5 Things to Know About the 2023 Cannes Film Festival

Your guide to the essential movies, celebs, and events at the Palais des Festivals and beyond.

by Jihane Bousfiha

GIF by Ashley Peña. Images courtesy of Getty

The Cannes Film Festival has everything a movie and pop-culture fanatic could ask for: dozens of films, eye-catching fashion, and, most notably, massive star power. Every May, A-listers flock to the idyllic seaside city in the South of France to celebrate cinema from around the world, mingle with industry members, party on yachts, and show off fabulous looks on the red steps of the Palais des Festivals. The 76th edition of the festival, which runs for 11 days and includes daily screenings, red carpet premieres, press conferences, events, and awards ceremonies, will certainly serve as a memorable occasion, setting awards season campaigns in motion and giving us unforgettable moments in the process.

With the festival kicking off on May 16, here’s a rundown of five things to know about it, from red carpet appearances to the festival’s sprawling lineup filled with highly anticipated titles.

The Star-Studded Premieres

Cannes is the grandest film festival in the world, where hundreds of familiar faces—from actors and filmmakers to models and musicians—appear on the Croisette and dazzle us with memorable red carpet looks and moments. This year, some of Hollywood’s biggest stars are poised to grace the carpet, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, and Jesse Plemons, who star in Martin Scorsese’s big-budget western Killers of the Flower Moon.

Lily Gladstone and Leonardi DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon.

Courtesy of Apple TV+

K-pop sensation Blackpink’s Jennie Kim, who is making her acting debut in The Weeknd and Sam Levinson’s upcoming series The Idol, will undoubtedly have all eyes on her when attending the show’s premiere alongside the musician-turned-actor/producer, and co-stars Lily Rose-Depp and Rachel Sennott.

Also set to have a splashy premiere is Cannes mainstay Wes Anderson, whose latest film Asteroid City is jam-packed with beloved Hollywood actors. We can’t wait to see the film’s stars, including Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jason Schwartzman, Margot Robbie, Maya Hawke, Tilda Swinton, and many more walk the dazzling red carpet.

Other fan-favorite celebs expected to appear during the festival are heartthrob Pedro Pascal, who stars in Pedro Almodóvar’s short film Strange Way of Life alongside Ethan Hawke; Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, who lead Todd Haynes’s May December; and Firebrand’s Jude Law and Alicia Vikander. Also keep an eye out for Cate Blanchett, whose follow-up to TÁR, The New Boy, will be premiering at the Un Certain Regard section.

Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal in Strange Way of Life.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The Juries

The awards presented at the festival’s closing ceremony are decided by a group made up of nine people, primarily acclaimed writers, directors, and actors. This year’s stacked jury is headed by two-time Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund, who won the top prize just last year for his Oscar-nominated Triangle of Sadness. Joining him are Paul Dano, Brie Larson, Titane director Julia Ducournau, Moroccan director Maryam Touzani, Beau Is Afraid actor Denis Ménochet, Argentinian director Damián Szifron, I Am Not a Witch helmer Rungano Nyoni, and writer Atiq Rahimi.

The president of the festival’s Un Certain Regard section, which showcases bold films from around the world, is Cannes frequenter John C. Reilly. Rounding out the group are French filmmaker Alice Winocour, German actress Paula Beer, Return to Seoul breakthrough director Davy Chou, and Belgian actress Émilie Dequenne.

At the International Critics’ Week section, which highlights the work of up-and-coming creatives, Happening writer-director Audrey Diwan will preside over the jury, which is also composed of German actor Franz Rogowski, Sundance programming director Kim Yutani, Portuguese cinematographer Rui Poças, and journalist and Berlinale programming advisor Meenakshi Shedde.

Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd in The Idol.

Courtesy of HBO Max

The Films Vying for the Palme d’Or

Beyond buzzy special screenings like Killers of the Flower Moon, Steve McQueen’s four-hour documentary Occupied City, The Idol, and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, 21 films are in the running for the Palme d’Or. This year’s contenders for the top prize—as well as a handful of other accolades—include Asteroid City; May December; Jonathan Glazer’s first film in 15 years, The Zone of Interest; Jessica Hausner’s follow-up to Little Joe titled Club Zero; Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Turkish drama About Dry Grasses; and Alice Rohrwacher’s La Chimera. Also competing for the award are Catherine Breillat’s erotic drama Last Summer, two-time Palme winner Ken Loach’s The Old Oak, Justine Triet’s French thriller Anatomy of a Fall, and Senegalese director Ramata Toulaye-Sy’s directorial debut (a rarity for the main competition) Banel & Adama.

A still from Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City.

Courtesy of Focus Features

The Celebrities Being Honored

Every year for the past two decades, the festival has celebrated the career of one actor or filmmaker who has made legendary work, yet never won the Palme d’Or competitively (past winners in recent years include Tom Cruise, Forest Whitaker, and Jodie Foster). This year, the Honorary Palme d’Or is being awarded to Michael Douglas, who has appeared on the Croisette several times throughout his iconic, decades-spanning career and has starred in films like Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, The Game, and Behind the Candelabra.

For Kering’s annual Women in Motion event, which has focused on celebrating women in the industry since 2015, Michelle Yeoh, who won the Best Actress Oscar for Everything Everywhere All at Once earlier this year, is receiving the Women in Motion Award, which will be presented at a ceremony held during the festival.

The Trophée Chopard, which recognizes two rising stars, is another big honor that is annually tied to the two-week long event—that accolade has previously been presented to Florence Pugh, Jessie Buckley, Joe Alwyn, and Anya Taylor-Joy. This year, it will be awarded to Daryl McCormack, who garnered acclaim last year for his turns in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande and Bad Sisters; along with Naomi Ackie, who recently made waves with her performance in the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody. If things couldn’t already get better, the awards will be presented to the pair by Natalie Portman, who is serving as godmother of the ceremony on May 19.

The AmfAR Gala

The biggest and most glamorous event held during the festival that takes place beyond its parameters is the annual AmfAR Gala, whose proceeds benefit AIDS research. Held at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc (also known as the venue for Sofia Richie’s much-discussed wedding) in Cap D’Antibes just outside of Cannes, the gala gives celebrities and festival attendees the chance to escape the bustling nature of the town in favor of something more exclusive and secluded. Still, the event always manages to capture our attention, with flashy red carpet looks and celebrity appearances. This year’s event, which will be held on May 25, will be hosted by Queen Latifah, with Halsey, Gladys Knight, Adam Lambert, and Bebe Rexha all set to perform.