Predicting awards at the Cannes Film Festival never fails to prove that William Goldman’s famous quote “Nobody knows anything” applies as much to the artistic merits of world cinema as to the commercial chances of Hollywood movies.
There are too many factors at play to even make much of an educated guess, with the highly subjective tastes of numerous jurors to contend with – just imagine this year’s President Pedro Almodóvar contesting favourites with Will Smith, or Jessica Chastain locking horns with Paolo Sorrentino. The one-award-per-film rule, meanwhile, always makes for a head-scratching merry-go-round.
Back in 2014, for example, it seemed certain that Léa Seydoux or Adele Exarchopoulos must win Best Actress for Blue is the Warmest Colour, only for Jury President Steven Spielberg to instead award them, along with director Abdellatif Kechiche, the prestigious Palme d’Or, thus allowing The Past’s Bérénice Bejo to sneak in.
Last year most critics had three-hour German comedy Toni Erdmann nailed on for the Palme d’Or, meaning its director Maren Ade would be subtracted from the Best Director equation to allow Andrea Arnold to be awarded for her ambitious, freewheeling work on American Honey. If, by some disastrous misjudgement, neither Toni Erdmann nor Ade were awarded, it would at least mean Sandra Hüller could deservedly win Best Actress.
As it happens, Toni Erdmann, remarkably, didn’t win a thing (well, apart from the Critics’ award): Best Director was shared by Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper) and Christian Mungiu (The Graduation), Best Actress went to Jaclyn Jose for Ma’ Rosa, and the Palme d’Or, not for the first time, went to probably the one film that every jury member could agree on: Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake. It’s a fine, heartfelt drama with an urgent message, but other movies in competition were higher-reaching.
Of course, if the Palme d’Or was always given out by consensus, we’d at least know what to expect. But it’s not that easy, and sometimes the President’s own particular tastes and/or politics come very much into play, such as in 2010 when Tim Burton awarded Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives (it’s weird and features glow-eyed monkeys!).
By this rationale, it would seem Netflix titles Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories have no hope of the Palme d'Or - Almodóvar said almost as much at the start of the festival, admitting he feels the winner should be seen on a cinema screens - but the subsequent controversy means he might well ensure they win something, if only to prove he's not biased.
And then there are professional allegiances to consider, though anyone who feels that Michael Haneke’s magnificent The White Ribbon winning the Palme d’Or in 2009 was down to his favourite actress Isabelle Huppert being President clearly needs their head examined.
But enough waffle and excuse-making. Here are the predictions of Total Film’s two attending journalists as to how the awards will play out on Sunday evening:
Jamie Graham: Loveless
Jordan Farley: 120 BPM
Grand Prix (Runner-up)
JG: 120 BPM
Jury Prize (Third place)
JG: Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here)
JF: Michael Haneke (Happy End)
JG: Dustin Hoffman (The Meyerowitz Stories) and Jean-Louis Trintignant (Happy End)
JF: Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here)
JG: Vasilina Makovceva (A Gentle Creature)
JF: Diane Kruger (In the Fade)
JG: Robert Östlund (The Square)
JF: Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled)