Download:: Berlin Dispatch – Will Win / Should Win
All 19 films in competition at the 73rd Berlin Film Festival have screened, now the question is: what would Kristen like?
At 32, Kristen Stewart is the youngest person ever to chair the Berlinale jury. With a strong selection that offers a little bit of everything, it’s going to be super interesting to see what someone her age, female and queer gravitates toward. Just three years ago, the Berlinale jury was headed by then 71-year-old Jeremy Irons. It’s fair to assume these two juries, for example, would have liked very different things.
Anyway, here are my best guesses at who will go home with a bear tomorrow:
Outstanding Artistic Contribution
Will win: Hélène Louvart (cinematography of DISCO BOY)
Should win: Leonor Teles (cinematography of BAD LIVING)
At every festival, there’s that one film that everybody loves except me. This time it’s Italian director Giacomo Abbruzzese’s feature debut DISCO BOY starring the great Franz Rogowski. Despite my problems with the film, it is expertly shot by one of the best DP’s working today – Hélène Louvart – and sexily scored by French techno producer Vitalic. Either of which could be recognized here. Louvart seems particularly likely as she’s long overdue for a major film prize.
Personally, I would have gone with another female DP Leonor Teles for her stunning work on BAD LIVING. The production design or cinematography of Australian director Ivan Sen’s LIMBO would also be worthy choices.
Will win: THE SHADOWLESS TOWER
Should win: AFIRE
To me, the two best screenplays this year are AFIRE and TÓTEM, but I suspect the jury may have bigger plans for the two. In that case, Chinese director Zhang Lu’s sprawling relationship drama THE SHADOWLESS TOWER has a good chance of winning. Its main competition would come from Celine Song’s spellbinding romance PAST LIVES. Both of these scripts are A-grade work, so I’d be happy either way.
Best Supporting Performance
Will win: Natasha Wanganeen (LIMBO)
Should win: Rita Blanco (BAD LIVING)
Back in 2021, Berlin was the first major festival to introduce gender-neutral acting prizes. In the first two editions under the new rule, I have been let down by the juries’ choices for best supporting performance. Will they pick someone inspired this year to better justify this category?
My personal favorite is Rita Blanco from BAD LIVING. What presence, what electrifying energy she brings to the role of a bitter, unloving (grand)mother. The silent scream she gives at the end of the film alone deserves an award. The problem with BAD LIVING (and its companion piece LIVING BAD) is that it’s backed by such a strong female ensemble that the actresses could cancel each other out.
Which is why I’m giving the edge to Natasha Wanganeen for her striking performance in LIMBO, where she provides the black-and-white film with its human pulse. Other contenders include Paula Beer for AFIRE, Patricia López Arnaiz for 20,000 SPECIES OF BEES, John Magaro for PAST LIVES, and Glenn Howerton for BLACKBERRY.
Best Lead Performance
Will win: Mwajemi Hussein (THE SURVIVAL OF KINDNESS)
Should win: Anabela Moreira (BAD LIVING)
In the lead category, my vote would go to Anabela Moreira for her devastating star-turn in BAD LIVING. But again I’m worried about individual performances being lost in a seamless ensemble, so I’ll predict Mwajemi Hussein, who literally carries her film, to triumph here. To my surprise, THE SURVIVAL OF KINDNESS turned out to be quite divisive. I found the dialogue-free apocalyptic western imaginative and often moving, thanks in no small part to the conviction of Hussein’s performance. This would be a worthy winner in my book.
Other potential candidates: Jesse Eisenberg for MANODROME, Franz Rogowski for DISCO BOY, Naíma Sentíes for TÓTEM and Greta Lee for PAST LIVES.
Will win: John Trengove (MANODROME)
Should win: Lila Avilés (TÓTEM)
Of the thematically and stylistically varied films in competition this year, I’m most impressed by the direction of TÓTEM. Assuming that the jury has even bigger plans for this absolute knockout, I’m thinking they might want to get a bit freaky and recognize Trengove’s work on the deliriously intense MANODROME. Also possible: German auteur extraordinaire Angela Schanelec for her lyrical if utterly impenetrable MUSIC. This film is very obviously the vision of an exceptional filmmaker but also so extremely itself it definitely will not make the people come together.
Failing these, Christian Petzold (AFIRE), Rolf de Heer (THE SURVIVAL OF KINDNESS), Ceeline Song (PAST LIVES) or Ivan Sen (LIMBO) could be singled out.
Will win: ON THE ADAMANT
Should win: PAST LIVES
It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes juries use the second runner-up prize to recognize what a film/the festival stands for, to send a message. Considering this, I think the French documentary ON THE ADAMANT or the Spanish drama 20,000 SPECIES OF BEES could be favored. The former pays loving tribute to a mental illness facility located on a boat, the latter tackles a child’s struggle with gender identity.
Grand Jury Prize
Will win: AFIRE
Should win: AFIRE
For the two top prizes, I’m betting on my taste aligning with the jury’s (come on, Kristen!). This could easily be wishful thinking and things may end up very differently, but I just don’t see how you could watch these films without being struck by their beauty. As someone who’s worked with world-class auteurs such as Olivier Assayas and Pablo Larraín, I imagine Stewart would naturally vibe with Petzold’s work (also this collaboration needs to happen). And AFIRE would make for a more-than-deserved winner.
Will win: TÓTEM
Should win: TÓTEM
Lila Avilés’ miracle of a film about an ordinary Mexican family is the discovery of the festival for me. It would be quite terrible if it doesn’t go home with some serious hardware, if not the top prize. But who knows? Maybe this is all in my head and the jury likes something else entirely – MUSIC, THE SHADOWLESS TOWER, THE SURVIVAL OF KINDNESS, 20,000 SPECIES OF BEES or my blind spot DISCO BOY. M. Night Shyamalan’s jury made some highly questionable choices last year, we shall see how KStew does in a day’s time.
The awards for the 73rd Berlinale will be handed out tomorrow night at 7pm local time.