This year’s Cannes Film Festival elicited some of the more surprising reactions from critics in recent memory. With no clear frontrunner and a handful of favorites for the top festival recognition, Todd Haynes’ “Carol” proved to be the favorite among the members of our Criticwire Network.
As we do at the end of major festivals, we asked critics who attended the festival to select their favorite films and performances from the lineup. From there, we assembled the collective rankings based on a simple points scale. (For a full list of results, including detailed breakdowns of every critic’s ballot, see the survey homepage here.)
“Carol” took the overall prize for Best Film and it’s only fitting that the two leads tied for the top spot in the Best Lead Performance category as well. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, the two actresses that comprise the film’s central romance, also picked up a few mentions on some Best Supporting Performance ballots (though it’s worth noting that only Mara scored an acting prize from the festival’s jury, which she shared with French actress Emmanuelle Bercot). Zhao Tao also ended up with the same total for “Mountains May Depart,” her second acclaimed collaboration with “A Touch of Sin” director and partner Jia Zhang-ke.
The Supporting Performance list is usually one where household names tend to crop up. The Cannes favorite here was Rachel Weisz for her turn as a forest-dwelling single woman who falls for Colin Ferrell in “The Lobster.” Denis Villeneuve’s “Sicario” proved to be a solid showcase for Benicio del Toro as a gun-wielding hitman, while Harvey Keitel’s work in Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth” rounded out the top three.
Adding to the impressive returns for his filmmaking debut, Hungarian director László Nemes nabbed Best Director for his Palme d’Or contender “Son of Saul.” (The harrowing Holocaust drama eventually won the Grand Prix at Sunday’s festival awards.) “The Assassin” drew raves from a number of Cannes critics for its dazzling visual artistry, so Hou Hsiao-hsien was a natural top choice in the category as well (the jury gave him the best director prize).
Perhaps the most surprising result was the runaway win for “The Lobster” in the Best Screenplay category. Yorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up to “Dogtooth” and “Alps” — which also came in second place for Best Film — was applauded for translating his trademark absurdism to a bigger scale with an English-language cast. Among a few titans of world cinema in the lineup, Pixar also made its mark, with Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley’s “Inside Out” script placing near the top.
Sadly, not every film at Cannes can be a masterwork. Gus van Sant’s much-derided “Sea of Trees” easily outpaced all other cinematic shortcomings for the dubious title of most disappointing film. While the rest of those results were distributed fairly evenly, one other notable top-five finisher was Gaspar Noe’s much-anticipated “Love.”
Criticwire Review Roundups: