The best movies of all time, from ‘Pulp Fiction’ to ‘Parasite’

As the 75th Cannes Film Festival fast approaches, let’s take a stroll down memory lane to rediscover some of the best films that have received honors at the coveted international film festival.

The first Cannes Film Festival took place in 1946 in France. It recognized artistic excellence and presented top-notch cinema to global audiences. The world’s brightest and most influential film event takes place every year to honor great performances, exchange ideas, screen films and identify new talent.

The film festival first served as a meeting place for film buffs and art lovers in the 1940s. The event was eventually catapulted to international fame and now promotes the development of the global film industry and the craftsmanship of cinema. It also celebrates emerging talent around the world. Equivalent to the “Best Film” category at the Oscars, the festival has its own award, the Cannes Palme d’Or.

The event will take place from May 17 to 28, 2022 at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France.

Here are some of the best Cannes films that have etched their place in cinematic history

Nesha Nagar (1946)

Image credit: Neecha Nagar/IMDb

Before Satyajit Ray’s 1955 classic Pather Panchali placed Indian cinema on the world map, Chetan Anand’s Necha Nagar (1946) had already made waves at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Palme d’Or.

Serving as a satirical portal to 1940s India, when the country was about to break free from British rule, Necha Nagar paints a grim picture of the economic disparity prevalent in Indian society at the time. The film brilliantly presented the sparks of revolution launched by the lower economic class against the injustices of the rich and powerful.

With a timeless theme, the film’s title is a signifier of the economic and political turmoil in India in 1946. In the fictional town of Neecha Nagar, where ‘neecha’ refers to where the lower economic class resides, the young people have to fight against the people of Ooncha Nagar, or the upstream town where rich people reside and enjoy a life of luxury.

A wealthy businessman, aptly named Sarkar (meaning government), decides to divert the open sewer channel that carries garbage from Ooncha Nagar and run it through Neecha Nagar. Despite vehement opposition from the townspeople, Sarkar executes him anyway.

When Neecha Nagar suffers from an epidemic caused by the unsanitary living conditions and sewage, Sarkar builds a hospital so that he can exploit people and earn even more money from the misery he created first. place.

The cast includes Rafiq Anwar, Uma Anand, Kamini Kaushal, Rafi Peer, SP Bhatia and Mohan Saigal.

Taxi Driver (1976)

taxi driver cannes film
Image credit: Taxi Driver/© 1976 – Columbia/TriStar/IMDb

Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece Taxi driver follows the life of deranged loner and Vietnam War veteran Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), who takes a job as a taxi driver in New York City, due to his insomnia. Written by Paul Schrader, the film paints an alarming and violent picture of a man’s descent into mental illness and inner-city alienation.

As Travis continues to haunt the city streets each night, becoming increasingly detached from reality, he begins to fixate on seeking justice against the despicable world, starting with New York. During this trip, he meets a campaign worker, Betsy (Cybill Shepherd). This leads her to change her life goals, training for revenge and plotting the assassination of the politician she works for.

The film shines a light on the pervasive and debilitating side effects of loneliness and isolation, which is an epidemic facing contemporary society today. The supporting cast includes Harvey Keitel, Jodie Foster and Albert Brooks. Taxi driver deftly delves into how society can corrupt and be corrupt at the same time, for which he won the Palme d’Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival.

All That Jazz (1979)

and all that
Image Credit: All That Jazz/© 1979 20th Century Fox/IMDb

Released in 1979, And all that is a semi-autobiographical musical film based on the life of American director, screenwriter and actor Bob Fosse. The film, which was directed and co-written by Fosse himself, follows the story of his own life and the sordid career of his on-screen avatar, Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider), an infamous dancer.

The film offers an unfiltered version of an artist struggling to stay relevant and leave his mark on the industry in the face of his impending deadline. And all that was inspired by the real-life events that took place when Fosse maniacally tried to balance the editing of his film lenny (1974) and staging of the 1975 Broadway musical Chicago the same time.

In the film, we see Joe going through a life crisis due to failing health and disappointing relationships, while working on what may be his very last Broadway production. The film realistically depicts how the protagonist navigates life while dealing with the consequences of his hedonistic lifestyle and poor life choices.

In 1980, the Cannes jury chaired by Kirk Douglas judged And all that winner of the Palme d’Or with Akira Kurosawa Kagemusha. The former also earned nine nominations and four Oscars at the 52nd Academy Awards.

Sex, Lies and Video (1989)

sex, lies and video
Image Credit: Sex, Lies and Video/IMDb

Another Palme d’Or winner in this list is Steven Soderbergh’s directorial debut. Sex, lies and video. Paving the way for independent films, Soderbergh explores the intricacies of sexuality, relationships, and complex emotions juxtaposed with bold, edgy story and dialogue throughout this film.

In the film, Ann (Andie MacDowell) is the sexually and emotionally unsatisfied wife of John (Peter Gallagher), who is a young, rising lawyer in his thirties. As John has an affair with Ann’s sister, Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo), the delicate threads of their failed marriage are further unraveled with the arrival of the wild and uncompromising Graham (James Spader). A college friend of John’s, Graham films Cynthia and Ann as they confess their sexual desires.

The compelling story took the then small-scale Sundance Film Festival by storm and changed its fate forever. When it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, it won not only the Palme d’Or, but also the Best Actor award and the International Critics’ Award. The film has aged wonderfully and remains relevant for today’s times, where the lines between intimacy and confidentiality are blurred.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

8 of the best Cannes films of all time
Image credit: Pulp Fiction/© 1994 – Miramax./IMDb

Quentin Tarantino movie, pulp Fictionfollows the intertwining events in the lives of two Los Angeles hitmen Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), the wife of gangster actress Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman), a boxer in trouble Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), two petty criminals Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer, respectively), and a master repairman called The Wolf (Harvey Keitel).

The film follows Vincent and Jules, who work for mob kingpin Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), with a penchant for philosophical discussions and musings on life.

Tarantino weaves seemingly disconnected incidents together and highlights the choices each character makes regarding life, death, honor and disgrace. All of the film’s characters helped shape the multi-layered collection of short crime stories in this cult favorite film.

Full of post-modern quirks and brash, witty dialogue, the film deftly humanizes nefarious characters, invoking an emotional response from audiences. Tarantino and Roger Avary won an Oscar for the film in the Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for Screen category.

pulp Fiction completely transformed the course of modern cinema and inspired a multitude of imitators over the years after its release. The film won the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.

Cherry Taste (1997)

cherry film taste
Image Credit: Taste of Cherry/IMDb

In this dark and contemplative Cannes film directed by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, a middle-aged and suicidal Tehranian, Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi), ventures in search of someone who would bury his body after having suicide. While driving around the city in his Range Rover, he has numerous encounters with people, including a Muslim student (Mir Hossein Noori).

Just as he is about to abandon his quest, the seemingly well-to-do Badii meets a man who agrees to complete the task because he desperately needs the money. However, his new associate soon tries to talk him out of committing suicide.

Throughout the film, Badii reflects on his own life through interactions with various people he meets along the way. Full of post-modern twists and witty oddities, Cherry taste is the first and only film to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes by an Iranian filmmaker.

Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

Blue is the warmest color film
Image credit: Blue is the hottest color/© 2013 – Sundance Selects/IMDb

Based on the French graphic novel by Julie Maroh, published in 2010, Blue is the hottest color is a teen coming-of-age drama about a French girl who falls in love with a blue-haired artist. When Adele’s openly gay best friend (Adèle Exarchopoulos) takes her to a lesbian bar, she comes across Emma (Léa Seydoux), a free-spirited punk girl with electric blue hair, and is instantly attracted to her.

Sparkling with youthful energy, rebellion and desire, she soon becomes a couple with Emma. It tests the limits of her friendships, her family, herself and her sexual identity. Brightly illustrated and beautifully told, Blue is the hottest color is a bittersweet story about the elusive and reckless nature of passionate love. The foreign language film (French version) won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2013.

The film received worldwide acclaim, as well as its fair share of controversy, due to the explicit scenes. Director Abdellatif Kechiche shared the award with actors Exarchopoulos and Seydoux.

Parasite (2019)

Parasite
Image credit: Parasite/IMDb

The Oscar-winning South Korean film, directed by Bong Joon-ho, also won a big prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The dark comedy thriller offers an anti-capitalist take on modern society, portraying the wealthy as ” parasites”. ‘ and the working class literally struggling to keep its head above water.

Parasite follows the life of a poor family, the Kims, who work shrewdly at the Maison des Parcs. In stark contrast, the Parks family is an immensely wealthy family. The family has also unknowingly been hosting a stranger in their basement for years.

The brilliantly written film brutally highlights how working-class or middle-class people are forced to clash, to fight for crumbs. On the other hand, families like the Parks live lives of luxury, supported by the labors of the countless people working below them.

(Main and featured image credit: Pulp Fiction/© 1994 – Miramax./IMDb)

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur.

Gerald R. Schneider