- Veteran Hollywood actor Michael Douglas will receive the Honorary Palme d’Or at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. Douglas is the eighth American to be accorded the honor (out of a total of 17 recipients).
Cannes Film Festival 2023: U.S. actor Michael Douglas to be handed this year’s Honorary Palme d’Or
The Cannes Film Festival has announced that veteran Hollywood actor Michael Douglas, 78, will be the recipient of this year’s Honorary Palme d’Or (Palme d’Or d’Honneur) “in recognition of his brilliant career as well as his engagement for cinema.”
Douglas’ latest cinema-related “engagement” will be held during Cannes’ Opening Ceremony on May 16. In France, the event will be broadcast live on France 2; internationally, it will be available via the digital media platform Brut.
Here’s the longish Michael Douglas quote (translated from the French?) found in the Cannes festival’s Honorary Palme d’Or press release:
“It is always a breath of fresh air to be at Cannes, which has long provided a wonderful platform for bold creators, artistic audacities and excellence in storytelling. From my first time here in 1979 for The China Syndrome to my most recent premiere for Behind the Candelabra in 2013, the Festival has always reminded me that magic of cinema is not just in what we see onscreen but in its ability to impact people all around the world. After more than 50 years in the business, it’s an honor to return to the Croisette to open the Festival and embrace our shared global language of film.”
U.S.- & French-oriented career achievement honor
Including Michael Douglas, the more-or-less annual Honorary Palme d’Or has been awarded to 17 individuals since 2002 – 18 if one adds Ingmar Bergman, the recipient of a special Palme des Palmes in 1997.
Much like Cannes’ Official Competition, the Honorary field has been dominated by American and French nationals: A total of 14 honorees.
That’s no mere accident. Festival organizers know the value of free publicity, whether in France or in the one international media market that matters (that’s the U.S.).
Michael Douglas will become the eighth American recipient, following Woody Allen, Jane Fonda (at the 60th ceremony), Clint Eastwood, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, and Tom Cruise – all names that ensured solid publicity in the United States. (Most of them – Allen, Fonda, Eastwood, Foster, Cruise – elsewhere as well.)
The six French honorees to date are Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Agnès Varda, Jean-Pierre Léaud, and Alain Delon – all international names still widely known in France.
Besides the Swedish Ingmar Bergman, the three token non-French, non-U.S. Honorary Palm d’Or recipients are European filmmakers: Manoel de Oliveira from Portugal, and Bernardo Bertolucci and Marco Bellocchio from Italy.
Michael Douglas movies
The son of three-time Best Actor Academy Award nominee Kirk Douglas (Champion, 1949; The Bad and the Beautiful, 1952; Lust for Life, 1956), Michael Douglas (born on Sept. 25, 1944, in New Brunswick, New Jersey) began his big-screen career in an uncredited bit in Melville Shavelson’s 1966 political drama Cast a Giant Shadow (1966), starring the young Douglas’ father.
Following a three-year hiatus, Douglas was back on the big screen in his first lead role: As the nonconformist son of veterans Teresa Wright and Arthur Kennedy in David Miller’s family drama Hail, Hero!.
Having had little luck in his subsequent big-screen forays (Adam at Six A.M., Summer Tree, Napoleon and Samantha), Douglas became a small-screen star by way of the hit cop series The Streets of San Francisco (1972–76), costarring Karl Malden. During that time, he also took home an Oscar statuette for coproducing (with Saul Zaentz) Milos Forman’s 1975 Best Picture winner One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
In the late 1970s, Douglas was back on the big screen with Michael Crichton’s hit thriller Coma (1978), playing second fiddle to Geneviève Bujold, and James Bridges’ acclaimed political thriller The China Syndrome (1979), playing second fiddle to Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon.
From then on, Douglas would stay busy in feature films. Notable titles include Robert Zemeckis’ blockbuster Romancing the Stone (1984) and its sequel, Lewis Teague’s The Jewel of the Nile (1985), both costarring Kathleen Turner; and Oliver Stone’s socially conscious drama Wall Street (1987), which earned Douglas – in what amounts to a supporting role as greedy New York broker Gordon Gecko – the year’s Best Actor Oscar. (To date, that remains his only Oscar win/nomination in the acting categories.)
Sex dramas & Ant-Man
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Michael Douglas became a major box office draw thanks to a couple of hit sex dramas: Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction (1987), in which the adulterous Douglas desperately tries to escape from the clutches of psycho lover Glenn Close, and Paul Verhoeven’s Palme d’Or contender Basic Instinct (1992) – labeled “sulphurous” [sic] in the Cannes press release – in which he gleefully falls into the clutches of psycho lover Sharon Stone.
Twenty-first-century titles worth mentioning include Curtis Hanson’s critical hit (and box office dud) Wonder Boys (2000); Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-nominated drug-trade drama Traffic (2000); Oliver Stone’s commercial bomb Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), with Douglas back as Gecko; and, more recently, Peyton Reed’s Marvel flick Ant-Man (2015), in which he has a supporting role as entomologist and physicist Hank Pym.
Also in the last decade or so, Douglas won a Primetime Emmy for his portrayal of flamboyant gay entertainer Liberace in Soderbergh’s small-screen feature Behind the Candelabra (2012), opposite Matt Damon, and was shortlisted for three Emmys in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category for his performance as a has-been actor turned acting coach in the Netflix hit The Kominsky Method (2018–21), costarring fellow veteran Alan Arkin.
Michael Douglas, the Prodigal Son
As part of its Michael Douglas tribute, Cannes 2023 will present the world premiere of Amine Mestari’s documentary Michael Douglas, the Prodigal Son, a collaboration between Arte France and Folamour Productions, with the support of Ciné+.
In the somewhat cryptic words of the press release, “this special documentary shows us how Michael, an actor and producer like his father Kirk, had to embrace their resemblance throughout his remarkable career in order to assert his difference.”
Mestari’s previous documentaries include Johnny Clegg, le Zoulou blanc (2018), about the anti-apartheid singer, and Claude Sautet, le calme et la dissonance (2021), about the Cesar & Rosalie and A Simple Story filmmaker (with narration by Charles Berling).
Cannes jury members announced
Lastly, here is the list of the 2023 Cannes Film Festival’s Official Competition jury – among them two French and two American nationals:
- American actor Paul Dano (The Batman).
- French filmmaker Julia Ducournau (Palme d’Or winner for Titane, 2021).
- American actress and director Brie Larson (Best Actress Oscar winner for Room, 2015).
- French actor Denis Ménochet (The Beasts).
- British-Zambian screenwriter and director Rungano Nyoni (Mwansa the Great).
- Afghan author Atiq Rahimi (Earth and Ashes).
- Argentinian screenwriter and director Damián Szifrón (Wild Tales).
- Moroccan filmmaker Maryam Touzani (Adam).
Swedish filmmaker and two-time Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund (The Square, 2017; Triangle of Sadness, 2022) had been named jury president back in February.
An aside: Kirk Douglas was the Jury President at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival, when, according to the Cannes release, “with the strength of his conviction and his character, he [and his fellow jury members, one assumes]” handed the Palme d’Or to two disparate titles: Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha and Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz.
The 2023 Cannes Film Festival winners will be announced on May 27 at the Closing Ceremony, to be broadcast live by France Télévisions and to be made available internationally by Brut.
“Cannes Festival: Michael Douglas to Receive Honorary Palme d’Or” notes
Cannes Film Festival website.
See also: 2023 Cannes winners and rare Swedish Palme d’Or winner.
See also: How to Have Sex named Best Film at the 2023 Un Certain Regard sidebar.
Michael Douglas and Glenn Close Fatal Attraction movie image: Paramount Pictures.
“Cannes Festival: Michael Douglas to Receive Honorary Palme d’Or” last updated in May 2023.