I was on my way to a wedding yesterday when the Cannes ’09 winners were announced, so I didn’t get the news up as fast as I would have liked. An Italian/Lebanese wedding, at that, which explains why I’m just getting to it now.
Cannes this year seemed to slowly deflate as it went along. Many of the high-profile efforts we were waiting for have been received as each director working at less than the top of their game. Movies from Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds), Lars Von Trier (Antichrist), Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon) and Gaspar Noe (Enter the Void) all appear to be mixed bags, based on reviews so far. That didn’t stop Von Trier’s movie Antichrist from being the sensation of the festival, nor did it stop some of them from earning prizes at yesterday’s awards ceremony.
Christoph Waltz, for Inglourious Basterds
Charlotte Gainsbourg, for Antichrist
Brillante Mendoza, for Kinatay
Scenario (Best Screenplay)
Spring Fever (Lou Ye)
Camera d’Or (Best First Film)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton)
Special Lifetime Achievement Prize
Alain Resnais (his film Les Herbes Folles was in competition)
Prix Un Certain Regard
(films in the Un Certain Regard program are parallel to the twenty In Competition films, and generally represent young, adventurous talent.)
Dogtooth (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Jury Prize (third prize, more or less)
Thirst (Park Chan-Wook) tied with Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold)
Grand Prix (second prize)
Un Prophete (Jacques Audiard)
The Palme d’Or
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)
Haneke taking the Palme d’Or wasn’t quite controversial, because his film had been well-considered, if not thought to be as striking as previous efforts. If there’s controversy in the award, it comes via jury president Isabelle Huppert, who won for Best Actress in 2001 thanks to Haneke’s The Piano Teacher. Favor returned, some have said.
But that’s Cannes for you, and I don’t think anyone could argue that the awards process is more political or favor-based than the Academy Awards. It’s just a lot more transparent. And if you look back at the roster of Palme d’Or winners, you’ll find a track record far more artistically impressive and consistent than the histories of many other awards.