Do Cannes Festival Award Winners Give an Early Preview of Next Year’s Oscars?


The 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival has come to a close with the announcement of this year’s awards winners, as usual a mixed bag of foreign and American films with varying degrees of buzz and levels of attention before the festival. Although the Cannes Film Festival takes place nearly four months before the actual start of festival awards season in September, the festival has often given clues of what films and performances might be celebrated at year’s end both by critics and the film industry.

Winter Sleep, the new film from Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Climates, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), a movie on few people’s lips two weeks ago, won the top prize at Cannes, the Palm d’Or, over a number of films that were being highly praised by critics since their premieres. Previous films from Ceylan have received the festival’s Grand Prix, but this is his first Palm d’Or.

Bennett Miller received a prize for his direction of the drama Foxcatcher, starring Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell, which had its release delayed from last year.

Julianne Moore was honored as Best Actress for her performance in David Cronenberg’s Map to the Stars, while Timothy Spall received the male equivalent for his performance as Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner.

Another honor went to Andrey Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin’s screenplay for Leviathan, a highly-acclaimed film among critics, which had its North American distribution picked up by Sony Pictures Classics this past week,

Alice Rohrwacher’s Le Meraviglie (The Wonders) won the Grand Prize, while The Jury Prize was a tie between 25-year-old French-Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan’s Mommy and 83-year-old French cinema legend Jean Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language. (These are essentially considered the second and third prizes to the Palm d’Or, respectively.)

The Camera d’Or for Best First Film went to Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis’ Party Girl, which opened Un Certain Regard and also received an ensemble acting prize earlier in the week.

So how do these awards translate into possible Oscars? They could mean nothing, but they could mean everything and in the past Cannes awards winners were definitely in the mix in the months leading up to Oscar night.

For instance, Jean Dujardin won Best Actor at Cannes for his performance in Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist in 2011, and he went on to win Best Actor at the Oscars. Christoph Waltz won the acting award for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds in 2009 before winning the Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor category ten months later. The following year’s Cannes acting award-winner, Javier Bardem, received an Oscar nomination for Biutiful.

Then again, receiving the Best Actress at Cannes is almost a jinx for receiving any sort of Oscar attention with Penelope Cruz being one of the few exceptions, receiving both for her performance in Pedro Almodovar’s Volver.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Jury Prize or Grand Prize that has received even a Foreign Language nomination at the Oscars, although the Palm d’Or has predicated a number of future Oscar nominees and winners. Michael Haneke’s Amour won the Palm d’Or before winning Foreign Language film at the Oscars the following year–it received four other Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. This followed the filmmaker’s previous Cannes-winner The White Ribbon receiving two Oscar nominations–Foreign Language and Cinematography–two years earlier.

Laurent Cantet’s The Class was nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar after its Palm d’Or win, although the highly-praised Blue is the Warmest Color (from France), 4 Months, Three Weeks, Two Days (from Romania) and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Relive His Past Lives (from Thailand) were all snubbed by the Academy following their Cannes wins. (The first two received Golden Globe nominations in their Foreign Language category.)

Going back a bit, Roman Polanski’s The Pianist received the Palm d’Or and was nominated for seven Oscars afterwards, and it went on to surprise many with its three Oscar wins that year.

Looking at this year’s winners, the awards attention is a good sign for previous Oscar nominees Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher and Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, with both their films to be released later this year by Sony Pictures Classics, a company with time-tested Oscar campaigns. We’re less optimistic about some of the other prize winners, although we expect them to be put forward by their respective countries as their official Oscar selections.

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Weekend: Oct. 25, 2018, Oct. 28, 2018

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