Having now seen all 21 films in competition at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, it’s time for predictions.
A general observation upfront: Of the 8 times I’ve been to Cannes so far, this year’s comp lineup is – by some margin – the strongest. So many films deserve recognition some truly great ones are destined to go home empty-handed. In a year like this, it is particularly frustrating when the jury makes bad choices. They simply cannot afford to award any film that’s less than superb. Let’s take a look.
Will win: MONSTER
Should win: MAY DECEMBER
It’s a great year for screenwriting as any of the following would make for a deserving winner in my mind:
ANATOMY OF A FALL
ABOUT DRY GRASSES
ANATOMY OF A FALL might be the most obvious choice because the nature of the film puts a lot of focus on the written word. But then ABOUT DRY GRASSES, with its long, profound dialogues, is certainly one striking piece of writing too. And if we are going by originality as the deciding criteria, CLUB ZERO probably takes the crown. Truly each of these screenplays stands out in its own way.
In the end I’m betting on Yûji Sakamoto’s work on Koreeda’s MONSTER to pull through for its humanist core, intricate structure and moving story. Not my personal favorite but I wouldn’t have a problem with that.
Will win: Deniz Celiloglu (ABOUT DRY GRASSES)
Should win: Kôji Yakusho (PERFECT DAYS)
The odds-on favorite here is veteran Japanese actor Kôji Yakusho for his soulful, wordlessly devastating performance in PERFECT DAYS. It would get my vote, too. Purely for the strategic reason that I think that film will win a major prize, thereby allowing the jury to award another film in this category, I’m going with Deniz Celiloglu, who also delivered a sensational, morally complex performance in Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s majestic ABOUT DRY GRASSES.
Overall there aren’t that many strong contenders for best actor this year. Outside the abovementioned, I could maybe, kind of imagine the following having a shot:
Josh O’Connor (LA CHIMERA)
Benoît Magimel (THE POT AU FEU)
Christian Friedel (THE ZONE OF INTEREST)
Hinata Hiiragi & Soya Kurokawa (MONSTER)
Will win: Sandra Hüller (ANATOMY OF A FALL)
Should win: Sandra Hüller (ANATOMY OF A FALL and/or THE ZONE OF INTEREST)
The competition in the best actress category is much fiercer by comparison. I sense a three-way race between Sandra Hüller for either one of her two films in the lineup, Natalie Portman (and Julianne Moore) for MAY DECEMBER and Léa Drucker for LAST SUMMER. You could make an argument for any one of these actresses winning and you’d have a point.
Ultimately I’m going with the most obvious choice because I think the fact that Hüller is phenomenal in two completely different films would tip things in her favor. And honestly, after watching ANATOMY OF A FALL and THE ZONE OF INTEREST, you’d likely agree there’s nothing this lady cannot do.
Potential upsets include:
Aïssatou Diallo Sagna & Suzy Bemba & Esther Gohourou (HOMECOMING)
Merve Dizdar (ABOUT DRY GRASSES)
Juliette Binoche (THE POT AU FEU)
Sakura Ando (MONSTER)
Considering this pool of candidates, I would be upset if the jury decides to recognize the actresses in FOUR DAUGHTERS or THE OLD OAK here. That, to me, would smell like a politically motivated choice and we don’t have space for that – especially not this year.
Will win: Aki Kaurismäki (FALLEN LEAVES)
Should win: Jonathan Glazer (THE ZONE OF INTEREST)
For the top four categories, I see the jury faced with the general choice between old masters and fresh blood. Would they feel compelled to recognize legends like Aki Kaurismäki, Wim Wenders, Nuri Bilge Ceylan who have proved their mastery of the craft yet again? Or would they prefer to choose among a new generation of filmmakers who are trying things in exciting new ways?
I’m guessing there will be an attempt to divide the prizes between these two camps. And if for best director they end up choosing someone younger, then any of Jonathan Glazer (THE ZONE OF INTEREST), Jessica Hausner (CLUB ZERO), Alice Rohrwacher (LA CHIMERA) or even Ramata-Toulaye Sy for her debut feature BANEL & ADAMA could triumph here.
Prix du Jury
Will win: CLUB ZERO
Should win: PERFECT DAYS
CLUB ZERO received mixed reviews in Cannes. I really dug it though, and I can’t help thinking its brand of brash, dark humor would resonate with jury president Ruben Östlund. This is mostly a hunch but I suspect the jury would try to find a spot for it on the winners’ list.
Will win: PERFECT DAYS
Should win: MAY DECEMBER
As seen below, I think this jury will give the top prize to a film that’s about breaking ground and reinventing the art form. Which led me to believe that the runner-up prize would be reserved for something a little more old-fashioned, if equally masterful. Wim Wenders’ PERFECT DAYS and Aki Kaurismäki’s FALLEN LEAVES would easily fit the bill.
Personally I’d love to see Todd Haynes’ layered, seductive MAY DECEMBER recognized somewhere, but I struggle to picture this jury being fans of (elevated) camp.
Will win: THE ZONE OF INTEREST
Should win: THE ZONE OF INTEREST
When all is said and done, it’s not really that hard a decision to make. THE ZONE OF INTEREST is one of those films that, as soon as the credits start rolling, you know you’ve seen a stone-cold masterpiece. You just know.
Of course truly groundbreaking films like this always polarize, so it could be an all-or-nothing situation. But I’m ready to not over-think it and go with my gut. If that doesn’t pan out, any of the following would also seem like a good bet:
ABOUT DRY GRASSES
ANATOMY OF A FALL
There are two films in the comp lineup that came across very much as message movies to me – THE OLD OAK and FOUR DAUGHTERS – and I sincerely do not wish to hear their names called tomorrow night. Obviously the jury has every right to name any movie the best, but then we are also entitled to judge them on their picks. Don’t fail us, Ruben.
The winners of the 76th Cannes Film Festival will be announced at the awards ceremony tomorrow, May 27, at 7:15 PM (CET).