Reviews from Cannes 2012 and Palme d’Or Predictions

The 2012 Cannes Film Festival is currently on day 9 and the reactions to the hotly anticipated offerings have been coming in en masse via Twitter and various blogs and news sites throughout the world wide web. Based on the word of mouth surrounding some of the festival’s most buzzed films, this seems to be a very good year for foreign and American entries alike. Some highly anticipated movies have still yet to premiere, such as Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy, David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, and Jeff Nichols’ Mud, but we can still round-up the reactions to the films that have opened in competition so far.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) Wes Anderson, Edward Norton

Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson

I already rounded up six of the first reviews of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, but even after a full week and a dozen other films it still remains one of the best received of the festival. However, none of the critics who love it have gone so far as to call it Wes Anderson’s best film and in order to receive the crowning prize at the Cannes Film Festival awards ceremony, it has to make waves early and often.

Palme d’Or Probability: Medium

Rust and Bone – Jacques Audiard

Jacques Audiard came very close to winning the festival three years ago with his film A Prophet. His follow-up effort Rust and Bone was well-received, but it might not be enough to finally get him the coveted Golden Palm. When comparing it to his previous film, Eric Kohn of indieWIRE says “Audiard’s latest effort, never reaches those same heights, although it concerns the same fundamental trajectory. Satisfying for what it is, the movie merely confirms Audiard’s skill with engaging actors in the potent theme of retribution.” However, Brad Brevet of Rope of Silicon gives it a perfect “A” grade, saying “it’s a raw and animalistic feature that changes its vantage point continually.” Jeff Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere says it’s no “masterpiece,” but calls Marion Cotillard a probable Best Actress contender.

Palme d’Or Probability: Medium

Baad el mawkeaa (After the Battle) – Yoursy Nasrallah

The closest thing to a flop at this year’s festival was Yoursy Nasrallah’s drama about life after the the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt. Michael Oleszcyk of Hammer to Nail thinks that the film is too preachy and obvious, saying “issue-raising and incessant shrieking can hardly pass for characterization and drama, and thus the movie quickly sinks into the lower depths of noisy political tedium.” Guy Lodge of In Contention agrees that the film is poorly scripted and says that the only thing worse than the political pandering done by the characters is the terrible personal dialogue. Glenn Heath, Jr. of Press Play thinks the film and its maker are altogether unworthy of Cannes: “The multi-dimensional dynamics of political and social transition in Egypt deserve something better than this kind of one-note symbolism, but Nasrallah, at least in this film, seems incapable of delivering anything else.”

Palme d’Or Probability: Low

Reality – Matteo Garrone

Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone follows up his well-received film Gomorrah with a more intimate story about a man trying to get on “Big Brother.” Eric Kohn of indieWIRE predicts that Reality will have equivalent success as its predecessor and gives it a near perfect “A-” grade. Drew McWeeney of HitFix believes that the film’s star Aniello Arena gives one of the best performances of the festival,  explaining, “the dark laughs the film inspires got caught in my throat at times because of just how raw Arena is as Luciano.” Sasha Stone of Awards Daily calls the film “a revelation” and believes that Garrone should continue to be watched closely.

Palme d’Or Probability: High

Paradies: Liebe – Ulrich Seidl

Ulrich Seidl’s film about a group of Austrian women who travel to Kenya for “sex tourism” received mixed reviews when it premiered last week. Jon Frosch of France 24 says the movie “tosses around the same few ideas about mutual exploitation, racism, and sex for two hours without getting anywhere deeper or more revealing.” Guy Lodge, writing for Time Out London, is equally unimpressed calling the film “witty,” but “psychologically pitiless.”

Palme d’Or Probability: Low

Lawless – John Hillcoat

This highly anticipated feature from John Hillcoat had already been receiving some Oscar buzz before it opened in Cannes, and Sasha Stone of Awards Daily thinks that could happen, calling it “another winner in the Cannes main competition, though the story is somewhat thin compared to some of the other films that have played [there].” Eric Kohn of indieWIRE disagrees, believing that Lawless should bring an end to the recent resurgence of Westerns. Kevin Jagernauth of The Playlist doesn’t think the film is nearly that bad and says that Lawless truly “crackles” when the violence erupts.

Palme d’Or Probability: Low

Beyond the Hills – Cristian Mungiu

Mungiu’s drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days won the Palme d’Or in 2007 and Beyond the Hills is only his second film to ever be in competition. Jeff Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere can’t make his mind up about the film, but he throws out some adjectives like “austere, muffled and forbidding. Vaguely creepy, chilly, very slow and deliberate.” Eric Kohn of indieWIRE says the film was a well-intentioned effort from Mungiu, but it “meanders, losing focus.”

Palme d’Or Probability: Medium

Amour – Michael Haneke

Many thought that Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or win in 2009 for his film The White Ribbon was long overdue. The Austrian auteur changes directions slightly for his most recent feature, ditching the analysis of violence for a quiet domestic drama about old age. Quiet, however, does not describe the reactions from Cannes with Kevin Jagernauth of The Playlist saying the film “never looks away from the ugliness of aging, of losing your grip on reality, and slowly losing all semblance of who you are.” Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gives the film the highest rating of five stars and calls it “a moving, terrifying and uncompromising drama of extraordinary intimacy and intelligence.”

Palme d’Or Probability: High

Like Someone in Love – Abbas Kiarostami

My absolute favorite film from last year came from Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. The master auteur returns to Cannes with another film set outside his home country. The ending of his film Like Someone in Love seems to be baffling audience members and critics with Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian saying it “is cut off so sharply, I almost wondered if, like Tarantino’s Kill Bill, there is some second part still to come.” Sasha Stone of Awards Daily says it’s the type of movie that requires much pondering and the viewer has to be in a particular mood to experience any enjoyment.

Palme d’Or Probability: Medium

Killing Them Softly – Andrew Dominik

One of the most anticipated films of the festival has to be Andrew Dominik’s follow up to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, the simpler titled Killing Them Softly. In a positive review, Eric Kohn of indieWIRE says that Dominik “has constructed a provocative revisionist history that beats the original Obama election message of hope and progress to a bloody mass.” Kevin Jagernauth of The Playlist says that Dominik’s film almost justifies crime: “Crime films have always been about desperate men in desperate situations, but “Killing Them Softly” gives them real world circumstances that make theft, murder-for-hire, drug dealing and other unsavory jobs quasi-legitimate.” This sounds like it could be this year’s Drive, earning festival praise, but no major awards.

Palme d’Or Probability: Medium

The Angels’ Share – Ken Loach

Comedies rarely succeed in the awards at the Cannes Film Festival (or anywhere else for that matter), so Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share is something of a long shot. However, Loach is a festival favorite, winning several years ago for his excellent Irish war film The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian says that the film is “an unfashionably uncynical and unironic kind of comedy.” Simon Gallagher of Film School Rejects says that it’s more than a simple comedy and “its greatest success is in the understated way it sets about elucidating that message, focusing on authentic character development, and traditional simple filmic elements like strong story-telling and a high entertainment factor to push the point.”

Palme d’Or Probability: Medium

On the Road – Walter Salles

The acclaimed director of films like The Motorcycle Diaries has what may be the highest profile release of his career – an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Jeff Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere is elated by the effort, saying “it’s so full of life and serene and mirthful in so many different ways.” James Rocchi of The Playlist says the problem with the film lies in the script, noticing that scenes of debauchery “are far more enjoyably experienced by one’s self as opposed to watching other people enjoy them on screen.” Drew McWeeney of HitFix has high praise for Kristen Stewart’s performance saying “as soon as she puts the “Twilight” series in her rearview mirror, she’s got a promising career ahead of her.”

Palme d’Or Probability: High

Holy Motors – Leo Carax

Just when the praise for On the Road was climaxing, along comes Holy Motors to dominate much of the conversation. The overarching theme of the discussions surrounding Carax’s film seems to be “WTF.” Some critics are elated and others are completely dumbfounded. Brad Brevet of Rope of Silicon starts his review with the sentence “What the hell did I just watch?” Glenn Heath, Jr. of Press Play is more positive, however, saying that Carax “doesn’t just crush the basic rules of storytelling but reinvents them.” Simon Gallagher of Film School Rejects says that it’s a brave effort and “at times the film is hilarious, at others disgusting, but it is always bat-shit crazy.” Although received with a mix of reactions, the buzz is definitely high, which could be enough to earn the film some major accolades.

Palme d’Or Probability: High

Stay tuned over the weekend for another batch of reviews and some final Palme d’Or predictions before the awards are announced on Sunday.

Which movie from this year’s Cannes Film Festival do you most want to see?

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • If I were to bet on a horse, it would be for ‘Holy Motors.’ Cinematic inscrutability seems to be what Cannes is really into lately, having given the prize to the likes of ‘Tree of Life,’ ‘Uncle Boonmee,’ ‘The White Ribbon’ and ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.’ Leos Carax’s film seems to fit that mold, from what I’ve read. Also, it’s the one I’m most excited to see now.

    Another factor I am taking in to account is the Festival’s propensity not to reward directors multiple times; only 6 directors (7 if you split the Dardenne Brothers) have been so lucky. This leaves directors like Haneke, Kiarostami and Mungiu at something of a disadvantage. Though the acclaim for ‘Amour’ is universal… Haneke could be a spoiler.

  • really surprised by the reaction Holy Motors got and yes it might definitely win. Also cheering for Amour, Moonrise Kingdom and Killing them Softly. Okay so Cotillard is IT for Best Actress but who is up for Best Actor??? Mads Mikkelsen from The Hunter – maybe? The Paperboy reviews are making me laugh with some calling it a camp classic while others a pure trash (some iffy scenes between Kidman and Efron are there and every review had words like humid, sweaty, steamy and sexy used).

  • My Predictions: (the first pick being the most likely and the last one to be a potential spoiler)

    Palme D’Or: Amour, Holy Motors or In the Fog.
    Direction: Leos Carax, Michael Haneke or Thomas Vinterberg.
    Actor: Mads Mikkelsen or Jean-Louis Trintignant.
    Actress: Emmanuelle Riva or Marion Cotillard.
    Grand Prix: In the Fog, Amour, The Hunt, Mud or The Angels’ Share.
    Screenplay: Moonrise Kingdom, Holy Motors or Amour.
    Special Jury Prize: Mud, In the Fog, Holy Motors, Amour or Moonrise Kingdom.

  • Calvin

    Though I’m tempted to bet on “Road,” I’m going with “Amour” on this one.

Privacy Polcy | Contact Us