The 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, Cannes 2017, ended on Sunday night. Headed by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, the jury also included American actors Will Smith and Jessica Chastain. The opening and closing ceremonies were hosted by Italian actress Monica Bellucci. It capped off a relatively disappointing and underwhelming year as far as in-competition feature films go – with most of the big names failing to match the hype they brought with them.
Biggest Boo Boo
Opening film Ismael’s Ghosts, starring Marion Cotillard and Charlotte Gainsbourg, directed by French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin, was met with a round of…deathly silence. And not entirely in a good way. Some booed it on the way out. Critics immediately labeled it ‘atrocious’ and ‘pretentious’, with people comparing it to Cannes’ last opening-film faux pas, Grace of Monaco.
The main prize of Cannes 2017 went to Swedish director Ruben Ostlund for closing film, The Square – a biting satire surreally chronicling the moods of the contemporary art world. It stars Elisabeth Moss, who has had a tremendous year, appearing in Netflix’s TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale, as well as Jane Campion directed Top of the Lake.
Critics’ Favorite: 120 Beats Per Minute
The intimate French docudrama about the AIDS epidemic and homosexuality captured hearts across the festival. Jury head Almodovar was moved to tears during the announcement, declaring that he “couldn’t love the film any more”. The film won the Grand Prix prize (second place).
Sofia Coppola became the second woman at Cannes to win this prize after Yuliya Solntseva (1961), for her feminist adaptation of the 1971 Civil War tale, The Beguiled. Coppola was booed for her 2005 period drama, Marie Antoinette.
Streaming giant Netflix came away empty-handed after a hostile reception for their first appearance at the world’s most prestigious film festival. Almodovar was critical of their role in ‘destroying film’, and Cannes changed their rules (French theatrical distribution a must from now on) to prevent their entry henceforth. Bong Joon-Ho’s fantasy tale, Ojka, screened to a fantastic reception, but didn’t win an award. Ditto for Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories – which was tipped to win at least an acting award for lead Ben Stiller.
Adam Sandler, who also appeared in The Meyerowitz Stories as a divorced stay-at-home father, was praised unanimously for his affecting performance. This has even generated some pre-Oscar buzz early in the season.
Sandler was one of the underdogs to win the top acting prize at Cannes 2017 too, as was – wait for it – Robert Pattinson, for the best performance of his young career. He played a New York criminal-on-the-run in Good Time – a prize that eventually went to a shocked Joaquin Phoenix for Lynne Ramsey’s You Were Never Really Here. The Americans are everywhere.
Even though Fatih Akin’s In The Fade opened to mixed reviews, actress Diane Kruger won the Best Actress prize for her stirring performance as a grieving woman looking to avenge the death of her husband in a terrorist attack.
The Un Certain Regard prize for Best Director went to American actor-turned-writer-director Taylor Sheridian (Hell or High Water, Sicario) for atmospheric wilderness drama, Wind River.
No awards for Todd Haynes’ well-received Wonderstruck, as well as Michael Haneke’s Happy End, and Michael Hazanavicius’ Redoubtable. Nothing went to Hungarian metaphorical ‘superhero’ drama Jupiter’s Moon either, despite it being juror Will Smith’s favorite of the festival.