The 2017 Cannes Film Festival is over and the awards have been handed out, but many critics attending the 70th edition felt that the best movie wasn’t even in competition. “The Florida Project,” Sean Baker’s vibrant portrait of a six-year-old girl and her single mother living in a budget motel on the outskirts of Disney World, topped IndieWire’s annual critics poll of the best films and performances from Cannes.
The movie, which premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section and was picked up by A24 in the biggest U.S. distribution deal of the festival, wasn’t eligible for prizes out of the main competition, where Ruben Ostlund’s “The Square” won the Palme d’Or. However, it won rave reviews out of its first screening of the festival, furthering the international acclaim for Baker on the heels of last year’s well-received “Tangerine.”
Meanwhile, Robert Pattinson was considered a frontrunner for the best actor prize at Cannes this year after generating buzz for his gritty portrayal of a thieving Queens resident trying to save his brother from incarceration in Joshua and Ben Safdie’s competition entry “Good Time.” While the Cannes jury instead gave the award to Joaquin Phoenix for “You Were Never Really Here,” the majority of the critics voting in IndieWire’s survey felt differently, and Pattinson won best actor in a landslide.
Lynne Ramsay took home a screenplay award at Cannes this year for “You Were Never Really Here,” her fragmented noir in which Phoenix plays a suicidal hitman. The critics in our survey, however, felt strong enough about her work on the film to vote her into the top slot for best director. That makes her the second woman director out of Cannes competition to find consensus support, after the jury bestowed its best director prize on Sofia Coppola for “The Beguiled,” making her the first woman director to win that prize in 56 years.
Overall, 32 critics voted in this year’s survey, from a range of international publications that included Variety, The Village Voice, the Toronto Star, FirstShowing and IndieWire. In contrast to previous festival surveys, we asked critics to name just one film or performance for each category. As a result, while a consensus gathered around certain films, directors, screenplays and performances, there were also a number of ties. This outcome, along with the films listed as receiving individual votes, speaks to the range of sensibilities among critics covering Cannes this year — and how crowded screening schedules meant that virtually every journalist experienced a different festival.
Head to the next page for the full list of finalists in every category.