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The Dardennes, Masters of Form – Two Days, One Night

Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne have made the best film of the Cannes Film Fest so far, Two Days, One Night. With this suspenseful saga of a woman on the verge of losing her job, the Dardennes highlight the economic crisis framed within the context of human nature. Not since the Twilight Zone has human behavior been laid so bare, with our best and worst instincts examined under crisis. What would you do if you had the choice between a hefty bonus and one of your co-workers losing her job? Do you need the money enough to sell someone down the river? Or do you value your own integrity, no matter what the cost.

That is the dynamic at play with this exceptional film. Marion Cotillard plays Sandra, a wife and mother of two who is one lost job away from losing the mortgage on her house and going on welfare. Despite her resistance to “looking like beggar,” her ongoing battles with depression and dependence upon anti-anxiety drugs, Cotillard’s Sandra decides to muster up what fight in her she has left to speak to her co-workers, one agonizing visit after another.

Each time Sandra speaks to the people she’s worked with, some for years, some for a short time, more of their character is revealed, and in some cases, their own desperate economic straights become clear. This isn’t easy an easy decision for anyone living barely on the edge, and $1,000 euros (something like 1300 dollars) would do many of these working class families a world of good. And yet, to get this financial boost would mean making a hard choice. That choice comes down to whether they are wiling to look out for their fellow co-worker, or whether they put the interests of their own family first.

Sandra is barely holding as it is and she’s close to giving up. But her husband pushes her to follow through. What do they have to lose? Everything, Sandra argues. How will her co-workers treat her once they see she’s convinced them to give up their bonuses?

The story unfolds deliberately, slowly, carefully, effortlessly – exhibiting nothing short of masterful filmmaking and storytelling of the kind we rarely see anymore in any film, but especially so in American film. Imagine our filmmakers making a movie where a woman is fighting for her job. A woman! It would be recast as a man, for starters, and there would be murder attempts, bank robberies, etc. But the Dardennes achieve the same level of suspense without adding any ludicrous plot points. The good and bad that resides in each person, to whom do they choose to listen and why, are far more moving, far more powerful questions.

By continuing to work in French cinema, Cotillard is preserving her versatility and her clout as a leading actress. After all, who is ever going to give her a lead in an American film? These roles are few and far between in the American system, but in France or Belgium? Here you have filmmakers who are highly respected in their own countries and here at the film festival writing an entire film around a female character.

As Sandra, Cotillard never loses sight of what is at stake. Her emotions are always being swallowed, like the anti-anxiety pills and water she drinks. The camera rarely leaves her face, never cutting away from her, not even for a second. To this end, it is reminiscent of Hitchcock, particularly the first hour of Psycho, where we watch Marion carry out her mundane duties. Cotillard lets us in but also occasionally surprises us with what ultimately comes out of her mouth. It is a brilliant, fully realized performance, this “heroine for all time.”

Watching the interior struggle of Sandra is a reminder that women don’t have to always be defined by “women’s issues.” They are half the participating members of society. If you don’t value them, as American films repeatedly fail to do, you are simply not telling any kind of truth. Moreover, you are helping to raise whole generations of young Americans who don’t value women either. Here, the Dardennes simply told an important story. That the lead happened to be female was beside the point.

Two Days, One Night is the kind of film that can make you see the world, and your place in it, differently. Maybe you help someone off with their coat who’s sitting next to you. Maybe you let someone go in front of you in line at the market. These are small things that add up to big things. Desperate times often call for desperate measures. When people are losing their jobs and struggling to survive they often need someone to blame. Nazi Germany in the 1930s is the extreme example of what can happen when you must look out only for your own skin.

Sometimes you have a choice, other times you don’t. But the consequences of selling out your friend and co-workers often add up to more than tightening your belt for a few weeks. Of course, the film puts the ultimate blame squarely upon the higher-ups who are responsible — not just for punishing Sandra for her battle with depression, but also for pitting co-worker against co-worker.

Most unexpected and moving of all, though, is that Sandra becomes stronger throughout the course of the film. She is still fragile enough to break, no doubt, but the fight becomes about more than just her own job. It becomes about community and basic human kindness, something that is quickly abandoned when the money starts running out.

Storytelling at its absolute best, Two Days, One Night is the frontrunner to win the Palme d’Or as no other film in main competition is so complete. The Dardennes worked on this screenplay for ten years. That’s how tight the writing is. Though the Dardennes often manage to steal the show here at Cannes, here’s hoping the movie expands stateside so that American filmmakers might take a hard long look at what they’ve been contributing to the collective. It is doubtful that American audiences can ever be trusted again to come to the cinema en masse for a film like this. Such is the way of things now. But that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a reaching nonetheless, a shift towards the thing that makes film even worth making in the first place — to move people, quite simply, with the power of story.

25 Comments on this Post

  1. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    It is doubtful that American audiences can ever be trusted again to come to the cinema en masse for a film like this.

    Here’s something to bear in mind though.

    Dardenne films sometimes make more money in America than they do in Belgium.
    Dardenne films sometimes make more money in America than they do in France.

    American box-office accounted for fully 27% of the worldwide gross of The Kid with a Bike.

    L’Enfant earned only $651,941 in America, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you consider that L’Enfant only earned $756,779 in Belgium.

    In fact, L’Enfant only earned $5.5 million worldwide on a budget of $2.2 million. How much do American movies with a budget of $2.2 million ordinarily make? Next to nothing, and here’s why — the audience ALL OVER THE WORLD for this kind of movie is not large. Our numbers are small in EVERY country.

    So I’d like it once in a while if Americans didn’t get perpetually bashed for having the shittiest taste in the world. Why does America gets blamed if movies like Two Nights, One Day doesn’t earn $50 million?

    Movies like this are not made to earn $50 million and they do not need to. They never need to. And very few ever will. So I’d like it very much if Americans don’t have to take the blame for that.

    There are apparently only a million people anywhere on Earth who wanted to pay to see The Kid With a Bike. But we don’t bring up the 6,999,000,000 people all across the planet who couldn’t be lured to see The Kid with a Bike. It’s always just the dumb Americans. How is that fair?

    Fact: Dardenne films can earn as much as 150% in America over what they earn in Belgium. It’s not a stretch to say that more Americans pay to see Dardenne films than Belgians who do. Without American box-office for Dardenne films, some of those films would not break even.

    I know the argument will be: well sure, but America is a huge country and Belgium is relatively tiny, so a greater percentage of Belgians do support the Dardennes than the percentage of Americans.

    But wouldn’t that be expected? Isn’t that normal?

    Here’s why I stick my neck out and risk irritating people to make a point of this. It’s not that I’m trying to be irascible or trying to stir up shit.

    But our American readers here at Awards Daily ARE ALREADY the audience for the Dardenne brother’s films. We here at this site are the Americans who admire and appreciate these films. We here do not need to feel like we’re being scolded or shamed for not supporting movies like this.

    So the scolding of American audiences all the time does rub me wrong — because it’s become a daily insult to those of us who come to this site because we fervently support films like Two Days, One Night. The Americans we know here on this site do not need or deserve to hear this constant scolding — (and the Americans who do need to be scolded are not reading this review).

    Furthermore, does anyone here get a kick out of snarling at Americans who don’t go see movies like this?

    Is that fun for anyone? to be made to feel superior by sneering at “inferior” Americans — many millions of whom never even get a chance to see movies like this because these movies ARE ONLY distributed on the EAST COAST and WEST COAST — so the hundreds of thousands of people in small towns all across the country who might want to see these movies have to wait and hope that these movies will come out on DVD.

    Middle of Nowhere, a fine American film was NEVER released on DVD. That’s not the fault of American audiences who might love to see it.

    Sorry sorry, I hate to be this way. It’s no fun for me to bring this up because it seems to put me at odds with you, Sasha, and that kills me. You know it does.

    Just that it does become hurtful to continually hear how stupid American audiences are responsible for ruining movies, don’t you think?

    I don’t know at what imaginary idealized time in American history that American audiences would ever have flocked “en masse” to see a movie like this.

    yes, to try to rally support for movies like this is absolutely a campaign worth waging.

    But the daily bashing of American stupidity is being addressed to Americans on this site who are not stupid, and I for one sometimes get discouraged and beat down by hearing all the time how the stupid Americans have ruined movies.

    Because the fact is, without American support, the Dardenne brother’s last film would have lost money.

    A simple fact that needs to be in the conversation: Movies like this are not “en masse” films anywhere in the world.

    But the America market for European films is just as vital, just as essential as the Chinese market is for American films, if not more so.

  2. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Bottom line. I just want to talk about the movie. I don’t really need to talk about how Americans are too stupid to see this movie.

    Not only is that not my problem, there’s nothing I can do about it — worrying about things that are beyond our capacity to fix is the dictionary definition of stress. Cancer tumors love it when we worry about things beyond our control. And just sneering at “inferior” Americans all the time is not going to fix anything. Yes, there are Americans who deserve to be sneered at — but they’re not here, they’re not listening.

    I want to talk about movies. I don’t need to hear every day how Americans have fucked up the global film industry.

    It’s just not true.

  3. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Now let’s talk about the movie.

  4. Sasha/Ryan.

    The mention of The Twilight Zone – is this the 1983 American movie or
    The rod Serling TV series or something else ?

  5. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Mark, I took the Twilight Zone mention to be a reference to the TV series, because Rod Serling and other writers for that show often took us inside the psyche of individuals who faced private moral dilemmas.

    Many episodes of that show dealt with people who were torn about making “a deal with the devil.”

    That was my interpretation. Seems to fit nicely. But if I’m wrong I’d be happy to hear what Sasha or anyone else thinks.

  6. steve50

    Great review, Sasha.

    Ryan, everything you say is true, but in this case – Sasha’s review – she merely suggested a) American filmmakers don’t make films like this, and b) audiences don’t flock “en masse” Godzilla-style to see them. Both statements are true. It’s a chicken-or-egg quandary. If audiences don’t flock to see them, most filmmakers won’t make them. As a result, fewer people are exposed to them or develop and interest in them.

    I also strongly agree with you that you can’t blame the audience for not seeing something that isn’t available to them. Many AD readers, including myself, have problems accessing many (most?) FLF and docs. There’s not much we can do about it except mention it at every opportunity.

    Therefore, I’d love to talk about the movie as soon as I’ve seen it – maybe 2015 or 2016?

  7. the ghost of easter

    Ryan, to be fair… Belgium is a country of just 12 million people, of which only 3,5 live in Wallonia (the French-speaking part)… If you take that into account earning $756,779 is kind of impressive… More impressive then earning $651,941 in the country where 4,5 percent of the entire world population lives…

  8. the ghost of easter

    By the way, I am not saying Americans are stupid…

  9. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    American filmmakers don’t make films like this…

    Maybe not as often as we’d like, but enough are made to satisfy my appetite. Movies like this ARE made. Middle of Nowhere is a perfect example.

    It’s true that Middle of Nowhere is not the kind of movie that will ever attract 10 million ticket-buyers — but when was that ever the case? Face the reality of the marketplace: 5 million intellectual ticket buyers is a more than reasonable number to expect for Middle of Nowhere, and that works out nicely for filmmakers who can do small-scale, intimate personal stories for a budget of a couple of million as Ava DuVernay does. (in fact, Middle of Nowhere only cost $200,000).

    I said on the podcast the day Sasha, Craig and I all saw Middle of Nowhere that it reminded me of a foreign film. It not only has a European tone and scale but it actually felt like watching a story that took place in a land foreign to standard Hollywood movies where the only faces are white suburban.

    America makes movies like this every year. We see them at the Indie Spirit Awards every year. Fruitvale Station, for example. What does it matter if Fruitvale Station earned $17 million. What does that matter? I don’t get why that isn’t fantastic. The movie only cost $900,000. It earned more than $17 million. Good god, Blue is the Warmest Color only earned $19 million.

    How fucking amazing is it that a “downer” American movie with an all black cast earns as much as a high-profile sexy French sensation with 8 bonus minutes of tasteful hardcore pussy-diving?

    And yet… AND YET… I’m the only person I know who put Fruitvale Station on my personal Top 10 list last year. I had it at #4. Because every other movie blogger was fixated on big loud lavish movies that have to make $125 million before they’re considered worthy or “important enough.”

    In what freaking dreamworld would there be enough people anywhere on Earth who would make Fruitvale Stationn a $100 million dollar “hit”? It’s A HIT already because it earned 20 times what it cost to make.

    fact: Fruitvale Station WAS a HIT, on the exact same level that Blue is the Warmest Color was a hit. And to me it’s insulting to dismiss Fruitvale Station as underperforming or being a financial disappointment just because it didn’t have an opening weekend like Godzilla.

    Here’s an idea. STOP worrying about how much money blockbusters make. Who gives shit? Are you a Warner Bros. stockholder?

    Stop filling your Top 10 lists every year with movies that earn $150 million and if they don’t then they’re a failure because Americans are “too dumb.”

    Stop dismissing movies like Mud or Place Beyond the Pines because they’ve “dropped off the Oscar radar,” because who gives shit about that either?

    Stop pissing on honorable classy gorgeously well-intentioned movies that may have faltered or don’t suit you — like Killing Them Softly, or Lawless or The Counselor — all three of which have the scale and artistic intent, and strive for just as much existential intelligence as similar European films. Stop destroying those filmmakers who try and perhaps stumble by calling their efforts “embarrassing” and tagging their films as “terrible” or “worthless” with insulting ridiculous metacritic scores of ZERO. How childish.

    There are Oscar movies. There are Blockbusters. There are Indies. These movies do not function on the same terms as one another. They all target different people.

    Face the reality that the audience for intelligent movies ANYWHERE in the world usually tops out at about 10 or 15 million people. That’s it.

    That’s not going to change no matter how much we sneer and complain about the 6 billion other people on Earth who don’t like subtitles or movies about small-scale personal personal problems. 350 million Americans simply do not like that kind of movie and who gives a fuck about those people? All the same. they deserve to have movies that THEY DO enjoy, so let them have those movies.

    When in American History has a movie like Fruitvale Station ever even existed, much less made a profit of 20 to 1 on its investment?

    Name the 20 best movies FROM ANY YEAR. We do it all the time. Easy, right?

    Now name the 450 movies that were ALSO made in 1945, or 1955, or 1975, or 2005 — you can’t do it. But those other movies are an essential part of the film industry economy and they all contribute to the pipeline of training new movie talent. All those 450 movies we never talk about every year all contribute to the financial vitality of the worldwide movie business.

    American movies at this moment in history are as vibrant and exciting and thrilling as they’ve been at any other time in my life.

    Let’s please stop fantasizing that 1974 was packed wall to wall with 50 movies like Chinatown. 1974 was as full of shit as any other year.

    take a look, read it and weep.

    $119 million – Blazing Saddles (1974)
    $116 mil – The Towering Inferno (1974)
    $89 mil – The Trial of Billy Jack (1974)
    $86 mil – Young Frankenstein (1974)
    $79 mil – Earthquake (1974)
    $57 mil – The Godfather: Part II (1974)
    $47 mil – Airport 1975 (1974)
    $46 mil – The Longest Yard (1974)
    $45 mil – The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (1974)
    $39 mil – Benji (1974)
    $38 mil – Herbie Rides Again (1974)
    $35 mil – Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
    $30 mil – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
    $29 mil – Chinatown (1974)
    $28 mil – Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974)
    $26 mil – The Great Gatsby (1974)
    $25 mil – Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)
    $22 mil – Death Wish (1974)
    $21 mil – The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
    $20 mil – The Groove Tube (1974)
    $18 mil – Macon County Line (1974)

    ladies and gentleman, there’s your top 20 movies from the pinnacle year of Hollywood history.

    Did the existence of Herbie the fucking Love Bug interfere with Chinatown being made or prevent it from becoming a legendary classic? No it did not. Were people tweeting in 1974 how disgusted they were that Stupid Americans were flocking “en masse” to see The Trial of Billy Jack while a paltry fraction of that audience paid to see Chinatown? Of course not, because it made no fucking difference what the lowbrows were flocking to see.

    Meanwhile the “en masse” audience did enjoy a great movie like Young Frankenstein, the same way the “en masse” audience enjoyed a brilliantly entertaining movie like Godzilla this weekend.

    The Conversation was nowhere near the Top 50 money-makers in 1974. How does it make any difference to me that The Conversation only earned $4 million? That’s just how it is. That’s your core audience of intelligentsia. 5 million of us. That’s it. Face it. That’s the extant of the audience for a highbrow artful intelligent movie about a low-key subject. Then and now.

    It was that way in 1974 and it’s that way today. And we still have The Conversation to treasure and we still have Fruitvale Station to treasure, no matter how many people fail to see those movies “en masse.”

    If you want more people to see more movies like Fruitvale Station and Mud then maybe start putting them on your Top 10 lists and talking them up as the masterpieces they are instead of ignoring them once they fall off the goddamned Oscar radar. Stop pretending that America doesn’t make movies as good as the Dardenne bros can make and start talking about those brilliant American movies instead of throwing them under the fucking bus if they fail to earn $100 million.

  10. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Furthermore, can we quit pretending that every French movie is Amour?
    France makes dozens and dozens of chauvinistic crap movies every year too.

  11. filmboymichael

    in today’s dollars, Chinatown would’ve been an over 100 million dollar earner – so it really was considered a hit…now it’s no Billy Jack, but still a hit. ;-)

  12. Bryce Forestieri

    Sort of on the topic.

    To my mind and to this point, the best truly-independent American film of the decade, and all things considered, one of the best period, is Patrick Wang’s IN THE FAMILY, which I ranked 2nd the year I saw it. As good as anything from whoever; what he accomplished with such modest means left me quivering yet reaffirmed. I have no idea how the system works that a film like this gets to be so overlooked — it has 382 votes on IMDB, only about two dozen reviews counted on RT, and what I presume is a decent return of $101,934. I don’t think it ever had distribution so they toured it as best the could (the term escapes me). I’ve never been able to find out what the budget was, but if most everyone was working for pennies I have to assume it broke even because you can discern it’s micro-micro-budget. Even thought, it’s not a showy display of technique the movie never looks cheap, and the control over story and character wrecked me. I never got to see it theatrically but do own the Blu-ray. I encourage you to seek it out.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ECpRYBYEt8

    As always though, looking forward to this one, like Steve said, in 2015.

  13. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    filmboymichael, I don’t think I suggested Chinatown was not a hit.

    I only bring up 1974 to show that there were at least 15 movies that earned more that Chinatown that year and almost of all of them were junk.

    If you were around yesterday, in another discussion I railed against this statement: “The movies that are hits these days are embarrassing to talk about.”

    So I listed the 15 Oscar movies last year that qualify as hits — as a way of asking if they were all too embarrassing to talk about.

    Here’s the fact about Oscars. Movies that are not hits do not go to the Oscars. In other words, there’s never a BP nominee that’s not a hit.

    I define a hit as any movie than can earn 3 or 4 times what it cost to make. We never hear anybody tal about 12 Years a Slave as a hit but it earned 10 times what it cost to make.

    I think it’s grotesque to get stunk in the mindset that nothing is a hit if it doesn’t make $75 million opening weekend. It’s demeaning to all the great movies that make a profit the old-fashioned way.

    So that’s why this word “hit” kept popping up in what I wrote today.

    I’m tired of two things:
    Hearing that every popular hit is trash. That’s false. It’s an insult.
    And hearing that no great movie is a hit if it fails to earn $125M. That’s false. It’s an insult.

    Primarily today I’m just frustrated to hear the opinion that America doesn’t try to make serious sensitive movies anymore. That can’t be very encouraging to hear for the Americans filmmakers who do try and succeed, and it’s demoralizing for those of us who try to talk about those movies. Whether they earn $5 million or $500 million, artful American films are thriving.

    Cannes features 50 movies that get all the attention, the creme de la creme from around the world. Let’s not forget that the world produces 5000 movies a year, and the reason that they’re not all at Cannes is because most of them are junk.

    Junk movies predominate in every country of the world. That’s true for France, Belgium, Italy. It’s true for japan, Kenya, India. It’s true for Canada, it’s true for America.

  14. Great rants Ryan. Solid stuff, and it should be its own article.

  15. ubourgeois

    I was going to say something about the size of the non-American audience for Dardenne films and the unfairness of directly comparing American cinema as a whole with one of the most accomplished auteur teams in cinema right now, but Ryan covered it probably better than I could (not sure if I jive with your definition of “hit” though).

    On the film itself, while by all accounts it’s a very good film and one deserving attention and accolades, I hope it doesn’t take home the Palme. We already know the Dardennes are talented, and we’ve given them two Palmes already.
    I know some people will say, “But the Palme is supposed to go to the BEST FILM! Even if the Dardennes already had seven Palmes they should win every time if they made the best film at the festival!” This is silly thinking. First, you’re never going to be able to tell me one director or another simply made the best film at any given festival as if that’s beyond dissent – if we could determine cinematic quality so clearly we wouldn’t need a jury. And even besides that, are we /really/ saying that the Palme always goes to the best film? Are we saying we want it to always go to the obvious pick for best film? Surprising picks are exciting and they make the festival so much more interesting.
    Furthermore, Cannes is a festival that, even more than Venice or Berlin, gets a lot of flack for just rotating the old guard, inviting back the same filmmakers year after year. It’s going to look kind of awful if they triple up Palmes on one of the foremost examples of “Cannes regular.” A second Palme is awe-inspiring, a third Palme is boring.
    I’m not saying the film should go unrewarded if it deserves accolades. Give the Dardennes a screenplay award if the script is so good, and has been in development for so long. Hell, Cotillard’s been passed over a lot recently, give her an award.
    Naturally, not being a major filmmaker, member of the press, or person of obscene wealth, I have not seen any of the films in competition, nor will I for some time. However, with what little knowledge I have, it would seem like a more satisfying end to the festival were Nuri Bilge Ceylan to finally nab a Palme (god knows he’s put in the work), or even for Mike Leigh to grab a second. Maybe Cronenberg could grab one for his apparent return to form. Maybe give Miller a helpful Oscar boost (It helped Malick a little bit a few years back). Or, sight unseen, Olivier Assayas or Jean-Luc Godard could get their first victory. Hell, I’d love to see a real wildcard winner like Szifron or Zvyagintsev or Sissako. Maybe Jane Campion could make history and give the top prize to Rohrwacher or Kawase, though we all know people would call Campion out for bias, especially given the reception those two directors have gotten (muted and divided, respectively). All of these picks would be more interesting and more meaningful than a third Palme for one of Cannes’ favorites.
    But what we absolutely cannot do, by any means, is give Xavier Dolan the Palme. His bitter tears sustain me.

  16. Rodrigo de Oliveira

    Sasha’s review, Ryan’s comments: that’s why I’ve been an AD reader for ten years.

  17. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Thanks Ryan. I see what you did there. :)

  18. Aaron

    Can’t wait to see this movie. And THANK YOU Ryan for so eloquently stating some of the problems I have with the “dumb Americans” assertion that we hear so often. I’ve worked and traveled extensively throughout Europe and we must remember that the Dardennes Brothers, Francois Ozon, Olivier Assayas, and other French/Belgian auteurs are not mainstream there as well…American films and movie stars are (reminds me of the Chinese moviegoing statistic Sasha posted a few days ago). American films and filmmakers (aka “popcorn” blockbuster films and studio films) have permeated movie screens there. I think we oftentimes underestimate how widespread American culture is. I don’t think we should lambast Americans’ “failure” for flocking to see provocative, socially-conscious independent and foreign films, because in truth, there is a very reliable and solid market for these films within America (Dardennes Bros, Michael Haneke, Pedro Almodovar…all of their films generally do very well within the U.S.). I mean, The Great Beauty made nearly $3 Million in the U.S. out of a $25 Million international gross…that’s pretty damn impressive.

    Regardless, like the Dardennes Bros in Belgium, we do have socially-conscious, artistically driven independent filmmakers who do make a splash in our culture. Benh Zeitlin, Lynn Shelton, Ava DuVernay, Debra Granik, Gus Van Sant, Kelly Reichart just to name a few. I wish their work was more readily available to people who don’t live in major metropolitan cities, but thank god that their voices are still heard.

  19. filmboymichael

    I was just needling you Ryan….

  20. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    oh hey, filmboymichael, I know! I wasn’t trying to argue. I just couldn’t find my OFF switch.

    Everything you said is true, of course. It just made me think that I had buried my lede so maybe I needed to clarify.

  21. Robin Write

    It took me longer to digest the comments than it did to read the review. Good old Awards Daily!

    @ubourgeois

    There is a huge essay to be written based on your comments. Do you really think the Jury will think like you, that they can’t surely award anybody the big prize who have won it twice already? That prize giving is always and should always be about compensating those that have not won yet? Or making the history of winners list look more varied and spread across the board? Making it fair? It does not really work like that.

    The biggest merit badges in the industry are the Oscars, and browsing their history of winners does not reflect the “best” of movie history. Does it? And I know they do their fair share of compensating, but this is not the Oscars. And it does not work like that.

    Cotillard has not been “passed over”. Neither has Cronenberg. If that is the case though, they should join the queue of twenty or thirty or forty other actors and directors {and writers} who have not won anything at Cannes, and perhaps should have. It does not work like that.

    I am also going to be a further nuisance and say I don’t really think Cannes is a push for the Oscars. I am not saying it does not help. But they are different planets, far, far apart – but sometimes the same beings visit both planets. I won’t go into it all now, but do you think the likes of The Piano, Pulp Fiction, Secrets & Lies, and The Artist would have been contenders had they not featured at Cannes?

  22. Robin Write

    ^^ The above is not meant to offend but the tone is helped by a tiring day at work. ^^

    Here is a smiley face:

    :-)

  23. AnnaZed

    Another terrific piece by Sasha, thoughtful and intense. My question is, in all earnestness, don’t you find the premise itself entirely false? Who ever heard of a scenario whereby a person is provisionally fired only to be hired back by both consensus and real sacrifice by her co-workers? Thank the stars that I never had to undergo such a trial. I would have been toast. If there is an example of this ever happening anywhere in history I would be interested to see it. This sounds more like something from the Ceaușescu regime than modern Belgium. I think that much as I have liked the Dardennes this premise is certainly giving me pause.

    Also – Good Lord Ryan, don’t you have a blog of your own? There is a tipping point in any comments section on any blog where participant bloviating reaches critical mass and the assembled masses might be excused for saying ‘get your own room’ and whoever you are, you are certainly there. Given that Belgium has a population of about 11 million (of which fewer than 4 million are Walloons) and the United States has a population of … etc.; your initial argument is an argument from fallacy, meaning entirely specious. I didn’t bother with the rest (all 27 paragraphs of it). As to the question of whether I am calling Americans idiots, I absolutely am. I am also suspecting that you are yourself an American.

  24. ubourgeois

    @Robin

    I never once said I think the Jury thinks a certain way, nor do I think that the Palme d’Or should simply be awarded on the basis of who hasn’t gotten it yet. All I said was that in the presence of other films of significant merit I would hope that Campion’s jury would consider looking somewhere other than the directors who have already doubled up on Palmes. It’s not for the sake of fairness so much as it’s for the sake of being interesting, or to shake off the lingering idea that Cannes is stagnant and predictable. If the jury picks Two Days, One Night, it certainly wouldn’t be a bad choice – by all accounts, it’s one of the best of the festival – just a bland one.

    As for Cotillard, I only brought her up because she’s been a very popular contender for Actress for a while (having drummed up a good deal of support for both Rust & Bone and The Immigrant). So while, again, the jury has no obligation to reward her as opposed to Anne Dorval or Kristen Stewart or anyone else, it might make sense to the jury to reward her after several strong tries in a row.

    I know it doesn’t “work like that” (though some would say otherwise in regards to a certain IRA film) – how could it when the voting body changes every year? All I think is that if Campion’s jury wants to recognize 2D1N, there’s a boring way to do it and another way that allows for a more engaging awards ceremony.

    Also, “I don’t really think Cannes is a push for the Oscars. I am not saying it does not help.” … So which is it then? Does Cannes give a push for the Oscars or does it not help? All I’m saying is that early buzz is early buzz. Unexpected success at Cannes certainly helped The Artist, if only because it moved Weinstein to pick it up.

  25. Robin Write

    @ubourgeois

    I know what you said, and I was just challenging your comments. Look at the Oscars, we have all felt someone has won this or this because they did not win for that or that – see Susan Sarandon; Sean Penn; Al Pacino; Kate Winslet etc.

    It is hard to say whether the Jury take into account if film-makers have previously won {they shouldn’t} or just go by individual merit that year {they should}. What is great about Cannes is the Jury is completely different each year, so that consistent thought process over the years is continuously refreshed. Maybe the Academy should change their members each year, see where that gets us.

    I don’t think Two Days, One Night would be a bland choice just because the Dardennes have made two Palme d’Or winners already. What if Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, or Ang Lee make another Oscar front-runner. Would they be bland choices for Best Director?

    Just to note as well I have no problem with Marion Cotillard whatsoever. She is incredible in so many aspects. Was delighted when she won the Oscar, and rather disappointed she missed out for Rust and Bone. I could write about her roles all day, so I will leave it there for now.

    A Cannes prize resulting in a push for the Oscar race, and a movie getting a good distributor as a result of Cannes are two very different things. So don’t ask me to choose.

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