The Cannes Film Festival jury is usually a mishmash of high-profile actors and directors; the 70th edition is no exception. Headed by Pedro Almodovar, the jury also includes A-listers Will Smith and Jessica Chastain alongside the likes of “Toni Erdmann” director Maren Ade and “Oldboy” director Park Chan-wook. Considering the range of work they produce, it’s hard to imagine all of these filmmakers at the same table, much less choosing the same film for the industry’s most prestigious award. But one way or another, it’s going to happen on Sunday, May 28, 2017, when the jury convenes on the last day of the festival to hand out the Palme d’Or.
Last year, the winner of the Palme was Ken Loach’s “I, Daniel Blake,” which was the second time in a decade that Loach won the Palme; this year, he could be bested by Michael Haneke, already a two-time Palme-winner, who’s back in competition with “Happy End.” But he’s joined by a number of top-tier Cannes auteur regulars, including Lynne Ramsay, Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola and many others. Check out the full lineup here.
The arbitrary process through which the jury picks its winner means that there’s no mathematical formula for predicting the results; nevertheless, the chronological progression of the festival provides a handy template for ranking the candidates as the race evolves in real time. Picking up a tradition that we kicked off last year, here’s a list of candidates updated as new competition films screened each day.
We’ll keep this ongoing breakdown of the odds updated throughout next week.
In order of likelihood:
- “BPM (Beats Per Minute)”: Robin Campillo’s sprawling look at AIDS activists involved in France’s ACT UP movement in the early nineties isn’t a gamechanger, but it’s been well-received as an emotional tribute to the group carried by passionate performances and a real sense of purpose. For those reasons alone, it’s a very reasonable consensus choice. Some critics found the film a bit cold or too straightforward, but the jury is likely to find much to admire about its potent themes of communal responsibility and social action. Among all the films that have screened so far, it now stands the strongest chance at winning the top prize because so many people respect it — and some really love it. Here’s our review.
- “Loveless”: Russia’s Andrey Zyvagintsev won a Cannes screenplay prize for his masterful “Leviathan” in 2014, and he’s back in competition this year with another strong contender for multiple prizes. “Loveless” follows the somber exploits of a couple on the verge of divorce whose child goes missing as their family falls apart. Marked by first-rate performances from Maryana Spivak and Alexey Rozin as the feuding husband and wife whose awful breakup just keeps getting worse, the movie may stand a strongest chance at landing some acting prizes for its two leads. But it’s such a gripping, slow-burn look at an intimate drama that also addresses the sense of alienation in Russian society that it may also cast a powerful spell on this year’s actor-heavy jury that will be hard to shake in the days to come. Here’s our review.
- “The Square”: Ruben Ostlund’s followup to his Cannes hit “Force Majeure” is a sprawling satire of the fine art world in which a neurotic curator contends with personal and professional issues that keep piling up. Not all critics are smitten with the movie’s prolonged running time and overly dense plot, but it’s littered with wildly entertaining sequences and a storytelling confidence that could impress the filmmakers on this year’s jury (including Maren Ade, whose “Toni Erdmann” was also a lengthy, unconventional comedy). At first blush, it might be hard to imagine this one as a consensus choice for the Palme — but then again, it’s enormously entertaining film with a lot of ambition in its two-and-a-half hour plot, so jurors could find themselves returning to it a lot over the course of the festival. Here’s our review.
- “Wonderstruck”: Todd Haynes’ adaptation of “Hugo” author Brian Selznick’s novel is a vivid evocation of two eras — 1927 and 1977 — beautifully shot by Haynes cinematographer Ed Lachman. The movie simultaneously follows the plight of a young boy named Ben (Oakes Fegley) who abruptly loses his hearing and goes on a wild adventure from his Minnesota home to New York City, in addition the experiences of girl named Rose (Millicent Simmonds), also deaf, who travels through Depression-era New York in search of a silent movie star (Julianne Moore). While it hasn’t received quite the level of acclaim that met Haynes’ “Carol” two years ago, “Wonderstruck” has been embraced as a moving, cinematically complex all-ages experience that may be the closest thing in this year’s competition to a consensus-friendly option. Here’s our review.
- “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”: Yorgos Lanthimos owes much of his career to Cannes, which premiered his sophomore effort “Dogtooth” in Un Certain Regard years ago before it went on to land an Oscar nomination. He was last in competition with “The Lobster,” which brought him an even greater international profile, but “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” is proof that he hasn’t sold out just because he’s working on a bigger scale. The disturbing drama stars Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman as the parents of children whose lives are endangered by the revenge-seeking son of a man who died under the care of Farrell’s surgeon, but that only begins to scratch the surface of this deranged plot, a wildly divisive family survival story that’s pure shot of unadulterated Lanthimos weirdness. The jury may appreciate its outré vision, and it would be shocking if they all felt compelled to award it the Palme over other far more widely appreciated competition titles — but that’s exactly what could give it a real chance. It casts a spell that’s hard to shake.
- “The Beguiled”: Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of Thomas P. Cullinan’s novel brings her trademark lyrical style to a Civil War story previously adapted by Don Siegel in the 1971 Clint Eastwood version. Most critics agree that Coppola’s treatment of the material is an elegant, well-acted chamber drama with first-rate performances by Nicole Kidman as the matriarch of a house where Colin Ferrell’s Union soldier winds up bedridden after battle. A stylish erotic thriller, the movie is the shortest one in competition, and some may feel that it’s not as ambitious as other films in the competition. By that same token, it’s a largely satisfying realization of Coppola’s specific directorial style, and it’s likely that much of the jury will enjoy that about it. As one of only three women directors in competition, she stands a good chance at winning something — possibly a directing prize — though she remains a strong Palme contender given the accessible nature of the material and the way it has played for audiences so far. Here’s our review.
- “Good Time”: Josh and Benny Safdies’ Kafkaesque heist thriller stars Robert Pattinson as a desperate man fighting to save his brother over the course a single New York night; it was well-received at the festival in large part due to Pattinson’s ferocious performance, which many critics are calling the best of his career. Much of the jury may respond positively to the film as well, but the movie could be perceived as a genre exercise rather than a major work worthy of the festival’s top prize. Here’s our review.
- “You Were Never Really Here”: Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of a Jonathan Ames novel about a hitman (Joaquin Phoenix) tasked with saving a child forced into prostitution is a quiet, layered drama that clocks in under 90 minutes and unfolds with rich images and sound design. It’s a less narratively-driven work than Ramsay’s last Cannes competitor, “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” but showcases her mastery at telling stories with expressionistic film language. If much of the jury is compelled to favor one of the three women directors in competition, Ramsay’s film is just a tad less accessible than Coppola’s, but will almost certainly leave many jurors impressed.
- “Happy End”: No filmmaker has every won the Palme d’Or for three consecutive films, and Michael Haneke’s earlier wins for “The White Ribbon” and “Amour” might make it difficult for any jury to spend another big prize on him. But it’s far from an unthinkable possibility, because “Happy End” is another grim achievement from the Austrian master, a sophisticated look at the self-loathing percolating throughout multiple generations of an Austrian family. With first-rate performances from an ensemble that includes Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant, the movie is an actors’ showcase (and also shows major promise for newcomer Fantine Harduin). However, this story of deeply unlikable people is unlikely to win Haneke any new fans (unlike the more emotionally resonant two-hander “Amour”) so the jury will have to feel very strongly about this one and more divided about many other films in order to really propel its odds to the top of the list. Here’s our review.
- “Redoubtable”: Michel Hazanvicius bounces back at Cannes after facing backlash for “The Search” with this colorful look at late-sixties Jean-Luc Godard, played with remarkable detail by Louis Garrel, during his tumultuous marriage to Anne Wiazamsky, the star of “La Chinoise.” The well-received movie is one of the lighter films in this year’s competition, and Garrel is an obvious frontrunner for an acting prize, but it remains a top Palme contender in part because it turns Godard’s story into a breezy affair. Here’s our review.
- “Okja”: Bong Joon Ho’s Netflix-produced story of a mutant pig kidnapped by an evil corporation and rescued by a young girl was tarnished early in the festival, when mistaken reports from a jury press conference implied that Almodovar said he wouldn’t award a Netflix film. That doesn’t seem to be what he meant, and with good reason — “Okja” is the kind of universal crowdpleaser that jury could find serious consensus on, as the movie focuses on animal cruelty within the context of mass market entertainment. Bong is a definite contender for the directing prize, and some jurors might be thrown off by the zany tone, but it’s definitely a contender. Here’s our review.
- “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Collected)”: Noah Baumbach’s Netflix-produced New York comedy boasts strong turns from Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Candice Bergen and others in a series of vignettes based around the life of a respected artist and his family. While warmly received by the press, it’s not exactly new terrain for Baumbach, nor does early buzz suggest that it’s being seen as superior to some of his other well-regarded efforts. It’s likely that this year’s jury will generally enjoy the movie — particularly such a diverse ensemble of performances — but in a year with such a range of possibilities, it’s hard to think this one will be a leading contender for the Palme. Here’s our review.
- “A Gentle Creature”: Sergei Loznitsa returns to Cannes competition with a grim Dostoyevsky adaptation about a Siberian prison town. Critics have been respectful if not over the moon, noting many of the allegorical qualities that make the movie stand out. It is likely to leave an impression on the jury on the level of craftmanship alone, but its lengthy running time asks a lot of viewers and it faces a lot of competition from other titles more likely to find consensus.
- “In the Fade”: Turkey’s Fatih Akin returns to Cannes for the first time in a decade with this Diane Kruger showcase about the wife of a man killed in a suicide attack. Most critics have met it with a shrug. If it wins anything, it would be an actress prize for Kruger.
- “Radiance”: Cannes regular Naomi Kawase’s sentimental romance about the relationship between a blind photographer and a seeing-eye translator is unlikely to win her new fans. Kawase’s films gain more attention at Cannes than anywhere else; they’re often filled with beautiful images but less than enthralling plots. Some of the jury may find the drama of the film moving, but it’s safe to assume that few will see it as a stronger contender than many of the other films here.
- “L’amant Double”: Francois Ozon returns to Cannes competition with an erotic thriller that critics have deemed both insanely entertaining and absurd. The story of a man who gets involved in twin psychotherapists has invited comparisons to early Brian De Palma in mostly positive ways. Its campy qualities make it an unlikely Palme frontrunner, though it could crop up in other categories.
- “The Day After”: Korean director Hong Sang-soo has two films at Cannes this year, but only one in competition. (“Claire’s Camera,” an hourlong piece starring Isabelle Huppert, was met with a shrug.) This latest dose of talky, neurotic humor for which the filmmaker is known has pleased his diehard fans but left others nonplussed. It seems unlikely to win Hong new admirers, and even less likely to generate much passion from this year’s jury, especially in such a competitive year.
- “Jupiter’s Moon”: The last time Hungary’s Kornel Mundruzco came to Cannes, he won the Un Certain Regard prize for “White God,” the tale of a town overtaken by rebellious canines. Now he’s in the Official Competition with an even more ambitious project, the story of a European refugee with superpowers. The movie is said to be an ambitious, gorgeously-shot drama filled with impressive ideas that don’t always fit together into a satisfying whole. Having been met with scattered boos, it’s hard to imagine this one will stand a strong chance at the Palme, though it’s possible that if a handful of jurors want to acknowledge its complex filmmaking techniques that it could land a runner-up prize. Here’s our review.
- “Rodin”: Jacques Doillon’s biopic about the French sculptor was immediately reviled by press as the dullest movie in competition. It would be a major scandal if it won the Palme, but it’s hard to imagine the entire jury seeing this unremarkable movie as a major contender above so many other films.