The Best Films From the 2021 Cannes Film Festival

After a pandemic-forced cancellation last year, Cannes Film Festival made a triumphant return this year, featuring some premieres pegged for the 2020 edition as well as a new crop of work. While our coverage will continue over the next week or so, and far beyond as we provide updates on the journey of these selections, we’ve asked our contributors on the ground to share their favorites from this year’s festival.

See their picks below and explore all of our coverage here.

Rory O’Connor

1. Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
2. Vortex (Gaspar Noé)
3. Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
4. Titane (Julia Ducournau)
5. Compartment No. 6 (Juho Kuosmanen)
6. Red Rocket (Sean Baker)
7. Annette (Leos Carax)
8. The Tale of King Crab (Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis)
9. Great Freedom (Sebastian Meise)
10. Ahed’s Knee (Nadav Lapid)

Honorable Mention: The Hill Where The Lionesses Roar (Luàna Bajrami)

David Katz

1. Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
2. Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
3. In Front of Your Face (Hong Sangsoo)
4. Ahed’s Knee (Nadav Lapid)
5. The Tsugua Diaries (Miguel Gomes and Maureen Fazendeiro)
6. Great Freedom (Sebastian Meise)
7. Vortex (Gaspar Noé)
8. Benedetta (Paul Verhoeven)
9. Gaey Wa’r (Streetwise) (Na Jiazuo)
10. The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson)

Ed Frankl

I was only in Cannes for the first five days––missing some of the most-talked-about movies including Titane, Memoria, and The French Dispatch––but I still saw films that will stay with me.

  1. The Worst Person in the World (Joaquim Trier)

A brilliant portrait of millennial life, anchored by Cannes best actress winner Renate Reinsve’s dynamite performance.

2. A Chiara (Jonas Carpignano)

Carpignano’s wonderfully involving drama, a finale to his trilogy of films set in southern Italy, is led by a spunky performance from Swamy Rotolo as a teenager coming to terms with her father’s role in the Calabrian mafia.

3. Compartment No. 6 (Juho Kuosmanen)

An enchanting odd-couple buddy movie, with touches of Before Sunrise, set in the post-Soviet era on a train heading for Russia’s bitterly cold north.  

4. Hit The Road (Panah Panahi)

Iranian director Panah Panahi, son of Jafar, has made a terrific debut, with much of his father Jafar’s tender humor and alongside bubbling political concerns. It’s got a knockout child performance, too.

5. Libertad (Clara Roquet)

A beautifully understated coming-of-age drama which unravels the social fabric that props up a young girl’s wealthy Spanish family, all set in a baking hot summer on the Costa Brava. 


Explore our Cannes Film Festival coverage, with more to come.

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