Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Ellen Page And Kate Mara Are 'Tiny Detectives' In Hilarious 'True Detective' Parody Watch: Ellen Page And Kate Mara Are 'Tiny Detectives' In Hilarious 'True Detective' Parody 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood Miles Teller Says Role In 'Divergent' Made Him Feel "Dead Inside," And He Took Movie "For Business Reasons" Miles Teller Says Role In 'Divergent' Made Him Feel "Dead Inside," And He Took Movie "For Business Reasons" First Look At 'The Dying Of The Light,' Paul Schrader Quits Film Over What Nicolas Winding Refn Calls "Artistic Disrespect" First Look At 'The Dying Of The Light,' Paul Schrader Quits Film Over What Nicolas Winding Refn Calls "Artistic Disrespect" New Images From 'Interstellar' Arrive, Christopher Nolan Says The Film Is A "Mirror" Of 'Inception' New Images From 'Interstellar' Arrive, Christopher Nolan Says The Film Is A "Mirror" Of 'Inception' Watch: New Trailer For ‘Kingsman: Secret Service’ Starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson & Taron Egerton Star Watch: New Trailer For ‘Kingsman: Secret Service’ Starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson & Taron Egerton Star Chilly New Banner For Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Explores A Cold New World Chilly New Banner For Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Explores A Cold New World 15 Films That Failed To Hit The 2014 Fall Festival Circuit 15 Films That Failed To Hit The 2014 Fall Festival Circuit Watch: Steven Soderbergh Re-Scores And Changes Steven Spielberg's 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' To Black-And-White Watch: Steven Soderbergh Re-Scores And Changes Steven Spielberg's 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' To Black-And-White Watch: Have A Threesome With Very NSFW Clip From 'Maps To The Stars' With Julianne Moore & John Cusack Watch: Have A Threesome With Very NSFW Clip From 'Maps To The Stars' With Julianne Moore & John Cusack First, Mostly Rave Reviews Arrive For David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' First, Mostly Rave Reviews Arrive For David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' Watch: New Hilarious Red-Band Trailer For 'The Interview' Starring Seth Rogen And James Franco Watch: New Hilarious Red-Band Trailer For 'The Interview' Starring Seth Rogen And James Franco Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

The 15 Best Palme d'Or Winners From The Cannes Film Festival

The Playlist By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist May 14, 2014 at 1:34PM

Right about now, taking the time difference into consideration, a bevy of beautiful celebrities will be spritzing and primping their last in preparation to walk the red carpet at the Opening Ceremony of the 67th Cannes Film Festival. But while the festival is a byword for glamour in the wider media, underneath the glossy surface is where its real heart beats, in the long queues in pouring rain, in the panic of swimming against the tide in the mercurially mutable traffic flow system on the Croisette, in the flocks of deskless journos sitting cross-legged on the floor riding out caffeine highs and blood sugar crashes in an effort to file on time. This side of Cannes may not be its prettiest but it is where the action is at, and it is all made worthwhile by the quality of the films we’re privileged to enjoy, across all the sections of the festival for the ten days of its duration before the Palme d’Or is announced and we all pack up and go home.
16
Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg” (1964)
Jacques Demy's "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" is a masterpiece of sincerity and melodrama. Gorgeously rendered, it looks like an eye-popping pastry tart and yet its style never unravels its genuinely poignant and heart wrenching tale of star-crossed lovers. Did we mention the romantic tragedy is also a musical? Which in many respects should make its affectations distance itself from pure emotion, but Demy's brilliant, heart-on-sleeve romantic musical is a triumph of story, character, music, songs and genuine pathos–it’s the equivalent of a cinematic opera and a gorgeous pop-art one at that. With a dazzling musical score written by the great Michel Legrand (who worked with everyone from Jean-Luc Godard and all the French New Wave to Clint Eastwood to Robert Altman) , 'Cherbourg' stars Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo. as two Romeo and Juliet-esque lovers separated by class lines. Their love is discouraged, but relents nonetheless until the two are fatefully separated when he has to go off to war. A crucial moral dilemma (which we won’t spoil here, in case you haven’t seen it) presents itself just as he leaves and it is heart crushingly painful. The first musical to win the Palme d'Or, and not the last, 'Cherbourg' nails the beautiful formalism of musicals without the visual razzle-dazzle of dancing and fully realizes the crestfallen and bittersweet ache of unrequited love and dolorous fate. Demy would make other musicals in his career, and many other films too, but none would act like a shot to the heart like 'Cherbourg,' now cemented as all all-time classic, musical or otherwise. Demy beat out François Truffaut's "The Soft Skin" and films by Pietro Germi, Kon Ichikawa and Hiroshi Teshigahara to win the big prize on the Croisette that year.

Underground

Underground” (1995)
Palme d’Or winners both fade and rise in esteem. Some are cemented in cinematic history and others become paler. Emir Kusturica’s “Underground” certainly falls in the latter camp, to the point that many modern-day cinephiles haven’t seen it (the fact that its only available on import as DVD doesn’t help). In fact, Kusturica, a Serbian filmmaker and two-time Palme d’Or winner has been all but forgotten as a modern day auteur. Perhaps it’s because his outrageous and farcical whirling dervish-like films were never really in step with American audiences or critics. And many might say “Underground” and its thinly-veiled critique of the ethnic Yugoslavian wars in the early 90s was nothing more than a not-so-allegoric propaganda piece. But really, that would not be giving this ambitious and riotous movie a fair shake. A black comedy with a sprawling, epic and near exhausting scope (164 minutes long), encapsulates 50 years of Yugoslavian history in three chapters by charting the absurd misadventures of two friends over several decades. About the inherently foolish nature of war, the movie is essentially about a man, and his accomplice, who deceives an entire community into living underground, convincing them that WWII rages on for more than 15 years. What’s perhaps so beautiful and awe-inspiring about “Underground” is how it’s as bizarre and as hilarious as any of Kusturica’s films, but as it moves up in the years, it slowly coils into something so tragic, sad and breathtakingly moving–an incredible build and evolution of tone, mood and emotion that is masterful. 1995 was a particularly good year and Kusturica's film bested the likes of Mathieu Kassovitz ("La Haine"), Tim Burton ("Ed Wood"), Larry Clark ("Kids"), Jim Jarmusch ("Dead Man") and Theo Angelopoulos ("Ulysses' Gaze") for the top prize. Kusturica has been making movies less these days, having moved on to music, novels, autobiographies, political activism and more (and his last film, the 2008 documentary "Maradona" couldn't even find U.S. distribution; to be fair, there’s a new drama in the can), but he’ll always be known as a two-time Palme winner. Perhaps someone like Criterion can restore his good name one of these days.

Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now” (1979)
And you thought Terrence Malick took a long time to make a movie. Just imagine the narrative on this one: You begin shooting your film in 1976, and this turns into a sprawling 238-day shooting schedule, spread over 16 months. Your “nightmare” production is so notoriously troubled and prolonged it becomes the butt of late night punchlines and comic-strip jokes in magazines. And then, almost three years later, you win the coveted Palme d’Or prize to much applause and fanfare (in a 3-hour work-in-progress cut no less). Francis Ford Coppola was surely at the height of the hubris that would later take down his impeccable ‘70s career, but arguably he was also at the zenith of his genius. A hallucinogenic and nightmarish decent into the heart of darkness, Coppola’s 1970s adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s famed novella used Vietnam as an allegory for the pandemonium and sheer madness that ensues during war. One of the greatest anti-war films ever—though its concerns are far deeper than just political statements—“Apocalypse Now” is a masterful look at the fallacy of order and the ever-enveloping psychosis of chaos. The haunting dread the movie emits as it snakes down the river towards a fateful doom is still chilling to this day. At its simplest, behind the barebones mission, it’s an examination of the psychology of two men at odds, on a collision course, and much more similar than they’d like to admit. Of course, it features terrific performances by Martin Sheen (arguably his career best), Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Robert Duvall, many others and the movie is so bloody committed, it almost killed everyone in the making. Only seven filmmakers in the world have won more than one Palme d'Or and Coppola is rightfully among that elite group (though his ‘Apocalypse’ prize would be shared with Volker Schlöndorff’s “The Tin Drum”). Coppola famously said the movie wasn’t about Vietnam, it was Vietnam. “We had access to too much money, too much equipment; and little by little we went insane." Thankfully for us that psychedelic and poetic anarchy is forever etched on screen for all time.

Secrets and Lies

“Secrets & Lies” (1996)
When it comes to painting working class toils with intricate shades of family values on an urban canvas, you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who does it better than Mike Leigh. And Cannes knows it, too. As a freshman at the festival in 1993, he received the Best Director Award for “Naked,” with his troubled protagonist Johnny getting David Thewlis the Best Actor award. Leigh's next film rolled its sleeves up even further to dive even deeper into the dirty dishes of kitchen sink realism, and came up with the indelible “Secrets & Lies.” Off to the French Riviera he went again, because why not? This time, as a sophomore, Leigh walked away with the Palme d'Or, and Brenda Blethyn picked up Best Actress. It's also worth mentioning that Jury President Francis Ford Coppola and his nine jurors picked Leigh's societal juggernaut over Lars Von Trier's “Breaking The Waves” and The Coen Bros' “Fargo." That's how good “Secrets & Lies” is, and how important the statement of awarding it the highest honour in 1996 was. As with most of Leigh's greatest outputs, plot and narrative are invisible to character, relationships, and an incredible dexterity at handling human pathos. What makes “Secrets & Lies” among his very best work is the added milieu teetering on the edge, and silently pulling emotional strings both off and on screen; in this case, when the black middle-class Hortence (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) finds out that her biological mother is white working-class Cynthia (Blethyn), the themes of race and family blood are introduced but never hammered down too hard. Watching a Leigh film is like taking a crash course in life, the experience always leaving us with heaps of food for thought. This year, Leigh is back at Cannes with “Mr. Turner” and our excitement is only kept in check by our appetite.

This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, Features, Feature, Abbas Kiarostami, Francis Ford Coppola, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, Wim Wenders, Coen Brothers, Carol Reed, Roberto Rossellini, Jacques Demy, Emir Kusturica, Mike Leigh, Cristian Mungiu, Bob Fosse


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates