Cannes Film Festival 2016: Meet the Breakout Women to Watch

Ruth Negga

Every year, it seems the Cannes Film Festival is where the bad-boy European auteurs come to behave incorrigibly—they are like kids on an unsupervised playground, really—but this time, the women shone, including two exciting new filmmakers to watch. Here are the women who broke through at Cannes this year.


Ruth Negga

Oscars hype always sounds off too early and too loudly, but the universal praise for the 34-year old Ethiopian-Irish actress is not just Hollywood’s hunger for a new star. Look for Negga’s performance in Jeff Nichols’s “Loving,” which tells the true story of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Negga), who were arrested and tried in 1958 in Virginia for the “crime” of interracial coupling, to stay in the Oscars conversation well into the fall.

Ruth Negga at the premiere of Loving at the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival. Photo by Getty Images.


Erin Moriarty

The American actress, who is all of 21 and little known outside of a role in the first season of “True Detective,” danced down the red carpet at Cannes with her “Blood Father” * co-star Mel Gibson, who plays her father in the film. The genre picture is a bit like “Taken,”* if the daughter-in-distress had a tough-girl agency.

Erin Moriarty at the closing ceremony of the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival. Photo by Getty Images.


Sasha Lane

The 19-year old star of Andrea Arnold’s ballyhooed “American Honey” ** was perhaps the most-after new face on a starry red carpet which included co-stars Riley Keough and Shia LaBeouf, with whom Lane had a reported fling on set during a hiatus from rumored fiancée Mia Goth. But the film belongs to Lane’s multifaceted Southern girl, who escapes an abusive father to embark on a cross-country journey.

Sasha Lane at the closing ceremony of the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival. Photo by Getty Images.


Maren Ade

The 39-year old German director seemed one of those filmmakers consigned to a career of being elevated among European cinephiles and utterly unknown otherwise, until she brought “Toni Erdmann,” her quirky third feature, to Cannes. A father-daughter tale with both imagination and feeling, it was immediately a festival favorite. Now everyone’s dying to know what she does next.

Director Maren Ade at the photocall for Toni Erdmann during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival. Photo by Getty Images.


Adriana Ugarte

Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Chus Lampreave, Rossy de Palma … the list of Pedro Almodóvar’s leading women goes on and on, and has become a genre all its own. The latest is Ugarte, the 31-year old Spanish actress who plays the titular, cropped-blonde star of Julieta, the director’s 20th film. It was received at Cannes as Almodóvar’s return to form, and, more importantly, a return of the Almodóvar woman.

Adriana Ugarte at the premiere of Julieta during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival. Photo by Getty Images.


Ruby Barnhill

If any director can be trusted to get the best out of a child actor, it’s Steven Spielberg, who coached Drew Barrymore in “E.T.” and Christian Bale in “Empire of the Sun.” Always tuned into his own sense of astonishment, Spielberg has tapped the 10-year old British actress Ruby Barnhill for his Roald Dahl adaptation “The BFG,” in which she gets to match wits with co-stars Rebecca Hall and Mark Rylance, who just won an Oscar for “Bridge of Spies.”

Ruby Barnhill with Kate Capshaw, Steven Spielberg, and Mark Rylance at the premiere of The BFG at the Cannes Film Festival. Photo by Getty Images.


Adèle Haenel

Another Cannes, another breakthrough French actress named Adèle. This one—Adèle Haenel, 27—stars as a doctor in “The Unknown Girl,” which is not nearly as scandalous as 2014’s “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” in which Adèle Exarchopoulos made a famous star turn, but Haenel is in the capable hands of the Dardenne brothers, who was last scene directing Marion Cotillard to a Oscar nomination “Two Days, One Night.”

Adèle Haenel at the photocall for The Unknown Girl during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival. Photo by Getty Images.


Julia Ducournau

The 32-year old French director’s feature debut, “Raw,” a thriller about a teenage vegetarian who goes to veterinarian school only to discover a taste for flesh, was being talked up the same way festivalgoers talked up another stylish horror film, “Let the Right One In,” that broke through in 2009. That director, Tomas Alfredsson, went on to make “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and the forthcoming “The Snowman,” with Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson. It remains to be seen if Ducournau will make the Hollywood leap.

Julia Ducournau at the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival. Photo by Riccardo Ghilardi/Getty Images.