The 2014 Cannes Festival is over and Jane Campion’s jury has awarded the Palme d’Or to Nuri Bilge Ceylan for his 196-minute opus ‘Winter Sleep’. Time will tell if their decision was the correct one; in the meantime, I still wanted to write something Cannes-related. I started looking back over the years of the festival, which is celebrating its 67th edition this year and looking over the history of past winners. While I realize that I haven’t seen even half of the Cannes Film Festival winners, I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few of my favorite, assuming readers could add their thoughts in the comments, suggesting some titles I have not yet seen or those you believe belong in the top ten.
Before listing, here’s a quick information: The top prize at the Cannes Film Festival is the Palme d’Or, but that wasn’t always the case. From 1939-1954, the highest prize was called the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film. Then, in 1964, the Palme d’Or was introduced, running for only ten years when the Grand Prix du Festival was reintroduced in 1964, before the Palme officially took over at the 28th Cannes Film Festival in 1975.
Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
47th Cannes Film Festival
I’ll never forget the first time I watched Pulp Fiction, mostly because I had no idea what to expect going into it. I was too young to understand when the film was perfectly marketed, with trailers, music and posters. But then every time I watch this movie, I rediscover my passion for the art of cinema. You never know when a movie is going to surprise you and completely baffle your imagination. I love Tarantino’s films and could watch most any of them at any moment in time, but if I had to rank his films, Pulp Fiction comes out on top. With probably one of the best screenplays ever written, this film will remain one of my favourites until I die.
The Pianist (Roman Polanski, 2002)
55th Cannes Film Festival
This is the story of Polish Jewish pianist during the World War II and historical drama film about the Holocaust. To this day, the one scene that stands out in my mind’s eye is Adrien Brody walking down a deserted street, weeping with despair. I cried several times during that movie, it’s simply too real and painful to rewatch it. The Pianist was awarded the Palme d’Or at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Also, the film met with significant critical praise and received multiple awards and nominations. At the 75th Academy Awards, The Pianist won Oscars for Best Director (Polanski), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ronald Harwood) and Best Actor (Brody).
La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960)
13th Cannes Film Festival
Captured in lovely black-and-white, Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita lands a spot so high on my list. The movie is about the journey of a gossip magazine writer, through the ‘sweet life’ of Rome in search for real love and meaning of his life. Even though the literal translation of the film’s title as ‘the sweet life’, it focuses on a character living a life more empty than sweet. The movie starts with a statue of Jesus, which is transported to the Vatican with helicopter and you never get bored during 174 minutes.
And that does it for me. So now I give you the floor…. What are your favorite Cannes Film Festival winners? Let’s speak up in the comments below.
Image source: Flickr