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Cannes Winners: Old Age Drama & Mob Mentality Indictment

Beyond the Hills Cristian Mungiu Cristina Flutur Cosmina Stratan
Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur

While delivering her intro for the Cannes Film Festival awards ceremony, Mistress of Ceremonies Bérénice Bejo waxed poetic: “If festivals are the parentheses, films are the words, the exclamation points…” In fact, there were quite a few exclamation points among the winners, both in regard to who/what won – it helped to have been a former Cannes victor – or who/what was shut out.

As expected, Michael Haneke's Amour / Love, the story of a deeply devoted elderly couple (veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva) facing illness and death was the Palme d'Or winner. [List of Cannes 2012 Winners: Official Competition.]

Cannes Awards 2012 Upset: No Holy Motors, Cosmopolis

Those hoping for an upset of Leos Carax-ctic proportions were disappointed. Very disappointed, as Carax's bizarre and much-discussed Holy Motors failed to take home a single trophy.

Also disappointed were those rooting for David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, which had some fervent admirers, or for Alain Resnais' latest – and probably last – film, You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet!. Not a single award for either movie.

“But whatever became of David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis (a bracing ice-bath of a movie) or Leos Carax's Holy Motors,” inquired The Guardian's Xan Brooks, “far and away the most inventive and audacious film in competition? Do the jurors have something against white limousines?"

Just as disappointed – if not more so – were those rooting for any American film.

Cannes 2012 Official Competition: American Movies Shut Out

In the last ten days, we were reminded time and again about the strong American presence at the festival, on the red carpet, and in the media coverage. Will an American movie win at Cannes for the second year in a row? Isn't Hollywood glamour on the Riviera simply mesmerizing? Who is Cannes' hottest couple: Brad Pitt / Angelina Jolie's Brangelina or Robert Pattinson / Kristen Stewart's Robsten?

But when it came to the awards, not a single American movie won anything in the Official Competition. (Note: Robert Pattinson, of course, is British and his film, Cosmopolis, is a Canadian / French / Portuguese / Italian production. Kristen Stewart's movie, On the Road, is a Canadian / French / Brazilian production. But both Pattinson and Stewart are known as Hollywood stars thanks to the Twilight movies.)

The Official Competition jury headed by Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti apparently decided to disdain anything associated with Hollywood, as the winners came from Austria / France (the aforementioned Amour), Romania, Italy, Denmark, Mexico, and the independent, non-Harry Potter, not-made-for-American-consumption segment of the British film industry.

Cristian Mungiu, whose 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days won the Palme d'Or in 2007, was the winner of this year's Best Screenplay Award for the psychological drama Beyond the Hills. The (based on a true) story of two young women who meet again after having spent years apart – they may have been lovers; one of them may be either mad or possessed by the devil – Beyond the Hills also earned its two protagonists, Cristina Fultur and Cosmina Stratan, a shared Best Actress Award. (The early favorite in that category had been Marion Cotillard for Jacques Audiard's drama Rust & Bone.)

Matteo Garrone won his second Grand Prix in five years, this time for Reality, in which a Neapolitan fishmonger-cum-con artist loses his emotional balance after he becomes a potential contender for Italy's Big Brother. The fishmonger is played by real-life former Mafia hitman Aniello Arena, currently serving a life sentence. Garrone's previous Cannes Grand Prix had been for the 2008 Mafia drama Gomorrah.

Post Tenebras Lux Carlos Reygadas
Carlos Reygadas' Post Tenebras Lux

The Best Actor was Mads Mikkelsen, who late last year received the European Film Award for European Achievement in World Cinema. (Among Mikkelsen's future World Cinema “achievements” may be one of the villainous roles in Thor 2.) Mikkelsen's Cannes victory was for his performance as a man (falsely) accused of sexually molesting a child – and the inevitable hysteria that ensues – in Thomas Vinterberg's Danish psychological drama The Hunt.

Carlos Reygadas cosmically surrealist family drama, Post Tenebras Lux (“Light After Darkness”) earned the Mexican filmmaker the Best Director Award. In 2007, Reygadas' Silent Night tied with Persepolis for the Jury Prize. And just a few days ago, Post Tenebras Lux was greeted by loud boos.

And finally, the socially conscious British filmmaker Ken Loach won the Jury Prize for what some considered a minor effort, the lighthearted whisky-tasting comedy The Angels' Share. In French, Loach told the jury they were “very nice” to hand him the award. Six years ago, Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley won the Palme d'Or. Additionally, Loach has won two other Jury Prizes at Cannes: for Hidden Agenda (1990) and Raining Stones (1993).

Curiously, although The Angels' Share star Paul Brannigan didn't end up serving a life sentence like Reality star Aniello Arena, he did have a nasty run-in with Glasgow police. According to the Scottish Daily Record, Glasgow cops broke into his house in search of a stash of marijuana, but found only small quantities of the substance. Brannigan claims he won't be charged. It's now unclear whether or not the supercops will replace Brannigan's smashed door.

Also, I should add that Cannes 2012's Best Short Film was Turkish filmmaker L. Rezan Yesilbas' Silent, which received enthusiastic applause at the awards ceremony. Set in 1984, Silent tells the story of a Kurdish woman who wants to give a new pair of shoes to her husband, serving time in a Turkish jail. One problem: only Turkish is allowed to be spoken in prison.

The Caméra d'Or for Best First Film, announced by jury president Carlos Diegues, went to Benh Zeitlin's Sundance Grand Jury winner Beasts of the Southern Wild, which also nabbed the International Film Critics' FIPRESCI prize at Cannes' Un Certain Regard sidebar.

In addition to Cosmopolis, Holy Motors, and You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet!, among the Cannes contenders that failed to win a single award were Jacques Audiard's Rust & Bone, Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly, Walter Salles' On the Road, Hong Sangsoo's In Another Country, Im Sang-soo's The Taste of Money, Lee Daniels' The Paperboy, Ulrich Seidl's Paradise: Love, Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, John Hillcoat's Lawless, and Abbas Kiarostami's Like Someone in Love.

In addition to president Nanni Moretti, the Cannes 2012 Official Competition jury was comprised of Emmanuelle Devos, Diane Kruger, Ewan McGregor, Andrea Arnold, Hiam Abbass, Jean-Paul Gautier, Alexander Payne, and Raoul Peck. Presenters at the awards ceremony included Carlos Saura, Ludivine Saigner, Leila Hatami, Gong Li, Nastassja Kinski, Adrien Brody, Tim Roth, Kylie Minogue, and Alec Baldwin.

Post Tenebras Lux Carlos Reygadas
Carlos Reygadas' Post Tenebras Lux

How did Mads Mikkelsen know he had a chance of winning the Best Actor Award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival? In fact, how did Mikkelsen most likely know he had won the Best Actor Award? Simple: the day before, festival organizers asked him to represent Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt at the awards ceremony.

Of course, that makes one wonder. Since movies in the Official Competition were screened the day before the awards ceremony, how long does it take the jury to deliberate and decide who'll win what?

The Mads Mikkelsen info comes courtesy of Accréds' Twitter account, which also offers several curious tidbits from the press room at the Cannes awards ceremony.

Carlos Reygadas' Objective: Self-Expression

For instance, Best Director winner Carlos Reygadas (for Post Tenebras Lux) told the press that he had “watched Ulrich Seidl's film, which I liked a lot.” Seidl's sex tourism drama, Paradise: Love, was one of the most lambasted entries at this year's festival, and jury president Nanni Moretti declared that Seidl's film, Post Tenebras Lux, and Leos Carax's Holy Motors had been the most divisive entries among jury members.

Reygadas also stated that he is “grateful to those who love the film, but also to those who hated it.” As quoted on the Cannes Film Festival website, he added that “the objective of most filmmakers is to please. That's not my objective. My objective is to be able to express myself with absolute freedom and to be able to leave something [of note] to someone.” (According to Accréds, Reygadas' remark was: “to leave something [of note] to the five or six audience members who watch my films.”)

As per reports, Post Tenebras Lux was greeted by loud boos at its press screening. In fact, New York Times critic Manohla Dargis wrote that those were the loudest boos she had heard since Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny back in 2003.

Carlos Reygadas' Post Tenebras Lux photo: Cannes Film Festival.

Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur / Beyond the Hills photo: Cannes Film Festival.

How did Mads Mikkelsen know he had a chance of winning the Best Actor Award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival? In fact, how did Mikkelsen most likely know he had won the Best Actor Award? Simple: the day before, festival organizers asked him to represent Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt at the awards ceremony.

Of course, that makes one wonder. Since movies in the Official Competition were screened the day before the awards ceremony, how long does it take the jury to deliberate and decide who'll win what?

The Mads Mikkelsen info comes courtesy of Accréds' Twitter account, which also offers several curious tidbits from the press room at the Cannes awards ceremony.

Carlos Reygadas' Objective: Self-Expression

For instance, Best Director winner Carlos Reygadas (for Post Tenebras Lux) told the press that he had "watched Ulrich Seidl's film, which I liked a lot." Seidl's sex tourism drama, Paradise: Love, was one of the most lambasted entries at this year's festival, and jury president Nanni Moretti declared that Seidl's film, Post Tenebras Lux, and Leos Carax's Holy Motors had been the most divisive entries among jury members.

Reygadas also stated that he is "grateful to those who love the film, but also to those who hated it." As quoted on the Cannes Film Festival website, he added that "the objective of most filmmakers is to please. That's not my objective. My objective is to be able to express myself with absolute freedom and to be able to leave something [of note] to someone." (According to Accréds, Reygadas' remark was: “to leave something [of note] to the five or six audience members who watch my films.”)

As per reports, Post Tenebras Lux was greeted by loud boos at its press screening. In fact, New York Times critic Manohla Dargis wrote that those were the loudest boos she had heard since Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny back in 2003.

Amour Michael Haneke Jean-Louis Trintignant Emmanuelle Riva
Amour: director Michael Haneke, Emmanuelle Riva, Jean-Louis Trintignant

Palme d'Or Winner Prediction: 'Amour'

The Cannes Film Festival 2012's Palme d'Or winner? Well, though the two – critical raves, Palme d'Or – don't always go hand in hand, the most widely acclaimed presentation at Cannes this year was Michael Haneke's tale of love and death, Amour / Love, starring veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, and Isabelle Huppert. So, I'm betting on Amour. (See also: French-language Amour trailer.]

In case Amour does take home the Palme d'Or, that'll be Michael Haneke's second win in three years: Haneke's The White Ribbon, about Germany's Nazi generation (long before they became Nazis), received Cannes' top prize in 2009.

That would also be a record-breaking small gap between Palme d'Ors:

  • Bille August had to wait four years (Pelle the Conqueror, 1988; The Best Intentions, 1992);
  • Francis Ford Coppola five years (The Conversation, 1974; Apocalypse Now, 1979, tied with Volker Schlöndorff's The Tin Drum);
  • Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne six years (Rosetta, 1999; L'Enfant / The Child, 2005);
  • Emir Kusturica ten years (When Father Was Away on Business, 1985; Underground, 1995);
  • Shohei Imamura fourteen years (The Ballad of Narayama, 1983; The Eel, 1997, tied with Abbas Kiarostami's A Taste of Cherry).

Michael Haneke / Jean-Louis Trintignant / Emmanuelle Riva / Amour picture: Films du Losange.

Marion Cotillard Rust & Bone Matthias Schonhaerts
Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schonhaerts, Rust & Bone

Marion Cotillard: Cannes Best Actress Predictions

Marion Cotillard is the odds-on Best Actress favorite at the Cannes Film Festival 2012 for her performance as an invalid in Jacques Audiard's De rouille et d'os / Rust & Bone. Cotillard has already won a Best Actress Academy Award, a British Academy Award, and two Césars, but she has never won a Cannes Award in the Official Competition. Barring an upset, this will be her year.

Now, who could be the “upsets”? Well, there are a number of possibilities (and of course, ties aren't infrequent at Cannes).

Veterans Isabelle Huppert and Emmanuelle Riva, the two female stars in Michael Haneke's acclaimed Amour / Love, could share the Best Actress Award – as was the case with the nearly all-female Volver cast in 2006. Or perhaps Huppert and Riva might share a “Best Ensemble” Award with fellow Amour player Jean-Louis Trintignant. That has (sort of) happened in the past: Sidney Lumet's Long Day's Journey Into Night, which back in 1962 earned top awards for Katharine Hepburn, Jason Robards, Ralph Richardson, and Dean Stockwell.

Though despised by just about everyone, Ulrich Seidl's Paradies: Liebe / Paradise: Love may earn Margarethe Tiesel the Best Actress trophy. Tiesel's performance did get good reviews despite her character's shortcomings, and the actress also earned quite a bit of praise for her “courage” in the sex & nudity department.

Nicole Kidman in another controversial and much-disliked movie, Lee Daniels' The Paperboy. But as a sexpot – or rather, sexboilingkettle – who gives Zac Efron a golden shower, Kidman does have a chance, especially when her The Paperboy character is seen next to her journalist Martha Gellhorn in Philip Kaufman's Hemingway & Gellhorn, which was also screened at Cannes (though not in competition).

Isabelle Huppert again in Hong Sang-soo's In Another Country, in which she plays three different roles. Now, since Huppert has already won two Best Actress Awards at Cannes, that makes her a somewhat less likely contender this year. Another possible handicap: to put it mildly, In Another Country wasn't exactly a critical favorite.

Cristina Flutur, as a woman still in love with her former companion, a (now) Orthodox Christian nun (Cosmina Stratan), in Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills. Icing on the cake: Flutur's character is possibly either mad or possessed by the devil.

Kristen Stewart as the free-spirited Marylou in Walter Salles' On the Road. Considering that Stewart's role seems to be subordinate to those of Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley, her chances of a Best Actress win are somewhat diminished. But then again, Stewart and Hedlund received most of the praise bestowed on Salles' film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's novel. Also, a relatively small role in Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions didn't prevent Marie-Josée Croze from taking home the Best Actress Award nine years ago.

Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schonhaerts / Rust & Bone picture: Cannes Film Festival.

Jean-Louis Trintignant Amour Love
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour / Love (with Emmanuelle Riva)

Jean-Louis Trintignant: Cannes Best Actor Prediction

Cannes Film Festival Best Actor contenders are many. On top of the list is veteran Jean-Louis Trintignant in Michael Haneke's romantic tragedy Amour / Love. Amour is the 81-year-old Trintignant's first film in nearly a decade; it may also turn out to be his last. That in itself makes Trintignant the sentimental favorite for the Cannes 2012 Best Actor Award.

If that weren't all, both Amour and its cast have earned singularly enthusiastic notices, e.g., “utterly captivating,” as per The Guardian's Jason Solomons. If Trintignant does take home the Best Actor prize, that'll mark his second Cannes victory: the first was for his judge in Costa-Gavras' political drama Z, 43 years ago.

Other strong Best Actor possibilities include the following:

  • Robert Pattinson surprised those who believed he actually was a vegetarian vampire who sparkled in the sunlight. As an arrogant multibillionaire driving around New York City in his limo in David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, the Twilight star has earned by far the best notices of his (admittedly, not very long) career.
  • Denis Lavant, who also spends a lot of time inside a movie limo, is another strong contender. In Leos Carax's Holy Motors, Lavant plays no less than 11 different roles, including a character who kidnaps Eva Mendes and then licks her armpits.
  • Aniello Arena, a former Mafia hitman currently behind bars serving a life sentence in Italy, but a Cannes hit as a Big Brother contestant wannabe in Matteo Garrone's Reality.
  • Brad Pitt as a (movie) hitman in Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly, which had a number of admirers and quite a few detractors as well.

Other possibilities include The Taste of Money's Kim Kang-woo, On the Road's Garrett Hedlund, Lawless' Tom Hardy, The Hunt's Mads Mikkelsen, Rust & Bone's Matthias Schoenaerts, Mud's Matthew McConaughey, and – why not … this is Cannes, after all – The Paperboy's Zac Efron.

The 2012 Cannes Film Festival winners will be announced on Sunday.

Jean-Louis Trintignant / Amour / Love photo: Films du Losange / Sony Pictures Classics.

Holy Motors Leos Carax
Leos Carax's Holy Motors

Leos Carax & David Cronenberg: Cannes Winners Predictions

Michael Haneke's Amour / Love is my prediction for the Cannes Film Festival 2012's Palme d'Or. But there are several other possibilities, which will quite likely receive, if not the Palme d'Or itself, then at least one of the runner-up awards. At Cannes, those include the Grand Prize of the Jury (runner-up), the Jury Prize (third place), Best Director, and Best Screenplay.

Here are the ones that come to mind:

  • Leos Carax's highly unconventional Holy Motors, in which Denis Lavant plays 11 roles while riding around in his limo. Holy Motors was greeted by mixed reviews – but then again, so was nearly every film shown at Cannes this year, and probably every other year. That includes Terrence Malick's 2011 Palme d'Or winner The Tree of Life.
  • Andrew Dominik's violent Killing Them Softly, a scathing commentary on American sociopolitical culture set among New Orleans mobsters. Brad Pitt stars next to a group of widely praised actors (James Gandolfini, Ben Mendelsohn, Scoot McNairy, etc.).
  • David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, starring Robert Pattinson as a New York City multibillionaire who loses just about everything – including his sanity – while on his way to get a haircut. The prestigious supporting cast includes Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti, Mathieu Amalric, and Samantha Morton. In 1996, Cronenberg won a highly controversial Special Prize for Crash; he was booed by some when he got on stage.
  • Carlos Reygadas' Post Tenebras Lux, a surreal look at dreams, life, and death within a family in the Mexican countryside. In 2007, Reygadas' Silent Light shared the Jury Prize with Persepolis.
  • Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills, which has been described as “The Exorcist by Robert Bresson” (or something along those lines). The stark drama features newcomer Cristina Flutur as a woman who might be insane or perhaps merely possessed by the devil. Mungiu's 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days was the Palme d'Or winner in 2007.
  • Matteo Garrone's Reality, in which a Neapolitan con artist / fishmonger (Aniello Arena) becomes emotionally unstable while waiting to find out if he has been cast in Italy's upcoming Big Brother season. In 2008, Garrone's Gomorrah won the Grand Prize of the Jury.
  • Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, the festival's opening night film and a popular presentation.
  • Jacques Audiard's Rust & Bone, with Matthias Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard as two handicapped individuals who discover love. Audiard's A Prophet won the Grand Prize of the Jury in 2009.
  • Walter Salles' On the Road, which divided critics: some got into it; others found it meandering and pointless. One strong possibility for On the Road is a “Best Cinematography” or “Best Artistic Contribution” award to Eric Gautier's cinematography. Based on Jack Kerouac's novel, the film stars Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, and Kristen Stewart.
  • Now, Alain Resnais' You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet! is considered a minor effort in the 89-year-old filmmaker's oeuvre. However, Resnais is 89 (he turns 90 next June 3), and this will likely be his last film. It's hard to imagine the Cannes jury not wanting to hand something to the veteran director of Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year in Marienbad. Three years ago, Resnais won a Special Award for Wild Grass and the bulk of his career.

Leos Carax's Holy Motors picture: Cannes Film Festival.


         
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11 Comments to Cannes Winners: Old Age Drama & Mob Mentality Indictment

  1. Betty b

    I am glad:That is good news, when you carry the banner of truth, for time to time you are bound to have “some readers” come to some illusive  diabolical reasoning as to why you should not heed facts. 

    Alt Film Guide is always receptive, and respectful to “all thespians's” body of work.  The personal attacks may be due to the fact Alt Film does not follow the herd of  malicious personal defamation of actors/actresses in the Movie industry.. feeding the melodramatic trends found all to often on the net today. 

    Anyone looking for un- professional feisty dictums, self- aggrandizing, and disturbing cynicism, Alt Film Guide is not for you. It is a professional site for people looking for professionalism in the world of cinematic art, domestic and international. 

  2. Kit van Cleave

    The only issue which could get in Cotillard's way is the French resentment of artists who do well in American films. Otherwise, I'm with Marion.

  3. Reini Urban

    To put it strongly, In Another Country was exactly a critical favorite, but only for festival critics, not for normal folks you seem to talk to.

    See the collected critics ratings at
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmdgVGA_rtJzdHhmRmRtejhteGs1V0NiWVJhTWJOUlE

    where the Hong Sangsoo has the 2nd best ratings of all competition films of 45 festival critics. Leading is Holy Motors there

  4. lori

    Pattinson panned by critics? The guy got raving reviews. People really need to get over their prejudice hate towards this guy.

  5. Joss A

    Mr Jean-Louis was amazing and I have to say this but I'm so excited about Pattinson's performance, he was the 99% of the movie and succeed. I don't care about his career outside the festival, he's fresh air to me. I recommend you watch the movie, I was there and all the comments I heard were actually pretty good, and better about his performance. Cronenberg as good as always, Im a believer of this films and this one was great

  6. KS

    Haters gonna hate…
    Get used to guys! Pattinson is a great actor!

  7. Thalia

    Pattinson!!! That's right man it does not matter if you agree or io don't. I saw Cosmopolis yesterday and it was AMAZING, Robert pattinson's performance is brilliant, not surprising is one of the 5 favourites in the Festival and the second choice in this list.
    It's ok if you don't like him, but you should watch the movie and stop judge people so easy. This is a serious web, the fans have nothing to do with this, that's so ridiculous, they wouldnt even consider him if he wasn't be able to give a terrific performance.
    I'm impress by Pattinson and excited about Mr. David, he's the man, he forced people in the theatre to think with heavy dialogue and I loved it.

  8. dream

    Robert LOL next joke please!
    But Jean-Louis Trintignant was amazing!

  9. dream

    Kristen Actually has a good chance of wining this the reviews are raving about her, you never know she might win this,

  10. Betty b

    Actors list seems on target … Actors mention recieved very positive and mixed reviews in some instances standing ovations for their films. Cannes is the ultimate highest profile festival in the world To be deemed worthy to be in competition is winning event.

    Great article as always. TY

  11. nanni

    Pattinson? LMAO Please.