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21 Most Anticipated Movies From The Cannes Film Festival

From Salma Hayek as a heart-eating queen to Matthew McConaughey as a suicidal traveler, it looks like it's going to be a good year at the world's greatest film event.

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The Cannes Film Festival is glamorous, glitzy, and famous as an uncompromising showcase of the best cinema in the world. Even if you don't get to go (and it is not easy to do so), it's worthwhile to keep an eye on a place where the movies that will shape the year first make their premieres. BuzzFeed News will be reporting from Cannes this year, and here's a list of some of the film we can't wait to see.

1. The Lobster

Protagonist Pictures

Dogtooth, Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos' 2009 feature about a trio of twentysomething siblings whose parents have raised them in careful isolation, was the kind of movie you laughed uncomfortably during and had terrible nightmares about later. His new movie sounds even more absurdist, taking place in a dystopian future (as if there's any other kind) in which captive single people are given 45 days to find a partner or risk being transformed into an animal. Lanthimos is working with international stars for The Lobster, which will be his first in English, and it stars Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Blue Is The Warmest Color's Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, and John C. Reilly.

2. Tale of Tales

Archimede / Le Pacte

John C. Reilly's clearly been putting in some time with international filmmakers — in addition to The Lobster, he'll be appearing alongside Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, and Toby Jones in Tale of Tales, from Italy's Matteo Garrone. The English-language film is loosely based on a 17th-century collection of fairytales. But Garrone, whose previous work includes biting fare about his home country like Reality and organized-crime saga Gomorrah, is not one to turn out a Disney-style movie, and the international trailer is packed with striking, disturbing imagery, including Hayek eating a giant heart.

3. The Sea of Trees

Bloom / Netter Productions / Waypoint Entertainment

Gus Van Sant's last film, the Matt Damon-John Krasinski fracking drama Promised Land, came and went without generating much of a stir. His minimalist new movie looks to be more provocative, starring Mr. McConaissance himself as an American man who travels to the Aokigahara forest at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan to kill himself in a location so notorious for this that it's also called the "Suicide Forest." Ken Watanabe plays a fellow would-be suicide that Matthew McConaughey's character meets among the trees. The "two men in the wilderness" angle suggests shades of Van Sant's 2002 film Gerry, though given the set-up, this film is likely to start in a darker place.

4. Carol

Wilson Webb / Weinstein Company

Six words: Period lesbian drama starring Cate Blanchett. Todd Haynes hasn't made a movie since 2007's I'm Not There, so it's an understatement to say that anticipation's running high for his new one, based on the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt. Blanchett plays the title character, who falls in love with a younger woman named Therese (Rooney Mara), an employee at the department store she frequents. Kyle Chandler plays Carol's husband, from whom she's separated, and who has suspicions about his wife's relationship with her new friend. Far from Heaven proved Haynes' deftness with both sumptuous period pieces and forbidden (at the time) romances, and Carol has the pedigree to be a perfect follow-up.

5. Louder Than Bombs

Motlys / Animal Kingdom / Arte France Cinéma

Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier has made two shockingly good movies about young men — Reprise, centered on two friends who dream of becoming the next great novelist, and Oslo, August 31st, about a thirtysomething recovering drug addict teetering on the verge of relapse. His third movie is set in New York and is his first in English, with the potential to introduce his considerable talent to a wider audience courtesy of a cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne, and Isabelle Huppert. Louder Than Bombs is about a family who, in the wake of the passing of its war-photographer matriarch (Huppert), discover things about her they never knew when putting together a retrospective of her work.

6. Sicario

Lionsgate

Emily Blunt gets tough as an Arizona FBI agent who heads into Mexico with aims of taking down a cartel boss. Benicio del Toro plays the sicario, the hitman who, alongside a CIA task force official (Josh Brolin), teams up with Blunt's character on this dangerous venture. Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve has proven himself to be a genre-buster with Middle Eastern war saga Incendies, kidnapping thriller Prisoners, and doppelgänger drama Enemy. Those latter two both starred Jake Gyllenhaal, who showed new dimensions under Villeneuve's direction, so the prospect of Blunt getting the same kind of showcase is exciting.

7. Youth

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Italy's Paolo Sorrentino won the foreign language film Oscar two years ago with The Great Beauty. His new movie Youth is his second in English after 2011's This Must Be the Place, which featured Sean Penn as an aging, Robert Smith-esque rock star. Michael Caine doesn't seem to be going quite as goth in his turn as the protagonist of Youth. He plays a retired conductor on vacation in the Alps with his daughter and his friend. Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, and Harvey Keitel are also part of the cast of the film, which has been given an eerie international trailer that's well worth a look.

9. The Assassin

Well Go USA

Like Todd Haynes, Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien hasn't made a feature since Flight of the Red Balloon, for which he headed to Paris and coaxed a wonderfully frazzled performance out of Juliette Binoche. The Assassin looks to be a lavish martial arts movie set in ninth-century China, reuniting Chang Chen and Shu Qi, the leads of Hou's romance-across-eras-triptych Three Times. Qi plays an assassin tasked with taking out corrupt officials and forced to confront her past when she's assigned her husband-to-be (Chang) as a target.

11. Green Room

Broad Green Pictures

Jeremy Saulnier's revenge thriller Blue Ruin was delirious proof that you don't need a big budget to make a jaw-dropping action movie. Green Room, which is part of the Directors' Fortnight, sounds like it'll offer more of the same in a set-up that involves a punk band getting trapped in a venue following a murder. The cast this time around includes some familiar faces — Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, and yes, Patrick Stewart.

12. Chronic

Gregory Smith / Chronic Film

In this English-language film from Mexico's Michel Franco (After Lucia), Tim Roth plays David, a caregiver for the terminally ill who's great with his patients but has trouble connecting with anyone else outside of work. But the performance we're really looking forward to is the one from his co-star Bitsie Tulloch, who's done good work on Grimm and who it'll be nice to see in a more grounded context.

13. Irrational Man

Sony Pictures Classics

Woody Allen's movies come with the kind of baggage that makes it hard to look at them with straightforward anticipation, especially when this latest one once again features a romance between a younger woman and an older man. That would be Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix, whose 14-year age gap looks practically restrained in the light of the 28-year difference Stone has with her last Allen co-star, Magic in the Moonlight's Colin Firth. Still, Stone's always charming, and Phoenix has been unmissably good lately, even if the premise of this one, in which Phoenix plays a tortured philosophy professor who enters into a relationship with a student (Stone), is enough to give anyone the heebie-jeebies.

14. A Tale of Love and Darkness

Handsomecharlie Films / Ram Bergman Productions

Natalie Portman's directorial debut is no lightweight affair. Based on the memoir by Israeli writer and longtime two-state solution advocate Amos Oz, it is entirely in Hebrew and centers on Oz's relationship with his mother, played by Portman, who committed suicide when he was 12. Portman, who was born in Israel, optioned the rights to Oz's book eight years ago, and wrote the screenplay herself.

15. Amy

A24

There are usually only a few docs in the Cannes lineup each year, so this one about Amy Winehouse, set for a midnight screening, promises to be something special. It's directed by Asif Kapadia, who made the terrific racing doc Senna.

16. Inside Out

Disney/Pixar

Inside Out isn't Pixar's first movie at Cannes — the company actually opened the festival in 2009 with Up, which was the first-ever animated film to do so.

17. Love

Les Cinémas de la Zone

Few filmmakers walk the line between genius and insanity like Gaspar Noé, whose last film, the hallucinatory Enter the Void, divided audiences between cheering and booing at Cannes in 2009. His new film, Love, is, according to Noé, a "melancholy love story" that just happens to also seem to be a 3D porn epic being touted with an alt poster that's the very definition of "not safe for work." Either way, it won't be boring.

18. The Little Prince

Paramount Vantage

This adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's children's classic combines stop-motion animation (for the events in the book) and computer animation (for the events in the framing story) and looks heartbreaking. There's a separate French and English-language voice cast for the respective national releases of the movies, but Marion Cotillard appears in both to voice the Rose.

19. Maryland

Darius Films / Dharamsala

If you didn't get a chance to fall for Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts in Far From The Madding Crowd, this thriller from French filmmaker Alice Winocour offers another prime opportunity, with a shorn Schoenaerts playing a PTSD-stricken former soldier hired to watch over the wife (Diane Kruger) and child of a Lebanese businessman.

20. Cemetery of Splendor

Kick the Machine

Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul makes films like no other — stunning, haunting, confounding works that feel like they were siphoned off of his subconscious. His last film, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, won Cannes' coveted top prize, the Palme d'Or, in 2010. His new movie looks to be just as evocative and strange, centered on a woman who volunteers to take care of a soldier in the grip of an unexplainable sleeping sickness.

21. Ice and the Sky

Fonds Claude Lorius / CNRS / Wild-Touch

This year's festival will close with a documentary, and not just any documentary — Ice and the Sky is the new film from director Luc Jacquet, who 10 years ago won an Oscar for March of the Penguins. Ice and the Sky returns Jacquet to chilly territory for a portrait of scientist Claude Lorius, who might not be quite as cute as an Emperor penguin, but who was the first scientist to raise awareness about climate change.

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