European movies dominated in Cannes this year, with Austrian director Michael Haneke receiving his second Palme d'Or. The winners' list evokes a certain sense of déjà vu, as all the winners besides those of the Best Actor and Best Actress awards had already been honored in recent years.
From Michael, with love
After his 2009 triumph with The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke once again won big this year. Following Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, winner of last year's Palme d'Or, Amour is a poignant tale about an elderly Parisian couple. The movie, featuring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, two actors rather scarce on the silver screen these days, enchanted the jury presided by Nanni Moretti as well as a great number of festivalgoers -- Amour was indeed a general favorite.
Nanni Moretti's native country was also honored, with a surprise Grand Prix going to Matteo Garrone's Reality. The filmmaker took home the same prize in 2008 for Gomorra. The recipient of the Jury Prize in 2007, Mexican director Carlos Reygadas was named Best Director this year for Post Tenebras Lux. A metaphysical quest the festivalgoers did not entirely take to, it was the only non-European film to be honored at the closing ceremony. British director Ken Loach, Palme d'Or winner in 2006, managed to put a smile on faces with bittersweet social comedy The Angels' Share, awarded with the Jury Prize.
Five years ago, Romanian director Cristian Mungiu received the Palme d'Or for his movie 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. The year, he won Best Screensplay for Beyond the Hills. Its two main actresses, Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan, both debuting, shared the award for Best Actress. Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen took home Best Actor, the prize won by Jean Dujardin last year.
Bitter disappointment for French and American movies
The 65th edition of the Cannes Film Festival was a bitter disappointment for French and American movies. Against all odds, the high hopes raised by movies such as Rust and Bone, Holy Motors and You Haven't Seen Anything Yet were swept away, as were those raised by Cogan, Killing Them Softly, Lawless, Moonrise Kingdom, Mud and Paperboy. Asian movies had the same fate.
The only hint of enthusiasm was triggered by the winner of the Caméra d'Or (an award honoring a director's first movie), Beasts of the Southern Wild by Benh Zeitlin. It was shown at festival sidebar competition Un Certain Regard and also earned the Regard Jeune award, a special nod from the Ecumenical Jury, and a FIPRESCI Award given out by international film critics.