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Cannes 2014 Derby: Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep Tops Eric’s Palme d’Or Predictions

Jane Campion. Sofia Coppola. Jia Zhangke. Nicolas Winding Refn. If ever there was a competing year that favored a more “personalized” avant-garde cinema, this might be the one, but as we know, the Palme d’Or’s rich, sometimes confusing and/or controversial history has proven that there are no correlations between the backgrounds/filmographies of the set of jury voters and the menu of competing films at hand.

What we do know is that genre items such as the thriller introduced by Atom Egoyan and the film with the shortest run time (Godard’s Goodbye to Language) won’t likely carry the same weight in the field of eighteen. Sight unseen, I’d also bet the house on Saturday 24th that Jane Campion (President of the Jury) remains the only female filmmaker to have won a Palme, that’s not to say that Naomi Kawase and/or Alice Rohrwacher will go home empty-handed. There might estrogen high levels in ’14 jury, but they’re likely more concerned with being pro “best film” and not really concerned about gender film fest politics that the media obsesses over (tomorrow’s 2:30p.m. press conference will likely field at least one question on the matter).

So where do my crystal ball affinities lie? Last year’s exercise had me place two of the three horses, but in the wrong order. Looking over the winners from the previous three decades, I think that strong performances are rarely overlooked and sometimes they win the Palme. So while it may be next to impossible for the Dardennes to be the first to three-peat, a knock out perf from a Marion Cotillard might bring them close. Since I’ve been covering the fest, rare are those that play on the last day and then take home the coveted statue – I’ve yet to see one. A win by one of the two Friday the 23rd offerings from Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria) and Zvyaginstsev (Leviathan) would prove to be a special occasion. Think of it. Eight days of fertilizer before that special something takes hold. In my books, the more time to reflect on a particular film, the better the chances.

So if I’m in the shoes of Campion, Coppola, Zhangke, Refn, thesps Carole Bouquet, Leila Hatami, Jeon Do-yeon, Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal, I’m leaning towards a filmmaker with a strong command of the cinematic language and Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep would need to be a cut above the almost flawless Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011) to garner a win. After a pair of “second” place Grand Prix wins, I think it might be Ceylan’s lucky day.

[Update: Correction: Wild Stories is indeed a live-action film. Entre les Murs indeed showed late in the fest back in 2008— which may toss out the theory presented above. Thanks to our sharp cinephile for pointing out the error!]

Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan) 9 – 1
Saint Laurent (Bertrand Bonello) 10 – 1
Two Days, One Night (Dardenne Bros.) 11 – 1

Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) 15 – 1
Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg) 20 – 1
Mommy (Xavier Dolan) 20 – 1

The Homesman (Tommy Lee Jones) 22 – 1
Still the Water (Naomi Kawase) 25 – 1
Le Meraviglie (The Wonders) (Alice Rohrwacher) 26 – 1

Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako) 28-1
Jimmy’s Hall (Ken Loach) 30 – 1
Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev) 40 – 1

Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas) 45 – 1
Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller) 50 – 1
The Search (Michel Hazanavicius) 60-1

Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard) 99 – 1
Wild Stories (Damian Szifron) 125 – 1
The Captive (Atom Egoyan) 150 – 1

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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