Entertainment & Arts

Cannes 2016: Hits, misses and Palme d’Or predictions

Palme d'Or awards Image copyright Festival de Cannes
Image caption The Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) awards are among the film world's most coveted

As the 69th Cannes Film Festival draws to a close, our correspondent looks at the main talking points, picks his favourite movies and tips the frontrunners for this year's Palme d'Or award.

Down on the Croisette, the last bow ties will shortly be tied, the last bottles of Rosé are being uncorked and the fans are preparing to take their last celebrity selfies.

After 11 days of film, glamour, sun and canapés, the awards will be handed out and we will finally discover what film will receive the coveted Palme d'Or.

This was the year we learned that Lady Gaga was to play Cilla Black (until she wasn't), that Shia LaBeouf is to play John McEnroe (his backhand, he told me, was "getting there"), and that George Clooney has no love for Donald Trump.

It was also the year that Woody Allen faced a perfect storm of negative publicity, just for agreeing to open the festival with his latest period confection.

Image copyright Icon Film Distribution
Image caption Elle Fanning plays an aspiring model in The Neon Demon

Up on the screen, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn created a storm of his own with The Neon Demon, a dark satire on fame whose scenes of necrophilia and cannibalism prompted boos and walk-outs.

There were boos too for Olivier Assayas's Personal Shopper, which saw Kristen Stewart ride a moped, take the Eurostar and bare her breasts in her quest to deliver haute couture and communicate with her dead brother at the same time.

Festival favourites Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne were not spared criticism either for The Unknown Girl, an archetypal slice of Belgian miserabilism spliced with a whodunit plot oddly reminiscent of Dick Van Dyke's 90s TV show Diagnosis: Murder.

Another festival stalwart had better fortune, as our own Ken Loach proved he still can prick our collective consciences with the heartfelt and indignant I, Daniel Blake.

Flatulent corgis

Away from the main competition, Steven Spielberg brought charm, effects and a little bit of tedium to the festival with The BFG, an adaptation of the Roald Dahl story that, flatulent corgis apart, was something of a slog.

The same could be said of Money Monster, despite all the Tinseltown glamour it imported in the form of Clooney, Julia Roberts and director Jodie Foster.

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling were also on hand to show their bromantic relationship in The Nice Guys didn't end when the cameras stopped turning.

Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, meanwhile, reunited to show what Thelma and Louise might look like now if they hadn't (spoiler alert) driven that car into that ravine.

Image copyright Komplizen Film
Image caption Toni Erdmann was an early critical favourite at this year's festival

So what film will George Miller and his competition jury award the Palme d'Or? If you listen to the critics, Toni Erdmann has a decent shot.

This German comedy about a divorcé who goes to extreme lengths to spend time with his daughter earned glowing reviews, despite running for a posterior-numbing two hours and 42 minutes.

Good buzz is also swirling around Brazilian film Aquarius, in which Sonia Braga plays a woman trying to save her beloved home from rapacious property developers.

Romanian titles Sieranevada and Graduation are serious contenders too - as, perhaps, are Andrea Arnold's American Honey and the US civil rights drama Loving.

All will be revealed on Sunday night, when this year's prizes - which also include awards for best actor, best actress and best director - are handed out.

Highlights

In the meantime, here are the five films this correspondent enjoyed most during his time on the Cote d'Azur.

Image copyright Bleecker Street Media
  • Captain Fantastic - First seen at Sundance in January, this road movie sees Viggo Mortensen at the head of a rag-tag hippie clan who, having turned their back on the modern world, have to re-engage with it at a family funeral. Entertaining and poignant, Matt Ross's drama (pictured above) played in the Un Certain Regard section and wound up winning him a best director award.
  • Hell or High Water - Britain's David Mackenzie offers both thrills and commentary in a taut thriller about two bank-robbing brothers (Ben Foster and Chris Pine, below) and the ageing lawman (Jeff Bridges) determined to stop them. Another highlight from Un Certain Regard, with a bright commercial future ahead of it.
Image copyright CBS Films
  • Julieta - After the disappointing I'm So Excited, Pedro Almodovar returns to form with a lush romantic melodrama about a woman reliving how she came to be estranged from her teenage daughter. Full of Hitchcockian flourishes, if a little less of its director's trademark flamboyance, this female-centric yarn is an outside bet for the Palme d'Or but a winner all the same.
  • Mean Dreams - Romeo and Juliet meets Night of the Hunter in a twisty thriller about two young lovebirds who go on the run with her over-protective father (Bill Paxton) in hot pursuit. A striking second feature from Nathan Morlando that well deserved its berth in Directors' Fortnight.
Image copyright Amazon Studios
  • Paterson - Jim Jarmusch's deadpan sensibilities and Adam Driver's hangdog demeanour were perfectly matched in this portrait of a New Jersey bus driver with poetic aspirations, not to mention a scene-stealing English bulldog called Marvin (real name Nellie, above) whose recent demise did not stop her becoming the first posthumous recipient of the 'Palm Dog' award.

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