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From weird sex to mad PR stunts: the best (and worst) of Cannes 2022

The worst lines, the weirdest sex scenes, the best use of Paul Mescal

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen
Kaleem Aftab

The red carpet has been rolled up, the movie stars have jetted away, and the party victims have been swept off the Croisette. Yes, the Cannes Film Festival is done and dusted for another year, after 12 days providing festivalgoers with its usual mix of lovely surprises (Close, Aftersun), aching disappointments (Three Thousand Years of Longing), diverting oddities (Crimes of the Future) and Hollywood behemoths (Elvis).

The festival, of course, has its own awards ceremony, but we’ve dug a bit deeper to celebrate the actors, scenes, dialogue, parties, and even the dogs who, for better or worse, helped make Cannes what it was. Without this lot, it would have been 150 percent duller.

Weirdest sex scene: Crimes of the Future

Last year’s Cannes was famous for boasting some outré sex scenes – including one film, Titane, that had its protagonist getting jiggy with a car. This Cannes was a milder effort, but David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future did keep the flame alive with a scene in which Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux go at each other with surgical equipment. Who said romance is dead?

Most epic barf-athon: Triangle of Sadness

Crimes of the Future wasn’t the only film unleashing the inside stuff on the outside world. Delivering a scene to rival cinema’s great puke – Stand by Me, The Meaning of Life, etc – was the outbreak of projectile vomiting in Triangle of Sadness. Director Ruben Östlund spoiled us (and our lunches) with the ribald sight of a handful of seasick capitalists redecorating a superyacht an interesting shade of carrot. 

Paul Mescal
Photograph: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Kering

Best use of Paul Mescal: Aftersun

Mescal (pictured above) officially Had a Moment at Cannes. The Irish actor’s transition to big-screen star stepped up a notch via his festival turns in God’s Creatures, and especially the emotionally lacerating Aftersun. Mescal plays a dad holidaying with his daughter in a ’90s setting that allows him to go satisfyingly deep into the leisurewear catalogue. He’s flat-out great in it.

Most bananas rumour: David Lynch’s mystery film

David Lynch was going to premiere a secret movie… at least, that was the pre-festival scuttlebutt. Sadly, when Lynch denied it, it wasn’t just a Lynchian ploy to throw everyone off the scent. It only made people more certain that the rumour was true. In the end, it only played in festivalgoers’ dreams.

Most ‘WTF?’ musical moment: Rebel

Bad Boys for Life directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah premiered their new drama about two Muslim brothers in Belgium. But just when it seemed we’d seen it all before, lead actor Aboubakr Bensaihi unleashes a rap and starts busting out dance moves. The next thing, he's fighting in Syria. It’s a transition that needs to be seen to be believed.

Crimes of the Future
Photograph: Nikos Nikolopoulos

The ‘Gigli’ award for silly dialogue: Crimes of the Future

This one also goes to Cronenberg’s mad-future sci-fi. Kristen Stewart gets to breathily utter the line: ‘Surgery is the new sex’, and somehow manages it with an entirely straight face. The movie itself doesn’t make that much of a case for surgery being the new sex.

Most OTT party: Elvis

The Elvis party was, unsurprisingly, a killer bash that featured a drone show, Shakira and other assorted celebs (Conor McGregor?). Special mention, too, to the David Bowie-themed Moonage Daydream bash, which was not a godawful small affair. It boasted wall-to-wall Bowie tunes and face painters turning humble partygoers into a small, drunken army of Ziggy Stardusts.

Palm Dog
Photograph: the Palm Dog

Best dog: War Pony

Each year the Palm Dog brings a bit of Crufts to Cannes by dishing out gongs (and Scooby Snacks) to the best canine performances. Not wearing the cone of shame this time was a pooch called Beast from War Pony, IRL a poodle called Britney. There was also a prize for Elvis’s hound dog.

Least eco-friendly PR stunt: Top Gun: Maverick

In his inimitable style, Tom Cruise took over Cannes’s fabled red carpet for a special Top Gun: Maverick screening. But befits the long-awaited sequel, the real action was in the skies where eight French fighter jets flew over the Palais leaving a French tricolour of smoke in their jet stream.

Most surprising Arnaud Desplechin fan: Diplo

Early in the fest, three members of Take That turned up to plug a new doc about the boy band, while fellow ‘90s pop legend Kylie flew in for a big party thrown in the name of Magnum (the ice-cream, not the Tom Selleck cop show). Diplo turned up to spin a few tunes at the Elvis party. Judging by his tweet about it, he’ll be back next year just for the French arthouse.

The longest standing ovation: Elvis

Cannes standing ovations are a bit of a lose/lose for filmmakers: get a short one and everyone basically hates you and your film; get a long one and you have to grin awkwardly until your face starts to fall off. This year’s most tired jaw muscles belonged to Baz Luhrmann, who received a monster one for Elvis. Was it ten minutes? Was it 12? There’s some dispute. Either way, those hands will never recover.  

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