By Robert Koehler
Well, some of those well-sourced rumors proved to be on the mark, others less so. As predicted, Terrence Malick’s <emThe Tree of Life, his semi-autobiographical meditation-cum-space odyssey on the Meaning of It All, wins the Palme d’Or. The Grand Prix is a tie between Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s widely admired murder-mystery-in-the-night-darkness, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, and the Dardenne Brothers’ well-reviewed The Kid with the Bike, thus continuing Ceylan’s run (after his best director prize for Three Monkeys) as the bridesmaid and not the bride in Cannes. One of the most wildly loved competition films was Nicholas Winding Refn’s Melville-influenced thrilled starring Ryan Gosling, Drive, and he wins best director for going American. Genre dominates the prizes, so it’s no surprise that Maiwenn’s policier, Poliss, received largely with a shrug from the Cannes critical press corps, wins the jury prize, which always amounts to the third runner-up after the Grand Prix (though, this year with the Grand Prix tie, that makes
Unlike what our sources told us, Berenice Bejo didn’t win best actress for The Artist; rather, it goes to Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia, a surprise to many since Lars Von Trier’s status as a Cannes “persona non grata” may have presumably pushed the film out of any consideration in any category. Clearly, Robert De Niro would have none of it, and pushed for Dunst. As predicted, Jean Dujardin wins best actor for The Artist.
In what is one of the most significant though consistently overlooked prizes in Cannes, the Camera d’Or for best feature debut goes to Pablo Giorgelli for Las Acacias screening in Critics Week, for which I had heard excellent advance word in Buenos Aires. This marks yet another new name from the Argentine cinema, and is a bit of a swipe at Directors Fortnight, which was loaded with debuts that resulted in disinterest or outright dismissal from many Cannes observers. This will be the year when Critics Week, with Take Shelter and Las Acasias, finally dominated the Fortnight, after being in Fortnight’s shadow for a decade or two.