Fri. Aug 14th, 2020

Cannes 2017: Did Any of the Winners Start Their Oscar Campaigns?

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The 2017 Cannes Film Festival has wrapped with more than a few surprises when the winners were announced at the Closing Ceremony last night. Many had expected the French 90s-era AIDS drama 120 Battements par minute (Beats Per Minute) from Robin Campillo to triumph but that film ended up with the Grand Prize of the Jury (2nd place, essentially) while Ruben Östlund’s The Square won the Palme.

The Square is set for US distribution by Magnolia Pictures (but no date yet) but will land in its native Sweden on August 25th, making it eligible to be Sweden’s Oscar submission. Östlund’s Force Majeure was chosen as Sweden’s submission in 2014 but was notoriously snubbed for an Oscar nomination. The big question for the film though lies in the amount of English spoken in the film. It has a 74 on Metacritic. 120 BPM will be distributed by The Orchard in the US and has a French release date of August 23rd, making it eligible to be France’s Oscar submission. No US date yet but it doesn’t need one to qualify for foreign language film consideration. It has a 78 on Metacritic.

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless could be a very stealth contender. It releases in Russia this summer, well within the guidelines and then later this year in the US from Sony Pictures Classics. The main factor to be considered though is whether Russia will submit it or not. Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan was disliked by the Russian government but managed to be the country’s submission and was subsequently Oscar-nominated. Loveless is even more critical of mother Russia than Leviathan‘s examination of political corruption was and was produced entirely without assistance of the Russian government. With Russia being so much in the negative forefront of world news and politics there is a strong chance the film won’t be chosen. If that happens, there is a case to be made that at least one branch of the Academy, most likely the writer’s branch, could nominate it in the general categories. The film starts off with a very strong 88 on Metacritic.

Sofia Coppola, who won the Director award for The Beguiled (and became only the second woman ever in the festival’s 70-year history), comes out June 23rd from Focus Features. In my original Oscar Profile of the film, I didn’t give it much of an awards chance due to its release date and because Focus Features has two awards-season releases in the fall and winter to put their energy into. With this win though, the film will have a higher profile and could find itself in contention in at least a handful of technical categories like Cinematography, Production Design and Costume Design. There is potential for Kirsten Dunst or Nicole Kidman to gain some traction in Supporting Actress with the clear lean towards Kidman who was given the 70th anniversary prize for the body of her work at the festival. The film is at 76 on Metacritic.

Diane Kruger’s Best Actress win for In the Fade was a surprise before the inevitability of her being called back and hitting the red carpet. Many other performances were in contention here including Min-hee Kim for The Day After, Maryana Spivak for Loveless, Vasilina Makovtseva for A Gentle Creature and Nicole Kidman for either The Beguiled or The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Although reviews for In the Fade were middling at best (it has a 57 on Metacritic), Kruger’s performance as a woman whose family is killed by Neo-Nazi terrorists and then seeks revenge was well received. But, the film currently has no US distribution in order to mount a Best Actress campaign for Kruger and with a release of November 23rd in its native Germany, that will put it outside of the eligibility for this year’s foreign language film Oscar submissions, which is September 30th.

Joaquin Phoenix’s Best Actor win for You Were Never Really There gives the Amazon Studios film a huge boost; they just won Casey Affleck the Best Actor Oscar earlier this year. Amazon hasn’t locked down a theatrical distributor or a date yet and they also have Wonderstruck from Todd Haynes (which went home empty-handed at Cannes) and Last Flag Flying, starring Bryan Cranston, which also has no theatrical partner or release date. Phoenix’s win, as well as director Lynne Ramsay’s win for Screenplay could put the film very high on their priority list now. The film has an 86 on Metacritic.

Speaking of Screenplay, Ramsay’s win was a tie with Yorgos Lanthimos for his film The Killing of a Sacred Deer. A newly minted Oscar nominee for The Lobster, Lanthimos has the backing of A24 and a killer release date (November 3rd) so the dark thriller could quite easily find itself in the running in the Original Screenplay and Supporting Actress categories (for Nicole Kidman). The film has stellar reviews and sits at 86 on Metacritic and on Rotten Tomatoes.

So what does that mean for the films and performances that didn’t win? Cannes hasn’t been the best launching point for major Oscar contenders as of late (for winners, at least) so looking to the two highest profile films that lost – Wonderstruck and Happy End – I don’t think their losses here will have a big impact on their awards chances. If anything, it’s their reviews that could affect them. Wonderstruck’s reviews were mostly good but also ended with a lot of ‘the material didn’t suit Haynes’ type of write-ups. It’s currently at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes and has a 76 on Metacritic. Michael Haneke’s Happy End starred Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert and currently has a 78 on Metacritic. This was the first time Haneke has gone home without a prize from Cannes since 2000 with Code Unknown. Still, the film is being distributed in the US by Sony Pictures Classics some time this fall so it will get a decent push.

Agnès Varda and JR’s documentary Faces Places (Visages Villages) could be a contender in the Documentary Feature category with a US distributor and release date and a first Oscar nomination for the 89-year old Varda. With a 95 on Metacritic it was the highest rated film of the festival.

The official 2018 Oscar predictions for June will be coming out next week and you can be sure that the Cannes wins (and losses) will be felt when they’re revealed.

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