tThe 2022 Cannes Film Festival has ended on a high note: a sense that the mediocre quality of the competition’s list has been made up for in recent days by a much-welcomed belated burst of excellence. There was respect for Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa for his documentary A Natural History of Destruction and for Mariupol 2, from the late Mantas Kvedaravičius, the filmmaker killed by Russian troops while filming this moment-by-moment study of life in the besieged city. The latter was completed by Kvedaravičius’ co-director and partner Hanna Bilobrova, in time to be shown here – filmmaking from the front lines.
But I’ve never seen a Cannes like this because of the radical disagreements among critics over almost every title: there’s hardly been a movie here that hasn’t experienced a series of takes of all the different temperatures. Every director is offered a rave and a meh and a quote tweet for the same movie, from critics who, based on all their published work, seem to have roughly the same taste and assumptions. Claire Denis’ coolly received erotic drama Stars at Noon was subjected to a social media snowball effect, then a frontlash of defense from those who felt this mockery was out of order.
Well, I can only say that at the beginning of the festival I felt agitated that the established names, the silverback gorillas of Cannes, who seemed assured of a place in the competition anyway, were getting away with very average stuff. It’s tradition in Cannes to announce that the movies in the sidebar of Un Certain Regard are better than the main competition, but this year it really is something in it. The new social-realistic drama by the Dardennes, Tori and Lokita, about two teenage immigrants from Benin who find themselves in a hopeless situation in Belgium, was valuable with strong moments, but actually more of the same. Set in 1980s New York, James Gray’s autobiographical coming-of-age drama Armageddon Time was stage-like and forced. Ruben Östlund’s The Triangle of Sadness was a wimpy, unsubtle satire that was easy to pick up and seemed to have been cultivated in a lab for the Cannes Film Festival. Hirokazu Kore-eda’s road trip heartwarming Broker hit a succession of wrong notes.
But beautiful films have also been made. Lukas Dhont’s Close, about the intense relationship between two teenage boys, made people sob in theater, and while I admit I thought Dhont went too straight for the tear duct, and that tragedy was a shortcut to greatness, it’s very powerful filmmaking . People call it the Palme frontrunner. But for me, the best movies, and the ones I still think could pimp Close on the post, are Park Chan-wook’s beautiful noir love story Deciding to Leave with Tang Wei as the mysterious caregiver who might be a murderer. is; the beautiful Le Otto Montagne by Charlotte Vandermeersch and Felix van Groeningen, about a difficult friendship between two straight men who cannot talk about their feelings (an interesting point of comparison with Close); Mario Martone’s beautifully shot Nostalgia, which was a delight; and Albert Serra’s very freaky and dreamy Pacifiction was a pure Cannes indulgence, making films utterly distinctive, its flawed brilliance offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. David Cronenberg’s Ballardian post-human vision Crimes of the Future was viewed with disappointment by some here, but I found the talk part of its appeal: it offers a cinema of ideas.
So here are predictions for the Cannes awards, in which I suggest that the convention (which isn’t really a hard and fast rule) that generally prohibits awarding two awards to the same film will be ignored this year. This is followed by my own personal predictions for categories that don’t exist at the Cannes Film Festival yet, but should.
Cannes Award Predictions
Palme d’Oro Decide to leave
Grand prize Close to
jury prize Pacification
Best director Saeed Roustayi (Leila’s brothers)
best screenplay Charlotte Vandermeersch and Felix van Groeningen (Le Otto Montagne)
best actor Pierfrancesco Favino (Nostalgia)
best actress Tang Wei (Decision to leave)
“Cannes Braddies” for categories that don’t exist
Best Supporting Actor Ahmed Sylla (mother and son)
Best Supporting Actress Kristen Stewart (Crimes of the Future)
Best cinematography Arthur Tort (Pacifiction)
Best Production Design Josefin Åsberg for Triangle of Sorrow