Back to IndieWire

Cannes: How Many Oscar Contenders Came Out of the 5 Last Fests?

Cannes: How Many Oscar Contenders Came Out of the 5 Last Fests?

The “Oscar launchpad” designation is mainly reserved for Toronto when it comes to film festivals, with the September event kicking off awards “season” (even though it’s really half a year). But more often than not, things actually get started a whole lot earlier. Sundance usually gives us a first look at a few contenders, and then comes May — Cannes almost always adds a few more to the pile. Sometimes those few mostly come in the form of foreign language film contenders, but sometimes Cannes blows away even Toronto when it comes to giving awards season its main contenders.

Just a few years back, a whopping three Cannes titles ended up with best picture nominations, “Midnight in Paris,” “The Tree of Life” and “The Artist” — the latter winning. While it’s unlikely that record will be replicated this year (though we’ll find out soon enough if this year’s slate at least has that potential), we figured why not take a trip down Cannes memory lane to revisit the awards season contenders Cannes has launched, getting us on the lookout for what films from this year’s line up might be their successors?

This was a pretty standout year for Cannes’ ability to churn out Oscar hopefuls, with two Best Picture nominees debuting at the festival for only the second time in history.  Though no one was really expecting that out of the gate. Few would have bet that “Inglourious Basterds” would turn into the festival’s Oscar MVP (they might have been more inclined to say Jane Campion’s “Bright Star,” but that film went on to only earn one nomination), or that festival opener “Up” was a sure thing for a Best Picture nomination. Though that said, we were heading into the first year with 10 Best Picture nominees, so nobody really knew what to expect. But in the end, it ended up being a nicely Cannes-flavored awards season, with the second best showing of the past five years. Les stats:

How did the Palme d’Or winner do? Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon” got two Oscar noms — best foreign language film and best cinematography.

Number of Oscar nominated films: 6 (“Up,” “Bright Star,” “A Prophet,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “The White Ribbon,” “Dogtooth”)

Number of Oscar nominations: 18 (notably, eight of which came from “Basterds” and one — the foreign language nod for “Dogtooth” — the following year)

Number of Best Picture Oscar nominees: 2 (“Up” and “Basterds”)

Number of Oscar wins: 3 (two for “Up” and one for “Basterds”)

The 63rd edition of Cannes had the least crossover with Oscar in sometime, even with those 10 Best Picture nominees still in play. From “Inglourious” to inglorious, only three festival alums managed Oscar nominations with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful,” Rachid Bouchareb’s “Outside The Law” and Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” — and none of them won a statue. There had been somewhat high hopes for the likes of “Fair Game” and “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” heading into the fest, but neither turned out to be the kind of film that makes a play at awards season.

How did the Palme d’Or winner do? No one was ever expecting Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” to get an Oscar nomination, and they were right. 

Number of Oscar nominated films: 3 (“Biutiful,” “Another Year,” “Outside The Law”)

Number of Oscar nominations: 4 (“Biutiful” got nods for both Best Actor and Best Foreign Language) 

Number of Best Picture Oscar nominees: 0

Number of Oscar wins: 0

This was the best year ever when it came to Cannes and Oscar. The trio of “The Artist,” “The Tree of Life” and “Midnight in Paris” each received Best Picture and Best Director nods — the first time three Cannes debuts managed that feat. Twice it’s happened with two films: In 1996 — perhaps the previous most Oscar-friendly Cannes year — with “Fargo” and “Secrets & Lies” and then again in 2009 with the aformentioned “Basterds” and “Up.” But never three.  And Cannes could have been even more dominant. The likes of “Drive,” “We Need To Talk About Kevin” and “Melancholia” were shamefully snubbed (“Drive” received a lone nomination for sound editing). Though this year is likely an anomaly, it’s a reminder to keep a look out over the next 11 days as more than a few Oscar campaigns could be having their beginnings.

How did the Palme d’Or winner do? “The Tree of Life” became the first since 2002’s “The Pianist” to manage a Best Picture nomination, and only the fifth since 1983 (the others being “The Piano,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Secrets and Lies”).

Number of Oscar nominated films: 5 (“Midnight in Paris,” “The Artist,” “The Tree of Life,” “Footnote,” “Drive”)

Number of Oscar nominations: 19 (which seems to me an all-time record, thanks in large part to the 10 nominations “The Artist” managed)

Number of Best Picture Oscar nominees: 3 (“The Artist,” “The Tree of Life,” “Midnight in Paris”).

Number of Oscar wins: 6 (five of which came from “The Artist”).


Lightning struck twice in terms of a Palme d’Or winner turning into an Oscar contender, with an arguably even unlikelier film than Terrence Malick’s largely experimental “The Tree of Life.” Michael Haneke — winning his second Palme in just three years — saw his French-language ode to love and death end up getting nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress, as well as a win for Best Foreign Language Film.  Though beyond that it was slim Oscar pickings. Fest opener “Moonrise Kingdom” got a screenplay nomination, while “The Hunt” and “Ernest & Celestine” would wind up adding two more to the count a year later when they ended up in the 2013 foreign language and animated feature races.

How did the Palme d’Or winner do? As noted, things went quite nicely for “Amour.”

Number of Oscar nominated films: 5 (“Moonrise Kingdom,” “Amour,” “No,” “The Hunt,” “Ernest & Celestine”)

Number of Oscar nominations: 9 (five from “Amour,” and two from the following year’s ceremony)

Number of best picture Oscar nominees: 1 (“Amour”)

Number of Oscar wins: 1 (“Amour” for Best Foreign Language Film)

Last year’s Cannes crop subtly made a dent in the Oscar nominations, with seven different films totaling 13 nominations. But there had definitely been higher hopes, especially for “All is Lost” and “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which both got largely snubbed in major categories many felt they deserved to be nominated. In the end, Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” was by far the MVP with its six nominations including Best Picture — though it didn’t win any of them. Those honors went to appropriately named pair “The Great Beauty” and “The Great Gatsby,” the former winning Best Foreign Language Film and the latter taking costume design and art direction.

How did the Palme d’Or winner do? “Blue is the Warmest Color” was released too late in France to qualify for foreign language film, and though there was an Oscar push for its actresses, nothing materialized. Technically, France could still submit it this year.

Number of Oscar nominated films: 7 (“The Great Beauty,” “Nebraska,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “The Missing Picture,” “The Great Gatsby,” “All Is Lost,” “Omar”)

Number of Oscar nominations: 13

Number of best picture Oscar nominees: 1 (“Nebraska”)

Number of Oscar wins: 3 (all of them “Great”)

Note that we did not include films that did not have a world premiere at Cannes, like “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “Precious” — those are Sundance’s bragging rights.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Awards and tagged , , , , , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox