I may not have called it, but I came pretty damn close – and I’m quite happy to be ever so slightly wrong.
Palme d’Or: The Square
I figured this or A Gentle Creature would take the Palme. A Gentle Creature might have been more topical, but I thought The Square might be more consensus-friendly. And so it seems to have been. And since it was the film I was really rooting for, I’m very happy indeed.
It’s an unusual choice for them; although I’m not sure if it’s as overtly comic as Östlund’s Force Majeure, it seems like the most comedic winner in quite a while; you might have to go back to 1995’s Underground to find the last winner you could really call a comedy. And after a string of very realistic winners, it seems to be a more surreal, allegorical choice; more in the vein of The Tree of Life and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.
I just hope it comes out in the States in time for my next Film Awards. Because it sounds awesome.
Grand Prix: 120 Beats per Minute
Between its subject (AIDS activism in 90s France), its Frenchness, and the warm reviews it met with, this had been considered the Palme frontrunner. But I’m not actually too surprised that it didn’t win; they haven’t given the prize to many period pieces lately, and it just never seemed to have the weight (a highly subjective term, I realize) of a Palme winner. 20 years ago, it would’ve been a surefire winner. Now…the Grand Prix makes sense.
And given that’s probably a shoo-in for the César (the French Oscar) and will likely be the French submission for the Foreign Film Oscar, I think its creators will have a very good year ahead of them indeed.
Director: Sofia Coppola, The Beguiled
A bit of a surprise, this award, but not an unwelcome one. Coppola is only the second woman to win this prize (the first being Yuliya Solntseva for 1961’s Chronicle of Flaming Years), and by all accounts, her staging of The Beguiled is fairly striking. Some reviews express reservations about the film as a whole, but I remain eager to see it (and indeed, it makes its American debut in less than a month).
Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here
My regard for Phoenix as an actor is a matter of record; I consider his performance in The Master one of the best of the last decade, and his turns in films like Her, The Immigrant, and Inherent Vice have only strengthened my view of him as one of our best working actors. So I don’t doubt that his work here is exemplary – reviews for the film are a shade mixed (though overall strong), but his work has been praised.
Actress: Diane Kruger, In the Fade
This frankly surprised me. Kruger is a solid actress and I generally like her (especially as Bridget von Hammersmark). But this is by all accounts not that great of a film, although her work (as a woman seeking retribution for the deaths of her husband and son at the hands of neo-Nazis) has been fairly well received. Still – at least on paper – some other actresses in competing films (especially Vasikina Makovtseva in A Gentle Creature) would seem to be worthier choices.
Screenplay (TIE): Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Lynne Ramsay, You Were Never Really Here
A tie! Half expected, half not. I’m not at all surprised that Lanthimos and Filippou were rewarded for their writing, having done such brilliant work on The Lobster (and Dogtooth and Alps), and I can’t wait to see Sacred Deer; it’s easily one of my 2 or 3 most-anticipated films of the year, assuming it actually comes out over here in time.
Ramsay’s win struck me as a bit stranger, given that the reviews of You Were Never Really Here (at least the reviews I’ve seen) praised her direction and the acting more than the storytelling, which was cited as a weak link. However, I’ve also heard that the cut of the film shown at Cannes was a rough cut, and that the final version will be tighter and more polished. If so, kudos to the Cannes jury for recognizing her script even when it was showcased imperfectly.
Jury Prize: Loveless
I get it. It was hugely praised (as was Leviathan), but it sounds so damn bleak. Too bleak for the Palme, at least this time around. It does sound compelling, and maybe its greater focus on character will make it more rewarding for me than Leviathan was, since that film focused on systemic corruption but offered relatively little insight to anyone with much knowledge of modern Russia.
Vulcain Prize (for an artist technician): Josefin Åsberg, Production Designer, The Square
Hoping this’ll provide some cool sets.
Special 70th Anniversary Award: Nicole Kidman
Kidman appeared in a number of projects at this year’s festival; not only is she in The Beguiled and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, but she also appeared in How to Talk to Girls at Parties and the second season of Top of the Lake, both of which were shown out of competition. Coupled with her Oscar nomination last year for Lion, she’s having quite a good year indeed.
Un Certain Regard:
- UCR Award: A Man of Integrity
- Jury Prize: April’s Daughter
- Best Director: Taylor Sheridan, Wind River
- Best Performance: Jasmine Trinca, Fortunata
- The Poetry of Cinema Award: Barbara
I decided not to profile the Un Certain Regard contenders owing to constraints of time and space, but worthy films are often found there.
You’ll probably be hearing more about Wind River; it’s a thriller set on the titular Native American reservation starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. As for the rest, I’m probably most interested in the Italian single-mother drama Fortunata.
- In Competition: 120 Beats per Minute
- Un Certain Regard: Closeness
120 Beats per Minute really had its adherents, no? Closeness is a Russian drama about a kidnapping, as well as a portrait of Jewish life in the Caucasus; it sounds reasonably interesting.
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury: Radiance
I thought Radiance looked like a fairly nice little film; reviews suggest it’s likable but ultimately trite. However, its themes of love and compassion seem to have resonated with this particular jury.
Queer Palm: 120 Beats per Minute
- Main Prize: Einstein, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
- Jury Prize: Lupo, Ava
That admittedly gives me more of a reason to see The Meyerowitz Stories.
Ava is a French film about a young girl who falls in love with a “bad boy” while confronting the impending loss of her eyesight; Lupo is his wolfhound. This review makes it sound fairly intriguing, though I can’t imagine it’ll see the inside of many American theaters.
So that takes care of Cannes. As far as festivals go, there won’t be a whole lot to report on until Venice kicks off at the end of August. I’ll see about putting up some posts on my most-anticipated upcoming films, and perhaps watching some more films in anticipation of my Six-Month Film Awards (which will probably be fairly meager this year).