Wednesday, May 27, 2015

15 Winners and Losers From Cannes 2015

As your jet-lagged Vulture staffers put their fancy clothes in with mothballs and break out the sweatpants, join us as we reminisce about what the Cannes Film Festival had to offer this year. Which movies came out of Cannes smelling like a rose, and which will now be tainted by the scent of merde? Here are 15 of this year's winners, losers, and other superlatives.

Biggest Punching Bag: Sea of Trees
Yes, Gus Van Sant's derided Matthew McConaughey drama had a meager script, but the pundits who were calling it the worst movie to ever play at Cannes either haven't been going for very long or have been unusually blessed by the moviegoing gods. Still, there's always gotta be one notorious flop on the Croisette, and this year, it was former Palme winner Van Sant's chance to take those low blows. —Kyle Buchanan

Best Advertisement for Online Dating: The Lobster
Sad single people are turned into animals if they don't couple up within 45 days in Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos's charming, absurdist (and sometimes terrifying) trip into the near future. Winner of the Jury Prize, this sure-to-be cult classic follows Colin Farrell's recently divorced David as he checks into a last-chance hotel for the uncoupled, then escapes to try his luck in the woods with the "loners," who are just as dictatorial in their eschewing of love and are at constant risk of being shot and bagged by sad singles from the hotel. If that doesn't make you walk out of the theater and immediately sign up for, nothing will. —Jada Yuan

Our Own Personal Palme Winner: Max Max: Fury Road
It's sort of outrageous that Fury Road was consigned to an out-of-competition slot, though at least it was in good company: Pixar's well-received Inside Out didn't make it into competition, either. Perhaps the festival simply couldn't tolerate the idea of letting two big-studio, megabudget movies breathe that rarefied air, but this snub was a major error, as these were two of the best-reviewed movies of the festival. —KB

Hottest Movie With No Sex: Maryland
The minute we saw that this thriller from director Alice Winocour starred Matthias Schoenaerts (Vulture's pick for Best New Leading Man at Cannes 2012) as a former Special Forces soldier who becomes the private bodyguard for Diane Kruger, we were already turned on. And yes, Schoenaerts does take off his shirt, and yes, it is glorious. But the real heat comes from his loaded glances while Kruger swans around in a deep backless dress, or the tortured looks that flicker on his face as he tries to save Kruger and her child while keeping the violent rage from his wartime PTSD at bay. There's no sex, but the brief moments of physical contact between our leads are enough to set all your parts a-tingling. —JY

Most Oversexed Movie: Love
And then, on the other side of the spectrum, we've got Gaspar Noé's provocative Love, which opens with a couple mid-coitus and features so many cum shots that we lost count. Here at Vulture, we're advocates for more screen sex, and there's one genuinely hot threesome in Love, but too few of the sex scenes present anything besides narcotized actors going through the motions. —KB

Most Haunting: Son of Saul
From the first frame of this debut feature from Hungarian director Lázló Nemes, we're thrown into the living hell of 1944 Auschwitz as viewed through the eyes of Saul (Géza Röhrig, also making his debut), a prisoner forced to dispose of the bodies of his fellow Jews in order to delay his own execution by a measly few months. Saul witnesses the death of a boy who he claims is his son and becomes obsessed with giving his corpse a proper burial, no matter the risk to his safety and the well-being of his fellow prisoners. Winner of the Grand Prix (second place), the film was so powerful that after the jury emerged from the premiere, "We had a very long moment of reflection and silence," said jury member Xavier Dolan. "The movie screened at the very beginning of the festival [but] we have never forgotten about the film, and it has fed so many reflections and conversations. It is one of those films that slowly grows into you." —JY

Best Wardrobe: Carol
The reviews were rapturous for this Todd Haynes–directed lesbian romance starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, even if some of the pundits we spoke to on the Croisette found the '50s-set drama a bit frosty. Still, one thing everyone could agree on were the luscious sweaters and luxurious dresses worn by Blanchett's socialite and Mara's striving shopgirl: Carol premiered at Cannes the same weekend that Mad Men went off the air, and it was nice to have a new place to get our period fashion fix. —KB

Most Likely to Make You Hug Your Cab Driver: Dheepan
The unspoken inner lives of immigrants are at the center of Jacques Audiard's unexpected Palme d'Or winner, which traces three refugees from the Sri Lankan civil war who meet for the time as they're fleeing the country and then create a makeshift family in France. There, Dheepan (played by non-actor Jesuthasan Antonythasan, who actually was a Tamil Tiger) takes a job as the caretaker for an apartment complex overrun by drug dealers who hardly suspect he was once a soldier with lethal skills to employ when his family is threatened. Jury member Jake Gyllenhaal said he'd been deeply moved by watching "three strangers, forced to travel to a strange land, essentially learn to love each other." I personally was struck by the idea of how much struggle must mark the lives of every immigrant we encounter, and vowed to treat cab drivers with a little more kindness. —JY

Best Cameo: Youth
Jane Fonda marches into the final section of Youth with such command that she make you think it's been her movie all along, even though you've been watching stars Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel murmur to each other for the better part of two hours. Equipped with a giant wig, a face full of fright makeup, and a wicked scowl, Fonda's faded star makes so much of her scant few minutes onscreen that some critics predicted she'll manage to end up in the Best Supporting Actress race. —KB

Most Gonzo Visuals: Tale of Tales
I can't say I knew exactly what to make of Matteo Garone's twisted fairy tales in the puzzling Tale of Tales, but I do know there are images in it I'll never forget. Toby Jones hugging a five-foot flea! Salma Hayek lustily tearing into a sea serpent's heart with her teeth! Vincent Cassel kicking a peacock! Bless this weird, beautiful movie. —KB

Most Hunger-Inducing: Our Little Sister
Don't go to Japanese master Hirokazu Koreeda's sweet family drama on an empty stomach. In Our Little Sister, three adult sisters take in their teenage half-sister (after the death of the tomcatting father they have in common) and bond with her over food, food, and more delicious food, from freshly caught fish on toast and hand-pulled noodles to homemade plum wine. Even the subplots play out in diners where everyone talks about how good the food is! And ... we'll finish this up after we eat. —JY

Most Deceptive: The Assassin
Fans of the Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien were swooning after they watched this pretty but glacially paced drama about a Tang Dynasty hit woman, but there were a whole lot of walkouts, too, after it became apparent that the plot would remain utterly indecipherable and the sword fights would be fleeting. Some in-the-tank critics called this the action movie of the festival, and take my word that they are trolling you, hard. —KB

Best Use of Parker Posey: Irrational Man
It seems like an oversight that Parker Posey has never lent her loopy line readings to the dialogue of Woody Allen, but it's a mistake that's been rectified by his latest film, Irrational Man. Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone are the stars here, but Posey steals every scene she's in as a sexually voracious 40-something who's determined to woo Phoenix's flaccid professor into bed. Why is this unique creature not in every movie? —KB

Best Self-Esteem Booster: Inside Out
Pixar's latest takes us into the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, where her five key emotions — Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust — are all vying for control. Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) has led the team for most of Riley's childhood, but when her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco, Sadness (The Office's Phyllis Smith) starts to gunk everything up without quite realizing what sort of wreckage she's causing. The emotions all love Riley and want her to be the happiest girl she can be, but as Joy scrambles to keep Riley's crumbling emotional landscape together, the radical message that Pixar is sending to little girls is that all of their feelings are valid, even the sad ones. —JY

Best Performance: Mountains May Depart
Carol's Rooney Mara and Emmanuelle Bercot of Mon Roi may have shared the jury's Best Actress prize, but if it had been up to us, Zhao Tao would have won by a landslide. In this new, generations-spanning film from director Jia Zhangke, Zhao's task is gargantuan as she morphs from a naïve 20-something at the center of a love triangle to a world-weary divorcée who tries to reconnect with her son as the tides of commerce pull him away from his home country. She is the heart of this movie, and when she's not onscreen, we ache for her presence.

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