Charles Ealy reports on the big prizes from France:
French director Jacques Audiard won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday for “Dheepan,” about three refugees from Sri Lankan fighting who try to make a new home for themselves in the low-income suburbs of Paris.
Audiard, who also played Cannes with 2009’s brilliant “A Prophet,” has a history of focusing on people on the margins of French society, and his violent tale, which culminates in a major shootout, obviously appealed to the jury headed by the U.S. team of Joel and Ethan Coen.
The grand prix, or second prize, went to Hungary’s Laszlo Nemes for “Son of Saul,” an inventive reinterpretation of life in concentration camps during World War II. Many thought “Son of Saul” would take the top prize, but it’s clear that it had the respect of the jury and press as well.
The other awards were more questionable. Hou Hsiao-Hsien took the best director prize for “The Assassin.” Earlier Sunday, Variety was speculating that the high-art film would take the Palme, but the jury is limited to one award per film, so Hou, who is a legendary Chinese director, won the prize. The movie has very little box-office potential at U.S. theaters, but it is gorgeous to watch.
In probably the most controversial award, Rooney Mara shared the best actress prize for “Carol” with Emmanuelle Bercot of “Mon Roi.” The latter film was widely derided by Cannes critics, while “Carol” was considered a frontrunner for the Palme. But “Carol” had to settle for sharing the best actress prize, much to the surprise of some critics who felt that Cate Blanchett’s performance was worthy of an award.
The best actor prize went to Vincent Lindon, who plays a man who is laid off and ends up with a rather menial job in “The Measure of a Man,” directed by France’s Stephane Brize.
The screenplay prize went to “Chronic,” directed and written by Mexico’s Michel Franco. It stars Tim Roth as an end-of-life health-care worker who becomes strongly attached his patients.
The jury prize, or third place, went to Greece’s Yorgos Lanthimos for the dystopian tale, “The Lobster.”
It’t not at all clear why Italy’s Paolo Sorrentino, the director of “Youth,” was shut out of the awards. But it’ll stand the test of time and probably do well in the States. The same can be said for Canada’s Denis Villeneuve, director of the Mexican drug war drama “Sicario.” And it’s a real mystery as to how Bercot beat Blanchett and Emily Blunt of “Sicario.”
Yet another surprise came with the snubbing of Nanni Moretti’s “My Mother,” which took home the Ecumenical prize from a separate jury that votes for the most humanistic film.
And as you might expect from previous stories, Gus Van Sant’s “The Sea of Trees,” starring Austin’s Matthew McConaughey, was shut out, too. It was the lowest-rated competition film in critics’ polls.