'May December' review: Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore dazzle, but Todd Haynes' drama is too detached for its own good

Cannes Analysis: Jury Prize winners and losers to watch for Oscar season

No one gets to see everything that screens in competition at the Cannes Film Festival – there were 21 titles in the mix this year – and I certainly can’t. So without judging all the titles that they were awarded on Saturday, I have to say I’m impressed that all five of the eligible English language titles — Wes Anderson‘S City of Asteroids, Jean-Stephane Sauvaire‘S Black flies, Karim Ainouz‘S Burning ember, Todd Haynes‘S may december AND Ken Loach‘S The Old Oak – were completely ignored by the jury.

Needless to say, that’s not the mandate of the Cannes jury, which this year included the likes of Paul Dano, Brie Larson and recent Palme d’Or winners Reuben Ostlund (from 2017 The square and 2022 Triangle of sadness) and 2021 Julia Ducournau (Titanium) – to try to presage the Oscar race. But it is still notable, to me, that after several consecutive years of considerable overlap between the Cannes jurors’ picks and the Academy’s picks, particularly when Parasite won top prizes of both – it seems unlikely that there will be much, if at all, this year.

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The Academy, of course, gravitates primarily towards English-language work, even as it becomes a more international organization. And there is much Academy-favorable work in the five overlooked English-language titles, especially the outstanding performance of Natalie Portman AND Julianne Moore as an actress and the woman she will portray, respectively may decemberthat Netflix bought for $11 million at the festival and plans to push for awards; Alicia Vikander AND Judah Law as Katherine Parr and King Henry VIII, respectively, in Burning ember, which is still seeking U.S. distribution; AND Tye Sheridan AND Sean Penn as a young man preparing for medical school and a veteran paramedic, respectively, in Black fliesthat Open Road will distribute in America.

Two other English-language films screened at the festival, albeit out of competition, which will surely receive important Oscar awards: Martin Scorsese‘S The flower moon killersby Paramount and Apple TV+, which features extraordinary shifts Leonardo Dicaprio, Lily Glastone, Robert DeNiro AND Jesse Plemon (Scorsese and his backers opted not to screen it in competition); and the latest from Pixar, Elementarywhich closed the party.

What about the movies that they were honored?

The one with the most Oscar potential could be the Grand Prix winner The area of ​​interestBritish director Jonathan GlasserThe German-language portrait of the life of the Höss family just outside the gates of Auschwitz, a real study on the banality of evil. It’s sure to get an Oscar boost from A24, who also handled Glazer’s most recent previous film, Under the skin, a decade ago; as was the case with that project, I have no doubt this one will be widely received by critics, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s the Academy’s cup of tea. Even the way it starts, with several minutes of blank screen, struck many I’ve conferred with as pretentious and may lose interest from Academy members who try to watch it at home on the Academy members-only streaming service .

It seems to me unlikely that Germany would choose to submit, as a candidate for the Oscar race for Best International Feature Film, a film by a non-German director and/or a film that poorly reflects the behavior of the German population during World War II. So the film’s strongest Oscar prospect might be its leading lady, Sandra Huellerwho plays Mrs. Höss in The area of ​​interest — and also stars in the Palme d’Or-winning film, Justine Triet‘S Anatomy of a fall, in which she plays a writer who tries to prove her innocence in the death of her husband. (Had Hüller’s films not walked away with the festival’s top two awards, it seems likely that she would have been awarded the Best Actress award, but Cannes juries generally prefer to spread their honors.)

Anatomy of a fall will be distributed in the United States by Neon, who also handled the US distribution of the last La Palma-winning French film, Titanium, which was eventually presented by France as an Oscar nominee, but was not selected. This season, France will have to decide whether to submit or not Anatomy of a fall or the movie for which Tran Anh Hung was awarded with the award for best director, The Pot Au Feustarring the French favourites Juliette Binoch AND Benoit Magimel and may have more mainstream appeal. The Pot Au Feu it is still seeking distribution in the United States.

A jury prize went to Fallen leavesthe last film of the Finnish master Aki Kaurismäkiwho previously represented his country in the Oscar race for Best International Feature with 1996’s Drifting clouds, who was disqualified; 2002 The man without a past, which was named; 2006 Lights in the twilight, until it was withdrawn; and 2011 Le Havre, which has not been named. MUBI will distribute it in the United States

Best Screenplay was awarded to Yuji Sakamoto for the Japanese film Monsterwhich was directed by Hirokazu Kore-edawho previously represented his country with the 2004’s No one knows, which was not named; and 2018 Shoplifters, which was named. He’s still looking for distribution in the US.

Merve Dizdar she won best actress for her role in the Turkish film Speaking of dried herbswhich was directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylonwho previously represented his country with the 2003’s Distant, which was not named; 2008 Three monkeys, which was selected; 2011 Once upon a time in Anatolia, which was not named; 2014 Winter sleep, which was not named; and 2018 The Wild Pear, which has not been named. He’s still looking for distribution in the US.

And then there’s the great Japanese actor Koji Yakushowhich was awarded Best Actor for perfect daysa Japanese-German co-production directed by the legendary German director Wim Wender. Neon is reportedly closing a deal for the film’s distribution rights in the United States. Wenders has already represented Germany with 1977’s The American friend, which was not named; 1987 Wings of Desire, which was not named; and 2011 Pina, which has been selected. But it remains to be seen whether Japan or Germany will present a co-production this season.