ByTom Cox, writer at
Staff writer for Moviepilot. Tweet me @thomascox500
Tom Cox

A little town in the south of France has a rich history of introducing gorgeous new movies. The majority of the features showing at the Cannes Film Festival from May 11–22 are European art house, but there's also a smattering of treats from Hollywood debuts. The festival ushers in new films of all genres, from documentaries to animation and thrillers, from Kristen Stewart to Juliette Binoche. Previous years have given us some iconic moments in film history (and more than a few shocking incidents), and this year is looking to equally promising.

Here's your guide to the biggest 12 tipped to succeed at this year's festival:

12. The BFG

Anyone who grew up with Roald Dahl will want to see the CGI incarnation of The Big Friendly Giant. The fantasy adventure is bound to be huge. It was written by Academy award-winner Melissa Mathison, of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and co-produced by Steven Spielberg.

The story sees Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) befriending a big friendly giant (could you have a small giant?) played by Mark Rylance. The pair set out to conquer the invasion of man-eating other giants.

11. American Honey

One of the 20 up for the Palme d'Or is American Honey. Not as sweet as it sounds, the road movie sees a teenage girl join a traveling magazine sales crew and gets thrust into a world of heavy parties, law-breaking and love.

The lead is Star (Sasha Lane). Alongside her is the one and only Shia LaBoeuf as Jake, a member of the misfit gang leading Star into orbit. The movie will offer a hard-hitting unfiltered snapshot of modern American teens and is sure to wow the festival.

10. Café Society

Kristen Stewart has gone beyond the pale of vamps in Twilight this year in a romantic comedy-drama directed by Woody Allen. Stewart joins Jesse Eisenberg for their third on-screen romance in Allen's first movie shot on a digital camera.

Eisenberg is a kid looking to win big in the movie industry, something many of the Cannes audience will empathize with acutely, and his uncle is an agent (Steve Carrell), who introduces him to his beautiful assistant (Stewart). This one opens the festival tonight.

9. Personal Shopper

At the terrifically young age of 26, Stewart is in another Cannes feature, Personal Shopper, a different world swimming with stars. This one leans more towards the style of Twilight with its supernatural edge.

Stewart plays Maureen, a personal shopper in her mid-20s for catty celeb Kyra. Oh, and she can communicate with trendy ghosts from the fashion world. I bet their getup is so last year.

8. The Nice Guys

Another movie with a heavyweight cast is The Nice Guys. The pleasant fellows in the buddy-cop-mystery-comedy are Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Also being lovely alongside them are Kim Basinger, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, and Keith David.

There's a twist: The tagline is "They're not that nice." Gosling plays an out-of-luck detective called Holland, and Crowe a hired enforcer called Jackson. The two must find a missing girl named Amelia (Qualley). During their search, written by the Lethal Weapon author Shane Black, they uncover a criminal conspiracy that will blow your mind.

7. Dog Eat Dog

Nicholas Cage is featuring in this crime thriller, directed by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, The Last Temptation of Christ), alongside Willem Dafoe. The movie sees three ex-cons bungle a kidnap attempt, forcing them to go on the run.

The characters have fantastically classic names like Mad Dog, Grecco the Greek and Moon Man. Their parts in the contemporary drama, based on a novel by Edward Bunker, will close the festival.

6. Slack Bay

Period French comedy Slack Bay (original title Ma Loute) is competing for the Golden Palm with a cast including the downright wonderful Juliette Binoche. The movie is set in 1910 in the north of France. Several tourists have vanished from an area around Slack Bay. A community of fishermen live there.

The comedy mystery centers about the Van Peteghems, a degenerate inbred family who live in a mansion overlooking the pay. Binoche plays the eccentric Aude Van Peteghem.

5. Elle

Paul Verhoeven, the Dutch director of RoboCop, Starship Troopers and Basic Instinct oversaw another Cannes French film in Elle. The psychological thriller tells the story of powerful woman Michèle (Isabelle Huppert) who seemed indestructible as the head of a successful video game company — until she is raped at home.

The first movie for Verhoeven in French, Elle deals with the trauma of rape in a curious yet thrilling way: Michèle stalks her attacker. The movie was described when it was unveiled at Cannes two years ago as "extremely erotic and perverted."

4. The Unknown Girl

Another movie in French by Belgian Dardenne brothers — the darlings of Cannes — tells a different strange story about a successful woman. The Belgian movie (French title La fille inconnue) is also competing for the Palme d'Or.

A doctor (Adèle Haenel) ignores the plea of a patient who asks for help after hours. The girl is found dead nearby soon after. She becomes obsessed with following a trail to unearth the girl's identity.

3. Money Monster

Julia Roberts and George Clooney come together again for thriller Money Monster under the fourth directorship of Jodie Foster. Clooney is a big-time finance show host called Lee who is taken hostage with producer Patty (Roberts) by a viewer while the program is on air.

The adrenaline-fueled, high-stakes feature sees an extreme situation unravel in real-time during a gripping standoff viewed by millions. Now that's good TV.

2. Blood Father

The French are really taking it away this year with Mel Gibson's first lead in four years, under the auspicious director Jean-François Richet. The action thriller has the most incredibly exciting trailer; really, you need to watch it!

Gibson stars as John Link, an ex-con who is reunited with his estranged 16-year-old daughter (Erin Moriarty) in an effort to save her from some nasty drug dealers. In the Liam Neeson-esque angry daddy role, Gibson goes absolutely nuts.

1. Hands of Stone

The biographical boxing movie is receiving a special screening at Cannes on May 16 in honor of one of its stars, Robert De Niro. The Weinstein Company is swinging in the ring with Hands of Stone, which highlights the rise of Panamanian fighting legend Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez).

De Niro plays the carver of the stone hands — the manager and coach of Duran — Ray Arcel. This marks the next chapter for De Niro, who previously starred in two Palme d'Or-winning movies: Taxi Driver in '76 and The Mission a decade later.

Which film are you most excited to see?


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