Cannes wrap-up: list of winners, plus 'Carol,' 'Macbeth' and 'Dope'
Over the past two weeks thousands descended upon une petite ville along the Mediterranean coast for one of the largest and glitziest industry events. Smaller films that screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival made of their directors and stars darlings of the fashionable Croisette, while movies with marquee names solidified reputations (Rooney Mara) and dulled the lustrous standing of a few golden boys (Matthew McConaughey). In other words, it was business as usual for the 68th annual showcase, a business that is, as the self-justificatory and quite accurate song goes, like no business I know.
Here is the full list of 2015 winners:
Award for Best Director
Award for Best Screenplay
Award for Best Actress
Award for Best Actor
Palme d'Or - Short Film
UN CERTAIN REGARD:
Prize of Un Certain Regard
Jury Prize - Un Certain Regard
Directing Prize of Un Certain Regard
Un Certain Talent Prize
Promising Future Prize
1st Prize Cinéfondation
2nd Prize Cinéfondation
3rd Prize Cinéfondation Ex-aequo
I’m sorry to have missed Palme d’Or winner Dheepan, which the Spanish actress and juror Rossy de Palma lauded for its portrayal of “people living in very difficult and precarious circumstances.” The film about refugees from the Sri Lankan civil war centers on a woman, a former soldier and an orphan girl, all of whom are unrelated but who pretend to live as a family in a housing project outside Paris. It’s the latest movie from Jacques Audiard, whose A Prophet won the Grand Prix in 2009.
Says de Palma, “[Dheepan] is real cinema and we feel deeply concerned by what’s happening in the Mediterranean.”
Although I agree Best Actress winner Rooney Mara was very good in Carol, I’m a little surprised the award did not go to her co-star, Cate Blanchett. More importantly, although their film was a festival favorite, it left me lukewarm.
Carol, from director Todd Haynes (I’m Not There, Far from Heaven), is an adaptation of the 1952 Patricia Highsmith novel alternately published as Carol and The Price of Salt. It recounts the romance between young shop assistant and aspiring photographer Therese (Mara) and impossibly elegant wife and mother Carol (Blanchett). Both are feeling constricted by the expectations of a Norman Rockwell society.
Carol is a well-done film. Its formal elements, from the cinematography to the score to the toned-down “Mad Men” set design to the acting in general and the seemingly infallible Blanchett who does fallibility so well in particular, are top quality. There’s an extended road-trip sequence in the middle of the film that drags on a bit, but its culmination is a romantic payoff and serves as the catalyst for more incident, and so is no undue weight on the movie’s pacing. There’s a message that its modern liberal viewers can all get behind and nothing that seems to take one out of the world that Haynes has created.
Given all the boxes it checks with such sure marks, why is Carol not a triumph? I believe it lacks a sense of resonant agitation. By that I mean it doesn’t leave one with a feeling that is again aroused at the thought of the movie days later, be that sadness or joy or anger. It does condemn patriarchal narrow-mindedness and ignorant prejudices. And it does include one scene late in the movie that allows Blanchett to do vulnerable, noble, messy, furious, sad and accepting all at once, which is wonderful and the most moving moment of the feature. But this singularity does not have the power to elevate the movie, which is sleekly efficient nearly to the point of competence, to the status of memorably affecting. After Oscar season 2015-’16, who will rhapsodize about Carol? It’s a good movie. Good.
I was disappointed by another big-name affair, Macbeth, although I admire director Justin Kurzel for following a vision. I was not a fan of his approach, but the ambition is laudable and I would line up again for his next film.
Macbeth is an adaptation of the Shakespeare tragedy starring Michael Fassbender, who’s carving out a nice niche for himself in tortured types and as a director’s actor (he has worked with Ridley Scott, Steve McQueen, Andrea Arnold and François Ozon, to name just a few Names), and the excellent Marion Cotillard.
The French actress took on an appreciable challenge when she accepted the role of Lady Macbeth. Although Cotillard is fluent in English, poetry in a second language is an entirely separate and scarier beast than dialogue, and I can only imagine how intimidating the venture must have seemed. But her rendition of that “out damn spot” soliloquy of madness, movingly filmed as an unmoving and unfussy close-up on her face reminiscent of Anne Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” scene in Les Miserables, is the high point of the film. If Hathaway’s performance is a demonstrative portrayal of a soul pushed over the edge, a wail during the fall, Cotillard’s soliloquy is a much tauter psychological break, the final inhalation.
Macbeth is an interesting comparison piece to fellow Competition film Carol because its formal elements, when taken separately, are also of the highest quality. The panoramic views of foggy moors and the ghoulish shots of candlelit interiors are so beautifully framed that if the film were to be laid out as a series of production stills it would make for one heck of a justifiably expensive coffee-table book.
For Macbeth as a film is like an object, static. The sum effect of the discretely excellent acting, score, and photography is something less than its parts. These elements don’t play off so much as they pile on top of one another, weighing down the whole affair. There are no variations to the rhythm of the dour movie. Macbeth is a tragedy, but it was written by an author who was a great wag in addition to a tragedian. No Shakespeare play is without wit, but what cleverness there is in the material is lost amid all of the intensity of that great acting, photography, etc. There is no change in beat, no lightness to help us feel the oppression of the darkness. Macbeth is all darkness, a single note held without pause, and it is dolorous.
But not everything at Cannes was so serious. There may be enough plot holes in Dope from writer-director Rick Famuyiwa (Brown Sugar) to use the film as a measuring sieve, but its madcappery is fun, fast, and timely in a way that’s cool because it manages the epitome of the word: it doesn’t feel forced.
Dope is set in the notoriously rough neighborhood of Inglewood, CA and follows a self-proclaimed geek and worshipper of 90’s era hip-hop, never mind that his favorite albums were released just before and just after the decade, as he becomes embroiled in uncharacteristic trouble involving drug dealers and their wares, all while trying to apply to Harvard.
I’m unsure about the educative success of that ending, although protagonist Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is such a magnetic center that it’s easy to be drawn into his story and as quickly as the movie does forget about the red herrings flopping around him. The script does other things better, like using tech elements such as Bitcoin and the deep web in a manner that doesn’t seem gratuitously “timely” but rather like natural signifiers of its characters’ worlds.
Dope isn’t the best movie I saw in Cannes (that would be the Turkish Mustang or the weird cerebral romance The Lobster, followed by the empathetic Mediterranea), but this film that was the closing-night selection of the Directors' Fortnight series did, to use the modern parlance of symbols so popular with the kids these days, serve as the most positive kind of ending punctuation to the festival: !