Beautiful Bouquet), which is in post-production for Japanese release in June. Oscar-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto is also on board the film, produced by Genki Kawamura and Kenji Yamada. Since Shoplifters, Kore-eda has worked with Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche on French feature The Truth, which premiered at Venice, and Korean-language Broker, which won Song Kang-ho best actor at last year’s Cannes. It would be a surprise if this wasn’t at Cannes.
Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos has launched films on the Lido and Croisette and has assembled a stellar cast for his latest. Emma Stone, Margaret Qualley, Willem Dafoe, and Mark Ruffalo are all aboard. The plot will follow the story of Belle Baxter — a young woman brought back to life by an eccentric but brilliant scientist. The movie will be Lanthimos’s first feature effort since 2018’s The Favourite, which debuted at Venice. Poor Things is still in post but will debut this year and is a logical bet for Cannes or Venice.
Anatomy of a Fall
Toni Erdmann star Sandra Hüller plays a German writer facing murder charges after her French husband (Swann Arlaud) falls to his death in the French Alps. Her fate rests on the testimony of their visually impaired young son. The thriller is the fourth feature from French director Justine Triet after 2019 Cannes d’Or contender Sibyl, romantic comedy In Bed With Victoria and 2013 debut Age of Panic. Arthur Harari, who made waves in Un Certain Regard in 2021 with Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle (2021) takes a co-writing credit.
How to Have Sex
UK cinematographer and director Molly Manning Walker recently lensed Charlotte Regan’s buzzy Sundance 2023 prize-winner Scrapper. There are high hopes in the UK that she will next be in Cannes in her own right as a director. Her feature debut How To Have Sex revisits the theme of sexual violence from the director’s short film Good Thanks, You? which played in Cannes Critics’ Week in 2020. The drama follows three friends as they navigate early sexual encounters on a rite of passage clubbing holiday in Spain. Vampire Academy and Persuasion actress Mia McKenna-Bruce is joined in the cast by a raft of rising UK talents. The film was developed with the support of the Critics’ Week Next Step program helping directors to make the jump from shorts to a first feature.
Argentinian filmmaker Lisandro Alonso’s latest film is an ambitious historical drama set across four distinct sections, which examine the indigenous peoples of the Americas and how they’ve inhabited their specific environments across the centuries. The film shot in Almería, Spain, and stars Viggo Mortensen. Alonso’s last pic, Jauja, was a breakout at Cannes back in 2014. This movie has been a long time coming but we understand the team is hoping to be ready for Cannes.
French director Robin Campillo took Cannes by storm in 2017 with BPM, aka BPM (Beats Per Minute) capturing the rise of France’s AIDS activism group ACT UP in the early 1990s, with the film winning the Grand Prix. Anticipation is running high for this, his first film in six years. Set in the early 1970s on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar off the coast of East Africa, Red Island follows a 10-year-old boy living on one of its last French military bases, a relic of the French colonial era. Beneath a carefree expatriate life, he starts to perceive another reality. We hear the movie will be ready in time for a potential May debut.
Alice Rohrwacher’s Tuscany-set drama explores the world of archaeological looting. Josh O’Connor plays a British archaeologist who gets caught up in an operation to steal Etruscan artefacts. He is joined in the cast by Isabella Rossellini, as a former opera singer, Alba Rohrwacher as a trafficker and Vincenzo Nemolato, as a local “grave robber” who makes a living digging up the treasures. Rohrwacher debuted The Wonders at Cannes in 2014, won best screenplay at Cannes in 2018 for her feature Happy As Lazzaro and was back at the festival in 2022 with the documentary Futura. The film wrapped shoot last spring so should be good to go.
Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki has played in Competition at Cannes four times, winning its Grand Jury prize in 2006 for The Man Without A Past. Hopes are high within the media that he will return to the Croisette with his first film in six years. The production reunites him with regular cinematographer Timo Salminen and co-stars Finnish actors Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen. The enigmatic director has revealed little about the plotline beyond that is it is a tragicomedy.
Strange Way of Life
Spanish maestro Pedro Almodóvar has completed his new short film. The project features Ethan Hawke, Pedro Pascal, Jason Fernández, José Condessa, and George Steane. In 2021, Almodóvar launched The Human Voice, another English-language short starring Tilda Swinton, at Venice. The filmmaker disclosed in December that this project will debut at Cannes. Almodóvar has a long and deep connection to the festival having debuted nine films there since 1999 and chaired the jury.
After a raft of U.S. studio pictures Safe House, Life and Morbius, Chilean-born Daniel Espinosa has made his first independently backed film in more than a decade with this Swedish-Italian co-pro. Inspired by real-life events, the film follows an Eritrean refugee who becomes a notorious human trafficker in Libya known as Mama Luna. A change of fortunes forces her to flee to Italy. There, she finds herself experiencing the hardships endured by the people she exploited at the same time as trying to hide her identity.
Some Rain Must Fall
China and Paris-based director Qiu Yang won the Cannes Palme d’Or for best short in 2017 for A Gentle Night. First feature Some Rain Must Fall is described as a psychological and political work exploring the economic insecurity of the middle classes as well as the Chinese family unit, through a 40-year-old housewife, whose life spins out of control when she inadvertently hurts an elderly lady. Yang also took part in Cannes Critics’ Week workshop The Next Step with this film in its early stages.
The Book of Solutions
Popular French actor Pierre Niney stars as a filmmaker battling inner demons that are stifling his creativity in Michel Gondry’s first feature since the 2015 teenage road trip comedy Microbe And Gasoline. In the interim, the prolific Oscar-winning Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind director, who has more than 130 credits to his name, has been focused on shorts, music videos and series. The cast also features Blanche Gardin, Camille Rutherford, Frankie Wallach and Vincent Elbaz. Gondry was last on the A-list festival circuit with his Bronx-shot drama The We & The I, about a group of students catching the bus back from high school for the last time. That film opened Directors’ Fortnight in 2012.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.