25 Perfect Shots From the Past 25 Years of Cannes

The festival of master auteurs is a one-stop shop for perfect shots.

Piano Resized

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.


Three Colours: Red (1994)

Three Colors Red Resized

Cinematography by Piotr Sobociński

Directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski


Dead Man (1995)

Dead Man Resized

Cinematography by Robby Müller

Directed by Jim Jarmusch


Breaking the Waves (1996)

Breaking The Waves Resized

Cinematography by Robby Müller

Directed by Lars von Trier


Happy Together (1997)

Happy Together Resized

Cinematography by Christopher Doyle

Directed by Wong Kar-wai


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Fear And Loathing Resized

Cinematography by Nicola Pecorini

Directed by Terry Gilliam


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Luke bleeds film and music, got his master's in film & ethics at Duke, and thinks every occasion should include one of the following: whiskey, coffee, gin, tea, beer, or basketball.