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Cannes: Terrence Malick's 'The Tree Of Life' Wins The Coveted Palme d'Or Prize

by The Playlist
May 22, 2011 5:45 AM
5 Comments
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More context, possibly later in the day, but we've been taking the winners straight off the livestream and just posting in brief for now.

Best Picture, the The Palme d'Or winner: Terrence Malick, "The Tree Of Life"
The Grand Prix: (tie): Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, The Kid with a Bike" and Nuri Bilge Ceylan, "Once Upon A Time In Anatolia"
Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn - "Drive"
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst, "Melancholia"
Best Screenplay Joseph Cedar, "Footnote"
The Jury Prize: Maïwenn, "Poliss"
Camera d'Or: Pablo Giorgelli, "Las Acacias"
Short Film Palme d'Or: Maryna Vroda, "Cross-Country"

And "The Tree Of Life" takes the top prize. Uneven, but unlike any film at Cannes this year or ever. As Jury head Robert De Niro put it, "Most of us felt the movie was terrific." But why did "The Tree of Life" win the top prize exactly? The jury head would not fully entertain the question.

"I can't go into all the details, but we felt that it was a film that in its scope and its intentions was the best fit for the Palme d'Or," De Niro said. "This decision was difficult because the other films were also very good, albeit very different. We had to find a compromise. There were some intense debates over a number of films, three in particular: 'Pater,' 'Sleeping Beauty,' and 'Le Havre.' But 'Habemus Papam,' and 'The Skin I Live In,' also stimulated discussion."

Either way, this is surely what Fox Searchlight was after, considering the studio is taking a risk with what is a deeply experimental, esoteric and meditative picture. Next road is the Oscar journey, but whether "Tree Of Life" can crossover in that way with mainstream Academy voters remains to be seen right now. With ten slots open, it could end up nabbing a Best Picture nod but that will largely depend on how strong or weak the rest of the year is but we don't see it building much more steam beyond that (and Fox Searchlight has Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" primed for a December release which may be the focal point of their Oscar run this year).

One could argue the Dardenne brother's Cannes history will go unmatched. They've won two Palme d'or's already and now have a Grand Prix under their belt. Pretty impressive stuff. Though it should be noted that around the Croisette, the film was considered par for the course for the directors but that sentiment was countered with the fact that, it's simply a very very good film and no one is really delivering with the consistency of this Belgian duo. The Jury prize win for Maïwenn's police drama "Poliss" isn't too surprising. The film was warmly received by many and while it does have its flaws, there is much to like about the gritty drama.

The acting categories contain no surprises, but have some well-deserved wins. Jean Dujardin was front and center of the hugely popular "The Artist" -- which swept Cannes critics off their feet -- and acknowledgment of his silent starring turn is tremendously satisfying. And while "Melancholia" is a disappointment, Dunst is in top form delivering her finest performance....pretty much ever. She anchors the film with an onscreen presence unlike anything she's shown in her career thus far.

Nicolas Winding Refn's Best Director prize is nice revenge considering his spat with Lars Von Trier earlier in the week when he condemned his fellow Danes Nazi comments.

Other awards given out over the weekend are below. The Un Certain Regard win by Kim Ki-duk's "Arirang" is a bit of a shock considering the film was roundly dismissed by most who managed to sit through it (there were lots of walkouts) as a film that was too experimental, personal and obtuse to resonate with anyone but Ki-duk himself. And the two prizes for "Le Havre" speak to the film's warm reception on the Croisette. As for the Ecumenical award for the poorly received "This Must Be Place," it fits with that group's tendency to run counter to feelings of the main jury.

Un Certain Regard Prize: (tie) “Arirang” by Kim Ki-duk; “Stopped on Track” by Andreas Dresen
Special Jury Prize: “Elena,” Andrei Zvyagintsev
Best Director: Mohammad Rasoulof, “Au Revoir

FIPRESCI Prize (Competition): “Le Havre,” Aki Kaurismäki
FIPRESCI Prize (Un Certain Regard): “The Minister,” Pierre Schoeller
FIPRESCI Prize (Critics’ Week): “Take Shelter,” Jeff Nichols

Prize of the Ecumenical Jury: “This Must Be the Place,” Paolo Sorrentino
Special Mentions: “Le Havre,” Aki Kaurismäki; “Where Do We Go Now?,” Nadine Labaki
Queer Palme: “Skoonheid,” Oliver Hermanus

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5 Comments

  • rotch | May 22, 2011 10:01 AMReply

    How is Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Best Director prize a 'revenge'. Revenge on what? On von Trier jus saying “I’ve known him since he was a kid! Fuck him.”?

  • Hoffman | May 22, 2011 8:32 AMReply

    Tree of Life deserves a nationwide release and we won’t know how it or a smaller film for Brad Pitt and Sean Penn would perform at the box office if released nationwide.

    My favourite Brad Pitt movie is Meet Joe Black (1998). It is an underappreciated and underrated classic. Everyone should watch this epic drama at least once in their life. It should have been much more critically and commercially successful and won a truckload of Oscars.

  • Pierre | May 22, 2011 7:48 AMReply

    Nice to see Refn get some recognition after a string of great, underappreciated movies.

  • rotch | May 22, 2011 6:21 AMReply

    What he said.

  • tristan eldritch | May 22, 2011 6:15 AMReply

    I think it's a great result. Only guessing at this stage, but I really like wildly ambitious, unique movies that aren't without their flaws - I think Enter the Void is another example of that kind of movie. Also very happy to Refn get best director, and can't wait for Drive.

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