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Cannes 2014 Derby: David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars Tops Blake’s Palme d’Or Predictions

So let’s get one thing straight: the stylistic tendencies of the jury president’s own work doesn’t make much of an impact in the grand scheme of things. Spielberg didn’t fall for Kore-eda’s treacly Like Father, Like Son last year; Burton awarded Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – perhaps the least commercial, most artsy-fartsy Palme d’Or winner ever – debunking predictions that the 2010 would land in the lap of a simpleton like (egad) Doug Liman or Alejandro González Iñárritu; while David Lynch’s jury, back in 2002, gave the top prize to Roman Polanski’s bland, decidedly not brooding or subconsciously terrifying Holocaust drama, The Pianist. Which is to say that the noise about women having an advantage this year (all two of them) because Jane Campion is the Jury president is just that: noise.

Recently, the Palme has gone to consensus critical favorites and eschewing edgier choices. See Amour‘s victory over Holy Motors and Cosmopolis in 2012; The Tree of Life over Melancholia, House of Tolerance, and Once upon a time in Anatolia in 2011; and last year’s triumph of Blue is the Warmest Color over A Touch of Sin and Only Lovers Left Alive. If we assume that we’ll see a continuation of this trend this year, the odds-on favorites would likely be films like Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, Olivier Assayas’s Clouds of Sils Maria (when did Assayas become standard art house fodder?), and perhaps even Dardennes bros.’s Two Days, One Night, though it might take a real unqualified masterpiece to warrant awarding them a third Palme d’Or.

Your edgier picks this year once again appears to include Cronenberg with Maps to the Stars and Ceylan with Winter Sleep, as well as surprise Competition entry Goodbye to Language by Jean-Luc Godard, Andrei Zvyagintsev’s non-remake of the Sensory Ethnography Lab’s Leviathan, and perhaps Still the Water, which Naomi Kawase claims is her masterpiece, which, even if it is, still leaves little in the way of promise. These are all films that appear poised to have (self-selected, in some cases) ardent defenders, yet potentially leaving the majority of critics with their hands in the air or shaking their heads.

Obviously, there is no exact science to guessing these awards – even if we can all but eliminate the new Egoyan from the race, sight unseen. Some deserving films will take home prizes, some won’t, and some will have everyone wondering what the jury was on when they saw and/or deliberated their choices. Chances are roughly 50/50 that a masterpiece (assuming there are any this year) will go home empty handed, and then it’ll be up to distributors to rescue it and bring it the audience it deserves. Bonello lost out on that game three years ago, and while a biopic about Yves Saint Laurent is fairly far down on the ladder of topics I’d have liked to see him take on in his follow-up to Cannes 2011’s best film, I wouldn’t at all mind if he took home the big one this year, even if the film is merely decent, if only for a bit of vindication. All that said, I’m pulling for the edgy guys.

5/1 Maps to the Stars (D.Cronenberg)
7/1 Leviathan (A.Zvyagintsev)
9/1 Goodbye to Language (J-L.Godard)

11/1 Clouds of Sils Maria (O.Assayas)
12/1 Winter Sleep (N.B.Ceylan)
15/1 Mr Turner (M.Leigh)

20/1 Mommy (X.Dolan)
22/1 Timbuktu (A.Sissako)
25/1 The Search (M.Hazanavicius)

30/1 Saint Laurent (B.Bonello)
35/1 Two Days One Night (Dardenne & Dardenne)
35/1 The Homesman (T.L.Jones)

40/1 Still the Water (N.Kawase)
45/1 Le Meraviglie [The Wonders] (A.Rohrwacher)
50/1 Jimmy’s Hall (K.Loach)

75/1 Wild Tales (D.Szifrón)
75/1 Foxcatcher (B.Miller)
100/1 The Captive (A.Egoyan)

Blake Williams is an avant-garde filmmaker born in Houston, currently living and working in Toronto. He recently entered the PhD program at University of Toronto's Cinema Studies Institute, and has screened his video work at TIFF (2011 & '12), Tribeca (2013), Images Festival (2012), Jihlava (2012), and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. Blake has contributed to's coverage for film festivals such as Cannes, TIFF, and Hot Docs. Top Films From Contemporary Film Auteurs: Almodóvar (Talk to Her), Coen Bros. (Fargo), Dardennes (Rosetta), Haneke (Code Unknown), Hsiao-Hsien (Flight of the Red Balloon), Kar-wai (Happy Together), Kiarostami (Where is the Friend's Home?), Lynch (INLAND EMPIRE), Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), Van Sant (Last Days), Von Trier (The Idiots)


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