Cannes 2009: RT’s 10 Must-See Movies

We pick the handful of features you simply can't afford to miss.

by | May 26, 2009 | Comments

Cannes 2009

The 62nd Cannes Film Festival has officially wrapped, with most commentators agreeing that this year’s selection was a cut above. There were some disappointments, but plenty of movies to get excited about, and RT was there for the whole festival checking out the best Cannes had to offer. So what’s worth keeping an eye on? Join us as we take a visual journey through the 10 Cannes films you absolutely have to see.

Cannes 2009

Broken Embraces – Most critics agreed that director Pedro Almodovar was on fine form with his latest, which stars Penelope Cruz. “Fans of Almodovar will get plenty of what they expect here – rich saturated colours, hyper plotting, stylistic pyrotechnics and off-centre comedy,” said Barry Byrne of Screen International. David Gritten summarized the film nicely by saying, “while [Almodovar’s] new film parades his many virtues, it treads water rather than breaks new ground.”
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Cannes 2009

Drag Me to Hell – As we write, Sam Raimi‘s return to horror is at 100% on the Tomatometer with 16 reviews in the bank. It’s “A visceral assault on the senses and will have you gasping for breath as the laughs and scares mount,” says Chris Tilly of IGN, while Peter Debruge of Variety is happy to celebrate the film’s flaws. “Scant of plot and barren of subtext, the pic is single-mindedly devoted to pushing the audience’s buttons, and who better than Raimi to do the honors?”
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Cannes 2009

Fish TankAndrea Arnold came to Cannes in 2006 with her debut feature, Red Road, not long after winning an Oscar for her short. Then, she won the jury prize, an award she collected again this year for Fish Tank. “Powerful, punishing, funny and beautifully observed, it’s driven by a stunning performance from non-pro newcomer Katie Jarvis,” writes Jonathan Crocker in Little White Lies. Dave Calhoun agrees in Time Out that it’s “a very strong film — one that’s utterly gripping and always surprising.”
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Cannes 2009

I Love You Phillip Morris – Playing in the Director’s Fortnight section of the festival, this Sundance hit stars Ewan McGregor and Jim Carrey and shocked and delighted critics in equal measure. It’s a “funny, sometimes tender and ultimately unsettling black comedy,” says Damon Wise in Empire. “The direction is more than adept,” says John Anderson for Variety. “Many of the laughs erupt at the end of scenes, as Carrey or McGregor toss off some seemingly random line, and it sticks.”
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Cannes 2009

Looking for EricKen Loach won the Palme d’Or when he was last in Cannes with The Wind That Shakes the Barley in 2006. Lightning didn’t strike twice in a row, but there was much love for his latest, which some claim is his most accessible yet. “When it works, Eric has many incidental pleasures,” says Derek Elley in Variety. James Christopher agrees. “Ken Loach couldn’t have painted a more perfect, bitter-sweet picture for Cannes.”
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Cannes 2009

Precious – Surely the festival’s greatest surprise. Precious, based on the novel Push by Saffire, casts Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz and Mo’Nique in key roles and is still most memorable for its performances, with many tipping the latter for Oscars. It’s “a must-see portrait of life’s underprivileged which is utterly compelling,” writes Mike Goodridge of Screen International. He adds that a debut performance from the lead, Gabourey Sidibe, “is one of the most electrifying debuts in years.”
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Cannes 2009

A Prophet – Critics raved for Jacques Audiard‘s latest, about a young prisoner swept into the world of organized crime. The film “works both as hard-edged, painstaking detailed social realism and as a compelling genre entertainment,” says Jonathan Romney in Screen International. Damon Wise in Empire says it’s “an astonishingly detailed crime drama that could end up being this year’s Gomorra, although it’s arguably more accessible.”
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Cannes 2009

Up – Few doubted that Pixar’s latest could be an instant classic, but that doesn’t mean the result is any less impressive — at 26 reviews as we write, it’s 100% fresh. “a rare, wondrous story of true love and dream-catching,” writes Jonathan Crocker in Little White Lies. “Of holding on and letting go. You will believe a house can fly.” “Per usual, the nuances of human relationships are conveyed via Pixar’s predictably acute attention to detail, coded in a mysterious evocation of mood,” writes Ed Gonzalez for Slant.
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Cannes 2009

The White Ribbon – It wasn’t without reason that Michael Haneke‘s film took home this year’s Palme d’Or — it was one of the festival’s best. Todd McCarthy argued it was, “a difficult film to embrace,” a sentiment shared by many critics of the film’s tough subject matter. But he added that the narrative, “goes beyond its general analysis of humanity to implicitly suggest some tendencies in the German character and culture that could point to certain developments in the subsequent three decades.”
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Cannes 2009

AntichristLars von Trier‘s controversial latest may not be as well reviewed as the other nine films on our list, but it earns its place for the sheer love-it-or-hate-it lengths it goes to in provoking a reaction from its audience. “What Lars is driving at is something completely bizarre, massively uncommercial and strangely perfect,” writes Damon Wise for Empire, while Todd McCarthy argues for Variety that, “Lars von Trier cuts a big fat art-film fart, as if deliberately courting critical abuse.” Clearly one not to miss.
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Catch up on all of our Cannes coverage right here.

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