The Cannes Film Festival can work on two levels: as a place to catch new films from some of the most lauded and challenging directors working today, or as a festival of discovery, a chance to witness the sublime breakthroughs of the actors and filmmakers set to take the world by storm. Picked by LWLies, the world's most beautiful film magazine, here are the five hottest new discoveries so far at this year's festival.
1. Marine Vacth (actor, Young & Beautiful)
Having worked as a model for Yves Saint Laurent and Ralph Lauren (and it's not difficult to see why), the 23-year-old Marine Vacth will likely be catapulted into the stratosphere of Francophone cinema on the back of her fearless central turn in François Ozon's Cannes competition contender Young & Beautiful. She plays an icy teenage nymphet from a comfortable financial background who, having furtively sewn her wild oats during a family beach holiday, decides to become a prostitute upon returning to Paris. Critics have given Vacth across-the-board raves for her performance, which perfectly transmits the director's intense ambivalence towards the erotic and dangerous nature of this profession.
2. Michael B. Jordan (actor, Fruitvale Station)
One of the more divisive films screened at this year's festival was Ryan Coogler's Sundance hit Fruitvale Station, which intimately charts the life of a drug dealer and ex-convict looking to get back on the straight and narrow but who's cut short by a purportedly random act of police brutality. He's played by the effortlessly charismatic Michael B. Jordan, best known as Wallace from the first series of The Wire and as part of the ensemble in found-footage teen superhero yarn Chronicle. Whatever your moral hang-ups with the film as a whole, you'd be hard pressed to deny that great work that Jordan delivers in what's surely set to be his first major lead role of many.
3. Alain Guiraudie (director, Stranger By The Lake)
Even though Stranger By The Lake is his sixth movie, French director Alain Guidaudie remains something of an unknown quantity in the English-speaking world. That looks all set to change on the back of this scintillating and free-spirited new work which plays out on a gay cruising hotspot and includes jealous love rivalries, bittersweet relationships and eye-watering amounts of hardcore sex. It has been one of the few films so far at the festival that has united critics in their unalloyed enthusiasm.
4. Oscar Isaac (actor, Inside Llewyn Davis)
Yes, he may have played the strangely intellectual bodyguard in Madonna's regrettable feature film W.E., but actor Oscar Isaac has really hit it out of the park with his title performance in the Coen brothers' much-loved, '60s-set Greenwich Village folk saga Inside Llewyn Davis. He plays a dead-broke minstrel at a major crossroads in his creative life and the film follows him over a number of days as he tries to reconcile his life and his art. The film contains a host of pop and folk numbers that were all (brilliantly) sung live by Isaac, and for the sense of sorrow and passion he imparts in those incredible performances alone, he deserves every plaudit thrown at him.
5. Connor Chapman (actor, The Selfish Giant)
Blighty, once again, didn't get much of a foothold on the main competition at Cannes, though the new film from Clio Barnard, director of idiosyncratic doc-fiction hybrid The Arbor, did receive its triumphant premiere as part of the Director's Fortnight strand. Key to its pleasures is the performance given by young unknown actor Connor Chapman, who plays an out-of-control, fine-haired pre-teen who drops out of school to work as a metal scavenger for an evil local scrap merchant. The film has drawn comparisons to such doyens of social realism as Ken Loach and Shane Meadows, and Chapman's lively turn trades blows with David Bradley in Loach's Kes and Thomas Turgoose in Meadows' This Is England.
Follow LWLies on Twitter: @LWLies