CANNES: What will win… and what should

Posted by · 7:14 pm · May 21st, 2011

It’s a funny thing. For 10 days at Cannes, the Croisette hums with stimulating discussion and debate about movies; for the final two, all that chatter dissolves into a single blunt question: “What will win the Palme d’Or?” It’s a little like the Oscars, except without the initial stage of stimulating discussion and debate about movies. Let’s do it.

On the one hand, I kind of want the beautiful, punishing 160-minute anti-procedural epic of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” to win, since there’s £140 waiting for me in London if it does. (Gamble responsibly, kids.) On the other, I can make more convincing cases for a number of titles. Unlike last year, when it was easy to single out “Uncle Boonmee” and “Of Gods and Men” for the top two spots, this year’s lineup has been higher in terms of median quality, as well as more contentious — which allows for a wider range of hypothetical jury-room arguments.

I’m tempted to discount the two most media-friendly titles immediately: I’ve always maintained that “The Tree of Life” is a Palme-or-nothing proposition, and rumors I’ve heard that Olivier Assayas is the film’s lone champion on the jury have me leaning towards “nothing.” As for “Melancholia,” I’d count on a firebrand jury head in the Isabelle Huppert mold to aggravate Cannes brass by handing it a major award, but I’m not sure Team De Niro is that rebellious. Of the well-received remains, “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is probably too styled for the top prize, “The Skin I Live In” perhaps needed to be a more personal statement on its director’s part, and I’m not sure anyone is desperate to see the Dardennes win a record-breaking third Palme, even if almost everyone likes their film.

That brings me to one consensus favorite and two crowd-pleasing wild cards. All signs point to bookies’ favorite “Le Havre” taking the gold: a beloved director (Aki Kaurismaki) who has served his Cannes time, a well-liked, warm-blooded film, and an uncontroversial option for a jury some perceive as being a little soft. Still, in recent years, the logical frontrunner has often wound up with the Grand Prix, while the top prize goes to more of a statement piece.

“The Artist” would be a roundly popular choice, given that it’s both a fleet-footed entertainment and valentine to cinema itself, though some might think it gimmicky; “Drive” is no less a pastiche film, but the cult-status-bound actioner has been the late-breaking story of the fest, and is sufficiently distinct from everything else in Competition that it could just emerge as a hip compromise choice if the jury is split over other, weightier titles. I can scarcely believe I’m doing this, but I’m going to take a crazy punt on this year’s notably glam-chic jury seeing a bit of themselves in the reflective surfaces of Nicolas Winding Refn’s beautiful B-movie.

It’s likely a case of juggling titles I’ve already mentioned for the consolation prizes, though some stick out as more obvious contenders in certain races: the aforementioned “Kevin,” for example, as such an aggressively helmed film that I can visualize Lynne Ramsay taking Best Director (also as something of a pat on the back after nine years on the benches) more vividly than a less clearly defined Jury Prize. (I can’t shake the feeling that one of the four women directors in the bunch will take a prize to validate the record female presence in Competition, and none of the other three have generated much buzz. I’d like Maiwenn’s chances more if another French thesp-turned-director, Mathieu Amalric, hadn’t been honored only last year.)

If Ramsay’s film does take one of the big prizes, that could affect the chances of de facto Best Actress favorite Tilda Swinton. Many are calling this an automatic get for her, but competition exists: Emily Browning could be rewarded for her supposed daring (and, secondarily, her very fine performance) in the otherwise frostily received “Sleeping Beauty,” while a prize for Cécile De France would be an easy, if not particularly inspiring, way to rewarded the Dardennes’ film, should it have sizeable jury support.

The idea that’s been gnawing away at me for the past two days, however, is that the category presents the ideal compromise solution to the Von Trier problem, should the jury disagree with the festival’s much-derided blacklisting of the director: a Best Actress award for Kirsten Dunst (perhaps in tandem with equally weighted co-star Charlotte Gainsbourg) would be a way to show solidarity without actually having to reward the director.

The Best Actor race is less fraught with drama, if rather more competitive: as many as 10 names are viably in play here, from the relatively obscure (the co-leads of talky Israeli dramedy “Footnote”) to the celestial (Antonio Banderas, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt — take your pick). Rewarding 11 year-old non-pro Thomas Doret (“The Kid With a Bike”) is the kind of move juries frequently think is a lot more original than it really is, but they also have an opportunity to rubber-stamp a genuine future star in the form of “The Artist”‘s magnetic lead Jean Dujardin.

Revered veteran Michel Piccoli is the saving grace of Nanni Moretti’s drab “Habemus Papam,” but I’m guessing the jury will sympathize with little-known Austrian Michael Futih for his heavily underlined “bravery” in playing a reprehensible child molester — and getting his junk out. Festival juries can be as bait-prone as Oscar voters; the bait just takes very different forms.

And with that, here’s my final breakdown (with the caveat that I’m only seeing “Le Havre” tomorrow afternoon):


Palme d’Or: “Drive,” Nicolas Winding Refn
Grand Prix du Jury: “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” Lynne Ramsay
Prix du Jury: “Sleeping Beauty,” Julia Leigh
Best Director: “Melancholia,” Lars von Trier
Best Screenplay: “The Artist,” Michel Hazanavicius
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
Best Actress: Charlotte Gainsbourg, “Melancholia”
Technical Grand Prix: “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,” Gökhan Tiryaki (cinematographer)


Palme d’Or: “Drive,” Nicolas Winding Refn
Grand Prix du Jury: “Le Havre,” Aki Kaurismäki
Prix du Jury: “This Must Be the Place,” Paolo Sorrentino
Best Director: “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” Lynne Ramsay
Best Screenplay: “The Artist,” Michel Hazanavicius
Best Actor: Michael Futih, “Michael”
Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, “Melancholia”
Technical Grand Prix: (if awarded this year) “The Tree of Life,” Emmanuel Lubezki

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31 responses so far

  • 1 5-21-2011 at 7:28 pm

    unibrow said...

    I hope Melancholia wins just as a statement against that nazi silliness which cannes embarrassed themselves by taking so seriously.

    I would bet on We need to talk about kevin as the winner, though I haven’t seen any of these movies.

    Tree of Life was so obvious of a forerunner I think Cannes was looking to knock it down

  • 2 5-21-2011 at 7:45 pm

    DylanS said...

    I’ve been meaning to ask you, Guy. I know it’s not mentioned here in your festival predictions, but what’s your stance on “Midnight in Paris” as a possible Oscar contender? I have a hunch (given Allen’s history in the category and the very strong critical the reception the film is receiving) that the film will at the very least be his return to the screenplay category.

  • 3 5-21-2011 at 7:49 pm

    Nick Davis said...

    My guesses, I think:

    Pic: Le Havre (sticking with my mid-April guess)
    Grand Prize of the Jury: Drive
    Jury Prize: The Kid with a Bike
    Dir: Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
    Actress: Cécile de France, The Kid with a Bike (or the women of The Source)
    Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
    Screenplay: Footnote (or This Must Be the Place)

  • 4 5-21-2011 at 7:50 pm

    seasondays said...




    I think MELANCHOLIA will go empty-handed.

  • 5 5-21-2011 at 7:59 pm

    will said...

    wait… we have to gamble responsibly?

  • 6 5-21-2011 at 8:11 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    DylanS: It might be in the mix for original screenplay if the category turns out a little soft this year — though I personally doubt it’ll stay the course. Nothing else — I think Corey Stoll is a riot in it, but it’s too sketchy a performance.

    By the way, it’s not in my festival predictions because it played out of competition.

  • 7 5-21-2011 at 8:17 pm

    GlenH said...

    I’m hopeless at these games but I can’t resist:

    Palme D’or: Le Havre
    Grand Prize of the Jury: The Artist
    Jury Prize: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
    Dir: Lynne Ramsey
    Actress: Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Melancholia
    Actor: Michel Piccoli, We Have a Pope
    Screenplay: Polisse

  • 8 5-21-2011 at 8:17 pm

    Jacob S. said...

    I haven’t seen any of the movies, but isn’t “Drive” the type of offbeat film that usually wins the Jury Prize?

  • 9 5-21-2011 at 8:50 pm

    Andrej said...

    I really hope Drive wins. I loved Wanted, and if it’s in a similar vein to it with that B-movie action stylings you mention, then tears of awesome will be shed whenever I get to see this damn thing. ☺

    BTW Guy, do you think Drive could win the Palm d’Or in a similar note to Pulp Fiction, eventually crossing all the way to the Oscars as a frontrunner?

  • 10 5-21-2011 at 9:55 pm

    The Dude said...

    I think, any other year, “Drive” would be a longshot. But considering the fact that so many reviewers are comparing its style to Michael Mann films, and since DeNiro has appeared in quite a few Mann-esque movies (and, hell, he was the lead in “Heat”), I wouldn’t put it past this year’s jury to award the top prize to what has become the biggest surprise of the festival.

    Any way it goes down, it seems that this year’s Cannes lineup was awesome…can’t wait until these films make it stateside.

  • 11 5-22-2011 at 12:01 am

    Xavi Rodriguez said...


    *Palm d’Or: Drive

    Guy, I agree with you. Also the Jury has connections with the film genre:
    -De Niro with Mann’s Heat
    -Thurman as Tarantino’s collaborator
    -To is a master filmmaker in this genre
    -Trapero & Gussman: Leonera / Carancho.
    -Assayas: Road to Nwhere and Essential Killing as two of his fave films.

    Grand Prix du Jury: Le Havre
    Prix du Jury: The Boy with a Bike
    Director: Terrence Malick
    Actor: Jean Durjadin, The Artist (I would love if Gosling could win this)
    Actress: Emily Browning, Sleeping Beauty (I think Tilda Swinton is too obvious and there’s always a surprise in Cannes)
    Screenplay: Polisse
    Technical Award: Emmanuel Lubezki

  • 12 5-22-2011 at 1:17 am

    H.W said...

    My predictions:

    Palme D’or: Le Havre
    Grand Prix: The Artist
    Prix du Jury: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
    Best Actor: Antonio Banderas, “The Skin I Live In”
    Best Actress: Tilda Swinton, “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
    Best Director: Tie- Drive and The Tree of Life
    Best Screenplay: The Kid with a Bike

  • 13 5-22-2011 at 1:34 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Jacob S: Looking over the history of Jury Prize winners, I wouldn’t say the category skews much more offbeat than any other at Cannes — recent winners include such sober arthouse fare as “A Screaming Man,” “Silent Light” and “Shanghai Dreams” — though I suppose you could theorise that its bronze-medal status favours divisive works that can’t muster a majority vote of support. Also, it depends on your definition of “offbeat” — “Drive” is certainly the film you’d least expect to find in a Cannes competition lineup, but it’s also the most mainstream title here!

    Andrej: Besides the fact that they both fall under the action-movie banner, “Drive” has little in common with “Wanted” aesthetically. One is lean, auteur-driven genre homage, the other is splashy Hollywood excess. And no, the Academy isn’t going to touch “Drive,” however well it does here — although I see where you’re coming from with the “Pulp Fiction” comparison, that film’s hype was founded on the shock of the new, whereas “Drive” is a fine-tuned throwback to the kind of films the Oscars never favoured in the first place.

  • 14 5-22-2011 at 4:35 am

    Dao said...

    Palme D’or: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
    Grand Prix: Kid with a bike
    Prix du Jury: Drive
    Best Actor: Antonio Banderas
    Best Actress: Tilda Swinton
    Best Director: Terrence Malick
    Best Screenplay: Tree of Life

  • 15 5-22-2011 at 4:38 am

    Chris G. said...

    What about a “Could Win” prediction as you guys usually do?

  • 16 5-22-2011 at 5:09 am

    O.rr said...

    FOOTNOTE team wan on it’s way back to Israel when asked by the festival to come back to France.

    Means they won something, right?

  • 17 5-22-2011 at 5:37 am

    Simon Warrasch said...

    For Best Actor it will be a race between Sean Penn (This Must Be The Place) and Michael Fuith for Michael! Sean Penn is a good friend of Robert De Niro who is this years president of the cannes jury but Michael Fuith gave definitely the most brilliant performance!

    For Best Actress i think the jury will give the price to Tilda Swinton! Close behind her are Charlotte Gainsbourg who won this award 2 years ago for another Lars von Trier Movie and she could share this award with Kirsten Dunst!

    For the Golden Palm i have no Idea! Because there are too many outstanding Movies who could win the Golden Palm! Pedro Almodovar could be rewarded for his first time with his very well deserved award for THE SKIN THAT I LIVE IN, Markus Schleinzer could win for his stunning first feature film, Drive could also win or Le Havre could win! So…

  • 18 5-22-2011 at 5:53 am

    geha714 said...

    Palme d’ Or: Le Havre
    Grand Prix: The Artist or Kid with a Bike
    Director: Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
    Actor: Michael Futih, Michael or Michel Piccoli, Habemus Papam
    Actress: Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
    Prix du Jury: Melancolia or The Tree of Life
    Screenplay: The Dardenne Brothers, Kid with a bike or Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist.

    I expect at least one major surprise from the jury.

  • 19 5-22-2011 at 6:24 am

    Dominik said...

    Would be fun if the Taxi Driver hands out the Palm d´Or to “Drive”, right?
    I predicted “Le Havre” from the start of the Festival, but I know that the heavy favourite pretty often is denied the Top Award. The film will pretty sure win at least something, Kaurismäki for Director for instance, but I guess I predict…
    Palm d´Or: “Once upon a Time in Anatolia”
    Grand Prix: “Le Havre”

    And the rest? Spread the wealth between the usual suspects!

  • 20 5-22-2011 at 7:02 am

    Jasmine said...

    I figured that Swinton would actually be the consolation prize handed to Kevin. I suspected the same thing about female directors but I don’t suspect it’ll happen this time around. I was thinking Thomas Doret or Antonio Banderas for Actor but I guess you make a compelling argument for Futih. I always thought Drive would get something — maybe director, screenplay, or a jury prize, but not the top prize. Pretty sure The Artist will get something, not the top thing, but yeah. A jury prize or something. I would love to see Kaurismaki win but Le Havre is a bit lightweight, from what I hear.

  • 21 5-22-2011 at 7:04 am

    GlenH said...

    I’m increasingly coming around on the idea that “The Artist” might score the palme – if only because movie people tend to have a soft spot for films about films and film-making.

  • 22 5-22-2011 at 7:50 am

    Andrej said...

    Guy: I recently checked out Drive’s teaser clip at YouTube and yeah, it doesn’t look a thing like Wanted, but since both movies were produced by the same guy, Marc Platt, then I could at least expect to find some similar appealing attributes in his newer film.

    Thank you for your answer, though I hope you get to be wrong about its Oscar opportunities. It looks like it could be a very fun movie to be watching through the year going into a higher and wider recognition.

  • 23 5-22-2011 at 9:16 am

    red_wine said...

    Will Win Predicitons

    Palme D’Or: Le Havre
    Grande Prix: Once Upon A Time In Antolia
    Jury Prize: The Skin I Live In

    Director: Drive
    Screenplay: The Boy with a Bike

    Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
    Best Actress: Charlotte Gainsbourg (perhaps with Dunst), Melancholia

    Lisa Schwarzbaum’s (EW) should win

    Palme D’Or: Melancholia
    Grande Prix: Le Harve
    Jury Prize: The Artist
    Director: The Artist
    Screenplay: Footnote
    Best Actor: The boy from The Kids with the Bike & Brad Pitt for Tree Of Life
    Best Actress: Dunst, Melancholia

    RFI’s should win

    Palme D’Or: Melancholia
    Grande Prix: The Artist
    Jury Prize: The Source
    Director: Paolo Sorrentino, for ‘This Must Be the Place’
    Screenplay: ‘Sleeping Beauty’, by Julia Leigh
    Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, for ‘The Artist’
    Best Actress: Leila Bekhti, for ‘The Source’

  • 24 5-22-2011 at 9:47 am

    Sophie said...

    Go jean! GO drive (lol!!)

  • 25 5-22-2011 at 9:48 am

    Sophie said...

    who think the havre will win palme d’or?

  • 26 5-22-2011 at 9:51 am

    Lev Lewis said...

    Palme d’Or: “Le Havre”
    Grand Prix du Jury: “We Need To Talk About Kevin”
    Prix du Jury: “Michael”
    Best Director: Terrence Malick, “The Tree Of Life”
    Best Screenplay: Joseph Cedar, “Footnote”
    Best Actor: Antonio Banderas, “The Skin I Live In”
    Best Actress: Tilda Swinton, “We Need To Talk About Kevin”
    Technical Grand Prix: (if awarded this year) “The Tree of Life,” Emmanuel Lubezki

  • 27 5-22-2011 at 10:39 am

    Simon Warrasch said...

    Le Havre will win the Golden Palm! That is my last prediction!