What should have won the 2017 Cannes Palme d’Or?

With the partial exception of Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, there was no consensus amongst our critics on the Croisette.

Nick James , Geoff Andrew , Jonathan Romney , Sophie Monks Kaufman , Giovanni Marchini Camia , Isabel Stevens
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Joaquin Phoenix in Lynne Ramsay’s violent thriller You Were Never Really There, which premiered on the last Friday of the Cannes Film Festival

Joaquin Phoenix in Lynne Ramsay’s violent thriller You Were Never Really There, which premiered on the last Friday of the Cannes Film Festival

Nick James

The one thing we can be sure of about the Cannes 70th edition awards is that the gnashing of presscorps teeth that greeted last year’s jury’s boneheaded decision to snub Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann will not be repeated. For the strange thing is there are no real favourites, although Andrey Zvyagintsev’s disintegrating family drama Loveless and the Safdie brothers’ chaotic thriller Good Time should both win something. The reason for this indifference is no secret: the competition has been the weakest of recent times, which means it’s wide open to random enthusiasms from Pedro Almodóvar’s jury.

If it were down to me, Lynne Ramsay’s fragmentary thriller You Were Never Really Here would win the Palme d’Or, but it is a divisively elliptical work. At the very least Joaquin Phoenix’s studied performance as Joe, the ex-GI who’s handy with a hammer, should be a shoo-in for Best Actor, with the only justifiable opponents being Claes Bang, who plays the art gallery cultural director in Ruben Östlund’s The Square, Robert Pattinson as the loving brother thief thinking on his feet in Good Time or perhaps an ensemble award going to the mainly male cast of Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats per Minute.

Best Actress could go any way between Nicole Kidman as the cursed wife in Yorgos Lanthimos’s Greek tragedy The Killing of a Sacred Deer (but not for me for her lead in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled), Diane Krüger for playing the mother whose husband and son have been killed in a neo-Nazi bombing in Fatih Akin’s crude In the Fade, and my favourite, Maryana Spivak, who lit up Loveless with her determined, self-oriented divorcee Zhenya.

Maryana Spivak in andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless

Maryana Spivak in andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless

As for the main prizes, I severely doubt that Michael Haneke’s rather sketchy Happy End could win him yet another Palme d’Or. Since all juries have sentimental folk among them, Todd Haynes’s Young Adult deaf children’s double odyssey Wonderstruck might edge something. And then I get lost in yet more films I didn’t admire. In truth, since I only really rate Loveless, The Square, 120 Beats per Minute, Good Time, You Were Never Really Here and maybe Noah Baumbach’s easily pleasurable The Meyerowitz Stories, I feel less sure than I ever have of how things might turn out on Sunday.

 

Geoff Andrew

In terms of my own personal tastes, I think my favourite would probably be Ruben Östlund’s The Square; it’s a little frayed at the edges, but its only real fault is a surfeit of intelligent ideas, and it is often breathtakingly imaginative – and funny and haunting and relevant.

The Square (2017)

The Square (2017)

 

Jonathan Romney

There wasn’t an obvious outstanding title this year, although the one film that I really want to watch a second time may prove to be the most rewarding. It is Sergei Loznitsa’s A Gentle Creature, hated by some but with its admirers, and absolutely true to the spirit of the Russian literature that inspires it.

I suspect the likeliest Palme d’Or winner is 120 Beats, by Robin Campillo, a talent whose time has come. I’d love to see a Best Actor prize go to the the entire ensemble cast, who were terrific in a genuinely democratic film.

BPM (120 battements par minute, 2017)

BPM (120 battements par minute, 2017)

 

Sophie Monks-Kaufman

I’d like to see the prize go to Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled

Its closest competitor is Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, and Ramsay could use the laurel more than Coppola, but The Beguiled is a rare female story in a lineup crowded by the usual ponderous old men. It is an extraordinary work of cinematic craft that entertains through beauty, humour and mood, all the while building a moving evocation of what it costs to deny your sexual urges.

The Beguiled (2017)

The Beguiled (2017)

 

Giovanni Marchini Camia

My vote goes to Lynne Ramsay for You Were Never Really Here. It’s the only film competing for the Palme that genuinely took me by surprise. Not just in terms of its craft, which is astounding, but also because of its appraisal of humanity. While so many of the other films aspiring to commentary took the facile route of cynicism or downright misanthropy, casting judgement from on high, Ramsay found transcendence even in the darkest recesses of the human soul. There was plenty of misery and carnage to go around in this year’s Competition, but her film had a crucial quality that was in exceedingly short supply: heart.

 

Isabel Stevens

I’ve been concentrating on the sidebars (where there have been many competition-worthy films) so I haven’t seen everything. My vote would be split between the Safdie Brother’s Good Time and Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here; both cinematic shots in the arm.

Good Time (2017)

Good Time (2017)

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