Tuesday 17 May 2011

Cannes 2011: Midway predictions

It's hard to believe we are already more than half way through the festival. It is difficult for all the media to give films the attention they deserve, with all the different selections and multiple screenings. Yet it is always interesting to look back a year later and see that the majority of the best films of the year were in Cannes, be it in the official selection or the parallel ones. So with six days of official selection gone and four more to go, where are we at?

The selection was deemed solid before the festival opened, especially after last year, which was deemed a slow year. Yet while the quality has been constant, there has not been a clear frontrunner. At this stage of the competition, the two more likely candidates for the Palme d'or are:

The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius

The film that came out of nowhere and surprised everybody (read my previous post about it). Probably the most liked of the competition right now. For all its originality and boldness, there is still something that might work against it. Some see it as a successful but light, no matter how enjoyable. And as such, it might be deemed unworthy of the ultimate gong, because of the eternal debate about comedies versus dramas. I, for once, put such films as The naked gun and Airplane, or even Sister act as highly as more arty fares such as the Hungarian black & white The Werckmeister harmonies.

Le Havre by Aki Kaurismaki

Shown today, this had the second best reaction from the press after The artist. The Finnish director is ever so reliable, with a unique talent for deadpan and melancholic dramedies. This new film shows him reunite with old favourites Kati Outinen and Andre Wilms, for a film set in France, about the friendship between a shoeshiner and an illegal immigrant boy from Gabon. There is always the danger with an established director that he might be making the same film over and over again but critics are calling it one of his best. Will it be sufficient or will Aki Kaursimaki be rewarded with runner-up Grand Jury Prize which he already won for The man without in past in 2002?

The tree of like by Terrence Malick

As per my post from yesterday, the most expected film of the festival has not had an easy ride, with boos and mixed reactions as I was reporting yesterday. Yet we should not dismiss it completely. There are a few journalists who adored it. And the prizes are picked not by a whole academy like the Oscars, but by a much smaller jury of less than ten, which make Cannes results always unpredictable.

As for the acting prizes, as this stage, I would say Tilda Swinton in We need to talk about Kevin, and Jean Dujardin in The artist.

Let's not forget however than more than a few heavyweights are yet to be shown: The skin that I live in by Pedro Almodovar, Once upon a time in Anatolia by Cannes favourite Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Melancholia by Lars Von Trier, Hanezu no tsuki by Naomi Kawase, and Hara-kiri: Death of a samurai by Takashi Miike. So it is far from over.

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