The Festival de Cannes is one of Europe’s most prestigious film festivals, and it has seen the rise of some of the best directors working today.
Cannes is often recognised as the world’s most prestigious film festival due to its exclusivity and lengthy history of exhibiting some of the best films ever created.
Over the years, exceptional pictures have been exhibited at Cannes, films that are hard to forget.
Here is a list of some of the greatest films ever made that have been shown at Cannes-
1.’Neecha Nagar’ 1946
Chetan Anand’s film ‘Neecha Nagar’ was the first Indian film to bag the top prize at Cannes, the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film (Palme d’Or) in 1946.
The film is based on a short story of the same name, highlighting the disparities between the rich and the poor in Indian society. ‘Neecha Nagar’ competed against ten films and was named the winner of the Cannes Film Festival.
2. ‘The Wages of Fear’ 1953
‘The Wages of Fear’, also known as Le Salaire de la peur, is a 1953 French thriller film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. It is regarded as one of the monumental films of French cinema, based on Georges Arnaud’s 1950 novel of the same name.
Charles Vanez, the lead actor, received a Special Mention at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953 for this film.
3. ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’ 1964
Jacques Demy directed ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’, a 1964 musical romantic drama film with Michel Legrand’s music and lyrics.
Geneviève and Guy, played by Catherine Deneuve and Nico Castelnuovo, are young lovers in the titular beach village. When Guy is drafted into the army, the couple is separated, leaving Geneviève pregnant and alone. The film plays out their emotional connection in the most touching way.
4. ‘The Conversation’ 1974
In 1974, Frances Ford Coppola debuted two films at the Cannes Film Festival: ‘The Godfather Part II’ and ‘The Conversation.’
‘The Conversation’ did not receive the recognition it deserved alongside ‘The Godfather Part II,’ but it did win the festival’s highest prize, the Palme d’Or.
Gene Hackman gives one of his best performances in this film, as a surveillance expert who becomes increasingly paranoid after believing he has caught a murder on tape.
5. ‘Taxi Driver’ 1976
Martin Scorsese‘s career took off after ‘Taxi Driver’ premiered at Cannes in 1976, winning the Palme d’Or. It is considered one of the best films of all time.
The plot revolves around a Vietnam veteran (Robert De Niro) who develops violent tendencies while driving a taxi in New York City. It features one of De Niro‘s best performances of his career and depicts the effects of war on an individual’s mind.
6. ‘All That Jaaz’ 1979
The semi-autobiographical musical film ‘All That Jazz,’ based on the life of American director Bob Fosse, was released in 1979.
Fosse directed the film, which follows his own life story as well as the career of his on-screen avatar, Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider), a dancer.
The film presents an honest portrait of an artist struggling to stay relevant in the industry in the face of an impending deadline. ‘All That Jazz’ was inspired by the real-life events that took place when Fosse tried to edit one of his films ‘Lenny’ that was released in 1974.
7. ‘Apocalypse Now’ 1979
‘Apocalypse Now’ is the best film for showcasing the difficulties of war. It features some of the best performances ever given by Marlon Brando and Martin Sheen. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film is a masterpiece and one of the best psychological war films.
Coppola said in an interview for the documentary ‘Hearts of Darkness’ that he believed he would win a Nobel Prize while filming ‘Apocalypse Now’. The film did not receive the Nobel Prize but received numerous other awards, including the Palme d’Or.
8. ‘Paris, Texas’ 1984
Wim Wenders’ 1984 road movie ‘Paris, Texas’ stars Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Nastassja Kinski, Aurore Clément, and Hunter Carson won Palme d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival awarded by the official jury.
‘Paris, Texas,’ set in the American southwest, tells a distinctly contemporary American narrative of isolation, reunion, and redemption.
9. ‘Sex, lies and Videotape’ 1989
‘Sex, Lies, and Videotape’, directed by Steven Soderbergh, is another Palme d’Or winner on this list. Soderbergh explores the intricacies of sexuality, relationships, and complicated feelings against a daring storyline and dialogue, paving the way for independent films.
It won the Palme d’Or, Best Actor, and International Critics Award at its Cannes Film Festival premiere. The film has aged beautifully and is still relevant in today’s world.
10. ‘Pulp Fiction’ 1994
Quentin Tarantino won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1994 after presenting his iconic film ‘Pulp Fiction’. The film will be remembered as one of the best films of all time. It’s fascinating from beginning to end, with a terrific mix of comedy and drama. It’s the kind of movie that you can watch year after year.
11. ‘Taste of Cherry’ 1997
Directed by Abbas Kiarostami, ‘Taste of Cherry’ revolves around the story of Mr Badii (Homayoun Ershadi), a middle-aged, suicidal Tehranian, who embarks on a journey out in search of someone who will bury his body after he kills himself in this dismal and introspective Cannes film by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. He meets many people while driving around the city in his Range Rover, including a Muslim student (Mir Hossein Noori).
Badii reflects on his own life throughout the film through interactions with various people he meets along the way. ‘Taste of Cherry’, full of contemporary twists and humourous subtleties, is the first and only film by an Iranian filmmaker to win the Cannes Palme d’Or.
12. ‘The Pianist’ 2002
‘The Pianist’, Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning film, premiered at Cannes in 2002 and won the Palme d’Or. The film is based on the true-life of musician Wadysaw Szpilman, who spent years underground during the Holocaust.
Lead actor Adrien Brody offers the best performance of his career, earning him an Academy Award for Best Actor. It’s a film about the Holocaust that’s cruel and glorious at the same time.
13. ‘The Tree Of Life’ 2011
‘The Tree of Life’, directed by Terrence Malik, premiered in Cannes in 2011 and won the Palme d’Or. The film is a breathtaking voyage across life, nature, and space. At the same time, it concentrates on the dynamics of a tiny Texas town family. Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain are among the cast members.
The plot is intriguing but mysterious, and the picture features innovative visuals and Emmanuel Lubezki’s outstanding photography throughout.
14. ‘The Square’ 2017
The film, directed by Ruben Östlund’s and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, demonstrates how art and performance can push an audience’s boundaries in an unsettling and unenjoyable way.
The Square revolves around the curator of a Stockholm museum who must deal with the mundane aspects of his profession (administrative tasks, interview requests) while his personal life spirals out of hand as he strives to recover his stolen wallet.
15. ‘Parasite’ 2019
Bong Joon-Academy ho’s Award-winning South Korean picture also won big at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. By presenting the affluent as ‘parasitic’ and the working class as actually trying to keep their heads above water, the darkly comedic thriller film gives an anti-capitalist take on modern life.
The film is about the Kims, a poor family, cleverly find work in the Parks’ house. The Parks family, on the other hand, is a hugely affluent family. For years, the family has been harbouring an unknown visitor in their basement.