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Can the Cannes Awards Impact the Oscar Race

Now that the Cannes awards have been handed out, some might wonder whether any of the films honored will make it all the way to the Oscars. The same films I thought had a chance at the beginning — Foxcatcher and Mr. Turner — still have a good chance, both collecting hardware today.

Not winning any awards but with their eyes clearly aimed at the awards race would include The Homesman (just picked up by Saban with the agreement for an awards campaign), and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. But let’s look at the awards at Cannes that might have the biggest impact:

1. a nomination for Julianne Moore, Best Actress winner for Maps to the Stars

It’s been a while since the Best Actress winner at Cannes was nominated for an Oscar, and even longer (1993’s The Piano, coincidentally) that an actress won both. That could change this year with Julianne Moore’s brilliant turn in David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars. If it were anyone else but Moore it would be an easy call that the Academy will snub her. In fact, they still might. And in fact, they probably will. But if they do they will be revealing their vanity, and their collective lack of self-awareness and that would be a shame. But because it’s Julianne Moore, who is currently without a single Oscar win, there is a slightly better chance that Moore will, in fact, be recognized. Another potential reason: The Best Actress category these days is always so spare. I’m going to put my chips behind Moore, and behind Bruce Wagner’s exceptional screenplay (the WGA should not overlook this kind of brilliance). I would also tip a hat to Cronenberg for director but very likely that won’t happen.

Maps to the Stars is going to freak out Hollywood. That’s just the fact of the matter. It is like showing the leaks at the bottom of a sinking boat. Can they pull back long enough to appreciate what a great movie it is? Or will they, like they did with the Player, get a little too uncomfortable, see a little too much that looks familiar to face themselves the next morning. Will they, won’t they. Who knows. It’s a great film, well worth seeing anyway.

2. Bennett Miller will lead Foxcatcher towards multiple nominations. Miller is in extraordinarily good company having won this award, jointing Francois Truffaut for 400 Blows, Terrence Malick for Days of Heaven, the Coens for Fargo, The Coens again for The Man Who Wasn’t There, sharing with David Lynch for Mullholland Drive, etc. But it does not necessarily translate to an Oscar nomination, and even less so for a win. But given Miller’s record so far, given that the performances will be recognized – though it’s a cold, hard sell to a group seeking feelgoodism – it still seems as though this only helps Miller and Foxcatcher along the way.

3. Palme d’Or – Winter Sleep will very likely get into the foreign language race where it likely will not win, given how they vote and given that the members don’t even have to see all of the films anymore – they just have to pretend they have. Nonetheless, it is likely for a nod.

4. Timothy Spall could be (and should be) in line for a Best Actor nod. It will be, as it always is, an incredibly packed lineup for Best Actor. Steve Carell could end up being the one who gets in from Cannes and not Spall. Still, there is no reason right now to assume Spall isn’t a strong contender.

5. Xavier Dolan could be looking at an original screenplay nod – I know, it’s a long shot. And Andrey Zvyagintsev is also in line, though Leviathan could also be a foreign language contender — and it might win. Again, tough sell to that group probably. Mommy could, theoretically, be a foreign language film but again, the Academy probably are too prudish to go there.

These awards come early – and most of the time their buzz has long worn off by the time Telluride rolls around. Still, Cannes prizes are prestigious enough on their own and worthy influencers for the Oscars.