Honor roll: Festival de Cannes Jury Awards for Feature Films

Each of these films has been nominated for a Festival de Cannes Jury Awards for Feature Films. They are ranked by honors received.

Film:Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino

With the knockout one-two punch of 1992’s Reservoir Dogs and 1994’s Pulp Fiction writer-director Quentin Tarantino stunned the filmmaking world, exploding into prominence as a cinematic heavyweight contender. But Pulp Fiction was more than just the follow-up to an impressive first feature, or the winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, or a script stuffed with the sort of juicy bubblegum dialogue actors just love to chew, or the vehicle that reestablished John Travolta on the A-list, or the relatively low-budget ($8 million)…

Film:Secrets & Lies

Secrets & Lies

Mike Leigh

If a film fan had never heard of director Mike Leigh, one might explain him as a British Woody Allen. Not that Leigh’s films are whimsical or neurotic; they are tough-love examinations of British life—funny, outlandish, and biting. His films share a real immediacy with Allen’s work: they feel as if they are happening now. Leigh works with actors—real actors—on ideas and language. There is no script at the start (and sometimes not at the end). Secrets and Lies involves Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), an elegant black woman wanting to learn her birth…

Film:The Piano

The Piano

Jane Campion

Jane Campion’s The Piano struck a deep chord (if you’ll excuse the expression) with audiences in 1993, who were mesmerized by the film’s rich, dreamlike imagery. It is the story of a Scottish woman named Ada (Holly Hunter), who has been mute since age 6 because she simply chose not to speak. Ada travels with her daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) and her beloved piano to a remote spot on the coast of New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a farmer (Sam Neill). She gives piano lessons to a gruff neighbor (Harvey Keitel) who has Maori tattoos on his face, and,…

Film:Life Is Beautiful

Life Is Beautiful: (La Vita è bella)

Roberto Benigni

Italy’s rubber-faced funnyman Roberto Benigni accomplishes the impossible in his World War II comedy Life Is Beautiful: he shapes a simultaneously hilarious and haunting comedy out of the tragedy of the Holocaust. An international sensation and the most successful foreign language film in US history, the picture also earned director-cowriter-star Benigni Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor. He plays the Jewish country boy Guido, a madcap romantic in Mussolini’s Italy who wins the heart of his sweetheart (Benigni’s real-life sweetie,…

Film:Breaking the Waves

Breaking the Waves

Lars von Trier

Set in an unmercifully rugged, coastal village in Scotland in the 1970s, this extraordinary film by Lars von Trier stars British actress Emily Watson as a barely contained naive named Bess, who holds regular conversations with God and whose pure and intensely personal faith is hardly tolerated by the gruesome Calvinist elders of her church. Bess marries an oil-rig worker (Stellan Skarsgard) and comes to believe that erotic discovery is a part of God’s grand plan. But after her spouse is hurt in an accident, she decides that divine instruction is leading her…

Film:Rosetta

Rosetta

Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Rosetta follows a troubled young woman as she goes through her difficult life. That is, it follows her literally: the entire film is shot with handheld cameras, usually right behind the heroine. Rosetta (Emilie Dequenne) lives in a Belgian trailer park with her alcoholic mother, making a little money selling clothes that she’s mended. When she finally gets a job and begins a friendship with a coworker, she believes she’s reaching some degree of the normal life she desperately craves. But when she loses her job, she takes turns that may ruin any chance for…

Film:Eternity and a Day

Eternity and a Day: (Mia aioniotita kai mia mera)

Theo Angelopoulos

Acclaimed Greek director Theo Angelopoulos (Ulysses’ Gaze) won the Palm d’Or at the 1998 Cannes film festival for his extended rumination on the conflict between life and art, Eternity and a Day. Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire) stars as Alexander, a reclusive, terminally ill writer who rescues a young Albanian refugee and embarks and a dreamlike odyssey into his own past. Comparisons to Bergman’s Wild Strawberries leap to mind here—Alexander remains old and bearded even as he interacts with his wife (Isabelle Renauld) and family as they…

Film:The Eel

The Eel: (Unagi)

Shohei Imamura

Catching his young wife having sex with another man, a jealous husband stabs her to death. Hardly the regular way to start a comedy but, as a filmmaker, Shohei Imamura has always operated according to his own rules. The Eel, his first film after an eight-year break, traces the slow rehabilitation of a man self-exiled from society. The murder serves as prelude to the main action in which, having served eight years in jail, Takuro Yamashita is paroled to a remote lakeside settlement. He sets up as the world’s least talkative barber, his sole confidant the…

Film:Taste of Cherry

Taste of Cherry: (Ta'm e guilass)

Abbas Kiarostami

Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami won the Palme d’Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival for this contemplative film about a Muslim, Mr. Badi (Homayon Ershadi), who drives around the barren hills outside Tehran, flagging down passersby and offering good money for a simple job that he’s hesitant to explain. He’s planning his suicide and seeks someone to perform something of a symbolic eulogy. Most of his subjects refuse (personal morality aside, suicide is forbidden to Muslims), but he finds an elderly taxidermist (Abdolrahman Bagheri) who agrees only because he…

Film:Underground

Underground

Emir Kusturica

This sprawling, exhausting, deeply moving Palme d’Or winner represents the pinnacle of Serbian director Emir Kusturica’s considerable abilities, and what is easily one of the best cinematic achievements of the 1990s. It encapsulates 50 turbulent years of Yugoslavian history, from the outbreak of World War II in the 1940s to the destruction of this once-great nation in the 1990s.

When we first meet Marko (Miki Manojlovic) and Blacky (Lazar Ristovski), it’s hard to take these jokers seriously. All they want to do is party their lives away. But the Nazi shelling…

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