CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 19: Selena Gomez attends the "Emilia Perez" Photocall at the 77th annual Cannes...
JB Lacroix/FilmMagic/Getty Images


Selena Gomez Is Getting Oscars Buzz At Cannes

The actress stars in Emilia Perez, a Spanish-language musical crime comedy that brought the Cannes’ audiences to its feet.

by Michelle Santiago Cortés

Selena Gomez made her return to the Cannes Film Festival this weekend with her most challenging work to date: Emilia Pérez, Jacques Auidard’s Spanish-language musical crime comedy. You read that correctly: It’s a musical, in Spanish, about the complicated lives of people tied to the Mexico City drug trade. And the critics at Cannes loved it.

Emilia Pérez tells the story of a Mexican cartel boss who wishes to leave behind a life of crime and violence to undergo gender-affirming surgery. Zoe Saldaña plays the intrepid lawyer that helps her make it happen and Selena Gomez steps in as the cartel leaders’ wife. The film also introduces international audiences to Spain 's telenovela star Karla Sofía Gascón in the titular role.

At the film’s competition world premiere on Saturday, the audience responded with an 11-minute standing ovation, according to Deadline. As the credits rolled the crowd came to their feet and after the director took the mic to thank the audience, the applause continued, bringing Gomez and her cast-mates to tears. According to Variety, this is the biggest standing ovation at Cannes so far.

Gomez wore a black velvet Saint Laurent gown with creamy-white off-the shoulder sleeves and Bulgari diamonds on her neck. But this isn’t Gomez’s first time at the Grand Theatre Lumiere. She made her Cannes debut in 2019 to promote her role in Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die. She joined cast-mates Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, and Tilda Swinton on the red carpet wearing a custom Louis Vuitton bustier top and skirt made of matching white leather satin, along with a different Bulgari diamond necklace.

The film promises to challenge audiences on every front. It’s an edgy abrasive musical crime-comedy, “filled with giant culture war booby traps,” according to Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri, who also noted that the film is “fearless in its ridiculousness.” Rolling Stone called it “Cannes most delirious movie,” and this is after the premiere of Megalopolis.

What’s more, Gomez contributes her own pop-star persona to the film with a performance of “El Camino,” a new song that Variety calls a “scorcher” and the film’s “anthem.” Many pundits are already calling it an early frontrunner for Best Original Song for next year’s Oscars.

Awards chatter non-withstanding he film already marks what Gomez has already described as a pivotal moment in her career. The actress told Reuters on Friday that she’s glad the attention is on her work. “It’s a relief,” she said, “I’d rather somebody say I did a terrible job than talk about my personal life. So, I feel very proud.”