The Cannes Film Festival has been going for two whole weeks. Twenty films have been viewed and celebrities by the score have been sashaying down the red carpet. The end result? The Palme d’Or competition is wide open.
The award, which will be handed out on Sunday Night the 26th of May has not got a clear-cut “definitive” winning film for the award. The jury, which is under Steven Spielberg, is working hard to figure out which of the 20 films is going to take home the prestigious prize.
It is believed that this year, there has been a cornucopia of cinema on offer. With at least twelve of the entries believed to be “neck and neck” in the competition. Nothing that the jury has been viewing thus far is leading in the competition.
Historically, the vote for the Palme d’Or award can be a difficult one. There have been clear upsets in the past where films that were well received by audiences were not so well received by the panel of jurors.
The have also been times where the competitors have “thrown their toys out of the pram” when their “clearly favourite” film loses out.
With entries from the Coen brother’s, Paolo Sorrentino, Ashgar Farhadi, James Gray and Abdellatif Kechiche the competition is incredibly stiff. As an outsider looking in, it would appear that Kechiche’s lesbian tale Blue is the Warmest color may have a lead in the area of outstanding subject matter.
Juries at Cannes have been known to vote unanimously on a film, with no appearance of discord in sight. So while the Palm d’Or award has a lot of competition instead of there already being any clear favourites, it is still wide open with no clear indication as to who will be taking the award home.
Sometimes the jury will select a film that everyone agrees on. Last year, Michael Haneke’s “Amour” was the far-and-away favorite, by the jury and the audience, and went on to win best foreign language film at the Oscars and wound up getting a Best Picture nomination for a non-English film.
The year before, however, was definitely one of discord and controversy. Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life was deemed a certainty to win the prize. Tim Burton and his jury chose instead the Thai film entry Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.
Palme d’Or oddsmaker Neil Young has put Farhadi’s film in the lead with 5-to-2 odds to win. The Iranian director, whose film is in French, was honored as the best foreign language film two years ago at the Academy Awards for his film A Separation.
This year, world cinema entries have faced strong competition from the American entries. It also would do to remember that the the Coen brothers won the Palme in 1991 for Barton Fink. The very fact of their having a film at Cannes will no doubt concern some of the competitors.
Of course the jury would prefer a film that is so obviously the winner that they can avoid controversy and the possibility of shocking the world with their result. As the festival started on that first day two weeks ago, jury member Ang Lee said that he was praying that the jury would be overwhelmed by a self-evident Palme winner, so they would have to avoid “rationalizing” their choice through debate.
But with the news that the Palm d’Or competition is still wide open with less than a day before the award is to be given out, it sounds to us as though Lee’s prayer went unheard.
By Michael Smith