Cannes Film Festival winners: Oscars next for ‘Titane,’ Caleb Landry Jones and Asghar Farhadi?

After going virtual last year and not handing out any prizes due to the COVID pandemic, the 2021 Cannes Film Festival returned to form by announcing its winners on July 17. How many of these will figure in the upcoming Oscar race? We recap the results from the 74th edition of this foremost of film festivals and review its history as a forecaster of the Academy Awards.

The top award at Cannes is the Palme d’Or. Over the years, 40 winners of this prize have amassed 135 Academy Award nominations. Seventeen of these have claimed a combined 32 Oscars. This year, the Palme d’Or went to French filmmaker Julia Ducournau‘s  “Titane.” Her dramatic thriller centers on a father reunited with his son who was missing for a decade during which several unexplained crimes were committed. Ducournau is the second woman to take this top prize following Jane Campion‘s breakthrough in 1993 with “The Piano.” That film contended for Best Picture at the Oscars but lost to “Schindler’s List.”

Two years ago, “Parasite” won both the Palme and Best Picture at the Oscars two years ago, becoming the first film to do so since “Marty” pulled off this double act in 1955. That character study was the first of the 16 Palme d’Or champs to reap a Best Picture bid followed by: “Friendly Persuasion” (1957), “M*A*S*H” (1970), “The Conversation” (1974), “Taxi Driver” (1976), “Apocalypse Now” (1979), “All That Jazz” (1979), “Missing” (1982), “The Mission” (1986), “The Piano” (1993), “Pulp Fiction” (1994), “Secrets & Lies” (1996), “The Pianist” (2002), “The Tree of Life” (2011), “Amour” (2012) and “Parasite” (2019).

Should France choosed to submit “Titane” it will be a strong contender for Best International Feature. Six Palme d’Or champs have gone on to win this Oscar: “Black Orpheus” from France (1959), “A Man and a Woman” from France (1966), “The Tin Drum” from West Germany (1979), “Pelle the Conqueror” from Denmark (1988), “Amour” from Austria (2012) and “Parasite” from South Korea (2019). And 10 others were nominated: “Keeper of Promises” from Brazil (1962), “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” from France (1964), “Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior” from Japan (1980), “Man of Iron” from Poland (1981), “When Father Was Away on Business” from Yugoslavia (1985), “Farewell My Concubine” from Hong Kong (1993), “The Class” from France (2008), “The White Ribbon” from Germany (2009), “The Square” from Sweden (2017) and “Shoplifters” from Japan (2018).

This year’s Grand Prix was shared between “A Hero” by Asghar Farhadi and “Compartment No. 6” by Finnish filmmaker Juho Kuosmanen. Both films are serious players for Best International Feature. This is especially true for Farhadi, whose films have claimed that Oscar twice: “A Separation” in 2011 and “The Salesman” in 2016. Fourteen Grand Prix winners have earned 28 total Oscar nominations, with six films scoring eight wins. Five of the six — “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion” from Italy (1970); “Cinema Paradiso” from Italy (1989); “Burnt by the Sun” from Russia (1994); “Life is Beautiful” from Italy (1998; also winning Actor for Roberto Benigni and Original Dramatic Score); and “Son of Saul” from Hungary (2015) — won Best International Film. The 2018 winner of the Grand Prix, “BlacKkKlansman,” won Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Jury Prize was also awarded to two films this year: “Ahed’s Knee” by Israeli director Nadav Lapid and “Memoria” from Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul (who won the Palme in 2009 for “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”). The films that have won here don’t have much correlation at the Oscars. A lucky 13 films that have won the Jury Prize have amassed 38 Oscar nominations and nine wins. Among these victories were one for Best Picture (“All About Eve” which played at Cannes in 1951, the year after its Oscar romp) and two for Best International Film (“Mon Oncle” in 1958 from France and “Z” in 1969 from Algeria). The Jury prize was also a tie at the 2019 ceremony, with one of those winners, “Les Misérables” from France, getting nominated for Best International Feature.

The prize for Best Director went to French auteur, Leos Carax, for the opening film of this year’s festival, “Annette.” The English-language musical centers on a couple (Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard) and how their lives drastically change after the birth of their first child. The Oscar correlation for this award is not great. Only seven of the helmers who prevailed here went on to contend at the Oscars: Robert Altman for “The Player” (1992); Joel Coen for “Fargo” (1996); David Lynch for “Mulholland Drive” (2001); Alejandro González Iñárritu for “Babel” (2006); Julian Schnabel for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (2007); Bennett Miller for “Foxcatcher” (2014); and Pawel Pawlikowski for “Cold War” (2018). Both “Fargo” and “Babel” also earned Best Picture bid.

Caleb Landry Jones scored the Best Actor prize for Justin Kurzel’s “Nitram.” Jones plays a character inspired by the mass shooter who killed 35 people in Tasmania in 1996. Sixteen winners of the Best Actor award at Cannes have been nominated by the Academy (including the 2019 champ, Antonio Banderas for “Pain and Glory”). Five have taken home the Oscar: Ray Milland for “The Lost Weekend” (1945); Jon Voight for “Coming Home” (1978); William Hurt for “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1985); Christoph Waltz for “Inglorious Basterds” (2009, Supporting); and Jean Dujardin for “The Artist” (2011).

The Best Actress honor was awarded to one of the best reviewed films at this year’s festival: Norwegian actress Renate Reinsve, picked up the prize for Joachim Trier’s romantic-comedy, “The Worst Person in the World.” She plays a character who, over the course of four years, navigates a troubled love life as well as a very uncertain career path. Twenty past Cannes champs for Best Actress received nominations from the academy, and four won: Simone Signoret for “Room at the Top” (1959); Sophia Loren for “Two Women” (1961); Sally Field for “Norma Rae” (1979); and Holly Hunter for “The Piano” (1993).

The award for Best Screenplay went to Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe for another of this festival’s best reviewed films, “Drive My Car.” This Japanese film, directed by Hamaguchi, centers on a stage actor who finds himself unable to cope with the sudden death of his wife for several years afterwards. Four screenplay winners at Cannes have gone on to claim the International Film Oscar: “Mephisto” from Hungary (1981), “No Man’s Land” from Bosnia and Herzegovina (2001), “The Barbarian Invasions” from Canada (2003) and “The Salesman” from Iran (2016). And two others were nominated: “Footnote” from Israel (2011) and “Leviathan” from Russia (2014).

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