Tanner Stechnij’s Cannes 2017 Competition Picks

Tanner Stechnij’s Cannes 2017 Competition Picks

Stars are returning to the Palais for the 70th Cannes Film Festival award ceremony — rumor has it that Diane Kruger and Robin Campillo are among the people to be awarded tonight. Overall, the festival has been viewed as one without many masterpieces, at least in the competition. Completely contrasting last year, Director’s Fortnight proved to be the dominant program especially with the likes of new work from Claire Denis, Sean Baker, Philippe Garrel and Bruno Dumont. Despite these films all being competition worthy, I will be awarding only to the films that the jury watched.

Palme d’Or: 120 Beats per Minute
It is very easy to dismiss socially pertinent films as awards fodder and it often rings true, especially for movies like last year’s Palme d’Or winning I, Daniel Blake. However, 120 BPM isn’t just an “important” film, it is the best of the festival. Campillo obviously feels passionate about ACT UP Paris, an organization that he was a member of. No one else could’ve directed this film with as much gentleness while also displaying the tragedy of AIDS a couple of decades ago. It is the only film I would deem a masterpiece that I’ve seen here.

Grand Prix: The Day After
Hong Sang-soo won’t slow down and we are so lucky to have four of his films premier in the last nine months. Of what I’ve seen, The Day After is his most sobering and personal film yet. It is hard to measure a director that is always contemplating similar themes, but this feels like a major movie in the Sang-soo oeuvre.

Prix du Jury: A Gentle Creature
Of the two Russian films in competition, A Gentle Creature stood out more to me with its epic scope and observational lead. Adapting a Dostoyevsky short into a 144-minute film definitely, has potential to go off course. However, Loznitsa handles the material with a Homer-esque condemnation of the system in place in Russia.

Prix de la mise en scène: Todd Haynes, Wonderstruck
Todd Haynes has always exhibited extreme technical prowess, but Wonderstruck is his most ambitious film yet. Only Haynes could make a children’s story simultaneously experimental and accessible.

Prix d’interprétation féminine: Elisabeth Moss, The Square
Elisabeth Moss only has about four scenes in The Square, but she fights a man for his used condom in one of them. So, that’s that.

Prix d’interprétation masculine: Adam Sandler, The Meyerowitz Stories
This is my first of two reactionary awards. Perhaps Adam Sandler isn’t the best actor in competition, but his performance seems like such a revelation in context to all of the shit that he is in. However, he is the heart of The Meyerowitz Stories and his expressive performance will surely remind people that he can deliver when well directed.

Prix du scénario: Hikari, Naomi Kawase
I have always had a penchant for female filmmakers and find the hate for Naomi Kawase largely based on the fragility and softness. Hikari is light, but its gentle poetry was a great change of pace from the heavy-handness of a lot of the competition films. Kawase’s penchant for beautiful, simple stories works incredibly well as an auditory adapter for films for the hearing impaired.

Written by
Tanner Stechnij is a journalism student at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School. He has been reviewing films for a couple of years and has found a niche in queer world cinema.

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