The Cannes Film Festival wound down this weekend, with Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan picking up the Palme d’Or—the most prestigious award in all of film festivaldom—at the closing ceremony. This came as a big surprise, given that Audiard’s immigrant drama/vigilante thriller wasn’t considered a major contender on the ground, aside from a possible Best Actor upset for star Antonythasan Jesuthasan. (That award went to Vincent Lindon for The Measure Of A Man, as predicted.)
For much of the festival, awards oddsmakers favored Son Of Saul, Lazlo Nemes’ nightmarish debut feature about a Hungarian Sonderkommando searching for a rabbi in a death camp while his comrades prepare a revolt against the guards. The movie—seen as most likely to impress jury presidents Joel and Ethan Coen—ended up picking up the Grand Prix, essentially the second-place prize. Son Of Saul also picked up the independent FIPRESCI Prize, awarded by the International Federation of Film Critics, and smaller independent prizes like the Prix François Chalais and the Vulcan, the latter for its sound design.
There’s a precedent in Cannes juries awarding the Palme to the jury favorite, with the Grand Prix reflecting the tastes of the jury president, or, in this case, jury presidents. At the 2004 festival, the Palme d’Or went to Fahrenheit 9/11, with Oldboy receiving the Grand Prix in what was largely seen as a deal between president Quentin Tarantino and the rest of the jury.
The Jury Prize, a.k.a. the third place trophy, was picked by The Lobster, the English language debut of Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos. Hou Hsiao-hsien’s deconstructed martial-arts flick The Assassin—our own favorite film of the festival—was widely seen as too esoteric to win the Palme, but too accomplished for the jury to ignore, and thus predictably picked up the Best Director prize.
Best Actress, predicted as a split between Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara for their work in Todd Haynes’ Patricia Highsmith adaptation Carol, was instead split between Mara and Emmanuelle Bercot, the star of Mon Roi and director of the opening night film, Standing Tall. Meanwhile, Best Screenplay—often a toss-up at a director-centric event like Cannes—went to Michel Franco’s Chronic.
Cannes often has to strike a balance between being a major international film event and a French cultural institution, and this year saw many major names relegated to the Un Certain Regard sidebar as well as the two officially-recognized parallel festivals, Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week.
The Un Certain Regard jury, headed by Isabella Rossellini, gave its top prize to the Icelandic Rams; two of our favorites in the sidebar, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Journey To The Shore and Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Treasure, picked up the Best Director prize and the made-up Prix Un Certain Talent, respectively. Arnaud Desplechin’s My Golden Days picked up the SACD screenwriting prize, one of several awards available to films in Directors’ Fortnight.
You can read our coverage of this year’s festival here.