Cannes Film Festival: 6 movies that could make a splash in 2021

The Cannes Film Festival kicked off last week, returning to the French Riviera for in-person festivities for the first time since Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” nabbed the top prize and conquered world cinema culture two years ago.

The lineup of films at the 74th edition of Cannes is as rich and eclectic as ever, featuring work from celebrated auteurs and promising newcomers. Here’s a look at some of the major festival debuts that will eventually make their way to U.S. theaters or streaming services later this year.

‘After Yang’

The artist and video essayist known as Kogonada, who delivered an auspicious first feature four years ago with the meditative character study “Columbus,” returns with this science fiction drama starring Colin Farrell as a father trying to repair his young daughter’s friend: a robot named Yang. “After Yang” co-stars Jodie Turner-Smith (“Queen & Slim”), Justin H. Min and Haley Lu Richardson.

How you can watch: Indie company A24 plans to distribute the film sometime later this year, but an exact release date has not been announced.


The iconoclastic French filmmaker Leos Carax (“Holy Motors”) makes his English-language debut with this hallucinatory rock opera starring Adam Driver as an explosive stand-up comedian and Marion Cotillard as his wife, a famous soprano. The wildly experimental “Annette” features original songs by Sparks, the quirky duo recently profiled in a documentary by “Shaun of the Dead” director Edgar Wright.

How you can watch: The film is slated for a limited theatrical release Aug. 6 and then lands on Amazon Prime Video on Aug. 20.

‘Flag Day’

Sean Penn directed and co-starred in this drama about a young woman (Dylan Penn, the actor’s real-life daughter) struggling to make amends with her father, a prolific con artist. “Flag Day,” based on a memoir by reporter Jennifer Vogel, was adapted for the screen by Tony-winning playwright Jez Butterworth (“The Ferryman”) and features music by Eddie Vedder, Cat Power and Glen Hansard.

How you can watch: MGM, the studio recently acquired by Amazon, picked up distribution rights and plans to put the film in theaters Aug. 13.

‘The French Dispatch’

Wes Anderson cultists, rejoice! The auteur returns with this ensemble dramedy set at the French bureau of a fictional Kansas newspaper. “The French Dispatch” follows a star-studded ensemble cast — including Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray — across three storylines. The project, originally set for a 2020 rollout, has been described as a love letter to journalism and a hat tip to some of the legendary reporters at The New Yorker.

How you can watch: Searchlight Pictures, the Disney-owned specialty label, plans to release the film in theaters Oct. 22, following a screening at the 59th New York Film Festival in September.


Val Kilmer spent decades shooting home-video footage that chronicled his childhood, film career and private life — and now those old recordings are the centerpiece of this feature-length documentary portrait co-directed by Leo Scott and Ting Poo. “Val” revisits Kilmer’s Hollywood highlights — “Top Gun,” “Heat,” a Batman franchise entry — and takes an intimate look at his present-day challenges as a throat cancer survivor living with a breathing tube.

How you can watch: Amazon plans to give the documentary a limited theatrical release July 23 before it moves to Prime Video Aug. 6.

‘The Velvet Underground’

Todd Haynes, best known for directing acclaimed queer-themed period dramas (“Far From Heaven,” “Carol”) and idiosyncratic takes on musicians (“Velvet Goldmine,” “I’m Not There”) turns to nonfiction with this tribute to one of the defining rock groups of the 1960s. “Haynes puts his distinctive stamp on the material while crafting a work that could almost have come from the same artistic explosion it celebrates,” The Hollywood Reporter wrote in a review.

How you can watch: The film will be available to stream on Apple TV+ on Oct. 15.