During the three years I attended the Cannes Film Festival, my absolute favorite ritual was breakfast. At the hotel where my company stayed, it started every morning at 7:00 AM, where the restaurant downstairs had two buffets: a food buffet, and a newspaper buffet. You filled up your plate with croissants and sausage and other stereotypically French foods, and grabbed a Variety, a Hollywood Reporter, and a Screen Daily; as you ate, you caught up on the previous day's reviews and strategized the next day's coverage. After the movies themselves, and that one time I sang Hall & Oates karaoke in an alley, those trade paper breakfasts are the first thing I think of when I remember my days at Cannes.
The thing you always read first at trade paper breakfast was the Screen Daily Jury, where ten critics from all over the world gave letter grades to each of the films in the Cannes Competition. The grades were then averaged out and used as a way to determine the general critical reaction to each movie. The Jury Grid allowed you to see what was liked and what was disliked, and also, because each critic's individual grades were included on the grid, what was widely enjoyed and what was divisive. As more reviews came in and as more movies premiered, Screen continually updated the Grid. It functioned as a sort of unofficial running tally of contenders for the Palme d'Or, and the films you had to make sure you saw before you left the south of France.
Cannes 2013 is now history, and with it we have this year's final installment of the Screen Grid. This time, the critics agreed with the official jury; they, too, picked Palme winner "Blue is the Warmest Color" as the best movie of the festival. Coming in an incredibly close second place -- separated from "Blue" by just a single tenth a point, the difference of one four-star review -- was the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis."
The bronze when to Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" -- a surprising development, given that a lot of the reviews I'd read were mixed to downright negative (you can read some -- like Time Out New York's Keith Uhlich calling it a "rank exercise in hicksploitation sentimentalism" -- at our "Nebraska" Cannes Review Report). That suggests to me that "Nebraska" fared better with international critics than American ones; this year's Screen Jury featured England's Nick James, Derek Malcolm, Kate Muir and Wendy Ide, Australia's David Stratton, Germany's Jan Schulz-Ojala, Brazil's Jose Carlos Avellar, France's Michel Ciment, and Denmark's Bo Green Jensen. The only American polled, Dennis Lim from Film Comment, gave "Nebraska" its sole two-star review.
On the flip side, the Booby Prize from the Screen critics for the worst movie at Cannes went to Takashi Miike's "Shield of Straw," which yielded a lowly 1.3 star average. Tied for second place were Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi's "A Castle in Italy" and Nicolas Winding Refn's hotly anticipated follow-up to "Drive," "Only God Forgives," each with 1.5 stars. "Only God Forgives" also held the distinction of being the only film from this year's Competition to receive two X's -- essentially a 0-star bomb rating -- in the Screen Grid. Because God forgives, but critics do not, and other obvious jokes I will continue to make forever.
You can read the entire 2013 Screen Jury Grid at the link below. It goes great with your morning coffee and a croissant.
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