2016 Cannes Film Festival Recap & Jury Winners

It is always with the Cannes Film Festival in the South of France that I really feel that the film season, as well as awards season, truly begins. It is a cinephiles dream and one I would truly relish to attend, and this year was one of the better ones in quite some time. Woody Allen’s Café Society opened the fest and was garnered with highly favorable reviews, especially for Cannes “it girl” this year Kristen Stewart. The film was out of competition, but it was nice to read some glowing notices for the 80-year old director after the last couple of mediocre films.

The George Miller-led jury awarded British auteur Ken Loach with his second Palme d’Or for I, Daniel Blake, his emotional, grounded in realism film about the awful welfare and workers situation in England. He won the Palme in 2006 for The Wind That Shakes the Barley. In a bit of surprise, and one that seemed to be a theme between the critics and the filmmakers, was Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World taking home the Grand Prix (second place). The film was not received well by cinephiles and critics, but the jury loved the emotion that Dolan and his cast delivered. There was quite the surprise on social media when Dolan won and how many despised the 27-year old’s film. It goes into a deeper dialogue of how the critics see a film one way and the filmmakers and actors do in another. I found it quite fascinating and liked the difference. I mean, the critics were not voting or choosing the awards, but the films that they admired are the ones I most likely fall for, so it was interesting to see the fall out from Cannes.

Back to the films and what a slate of quality filmmaking we get to look forward to this year. Jim Jarmusch received excellent reviews for Paterson, starring Adam Driver as a bus driver-poet in Paterson, New Jersey. It is Jarmusch so I am automatically there. He also screened the well-admired Gimme Danger, a documentry on the great punk band The Stooges. Pedro Almodovar has new film, Julieta, which did not receive over-the-moon great reviews, but everyone seemed to enjoy it and it was Almodovar back in form. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, a film about derprived youth and life in the Midwest did very well. It received some the best reviews of the festival and Arnold, one of the best directors in the business, continued her run of success at Cannes. And Jeff Nichols’ Loving, which might have a chance of being a big Oscar players if it hits well in the states, went over well, especially for actors Ruth Negga and Joel  Edgerton.

Then we get to the heavy hitting foreign auteurs of the last ten, fifteen years. There were great notices for Iranian filmmaker Ashgar Farhadi’s The Salesman, which also won Best Actor and Best Screenplay. Romanian filmmaking sensation Cristian Mungiu’s Graduation was very well received and could have probably won the Palme. The film tied for Best Director. The film it tied with, Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper,  was another big hit, at least with American critics although the film received boos with its ending from some. This was the other big Stewart led film and she is apparently fantastic in this eerie ghost story. There was also the perceived Palme d’Or winner from German director Maren Ade, Toni Erdmann, an offbeat, surreal German comedy that was another huge sensation at the festival. Then there was Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, a rape and revenge thriller that wowed the Croisette and contains a great turn by the wonderful Isabelle Huppert. The camp side was also received well with The Neon Demon from Nicholas Winding Refn and Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden. A tremendous amount of entertaining and great cinema is on the way.

This was one of the more solid years for the Cannes Film Festival. With all of these films receiving solid, to great, reviews, my anticipation is as high as it could be, especially with Jarmusch and Almodovar delivering solid pictures this year. I feel the only films that were poorly received were Dolan’s and Sean Penn’s The Last Face, which got brutalized by the critics. All-in-all a lot to look forward to in 2016.

Here is a list of the ten films I am most anticipating, hopefully for this year, and after that a complete list of winners. Enjoy!!!

  1. Paterson   
  2. Julieta
  3. Personal Shopper
  4. Graduation
  5. Toni Erdmann
  6. American Honey
  7. The Handmaiden
  8. Loving
  9. The Neon Demon
  10. Elle

And of course I want to see Allen’s Café Society.

Cannes Film Festival Awards

Caméra d’Or (best first feature): “Divines” directed by Uda Benyamina

Best screenplay: Asghar Farhadi for “The Salesman”

Best actress: Jaclyn Jose in Brillante Mendoza’s “Ma’ Rosa”

Jury prize: “American Honey” directed by Andrea Arnold

Best actor: Shahab Hosseini in Asghar Farhadi’s “The Salesman”

Best director TIE: Olivier Assayas for “Personal Shopper” and Cristian Mungiu for “Graduation”

Grand Prix: “It’s Only The End Of The World” directed by Xavier Dolan

Palme d’Or: “I, Daniel Blake” directed by Ken Loach

Honorary Palme d’Or: Jean-Pierre Leaud

Prize of Un Certain Regard
(The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki)
by Juho Kuosmanen

Jury Prize
by Fukada Kôji

Prize for Best Director
Matt Ross


Prize for Best Screenplay
Delphine Coulin & Muriel Coulin

for VOIR DU PAYS (The Stopover)

Un Certain Regard Special Prize

(The Red Turtle)
by Michael Dudok de Wit

Sponsors Awards at the 2016 edition  of Cannes Directors’ Fortnight / Quinzaine des Realisateurs

Art Cinema Award to a feature film 
“Wolf & Sheep,” dir. Shahrbanoo Sadat

SACD Award to a French-language feature film 
“The Together Project” (aka “L’Effet Aquatique”) dir. Sólveig Anspach

SACD special mention 
“Divines” dir. Uda Benyamina

The Europa Cinemas Label to a European feature film 
“Mercenary” (aka “Mercenaire”) dir. Sacha Wolff

Illy Prize to a short film
“Chasse Royale” dirs. Lise Akoka, Romane Gueret

Illy special mention 
“The Beast” (aka “Zvir”) dir. Miroslav Sikavica

Cannes Critics’ Week Awards

 Grand Prize
Mimosas by Oliver Laxe

France 4
 Visionary Award

Albüm by Mehmet Can Mertoglu

Leica Cine Discovery Prize for short films 

Prenjak by Wregas Bhanuteja


Gan Foundation Award for Distribution

Sophie Dulac, French distributor for One Week and a Day (Shavua Ve Yom) by Asaph Polonsky


Davy Chou and Claire Maugendre, co-writers of Diamond Island

Canal+ Award for short films 

L’enfance d’un Chef by Antoine de Bary

Photo credits by theplaylist.net

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