The last two Palme d'Or winners, "The Tree of Life" and "Amour," went on to Best Picture nominations, but it's worth noting that it's something of a rarity; before them, it had been nine years since another film pulled it off, namely "The Pianist." As such, we'd be cautious about this year's winner, the critically adored "Blue Is The Warmest Color," even if it wasn't a three-hour lesbian romance with explicit sex and based on a graphic novel. But it is, and while some might point to Spielberg's thumbs up for the film as a sign that Academy audiences might take to it, we suspect it'll face a battle getting seen by voters. Plus Sundance Selects picked the film up, and they have no Oscar form to speak of, at least away from documentary and foreign language awards. If the French pick it for their Foreign Language entry (not a foregone conclusion, as ever), it could end up a nominee there, though.
Despite adulation from critics and fans, Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" only picked up a single sound nomination two years ago. And given that follow-up "Only God Forgives" has been 1) much less well-reviewed and 2) is even more violent and abrasive than its predecessor, we can't see it managing even that when it comes to the awards season. The one possibility flagged up in advance was Kristin Scott Thomas, as the acid-tongued matriarch. She won terrific reviews for the performance, but it's not a massive part, as our review revealed, and if Albert Brooks couldn't get a nomination for "Drive," we can't really see this happening for a film that's just not going to be to the Academy's taste.
Two Sundance flicks graduated to Cannes (there was a third, "We Are What We Are," but while that's apparently terrific, it's hardly Academy material), but they didn't quite get a leg up by walking the Croisette. In previous years, "Precious," "Blue Valentine" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" have gone on to major nominations after sidebar selection, but neither David Lowery's film (which seemed to have already been seen by most English-language critics) or Ryan Coogler's seemed to get the same boost. 'Saints' already had strong reviews out of Park City, but with IFC Films picking it up, is probably a long shot for anything more than the Spirit Awards. "Fruitvale Station" was picked up by The Weinstein Company, which is obviously a good thing, but its reception on the Croisette, including our review, was decidedly more muted than at Sundance. With Harvey's slate looking so full, it may end up not quite getting the right attention from the distributor, and a recent release date bump to the summer doesn't suggest it's going to be a high priority for the Weinsteins. That said, U.S critics will be more responsive to the movie, there's a long way to go, and there's still buzz around Michael B. Jordan's central performance. Plus again, if other fall movies disappoint, it might well work its way in.
As ever, some of the films at the festival simply weren't the kind of films that were ever going to be on Academy radars; "Only Lovers Left Alive" and "Borgman," for instance, were among the best reviewed of the festival, but won't figure into the awards seasons (though the latter could eventually end up with a "Dogtooth"-style Foreign Language nomination, we suppose). And there are others that might have been considered possibilities, but probably are non-starters after their premiere. Roman Polanski's "Venus In Fur" got fairly good notices, but doesn't seem destined for anything more than a few Cesar nominations. Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring" was also warmly received, but without an acclaimed performance to get behind looks likely to be more "Somewhere" than "Lost In Translation" when it comes to awards. No one really liked "Blood Ties," which would have had to be terrific to make any traction in the first place. But probably the biggest casualty would be opening night movie "The Great Gatsby," which made it to Cannes having already opened in the U.S. On paper, the director of "Moulin Rouge!" tackling Fitzgerald with an all-star cast would be perfect Academy fare. But the film's reviews, while not dreadful, have never been more than lukewarm (even the more positive notices essentially seem to say nothing more enthusiastic than "it's better than you've heard"). While it's not any worse received than, say, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" or "Les Misérables," those films benefited from a late-in-the-day release, so despite excellent box office for the movie, anything beyond technical awards for 'Gatsby' simply isn't going to happen.
The Weinstein Company Slate
As they've done the last few years, The Weinstein Company were out in force at the festival, showcasing some of their hopefuls from later in the year aside from Competition movies "The Immigrant" and "Only God Forgives." Much of the footage had been seen elsewhere, but of the newer footage, Jess, who ran down the presentation here, says that the studio's hopes seem to be most behind "Grace of Monaco" (saying that Harvey will get Nicole Kidman a nomination "if it kills them"). She also suggested that Naomie Harris might be someone keeping an eye on for "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom," but that she's not quite sold on Idris Elba in the title role yet. "August: Osage County" is still likely to be a big hitter, and look for "Salinger" to be a big player in the documentary race.