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And the 2013 Palme d’Or Goes To…

blue-is-the-warmest-color-palme-dor


Everyone in Cannes will be wearing blue tonight.

Abdellatif Kechiche (and in an unprecedented move, his two lead actresses, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux) took home the coveted Palme d’Or at this evening’s Cannes Film Festival closing ceremony for his newest film, Blue Is the Warmest Color.

It was arguably the best received film of the festival and unquestionably the most talked about for its frank, sometimes explicit portrayal of a young lesbian romance, yet some doubted the Steven Spielberg-led jury’s desire to “go there.” Would a more conventional tale, like Asghar Farhadi’s The Past or Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son, take home the festival’s top prize? Many, including myself, thought so. But despite some surprising choices further down the awards lineup, the Palme belonged to Blue all along.

Things got off to an unpredictable start when Bruce Dern (of Alexander Payne’s Nebraska) pulled off a pretty stunning upset over Behind the Candelabra‘s Michael Douglas in the Best Actor category. When Best Actress went to Berenice Bejo for her work in Asghar Farhadi’s The Past, Blue‘s win seemed all but wrapped up. This category was the easiest place to find love for Kechiche’s film had the jury decided to look elsewhere for the Cannes. As Bejo, clearly taken aback by the award, called on Farhadi to join her onstage, it became apparent where the night was heading.

Best Screenplay went to Jia Zhangke for A Touch of Sin, a well-received film that premiered early in the fest and maybe went forgotten by some. Best Director, however, was a big surprise as Mexico’s Amat Escalante took home the prize for Heli, one of the festival’s more brutal films and one that wasn’t particularly beloved when it premiered on the festival’s first night.

It was Kore-eda who took home the Jury Prize—the Competition’s unofficial bronze medal—for Like Father, Like Son. The Coen Brothers won their first Grand Prix (though it’s far from their first taste of Cannes gold) for Inside Llewyn Davis. Then came the inevitable—Blue Is the Warmest Color won the Palme d’Or.

There will be many festival post-mortems in the coming days, and I’ll leave those for the men and women in attendance. All I’ll say about it now is that it seemed like one of the best programmed Cannes festivals since I’ve been following the world of film. There are just so many new movies I’m excited for (and it starts tonight with the HBO premiere of Behind the Candelabra, which, incidentally, was curiously shut out despite some rave reviews).

Predictions-wise, I’m embarrassed. Not a single one right. Most of the films I predicted for an award were acknowledged. I just had my categories mixed up. Oops. Like I always say with the Oscars, the worse your predictions are, the more exciting the ceremony.

Anyway, congrats to all the winners. Only 355 days or so until Cannes 2014.

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