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50 Greatest Cannes Breakthroughs

Samuel L. Jackson

The Breakthrough: Small roles in Do The Right Thing and Goodfellas hadn't prepared anybody for Jackson's unmissable performance as crack addict Gator in 1991's Jungle Fever , which earned him an unprecedented Best Supporting Actor award.

Post-Cannes: Pulp Fiction made him an icon. Today he's the most profitable movie star in history thanks to recurring roles as Mace Windu and Nick Fury.

Robert Altman

The Breakthrough: The iconoclastic Altman was underrated by American critics and audiences until 1970's M*A*S*H propelled him into the mainstream with a Palme Door win and a box-office hit.

Post-Cannes: McCabe And Mrs Miller , Nashville , Short Cuts , Gosford Park . Cannes seldom anointed an up-and-coming director with such prescience.

Dennis Hopper

The Breakthrough: Hopper was a jobbing actor with a reputation for being difficult when he brought Easy Rider (as actor and director) to the 1969 Festival. One Best First Work award later, he was on his way to stardom.

Post-Cannes: Hopper became a counter-cultural icon and an integral part of classics like Apocalypse Now and Blue Velvet . As a director, however, his single-mindedness caused tension with studios and he never matched Easy Rider for impact.

The Dardenne brothers

The Breakthrough: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, then relatively unknown, beat the likes of David Lynch and Pedro Almodovar to the Palme D'Or for the austere, realist Rosetta in 1999.

Post-Cannes : The Dardennes are Cannes award hogs. Since Rosetta , their films have won Best Screenplay, Best Actor, the Grand Prix and a second Palme D'Or, for 2005's The Child .

The Coen brothers

The Breakthrough: The Coens were darlings of the hipster crowd since debut Blood Simple , but it took 1991's artier, more ambiguous Barton Fink to mark their ascendance to greatness, via a triple win (Palme D'Or, Best Director, Best Actor) that forced a rule change to stop one film dominating.

Post-Cannes: Amongst the greatest of contemporary filmmakers, the Coens have added two further Best Director prizes at Cannes, several Oscars and a trail of modern classics.

Quentin Tarantino

The Breakthrough: Technically, QT 'broke through' when Reservoir Dogs premiered at Sundance 1992. But if ever Cannes captured the Zeitgeist, it was when Pulp Fiction beat Kieslowski's Three Colours: Red to the 1994 Palme D'Or.

Post-Cannes: Pulp Fiction transformed indie cinema, made Miramax's fortune, and won Tarantino an Oscar. The director continues to bedazzle, with Django Unchained out this Christmas.

Lars Von Trier

The Breakthrough: Von Trier's debut The Element Of Crime won a technical award at the 1984 Festival, but the real breakthrough came in 1991 when Von Trier's much-fancied Europa "only" won the Jury Prize.

Post-Cannes: From co-creating Dogme to outraging the film community with his unique opinions, one thing has remained constant - Von Trier is a Cannes man through-and-through; his films have won just about every prize the Festival has to offer.

Ingmar Bergman

The Breakthrough: Bergman won his first major international award at the 1956 Cannes Festival, when Smiles Of A Summer Night bagged the prize for "Best Poetic Humour." A year later, The Seventh Seal won the Jury Special Prize.

Post-Cannes: Bergman never looked back, achieving such an impressive back catalogue that he was the inevitable choice when Cannes awarded the Palme Des Palmes at its 50th Festival in 1997.

Francois Truffaut

The Breakthrough: A year after being banned from Cannes for his controversial views as a critic, Truffaut won over the 1959 Festival with debut The 400 Blows , taking the Best Director prize.

Post-Cannes: Truffaut fulfilled his promise launching the French New Wave and becoming a heavyweight of French cinema with Jules Et Jim and Day For Night , before his untimely death at the age of only 52.

Steven Soderbergh

The Breakthrough: Still in his twenties, Soderbergh wins the Palme D'Or in 1989 for his debut sex, lies and videotape , against stiff competition from Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing .

Post-Cannes: Cursed with expectation for most of the 1990s, Soderbergh rallied with Out Of Sight , won the Best Director Oscar for Traffic and is today one of Hollywood's most prolific, and hard-to-categorise auteurs.