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:
- “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.
- “120 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. 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 Michigan 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.
- “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.
- “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 a French 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.
- “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, but it would be a shock if they all felt compelled to award it the Palme over other far more widely appreciated competition titles.
- “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). It’s unlikely to win the Palme unless jurors somehow feel strongly that its ambition stands out above the rest of the competition; even if that’s the case, however, it stands a greater chance at a directing or screenplay prize. Here’s our review.
- “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.