Cannes Film Festival: What's everyone talking about at this year's French celebration of cinema?

The Cannes Film Festival is a 12-day whirl of film premieres, Hollywood stars, champagne receptions and super yachts.

The 76th year of the festival in the French Riviera city, 2023's offerings include big blockbusters, new talent, and just a splash of controversy.

So far, we've seen a standing ovation for Johnny Depp, honorary Palme d'Or's for Harrison Ford and Michael Douglas, and red carpet appearances from stars including Cate Blanchett, Ethan Hawke, and Dame Helen Mirren.

So, as the festival reaches its halfway point, what have the big moments been so far, and what else should we be looking out for at Cannes?

The Palme d'Or

This year is a record-breaking one at Cannes: of the 21 films competing for the Palme d'Or (the festival's highest prize), seven of them are from women - a whacking one third of the entrants.

It's a stark contrast to this year's Oscars race, where not one female filmmaker was nominated in the best director category.

With last year's Cannes Festival producing three of the eventual Oscar best picture nominees, we can only hope this year's impressive offering will highlight a few female filmmakers' names for next year's Academy selection.

Jeanne Du Barry

All eyes were on Johnny Depp at the start of the festival, as his period film Jeanne Du Barry opened proceedings.

His big comeback following the high-profile US court case against his ex-wife Amber Heard, which he won, saw him receive a standing ovation.

The film sees the star playing King Louis XV, while the drama's director, a French filmmaker known as Maiwenn, plays the titular role.

She recently admitted to spitting in a journalist's face following reports accusing her ex-husband, the director Luc Besson, of rape (the French court of appeal dismissed all the allegations against Besson in May last year).

A somewhat controversial choice to kick off proceedings, the festival was happy to overlook any raised eyebrows - and it certainly got people talking.

The Idol

Away from Depp senior, there is Depp junior - his daughter Lily-Rose.

She is starring in The Idol, the highly anticipated series by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson and musician The Weeknd also premiering at Cannes.

Lily-Rose stars as an aspiring pop star who enters a complex relationship with a self-help guru played by The Weeknd.

With reports of a costly overhaul midway through production, all eyes will be on the reaction to the Cannes premiere before the show airs on Sky Atlantic in the UK.

Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny

While not part of the competition, Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny has premiered at Cannes.

It's been an emotional ride for its star Harrison Ford, who is not only saying goodbye to the role of Indy, but also bagging an honorary Palme d'Or while appearing at the festival.

Directed by James Mangold, whose previous work includes Logan and Ford v Ferrari, the film stars Ford in his final outing as the iconic archaeologist while Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge plays his god-daughter.

Click to subscribe to Backstage wherever you get your podcasts

It's the first film in the franchise not to be directed by Steven Spielberg or written by George Lucas, and has been a long time coming - its initial intended release date was 19 July 2019.

Due out in cinemas on 30 June, it's expected to be a summer blockbuster hit for Disney.

Killers Of The Flower Moon

Killers Of The Flower Moon is a Western crime drama from Martin Scorsese with a very starry cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons and recent Oscar winner Brendan Fraser.

It's based on a book about a series of murders of members of the Osage tribe in Oklahoma during the 1920s after oil was discovered on tribal land.

Reported to have cost £160m, and not out in cinemas until October, the drama is expected to be an awards contender.

It has played out of competition at Cannes, and while it's due to eventually come out on Apple TV+, Scorsese has described it as a "big screen movie".

Asteroid City

A recent online trend has seen videos imitating the unique and highly stylised look of Wes Anderson films.

So, what better time for a new film from the director himself?

As usual, he's pulled together a big ensemble cast - this one includes Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie and Jeff Goldblum (to name just a few).

Set in 1955, it's about a junior stargazers' convention and is among the films at Cannes hoping to take home the prestigious top prize - the Palme d'Or - before it hits cinemas in June.

May December

Director Todd Haynes, known for work including Wonderstruck and Dark Waters, has an intriguingly meta offering in competition at the festival.

May December stars Natalie Portman as an actress who goes to meet a woman played by Julianne Moore that Portman's character is going to play in a film.

In real life, both stars have won Oscars in the past and the film is yet to be sold to a US distributor, so makers are no doubt banking on great reviews when it premieres at the festival before coming out on Sky Cinema later this year.

Occupied City

One of Britain's most lauded directors, Sir Steve McQueen has brought his new documentary Occupied City to this year's Cannes as a special screening.

About Amsterdam - where he now lives with his wife, writer Bianca Stigter, who co-produced the film - under Nazi occupation during the Second World War, it has a whopping 262-minute running time.

It's the first time McQueen has directed a documentary feature, but his doc miniseries Uprising won a TV BAFTA last year.


The latest offering from Pixar is set in a city where elements live together and is about the relationship between a fiery girl and a boy made from water, who find that just because they can't touch one another doesn't mean they have nothing in common.

The animation will premiere out of competition and will close the festival on 27 May, before releasing in cinemas next month.

The voice cast includes Jurassic World star Mamoudou Athie and Nancy Drew actress Leah Lewis.

Inspired by romantic movies including You've Got Mail and Amelie, expect it to bring a heart-warming close to the festival.

Cannes Film Festival runs from 16-27 May