Cannes Film Festival First Responses (and unofficial Palace Awards)
The prestigious 75th annual Cannes Film Festival has officially wrapped up on the French Riviera, bringing to a close another year of sensational cinema. Read on for Cannes highlights and initial critic reactions, as well as our own (unofficial) “awards”.
‘Prix du jury Hung’ – Hung Jury Prize for most Polarizing Film
Elvis dir. Baz Luhrmann (Austin Butler, Tom Hanks)
As should be expected from Baz Luhrmann, Elvis is not a conventional biography. The film, starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, is closer to a “glitter bomb-Esque, maximalist frenetic colour” explosion. Earning a 12-minute standing ovation, Baz Luhrmann’s long-awaited fever dream about the King of Rock’n’Roll has split Cannes down the middle. Audiences are loving it, Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro tweeted that the film was “dazzling, bold and moving… Loved it. Loved it. Loved it” and Priscilla Presley (Elvis’ ex-wife) seemed equally impressed, writing “WOW!!! Bravo to him (Butler)… Luhrmann put his heart and soul and many hours into this film”. Butler’s performance has generated a fair bit of Oscar buzz, notably from Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley who wrote “If he doesn’t get an Oscar for this, I will eat my own foot”. Cannibalism aside, the reviews are mixed – IndieWire all but skewered the film, likening the feature to “Bohemian Rhapsody’ at 4,000 M.P.H”, yikes. Another review from AwardsWatch calls the movie “wildly entertaining two hours and fifty minutes”, even if its “melody is decidedly unchained”. The film still sits at an impressive 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and despite a spectrum of opinions, it seems the consensus is to see it yourself and decide how you feel.
‘Prix De Partage Lateral’ – The Side-Splitting Prize
Triangle of Sadness dir. Ruben Östlund (Woody Harrelson, Harris Dickinson & Charlbi Dean)
Set in the world of beautiful women and rich men, Triangle of Sadness is a hysterical and biting criticism of excess starring Woody Harrelson, Charbli Dean & Harris Dickinson. After winning Cannes’ top prize for his last feature The Square in 2017, writer/director Ruben Östlund trumps once more with the “Swedish eat the rich” comedy, winner of the coveted Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded at the festival. We’re adding to this hype by awarding our Prix De Partage Lateral (aka the side-splitting prize), because this vomit-filled cruise liner comedy is hilarious. In his first English language film, Östlund cements himself as the cinema king of social satire – swinging hard at the mega-rich and image-obsessed. One highlight snippet sees Woody Harrelson – a rabid Marxist yacht captain – partake in a back-and-forth joke war with a drunk, ultra-rich (read: pro-capitalist) boat guest. “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell”… you can watch the full clip here.
‘Prix Génie en bouteille’ – Genius in a bottle award
From the mad genius of Academy Award-winning director George Miller (Max Max) comes the genie in a bottle time-travelling drama Three Thousand Years of Longing, starring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba. Original, exciting, and overflowing with delightful characters – Miller has stuffed a whole lot of gusto into his “anti-Mad Max” feature. Swinton and Elba give marvellous performances as a timid scholar and millennia-old genie, nimbly darting between courts of the Queen of Sheba, a 19th-century Turkish slave courtesan and present-day London – fun fact: most of the film was shot in Australia! Miller’s mythical extravaganza packs an “unexpected humanistic punch”, a familiar fable made indubitably his own: a queen’s orgasm dissolving into beads of liquid gold or a man spontaneously bursting into a mass of spiders. A delightfully unique treasure at this year’s Cannes Festival, we give Three Thousand Years Of Longing the genius in a bottle award.
‘Prix À La Pointe’ – On The Edge of Your Seat Award
Men dir. Alex Garland (Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear)
Men… a truly terrifying species- we mean film. A truly terrifying film. Following the cerebral sci-fi drama Ex Machina, and warped horror Annihilation, writer & director Alex Garland’s latest feature is his boldest to date. Men is a truly unhinged drama that balances “scares, humour and genuine emotional trauma”, grounded by magnetic performances from the formidable Jessie Buckley and a versatile Rory Kinnear: who plays a litany of spine-chilling characters. True to Garland’s previous works, the film uses genre and suspense to examine gender themes, descending into madness and absurdity in a final act that can only be called an “unforgettable cinema experience”. Terrifying? Yes. Absolutely nuts? Also yes.
‘Centurion d’or‘ – Golden Centurion Award for Palace Favourite
One Fine Morning dir. Mia Hansen-Løve (Léa Seydoux, Melvil Poupaud, Camille Leban Martins)
“Bitterly sad, but also warm and gentle” One Fine Morning is a profound portrait of love from acclaimed writer & director Mia Hansen-Løve starring Léa Seydoux. Seydoux, who plays a single mother trying to balance the emotional needs of her parents, her child and herself, is transcendent – critics are unanimously agreeing she is beyond sensational. We’re awarding this film our Centurion d’or aka our Golden Centurion Award for the Palace favourite, recognizing a career-best performance from Seydoux – and arguably Hansen-Løve’s most poignant drama to date. One Fine Morning was awarded Best European Film at the Cannes Festival, and rightly so – this Paris-set drama is a must-see.