The 15 Best Movies at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival

Disappointment hung in the air a few days into the 2024 Cannes Film Festival when no main competition films had universally wowed industry and press. But you have to know where to look, which often means going outside the official selection and into sidebars like Un Certain Regard and Directors’ Fortnight in search of gems.

By the end of the festival, though, more than a few stunners had emerged. The competition’s final days brought a series of potentially historic and beloved-on-the-ground Palme contenders: Mohammad Rasolouf’s searing Iranian drama “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” Payal Kapadia’s day-in-the-life Mumbai portrait “All We Imagine as Light,” and Sean Baker’s wild and crazy sex worker odyssey “Anora.”

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Elsewhere, movies like Matthew Rankin’s Abbas Kiarostami homage “Universal Language” and Mahdi Fleifel’s “To a Land Unknown,” the only Palestinian movie to play Cannes this year, impressed in Directors’ Fortnight, the sidebar dedicated to contrary points of view from emerging auteurs.

Back in the competition, there were divisive returns to form for directors such as Cannes mainstay David Cronenberg with his autobiographical grief thriller “The Shrouds,” or Francis Ford Coppola’s epically ambitious “Megalopolis.” While reviews were all over the place for both films, IndieWire found things to love about both. Plus, Coralie Fargeat’s gross-out body horror “The Substance,” a Hollywood satire with Demi Moore back in a great leading role, took up the legacy of Cronenberg with entrail-covered bells on.

The next step after Cannes? For these movies to make their way to audiences worldwide in theaters or, as is ever more often the case, on streaming platforms. A Cannes Film Festival imprimatur always helps on that journey, but good word-of-mouth can transcend any bubbled-in festival buzz.

Below, IndieWire rounds up the 15 best movies we saw on the Croisette at this year’s edition.

Christian Blauvelt, Wilson Chapman, Sophie Monks Kaufman, and Christian Zilko contributed to this story.

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