Cinematographic artists gravitate toward one another, so it should come as no surprise that the festival loaded with the most directorial auteurs flaunts a rich history of perfect shots from some of the medium’s all-time greatest cinematographers. The Cannes Film Festival is coming up on its 72nd year and the official lineup hearkens back to the past quarter millennia of silver screen wonders that have debuted at the glitzy international gathering on the French Riviera. To get in the mood, I dug through the lineups in recent memory to round up a select group of shots that capture the programming team’s preeminent eye for modern masters.
It’s a terrific year with festival favorites like Céline Sciamma, Quentin Tarantino, Terrence Malick, Ken Loach, Arnaud Desplechin, and Elia Suleiman bringing new films to the Croisette. And while none of their films are featured on this list, several of 2019’s slated contenders are, like Jim Jarmusch, Pedro Almodóvar, the Dardenne brothers, Gaspar Noé, and Bong Joon-ho. Other longtime veterans on the list include Sofia Coppola, Lars von Trier, Wong Kar-wai, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the Coen brothers, and Terry Gilliam.
And don’t forget about the folks behind the camera. It’s their creative and technical brilliance that brings these images to life, and many are just as noteworthy as their directorial counterparts. Crème de la crème like Ellen Kuras, Roger Deakins, Robby Müller, Janusz Kamiński, Benoît Debie, Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Luca Begazzi, and Edward Lachman anchor the group of cinematographers represented.
With around 20 films in the running for the Palme d’Or every year—and over 40 more in peripheral sections like Directors’ Fortnight and Un Certain Regard—there’s no shortage of perfect shots in Cannes’ bank. And while narrowing down the most technically impressive, artistically significant, and aesthetically pleasing shots from many of the best films from the past 25 years is no easy task, the range allowed for a wide diversity of color, style, mood, tone, lens, grain, theme, etc. to fall into place. Without further ado: 25 perfect shots from the past 25 years of Cannes.