Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cannes 2011: The Jury Doesn't Care For Your Booing

I haven't written anything about Cannes this year. Why not, you may ask? Well, the primary reason has been that I am not there nor do I know anyone who is there. I haven't seen the movies, and I'd rather not ape what everyone else has been writing. But now that the festival has wrapped and the awards have been presented, let's talk about those winners and see what Robert De Niro's jury's decisions mean for these films' futures.

On a side note, Cannes is one of the five film festivals I want to go to during my lifetime, the other four being Palm Springs, Sundance, Toronto, and Venice.

NOTE: This is not a complete list of winners. I only chose these five awards because they're ones that I have some knowledge about. So I apologize for that.

Palme d'Or: The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick

This film actually opens next week here in the US, though as far as I can tell, it won't be opening around here for a few more weeks (such is life in a smaller market). It's also a film that I'm really excited about, as I've already proved by making it my second-most anticipated film of the year. It's win here is something of a surprise, since it received a mixed reaction and even boos at it's screening. It obviously appealed to the jury, though, and several critics have been raving about it, so we'll see how it plays over here. As for it's future, there's no doubt that many are pegging this one as a sure-thing Oscar contender, and I agree that it will contend, but I'm not so sure of it's chances. Malick isn't exactly Oscar's cup of tea; his biggest hit with the Academy so far was 1998's The Thin Red Line but it still didn't win a single award. I suspect some nominations are in order (certainly for cinematography, a category every one of his films except Badlands has been nominated in), but I wouldn't necessarily call it the front-runner just yet.

Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

The Artist made quite the unexpected splash at Cannes, gathering some of the festival's most ecstatic reviews. Telling the story of a silent film star trying to find his place in a sound-cinema world, the film itself is in black & white and is also silent, complete with intertitles. Last year's Best Actor winner, Javier Bardem (Biutiful), managed to score an Oscar nomination for his role as well. So will Dujardin? Only if The Artist is a massive, massive arthouse hit that has critics raving. The thing about Cannes is that it's not a very good Oscar prognosticator, even though everyone (myself somewhat included here) seems to try to make it one. All of the films in Oscar contention don't play at Cannes, and all the films that play at Cannes won't be in Oscar contention. So you've got to take it for what it is. However, being the hit of the festival, The Artist will likely make its way into American theaters at some point in the fall, and I for one am looking forward to seeing it for myself.

Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia

I've always considered Dunst a talented actress who doesn't always get the best roles to showcase said talent. My all-time favorite performance of hers is Marie Antoinette, in which she plays the title role with just the right amount of decadent ennui. And I'm really looking forward to Melancholia, which I hope doesn't get blocked as a result of director Lars von Trier's honestly-not-that-surprising-or-that-big-of-a-deal Hitler comments. Dunst's victory here still comes as something of a surprise, though, since many were certain that We Need to Talk About Kevin's Tilda Swinton would walk away with this one. But I'm glad someone else recognized Dunst's talents, and von Trier's objects of torment usually do well with Cannes juries (Charlotte Gainsbourg won this prize for Antichrist two years ago, and Bjork won in 2000 for Dancer in the Dark). As for her Oscar chances, that completely depends on the film's release, and whether Oscar feels up to nominating another performance from a Von Trier film (to date, only Emily Watson has achieved this, for 1996's Breaking the Waves).

Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive

Between his bloody epics the Pusher trilogy and Valhalla Rising and his Tom Hardy breakout Bronson, Refn has made a name for himself as one of Denmark's most exciting directors. He's currently prepping a remake of Logan's Run, but the film he brought to Cannes, Drive, is a Ryan Gosling starring thriller about a Hollywood stunt driver who is pursued by hitmen after a heist goes wrong. It's supposed to be an exciting film, and it's certainly piqued my interest. By no means do I think Refn is in position for an Oscar nomination, though; The Tree of Life's Malick seems like a much more likely prospect.

Best Screenplay: Joseph Cedar, Hearat Shulayim (Footnote)

Cedar is perhaps best known as the writer/director of Beaufort, the 2007 Oscar nominated film from Israel. This film tells the story of father-and-son Talmud scholars, who bicker over their work and come to terms with the course of their lives to that point. It sounds like an interesting film, and though I'd highly doubt this will be a huge hit here in the United States, I wouldn't be too surprised to see Israel use this film as their Foreign Language Submission this year.

A notable exclusion: Pedro Almodovar's The Skin That I Inhabit. I actually haven't heard any buzz about this one coming out of the festival, which is odd considering Almodovar's international auteur status. Perhaps I just haven't been looking in the right places? Either way, it goes without saying that I'm still plenty excited about the film and am looking forward to its Stateside release.

Which, if any, of these films are you looking forward to?


Simon said...

I read the AV Club's blog on The Skin I Live In (or is it the Skin That I Inhabit? I can't keep track), and it's kind of self-onowingly ridiculous, apparently.

Jason H. said...

It's probably one of those titles that can be translated multiple ways. It'll continue to be difficult to keep up. Still, Almodovar doing high camp is an exciting prospect. I'm hoping its plenty fun.