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Cannes 2013 Derby: Refn’s Only God Forgives Tops Nicholas’ Palme d’Or Predictions

Nicolas Winding Refn won Best Director at Cannes for his 2011 film Drive when Robert De Niro was jury president. While many may presume that Spielberg may shy away from Refn’s entry, I think there’s a great possibility that Refn’s unique, innovative skills have a good shot at being awarded the top prize. Fellow jury members Christoph Waltz and Nicole Kidman both seem to gravitate towards dark, stylized material, while something tells me other fellow directors on the jury like Lynne Ramsay and Ang Lee may lean towards this more splashy entry in the lineup. Sight unseen, Only God Forgives is at the top of the leader-board.

The French presence is heavy in this year’s Main Comp lineup, so it goes without saying that there’s a greater chance of one of these directors taking home the top prize. While of course we need to wait to see the end products, it would be hard to see the jury awarding the Palme d’Or to lighter fare like Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi’s A Villa In Italy, or a more provocative title like Ozon’s latest, Jeune Et Jolie. Traditionally, Cannes favors the tried and true auteur, and Arnaud Desplechin not only has played in the Main Comp four times previously (without winning), his latest project sounds daring and original. The presence of actor/director Daniel Auteuil also bodes well for Desplechin’s Jimmy P.

And speaking of French entries, one of the most exciting happens to be this French language film from Iranian Asghar Farhadi, whose 2011 film, A Separation, took the film world by storm. The Past is his first time in competition, and is headlined by one of France’s current hot commodities, Berenice Bejo. A plot that once again centers on a couple in the aftermath of a separation, the international mix in the director heavy jury lineup (which also includes Japanese director Naomi Kawase and Romanian Cristian Mungiu) may favor Farhadi’s latest.

Dark Horse picks: Venus In Fur or La Vie d’Adele. The latest from Polanski may surprise everyone, though this adaptation of an Off Broadway play, which itself is a riff on a controversial novel of the same name, may prove to be too risqué. A delightful dark horse winner could very well be Abdel Kechiche’s latest, which is based on a graphic novel, stars Lea Seydoux, and sounds like an intriguing portrait of all consuming love. The director of several excellent films, Kechiche is the most underappreciated auteur to play the Main Comp this year. Winning the Palme d’Or would certainly elevate his already notable profile (and stop the travesty of his work not being distributed in the US, such as his 2010 title, Black Venus).

Only God Forgives (Nicolas Winding Refn) 5 – 1
Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian) (Arnaud Desplechin) 7 – 1
The Past (Asghar Farhadi) 7 – 1
The Immigrant (James Gray) 7 – 1
Behind the Candelabra (Steven Soderbergh) 10 – 1
Like Father, Like Son (Hirokazu Kore-eda) 11 – 1
A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhang-ke) 12 – 1
Grigris (Mahamat Saleh Haroun) 13 – 1
Blue is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche) 15 – 1
The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino) 20- 1
Michael Kohlhaas (Arnaud des Pallieres) 20 – 1
Nebraska (Alexander Payne) 20 – 1
Heli (Amat Escalante) 25 – 1
Venus In Fur (Roman Polanski) 45 – 1
Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch) 50 – 1
Borgman (Alex Van Warmerdam) 50 – 1
Young and Beautiful (Francois Ozon) 60 – 1
Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel & Ethan Coen) 65 – 1
A Castle in Italy (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) 70 – 1
Shield of Straw (Takashi Miike) 100 – 1

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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