Cannes Day 6: The horse race for the Palme

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photo.JPGIt’s never easy to peer into the minds of the Cannes jury and predict which film will win the Palme d’Or. But at the festival’s midpoint, it’s fun to debate how the votes might play out, based on the proclivities of individual members.

The British movie journal Screen International provides a list of critical response and publishes a daily score sheet, based on a four-star rating system.

So far, Todd Haynes’ “Carol” is in the top spot. It has an overall rating of 3.5, followed by the Holocaust drama “Son of Saul,” with 2.8.

Italian director Nanni Moretti’s “My Mother” comes in third, with 2.6, followed by Hirokau Kore-eda’s “Our LIttle Sister,” and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Lobster.”

Matteo Garrone’s “Tale of Tales” has a rating of 2, while “Mon Roi” gets a 1.6 and “The Sea of Trees,” starring Matthew McConaughey, sits at the bottom with 0.6.

Two other movies that premiered late Sunday and early Monday — Stepahne Brize’s “The Measure of a Man” nd Joachim Trier’s “Louder Than Bombs” — got so-so responses, but the critics scores aren’t in yet.

So, what will the jury members think?

First up, French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan. He’ll probably appreciate the director’s aesthetic choices in “Son of Saul,” with its framing, its long takes and its intimate feel. But as a gay director, he’ll probably also appreciate the exquisite design of “Carol,” as well as its powerful message of being true to yourself.

Rossy de Palma, the flamboyant Spanish star of Pedro Almodovar’s movies, also will probably have a soft spot for “Carol.”

American actor Jake Gyllenhaal is in an unusual spot. He starred in two recent movies by Canadian director Denis Villenueve, 2013’s “Prisoners” and 2013’s “Enemy.” And Villenueve is here in the Cannes competition with “Sicario,” which stars Emily Blunt in a story about a Mexican drug cartel. It screens Tuesday morning. Will he have special insights into Villenueve’s latest, and will he make a case for his friend? Probably not openly. It’s safe to say that he’ll vote for the movie that he likes the most, and he deserves that respect. But he certainly has the background to appreciate Villenueve’s efforts more fully than some jury members.

Then there are the two chairs of the jury, Joel and Ethan Coen. So far, none of the movies in competition has the signature dark humor that the Coens are known for. But I’d bet they will appreciate “Son of Saul.” And then there’s “The Lobster,” which has some dark humor that takes place in a dystopian world. But its narrative arc seems too slow and one-note for the Coens, who have a flair for rapidity and complexity. Or, will they appreciate “My Mother,” which stars John Turturro, who has been in numerous Coen brothers’ movies?

Several high-profile movies have yet to screen. Most notable is Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth,” starring Michael Caine and Rachel Weisz. Oscar watchers will note that Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty” took home the top foreign-language award in Hollywood a couple of years ago, and Sorrentino is widely respected as one of Italy’s greatest auteurs.

Then there’s Jacques Audiard, the Frenchman who’ll be screening “Dheepan,” which focuses on an immigrant’s efforts to survive in the slums of Paris. Audiard is most famous for his brilliant “The Prophet.”

And there’s been quite a bit of buzz about “Macbeth,” from Justin Kurzel. Rumor has it that the performances from Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are outstanding.

Several other movies are on the competition schedule, and any one of them could break through, as did “Son of Saul.”

It should be an interesting race to the finish.

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