At the start of the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, Swedish director Ruben Östlund told a roomful of journalists that he would rather win his third Palme d’Or than an Oscar. For this year, at least, the previous Cannes winner for “Triangle of Sadness” and “The Square” will have to settle for handing the Palme d’Or to someone else.
As the president of this year’s jury for the Official Competition of the 76th festival, Ostlund is leading a team of nine writers, directors, and actors (as well as two writer-director-actors): Fellow Palme d’Or winner Julia Ducournau (“Titane”), Brie Larson, Zambian filmmaker Rungano Nyoni, Moroccan filmmaker Maryam Touzani, Paul Dano, French actor Denis Ménochet, Afghan director Atiq Rahimi, and Argentinian director Damián Szifron. The group will spend the festival watching two to three competition films per day, and Ostlund has said that they will gather to deliberate every three films over the course of the 10 day festival. That process will culminate on Saturday, May 27, when the group will meet for a final time and vote on the Palme winner along with prizes for acting, writing, directing, and a few other categories. The ceremony will take place at 8:30 p.m.
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There is no exact science to predicting the Palme d’Or race. Each juror gets one vote, including the president, and jurors are instructed to keep a tight lid on their reactions to movies over the course of the festival. In the past, some have abided by this rule better than others, and rumors run rampant either way. Films that receive the most critical support aren’t always the obvious frontrunners (the acclaimed “Toni Erdmann” lost to the sentimental “I, Daniel Blake” in 2016), though wild, subversive filmmaking often supersedes more traditional storytelling (just look at “Triangle of Sadness” and “Titane,” the winners of the last two years). It can be all too easy to make assumptions about jury preferences based on their own work. At the same time, for this guessing game, Cannes obsessives need all the clues they can get.
IndieWire’s annual list of Palme d’Or predictions only includes odds for movies that have already screened at the festival. It is updated daily as new films screen, so check back to see the latest odds throughout the festival.
What You Should Know
1. “Anatomy of a Fall”
Triet’s second film in competition following the 2019 dark comedy “Sibyl” is a gripping mystery that keeps evolving, with Cannes favorite Sandra Huller (“Toni Erdman,” and this year, also in “The Zone of Interest”) as a writer forced to defend herself in court when she becomes the main suspect in her husband’s murder. The movie evolves from an early investigative passage to an extensive courtroom drama before reorienting itself from the perspective of the Huller character’s young son, which leads to a surprising final passage baked in ambiguity and emotional payoff. Though Huller could certainly win the acting prize, the movie’s leverages sophisticated filmmaking trickery into an involving narrative that could push it over the top to Palme territory. Triet’s the kind of rising filmmaker whose confident technique and accessible storytelling would sit well with a jury unable to find consensus on more divisive titles — at least as long as nobody minds the two-and-half-hour length and a somewhat daunting, dialogue-heavy midsection that only justifies itself later on. Read our review.
2. “The Zone of Interest”
Glazer’s first movie since “Under the Skin” is a tense and riveting look at an Auschwitz commander (Christian Friedel) and his wife (Sandra Huller) through the unusual lens of their domestic life. Critics adore it and the jury will almost certainly appreciate its daring approach. It’s a serious Palme contender as long as some of the jury doesn’t find it too cold, but it could also find Glazer — in his first Cannes competition entry — taking home Best Director. Read our review.
3. “Fallen Leaves”
Finnish director Kaurismaki has been a master of sweet, deadpan stories with topical undercurrents for decades, and “Fallen Leaves” is the latest proof that he hasn’t lost his touch. The movie stars Alma Poysti as a supermarket clerk who leads a lonely existence until she meets Holappa (Jussi Vatanen), a hard-drinking construction worker who also seems adrift. Together the pair find some measure of comfort in a cold world as this understated snippet of poignance develops a deep foundation. Though Kaurismaki fans might find the movie almost too familiar, there’s no question that the filmmaker’s charm and depth epitomizes his filmmaking appeal in such a precise way that the jury might easily find its way to consensus here. It’s bound to win something. Read our review.
4. “Perfect Days”
Legendary Japanese actor Koji Yakusho (“The Eel”) anchors this sensitive character study from Wim Wenders in his best-received narrative feature in years. A largely dialogue-free drama about an aging toilet cleaner in Tokyo, the movie hovers in an agreeable tone for most of its runtime as it creates a sense of poignant mystery around his past. Yakusho’s subtle performance becomes an emotional weapon that deepens the movie’s core. The narrative itself is so low-key and understated that it doesn’t leave the same kind of impression as Yakusho does, which makes this one more of a Best Actor contender than a frontrunner for the Palme. Read our review.
5. “La Chimera”
Italian auteur Alice Rohrwacher has won prizes at Cannes before (“The Wonders,” “Happy as Lazzaro”), but never the Palme. “La Chimera” is an absorbing, quasi-supernatural story of a tomb raider (Josh O’Connell, speaking perfect Italian) whose obsession with ancient artifacts provides some measure of catharsis for his lost love. Like all of Rohrwacher’s work, the movie is a slow, dreamlike immersion into its character’s predicament, but it builds to one of her best emotional finales. It stands a good shot at winning something, though some jurors may be more into Rohrwacher’s specific tonal choices than others, per usual. Read our review here. Read our review.
6. “May December”
Haynes’ fifth film at Cannes is his most outwardly entertaining, a campy drama featuring Julianne Moore as a woman years after her tabloid romance with her seventh grade student and Natalie Portman as the actress trailing her for a role. Loosely inspired by a real-life case, the movie develops an intriguing love triangle around the Moore character’s now-grown love interest (Charles Melton) as Portman infiltrates their dynamic. A hot sales title, “May December” has also received warm reviews. It would be a surprise Palme winner given its playful air, though juries sometimes can be swayed by fun options over stodgier options. Even if it doesn’t get that far, either actress could take home a prize. Read our review.
“Shoplifters” director Kore-eda returns with his latest bid for a second Palme in this sentimental look at a young child who may or may not be a victim of bullying; as his single mother attempts to get to the bottom of that, the movie adopts a “Rashomon” perspective that gets deeper as it goes along. Kore-eda’s subtle approach may be almost too understated for some, but his filmmaking confidence (and the emotional clarity of his ideas) is undeniable. Read our review.
8. “The Pot-Au-Feu”
Tran Anh Hung
Perhaps the Frenchiest of the French movies in competition this year, this culinary romance from director Tran Anh Hung features Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel in a 19th century French manor who fall in love in the midst of their kitchen mastery. Magimel plays Dodin Bouffant, a revered chef who falls for his prized cook over the course of many years. Hung’s textured, unhurried directorial style is unabashed food porn, especially in its detailed first hour, but at its core the movie delivers a poignant emotional connection with a bittersweet twist. Despite some strong critical reactions, the movie is a bit too familiar for some audiences who have expressed the sense that — however well-realized it is — Hung plays it almost too safe with the storytelling. That might make it hard to land a Palme win in this competitive year, but if enough jurors are moved by it, the movie may not go home empty-handed. Review our review.
9. “The Old Oak”
At 86, Ken Loach is back at Cannes for a shot at his third Palme d’Or. The final movie to screen at Cannes this year may not be the most obvious frontrunner as it’s a bleeding-heart story about a pub owner who tries to protect a Syrian immigrant from xenophobic locals not unlike many other socially-conscious Loach movies before it. From a filmmaking standpoint, it doesn’t reinvent the rules, and actors tend to be more responsive to Loach’s style than fellow directors. There are more of the latter on this year’s jury.
10. “About Dry Grasses”
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkish director Ceylan won the Palme for “Winter Sleep” and is a Cannes regular with his languid, darkly funny character studies that can be a bit of an acquired taste. His latest, an engrossing but nevertheless slow-moving look at a disgruntled high school teacher who runs into a problem with one of his admiring students, will satisfy plenty of Ceylan fans thanks to its thoughtful investigation of its nihilistic character’s worldview. But it’s hard to see how a jury could converge on this particular cinematic challenge with other strong options. Read our review.
11. “Asteroid City”
Cannes regular and master of the quirk routine Anderson has never won a Cannes prize before, in part because many cinephiles (including festival jurors) either love or hate his work, which makes it tough to find consensus. Still, Anderson’s latest has been winning him far better responses than his last Cannes entry, “The French Dispatch,” in part because it has fresh ambition. The star-stacked ensemble (which centers on Jason Schwartzman, but includes everyone from Bryan Cranston to ScarJo) seem to be having a blast with this colorful meta story about an alien invasion in a small desert town, which is actually a filmed play, and maybe something else. While it would be an upset for the Palme, if enough jurors truly love it, Anderson could finally score some kind of prize. Read our review.
12. “Banel and Adama”
French-Sengalese director Sy has the only first feature in Cannes competition, and it’s a modest but promising indication of a new cinematic voice. The small-scale romance follows a young couple in a village in Senegal whose future is threatened when Banel (Khady Mane) rejects pressure to become the village tribal leader and Adama (Mamadou Diallo) dreams of a fresh start. The movie’s poignant focus and poetic visuals may impress this year’s jury, but it’s too minor and understated to be a serious Palme contender. Read our review.
13. “Youth (Spring)”
Chinese auteur Wang Bing’s sprawling look at textile workers whose work is shipped around the world provides an intricate depiction of an underrepresented world. (It’s the rare documentary in competition and the first time there for the “Dead Souls” director.) It has been praised for its sensitive approach, but its glacial pace, wandering style, and daunting 218-minute runtime make it less likely to find the consensus necessary for the Palme. Read our review.
Corsini’s latest French drama (she was last at Cannes with “The Divide” in 2021) has been overshadowed by controversy associated with sex scenes shot with its underage cast. Setting that aside, the movie is a thoughtful and grounded look at two Black teens who return with their single mother to Corsica and struggle to make sense out of their broken family. Despite strong performances, the movie’s emotional arc is a bit too pedestrian to make inroads to serious Palme potential. Read our review.
15. “A Brighter Tomorrow”
Cannes regular Nanni Moretti’s 14th work brings his back to his roots, with the Italian director playing a variation of himself as an aging filmmaker troubled the challenges involved in making movies today. The movie showcases Moretti’s usual self-deprecating charm with a few modern twists (including a prolonged gag about Netflix), but it has faced mixed reviews, and ultimately amounts too much of a small-scale, understated work for the jury to unite around it. Moretti will have to make do with the Palme d’Or he won for “The Son’s Room” in 2001, though some jurors may find the message of the movie appealing enough (the perseverance of artistry in trying times) to push for some kind of awards recognition. Read our review.
16. “Club Zero”
Jessica Hausner’s bizarre dark comedy stars Mia Wasikowska as a cultish teacher at an English boarding school who convinces her students that food — all food — is bad for them, and they’re better off starving themselves. Despite a colorful aesthetic right out of the Wes Anderson playbook that ups the ironic tone and twisted surrealist flourish that contribute to constant unpredictability, the movie’s bizarre premise is often alienating and assaultive when it isn’t not also kind of bland. Reviews have been unkind, and while some jurors may appreciate its ambition, a Palme d’Or isn’t the most likely outcome here. Read our review.
Brazilian director Ainouz’s first English-language feature is a sullen period drama about Henry VIII (a grotesque, bearded Jude Law) and his sixth queen, Catherine Parr (Alicia Vikander), who does her best to resist his crude, oppressive treatment while his health starts to wane. The movie positions Catherine as a heroic figure looking for a path toward escaping her husband’s rule, and as a result, the grim story manages to serve as a decent acting showcase for both performers as they navigate this unsettling depiction of the monarchy. However, the movie’s humorless tone and straightforward narrative make this a tough one to find consensus on, as the mixed reviews have already shown. Read our review.
The true story of a Jewish child kidnapped by the Vatican in the 16th century, Italian director Bellochio’s latest period epic is a well-rounded and engaging historical work that doesn’t reinvent the rule. The 83-year-old Bellochio’s steady hand could impress the jury due to his tight grasp of an intriguing narrative, but there’s nothing especially cinematic about the approach and it’s certainly not a serious Palm contender.
19. “Last Summer”
Catherine Breillat has been a provocateur at Cannes for decades with her complex studies of sexuality that tend to push past audience comfort zones. “Last Summer” certainly does that with a sensual look at a middle-aged woman who has an affair with her teenage stepson. The movie itself, is a more grounded and straightforward drama unlikely to elicit as much excitement from a cinematic standpoint.
20. “Black Flies”
Tye Sheridan gives a powerful performance as a conflicted junior EMT opposite Sean Penn’s veteran first responder in this harrowing depiction of paramedic life, which wallows in bleak rescue missions and a grim spiral of guilt trips. While “A Prayer Before Dawn” director Sauvaire builds some gripping sequences, the unrelenting bleakness of the movie has left many audiences wondering if it adds up too much substance. Hard to see the jury finding unanimity on it, either. Read our review.
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