The reviews have been posted, my rambling blogs have been presented and many months after it first began, my journey to Cannes and back again finally draws to a close. I saw some great sights, reviewed some brilliant films, and now comes the time to name one above the rest, to decide who ruled the festival. I know that the selection committee did a similar thing – some little award called the Palme d’Or – but we all know that it’s Up The Geek’s approval that these films crave! They don’t want trophies, they want paddles! So here we go, let’s find out who wins the coveted UTG Best Film award, the Palme d’Oar, if you will…
Winner – Diane Kruger (In The Fade)
IN THE FADE is a harrowing film that follows a woman who loses everything she loves to a senseless act of violence. While the plot is engaging enough, it’s Kruger’s raw and emotional portrayal of Katja that really brings the piece to life. Her grief is impossibly deep, her anger burns so hot that it permeates the screen and her powerful performance could not be more deserving of the best actress award.
Runner Up – Nicole Kidman (The Beguiled)
Caught between duty and desire, THE BEGUILED‘s Miss Martha is a boiling pot of mixed feelings that she fights to keep a tight lid on at all times. Kidman expertly captures this conflict in a performance that is as subtle as it is satisfying, saying more with a look or a trembling hand than others can with a thousand words. Every scene she is in drips with sexual tension, and her icy stare in the film’s finale chills right to the bone.
Winner – Colin Farrell (The Beguiled)
Corporal John McBurney is a first and foremost a survivor in THE BEGUILED. When he’s wounded behind enemy lines, he charms his way into a girl’s finishing school. When they want to turn him over to the army, he seduces the headmistress. From there, his instincts lead him to some dark places, and Farrell’s terrifyingly unpredictable performance makes every twist and turn in the character believable and engaging.
Runner Up – Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks: The Return)
Picking up his dual role as both Agent Dale Cooper and his malevolent doppelganger after a twenty-five year hiatus, MacLachlan has returned to TWIN PEAKS stronger than ever. While in the two episodes shown at Cannes, Dale didn’t get much more to do than look confused as odd things happened to him in the Red Room, his turn as Doppelcooper is truly disturbing, and well worthy of recognition.
Best Supporting Actress
Winner – Sarah Wayne Callies (This Is Your Death)
Although THIS IS YOUR DEATH builds its core narrative around sob stories, none are more affecting than that of Karina. Working as an oncology nurse, she is forced to watch as her brother, Adam, spearheads a reality TV show in which people end their lives on air. Every breath of Wayne Callies’ performance has a deep authenticity to it, and her tragic arc hits harder than any other aspect of the film.
Runner Up – Kirsten Dunst (The Beguiled)
If THE BEGUILED is a film about repression and desire, no one character embodies its themes more than Edwina. Stuck in a kind of bored limbo, the naive teacher all but leaps at the chance to be wooed by the fickle Corporal McBurney, and grows closer to him than any other. Dunst’s tender, desperate portrayal is the closest that the films gets to being romantic, and astronomically raises the stakes for the nail-biting finale.
Best Supporting Actor
Winner – Giancarlo Esposito (This Is Your Death)
On the other side of the coin from the wealthy TV execs making money off of troubled people’s suicides, is Mason Washington, a working class family man who feels more irrelevant by the minute as the economy crushes his job prospects. THIS IS YOUR DEATH is a film driven by its performances, and Esposito’s brings a world-weary gravitas and burgeoning desperation to one of the most richly developed characters.
Runner Up – Denis Moschitto (In The Fade)
As both the legal counsel and close friend of main character Katja, Moschitto’s Danilo is a strong element in the first two parts of IN THE FADE. While part one only sees him in the supportive friend role, part two puts him in the courtroom, and it’s here that he shines. Switching between shoulder to cry on and mic-dropping law wizard at the drop of a hat, Moschitto is slick and confident, easily dominating the entire second act.
Winner – Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled)
Filmed entirely by natural light, the lasting impression of THE BEGUILED it just how stylish it looks. The actors glow by candlelight, the looming shadows play a perfect visual representation for the duplicitous nature of certain characters, and every frame is lit with such meaningful ambience that it could be a painting. Coppola’s fingerprints are all over this masterpiece, and it rightfully earns her the Best Director Award.
Runner Up – David Lynch (Twin Peaks: The Return)
Proving that he can do a lot more than simply co-write one of the greatest mystery shows of all time (no mean feat), David Lynch steps up his directorial game with his return to TWIN PEAKS. From the claustrophobic New York skyscraper to the iconic Red Room, everything presented is done so in the most beautiful fashion, and the overall tone of the show is dripping with more confusion and intrigue than ever before.
Winner – Mark Frost & David Lynch (Twin Peaks: The Return)
One thing that Frost and Lynch have always been particularly adept at, is crafting a strong, engaging mystery. Not only do this impressive writing team pick up their old mysteries after a quarter of a century, but TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN sees them introduce new, intriguing elements that all wrap together in a satisfying way, and send a new generation of viewers spinning wildly down another twisted rabbit hole.
Runner Up – Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled)
Though the plot is stripped back a little too far, and ignores important historical contexts like slavery, what remains in THE BEGUILED is greatly elaborated upon, and given plenty of room to breathe. The dialogue is witty without being insincere, the characters and the relationships between them are well developed, and take centre stage in the narrative, leading the plot forwards in natural and interesting ways.
Winner – Nico Muhly & Jamie Stewart (How To Talk To Girls At Parties)
The plot may be varied, but one thing that HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES doesn’t falter on is the music. Be it the rocking punk anthems of the late 1970s, or the ethereal sci-fi pulses, nothing brings this film to life more than its memorable soundtrack – epitomised by the time and space bending musical number midway through the film that embodies the themes, provides backstory, and best of all, is catchy as hell.
Runner Up – Oneohtrix Point Never (Good Time)
GOOD TIME is chaotic. Set over the course of one night, everything about it screams urgency as the main characters rush to come out on top, and nothing helps this anarchic atmosphere take hold more than the eclectic, experimental soundtrack. Be it a heist in progress or a desperate chase sequence, it’s accompanied by a frenzied, electronic track that raises the stakes and pulses with equal abandon.
Winner – The Beguiled
What else could it be? The script is sharper than a bayonet and brought off of the page with powerful performances and expert directing. The atmosphere is thick with sexual tension and eerie foreboding, not to mention beautifully lit by the warm glow of dozens of candles. All put together, THE BEGUILED is a smart, sassy and overwhelmingly sexy tale of lust and mistrust, and easily the best thing I saw at the festival.
Runner Up – Twin Peaks: The Return
Though not even technically a film, the first two episodes of TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN presented a more engaging, satisfying and well conceived experience than a lot of the whole packages on offer at the festival. The narrative, though complex, is rich with lore and mystery, the direction is stylish and calculated, yielding some stunning scenes, and the return to a cult classic has emerged a roaring success.