Best and Worst Movies From Cannes Film Festival 2015: The Sea of Trees, Carol, and More!

Cate Blanchett in Carol
The 2015 Cannes Film Festival premiered films like Carol, Son of Saul, The Sea of Trees, Amy, and more — read our best and worst picks The Weinstein Company

About the high heels. Technically speaking, you were not required to wear them on the red carpet at the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival. But if you saw the breathtaking scene night after night along the French Riviera, you’d understand why some women were booted for strutting in flats. This is the most glamorous festival in the world — comfort sacrifices must be made, cherries! (That’s exactly what I told myself as I stumbled on a step and face-planted in one screening.) But after the lights go down in the theater, the phones are put away and the whispers subside, the chief order of business is watching the prestigious films. Here’s what drew cheers and boos:

Carol
It’s not too early to talk Oscar, and this sensuous and deeply felt love story is already a hot contender. The divine Cate Blanchett plays a cosmopolitan new divorcee who pursues a shy shopgirl (Rooney Mara) in 1952. Even as their mutual affection grows, both women are tentative to fall into each other’s arms. The artfully directed drama shows its beauty in the most unexpected ways.

Son of Saul
This devastating Hungarian drama throws audiences directly into the burning inferno of the Holocaust. Saul (Geza Rohrig) is a prisoner determined to find a rabbi in the concentration camps to give his deceased son a proper burial. The unspeakable horrors are seen just out of the camera frame and only heard within earshot, but it doesn’t make the acts any less terrifying. Directed by a first-timer, the film is a front-runner to win the coveted Palme d’Or award.

Irrational Man
Irrational Man Sony Pictures Classic

Irrational Man
Woody Allen’s latest project combines the jaunty tone of Midnight in Paris and the sinister plot of Match Point. Joaquin Phoenix is a philosophy professor set on murdering a total stranger; Emma Stone is his bright paramour and voice of reason. One year after Stone and Colin Firth misfired in Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight, what a delight to watch this May-August romance sparkle.

A Tale of Love and Darkness
Natalie Portman wrote, directed, and starred in this drama — told entirely in Hebrew — about a family’s plight in Jerusalem in World War II. (Portman, who was born in Israel, portrays the depressed matriarch). Considering the heady subject matter, the aimless film is not nearly as moving as it should be. The actress, however, deserves credit for the ambitious multitasking.

Amy
They tried to make Amy Winehouse go to rehab . . . and, alas, we know what happened next. This riveting documentary chronicles the tragic life of the outspoken British neo-jazz singer who squandered her amazing talents with drug and alcohol abuse. Raw home videos show how Winehouse, who died in 2011 at age 27, came undone. Worth noting: Though her family is interviewed on camera, they have since rallied against the finished product. Indeed, uncensored footage of Mitchell Winehouse exploiting his visibly troubled daughter is highly unsettling.

Amy
Amy

The Lobster
Oh, you know, it’s just another satire set in the dystopian future in which single people are forced to mate under deadline or else they’re turned into animals. Incredibly, the brutally dark and surreal comedy works. Colin Farrell requests to be turned into a lobster because they live for a hundred years. (No, it’s not because he’s a fan of the classic Ross-and-Rachel-are-lobsters Friends episode). Destiny changes after he meets kindly Rachel Weisz.

The Sea of Trees
On the plus side, Matthew McConaughey is a genetically blessed, talented Oscar winner, and family man. But wow did he pick the wrong vehicle. The actor stars as a bespectacled scientist who travels to a remote forest in Tokyo to kill himself after his wife’s untimely death. There, he finds salvation in aiding another emotionally scarred man (Ken Watanabe). The morose mess, directed by Gus Van Sant, got booed in two press screenings for good reason: It’s an endless, ludicrous slog. That said, Fool’s Gold was still a bigger disaster.

Sea of Trees
The Sea of Trees Roadside Attractions

The Hateful Eight
Holy f$@k! Festivalgoers viewed only a new trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Western — just enough to make a tantalizing first impression. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, and Kurt Russell, it’s a tale of bounty hunters who must take refuge together during a blizzard. Is it winter yet?

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