Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cannes Postmortem Part One: The Disconnect / Part Two: 21 Competition Films Ranked in Order of Telluride Possibility

Good Thursday Everyone...


Well, the dust settled in the south of France as the 69th Cannes Film Festival came to a conclusion last Sunday with a series of stunning choices from the George Miller lead Palme d'Or jury (other members included Kirsten Dunst, Donald Sutherland, Valeria Golino, Arnaud Desplechin Laszlo Nemes and Mads Mikkelsen).  Again, the winners were:

Palme d'Or: I, Daniel Blake
Grand Prix: It's Only the End of the World
Jury: American Honey
Director: Tie- Mungiu/Graduation and Assayas/Personal Shopper
Screenplay: The Salesman
Actress: Jaclyn Jose/Ma' Rosa
Actor: Shahab Hosseini/The Salesman

What was striking was the huge chasm between the choices of the jury and where the critical community was.  For example, Palme winner I, Daniel Blake finished the fest with a combined critical rating of 6.06 (on the 10 point scale used by the Reini Urban compilation of Cannes critical reaction ). The Ken Loach film ended up ranked at the #11 spot out of the 21 films that were in Cannes competition.

Further, not one of the top five critically lauded films landed an award.  Toni Erdmann, Elle, Paterson, Sieranevada and Aquarius were all unrewarded.  Meanwhile, awards did go to films that finished at the 18 and 19 spots: #18: Ma' Rosa won for Best Actress-Jaclyn Jose and #19: It's Only the End of the World won The Grand Prix (Cannes' second place award).

As a matter of fact, the highest rated/ranked film to receive notice was Cristian Mungiu's Graduation (7.03/10, rank: #6) which shared the Best Direction prize with Olivier Assayas (5.81/10, rank #14).

So, since Sunday, I began to wonder about past Cannes fests and critical/jury divergence.  I wondered if this year was wildly different or if every year there was the same level of disagreement.  Since I began following Telluride and its Cannes connection for the blog for the past several years, I have been vaguely aware in the past of some differences between the two groups but I'd never really considered how broad it was and how often it occurred.  So I set out to explore the previous six years (for which the Urban collective critical reaction is easily available) to see if this year was normal, abnormal or completely off the charts wacky (hint: go with that last choice).

So here's the breakdown year by year with competition winners, their rating and rankings.  For the purposes of this article I am defining an "anomalous winner" as a prize winning film that was critically ranked outside the top ten for that year.  They are marked with ***.

2010: Jurors included: Pres: Tim Burton, Kate Beckinsale, Benicio Del Toro, Alexandre Desplat

Palme: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Remember His Past Lives (8.62/10, #1)
Grand Prix: Of Gods and Men (7.91. #5)
Jury: A Screaming Man (6.12, #11)***
Direction: On Tour (6.20, #10)
Screenplay: Poetry (6.50, #7)
Actress: Certified Copy/Binoche (6.50, #8)
Actor: (Tie) Our Life/Germano (3.58, #23)*** and Biutiful/Bardem (3.40, #24)***

2011: Jurors included: Pres: Robert DeNiro, Jude Law, Uma Thurman, Olivier Assayas

Palme: The Tree of Life (7.13/#4)
Grand Prix: (Tie) The Kid with a Bike (7.69, #2) and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (7.18, #3)
Jury: This Must Be the Place (4.67/#17)***
Director: Drive (6.52, #7)
Screenplay: Footnote (5.50, #13)***
Actress: Melancholia/Dunst (6.16, #9)
Actor: The Artist/Dujardin (6.50, #8)

2012: Jurors included: Pres: Nanni Moretti and Andrea Arnold, Diane Kruger, Ewan MacGregor, Alexander Payne

Palme: Amour (7.53, #1)
Grand Prix: Reality (5.51, #14)***
Jury: The Angel's Share (5.40, #15)***
Director: Post Tenebras Lux (4.91, #20)***
Screenplay:Beyond the Hills (6.64, #4)
Actress: Beyond the Hills/Flutur and Stratan (6.64, #4)
Actor: The Hunt/Mikkelsen (5.11, #17)***

2013: Jurors included: Pres: Stephen Spielberg, Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman, Cristian Mungiu, Lynne Ramsay

Palme: Blue is the Warmest Color (8.73, #1)
Grand Prix: Inside Llewyn Davis (7.68, #2)
Jury: Like Father, Like Son (6.24, #9)
Director: Heli (4.99, #17)***
Screenplay: A Touch of Sin (7.09, #4)
Actress: The Past/Bejo (6.40, #5)
Actor: Nebraska/Dern (6.25, #8)

2014: Jurors included: Pres: Jane Campion, Sophia Coppola, Willem Dafoe, Gael Garcia Bernal, Nicolas Winding Refn

Palme: Winter Sleep (7.71, #2)
Grand Prix: The Wonders (6.53, #10)
Jury: (Tie) Goodbye to Language (7.78, #1) and Mommy (6.86, #6)
Director: Foxcatcher (6.15, #11)***
Screenplay: Leviathan (6.53, #7)
Actress: Maps to the Stars/Moore (6.47, #9)
Actor: Mr. Turner/Spall (6.48, #8)

2015: Jurors included: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Sienna Miller, Guillermo Del Toro, Jake Gyllenhaal, Xavier Dolan

Palme: Dheepan (6.13, #7)
Grand Prix: Son of Saul (6.95, #4)
Jury: The Lobster (6.37, #6)
Director: The Assassin (7.85, #2)
Screenplay: Chronic (5.21, #15)***
Actress:  Tie Carol/Mara (7.94, #1) and Mon Roi/Bercot (4.12/#17)***
Actor: The Measure of a Man/Linden (6.04, #8)

Anomalies by year:

2010: 3
2011: 2
2012: 4
2013: 1
2014: 1
2015: 2

On average, just over 2 anomalies per year.  Now look again at this year's winners:

Palme d'Or: I, Daniel Blake (6.06, #11)***
Grand Prix: It's Only the End of the World (4.41, #19)***
Jury: American Honey (5.69, #16)***
Director: Tie- Mungiu/Graduation (7.03, #6) and Assayas/Personal Shopper (5.81, #14)***
Screenplay: The Salesman (6.10, #10)
Actress: Jaclyn Jose/Ma' Rosa (5.06, #18)***
Actor: Shahab Hosseini/The Salesman (6.10, #10)

 Five of eight awards were "anomalous" and The Salesman just avoided it by .04 points on the critical average.

For only the second time in the seven years covered here, the top rated critical film-Toni Erdmann- did not receive an award of any kind.  Aki Kaurismaki's top rated Le Harve whiffed in 2011, though it did win the non-juried FIRPESCI screenplay award.

I talked to Toronto bases film writer and seven time Cannes attendee Jake Howell about how far apart the jury and the critics were.  He said,

"Here's the thing: juries are, obviously, subjective. Who knows if they're following the critical thermometer? Are they even interested? Are they familiar with the existing filmographies of other Competition filmmakers? There's not a lot to go on, and they're entitled to laud whichever film they like. But data like (this) provide context to those who weren't at the festival, because it would be unfortunate if those following remotely thought the films that won awards at this year's festival were in fact the films to write home about."

The bottom line...this year's Cannes was historically unusual in the departure between critics and jurors.


Here are the 21 films that were in competition for the Palme d'Or at Cannes last week ranked according the my best guess at their chances of being on the Telluride program on Sept.2.

Factors I am using:  Distributor, critical reception at Cannes, Cannes awards received and past Telluride appearances (I think ten of the directors that were in competition have had films play Telluride: Jarmusch, Loach, Mungiu, Arnold, Penn, Farhadi, Dolan Assayas and the Dardenne Brothers).

21) The Last Face-abysmal critical reaction makes it the least likely film to play T-ride despite Penn's appearance there in 2007 with his last dirctorial effort, Inot the Wild.

20) From the Land of the Moon-also critically doomed despite being distributed by frequent Telluride player Sundance Selects and starring T-ride favorite and past tribute recipient Marion Cotillard.

19) The Neon Demon- less than stellar reviews combined with a lack of history between Refn and Telluride means it's not likely.

18) Personal Shopper-luke warm reviews and what seems like a cooling towards Assayas from the fest.

17) It's Only the End of the World- Poor reviews and no distributor sink thos film despite Dolan' Telluride appearance two years ago with Mommy.

16) Ma' Rosa-winning Best Actress last week won't be enough to put this in play.

15) The Handmaid- Middling reviews and no Telluride connection.  Distributor is Amazon, which had a number of films play at Cannes and which I believe will make an appearance at Telluride this year...just not with this film.

14) Julieta-Despite a past with Telluride, generally positive reviews and distribution by Sony Classics, this Pedro Almodovar film seems as if it won't make the trip to Telluride.

13) Elle-Another SPC film with great reviews which should be a boost for its chances and starring past tributee Isabelle Huppert, but I just can't get my head around the fest inviting Paul Verhoeven.

12) Aquarius- Lacks U.S. distribution and that's tough.

11) I, Daniel Blake-It's been a couple of years since the Palme winner last played at Telluride which normally would mean that it's about time for one to make the trip.  Also it's distribed by Sundance Selects and Loach is a past tributee...but that was back in 1993 and he's had a lot of other films play well at Cannes since and hasn't been probably not this year either.

10) Stay Vertical- good reviews and it's being released by Strand Releasing which has had  some history with T-ride.  A decent shot to play but not a great one.

9) Sieranevada-Very good notices are the only real calling card this film has to get in.  That's probably not enough.

8) Slack Bay- Good reviews and Kino Lorber as the distrib means it could make The SHOW.

7) Graduation-good reviews, the director's prize at Cannes a past T-ride appearance in's a possibility.

6)  Paterson- I think this could well be a film that Amazon pushes hard to get into Telluride.

5) Loving- Focus Features is behind this film which many think is a serious Oscar player.  If Focus thinks the same and doesn't feel that their somewhat disappointing reception last year for Suffragette is a harbinger, this could play.

4) The Unknown Girl-Despite luke warm critical reception, it's the Dardennes and Sundance Selects which could well be enough to make the grade for T-ride.

3) American Honey-A24 and Andrea Arnold plus the Jury Award at Cannes.  Probable.

2) Toni Erdmann-Great reviews and SPC...I think it's very likely.

1) The Salesman-Farhadi plus last year's most represented distibutor-Cohen Media Group, decent reviews and two Cannes prizes for screenplay and best actor.  I'd be surprised if it doesn't play Telluride.

Remember, the last decade of statistics indicates that 4-5 of these films will play.

That's it for Thursday.  More to come on Monday...

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