And yet, I always take reviews from Cannes and any other festival with a grain of salt. Most critics try to take in as much as they can see (why wouldn't they?), which means that between viewing, writing, and traveling, there isn't much time for sleeping. Similarly, all films require at least a little reflection before being given a final verdict, but the kinds of films that premiere at Cannes almost certainly do, and critics can't really afford to reflect when they've got to rush from one screening to another. The festival setting doesn't always do the films the justice they deserve.
But the reviews are helpful: at the very least, reading what others thought of this year's selections piqued my interest in the films and made me hopeful that most of them will make their way to the States eventually. Sadly, not all of them will, because American cinephiles can't have nice things, but the ones who won a prize most likely will. With any luck, all of the ones I was interested in before the fest will see a release here.
By the looks of this year's winners, the greatest Cannes jury in recent memory had some very diverse opinions about what they deemed "best." More after the jump…
Some of the festival's best-reviewed films went home empty-handed, while others that proved more divisive took home the top prizes. Of particular note: for the first time since their films started making it into the main competition, a Dardennes Brothers film failed to win a prize from the jury. Their latest, the Marion Cotillard-starring Two Days, One Night, had been favored to win the Palme d'Or, which would have made the directors the first to ever win three Palmes.
Here's a full list of winners, with a few scattered thoughts based on what I know about them.
PALME D'OR (the festival's "Best Picture" equivalent)
Winter's Sleep, dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Ceylan (center) with Quentin Tarantino (left) and Uma Thurman
Ceylan's been a longtime favorite at the festival, having won the Grand Prix in 2003 for Uzak (the film also won Best Actor for Muzaffer Özdemir and Emin Toprak), Best Director in 2008 for Üç Maymun (Three Monkeys), and the Grand Prix in 2011 for Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. It was only a matter of time before he became only the second Turkish winner of the Palme d'Or (the first was 1982's Yol, from Yilmaz Güney and Serif Gören). From the sound of it, Winter's Sleep is another terrific film from him: an epic philosophical rumination about a hotel owner (Haluk Bilginer) and the villagers who despise him.
GRAND PRIX (essentially the "second place" prize)
Le Meraviglie (The Wonders), dir. Alice Rohrwacher
Rohrwacher (left) with Sophia Loren
JURY PRIZE (essentially "third place")
(tie) Mommy, dir. Xavier Dolan, and Goodbye to Language, dir. Jean-Luc Godard
Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Andrey Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin, Leviathan
Zvyagintsev (right) with Paz Vega