"Dheepan" may not quite measure up either, as such was the cinema this year, but Audiard is an auteur who has been in the on deck circle for a Palm d'Or for several years, especially since his "A Prophet" was denied it by the Isabelle Huppert jury in favor of Michael Haneke's "White Ribbon" in 2009. Joel of the Coens recognized the award went to a director more than a film, as when he announced the winner, he didn't say "Dheepan," but rather "Jacques Audiard." Audiard's two Sri Lanka co-stars joined him on stage.
It concluded a nice evening for France, as the two acting awards went to the French as well. Vincent Lindon won the best actor award for his role as an unemployed factory worker in "The Measure of a Man." He was the only award winner to go over to the jury box and personally thank each juror with kisses and hugs while all the while the delighted audience continued their applause. The shared best actress award went to Emmanuelle Bercot as an overwhelmed wife in "Mon Roi." The other recipient was American Rooney Mara as the lover of Cate Blanchett in "Carol." The division of this award was almost as surprising as the Palm d'Or, not only that it wasn't shared with Blanchett, but even more that it was the award given to "Carol," rather than one of the bigger awards. But those will come in the future. Todd Haynes was all smiles in accepting the award, as his movie will be strewn with Oscar nominations. It could easily win the Best Picture Oscar, but is too conventional of a movie to be worthy of the Palm d'Or.
The Hungarian Aushwitz film "Son of Saul" by first time director Laszlo Nemes was awarded the Grand Prix for the second best film. It had been touted for the Palm d'Or, but it wasn't as fully accomplished of a film such as "Four Months, Three Weeks, and Two Days," the Romanina film by a young director that was a consensus Palm d'Or in 2007. If Nemes fulfills his promise, there is a Palm d'Or in his future.
The best director award went to Hou Hsiao-Hsien, a good choice, for "The Assassin." Michel Franco won the best screenplay for "Chronic." His star Tim Roth was sitting beside him in the audience. Some thought he might win the best actor award. He is the fourth Mexican to win an award in the last few years. The Jury Prize, for the third best film, went to Greek Yorgos Lanthimos for "Lobster," full of strangeness right up the Coens' alley.
And once again Paolo Sorrentino was overlooked by a Cannes jury. I saw his "Youth" for the second time earlier in the day and appreciated its richness and depth and pizzazz even more. So did my audience in the packed Debussy. ("Carol" and "Son of Saul" were the other two movies replayed in the largest of the theaters on repeat Sunday, indicating Thierry Fremaux thought they were the movies with most appeal.) It responded to it with much more laugher and enthusiasm than the audience of press I had seen it with five days ago. I wouldn't have been surprised if it had been awarded the Palm d'Or, just as "Great Beauty" could have been, but was totally ignored by the Spielberg jury.
It was one of three Italian films in Competition, none of which received an award. An Italian journalist in the press conference after the awards ceremony asked how that could be. Ethan Coen said, "We had enthusiasm for more movies than we were able to recognize." As it was, eight of the nineteen films were given an award.
Chaz Ebert asked the best question of the press conference even though it was long-winded and paid homage to her husband. She wanted to know if this jury experience would make them better at their craft as actors and directors. Xavier Dolan was the first to respond. He said he was going to begin shooting a movie in twenty-four hours. He didn't expect this experience to effect him as a film-maker, but acknowledged he'd never had such a great time continually discussing cinema. He felt it had changed him as a human being and then added he thought it had made him a better person. Joel Coen quickly piped in, "You're not," but then grew serious and said that it been an amazing experience for him as well and would "profoundly effect" him in the future as an audience member.
The first questions were why the jury gave the Palm d'Or to "Dheepan." Ethan knew it hadn't been favored by the critics and said, "We are a jury of artists, not critics. We found the film beautiful." That was an unexpected description. "Important," or "significant," or "powerful," would be more obvious choices. Jake Gyllenhaal liked the plot contrivance of three strangers becoming a family. Dolan had nothing to say on the topic, but despite being the youngest on the jury by far at twenty-six, he spoke more at the press conference than anyone but the Coens. He will no doubt be a jury president in the years to come and could well be accepting the Palm d'Or next year for the movie he will begin shooting tomorrow, "Its Only the End of the World" starring Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassell. I am already looking forward to it. And I'm also looking forward to processing the seventy plus films I've just seen as I head to the Alps and begin conditioning my legs for The Tour de France commencing on July 4.