Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cannes 2016: The Wrap-Up and the Rankings

When people ask me how a film festival went, there are always two answers I could give. The first, which is the one folks normally care about, is an overall assessment of the movies that screened there. But the second answer concerns how my life was during that festival. Did I sleep well? Any strange encounters? Any moments of paralyzing self-doubt or crippling loneliness? Did I get sick from not enough sleep and too many deadlines? This is the stuff critics and journalists don't talk about so much, but you'd better believe it affects them, especially when they're far from home, and it can affect their assessment of the movies they see.

A small personal example from Cannes. I rented a flat that was on the third floor of an apartment complex. No elevator, just stairs, and it was a beautiful spiral staircase that was very fun to go up and down every day during the festival. Well, except for that one afternoon when I locked my apartment door, proceeded to put the keys in my pocket but had them clang off my wedding ring, sending them tumbling down that beautiful spiral staircase. I don't know if you've ever chased a set of keys as they bounce down twirling stairs, but it's a horrible experience -- especially when you're convinced they've fallen through the center of the stairwell, never to be found again. For a good five-minute span, I was pretty convinced I was in major trouble. And then, I saw them resting in a dusty corner of the stairwell, mere inches from falling down a crevice where I could have never recovered them. A very lucky break ... and a nice reminder that one's experience at a festival can hinge on such inexplicable, uncontrollable moments. (Other than that, I had a great, uneventful festival.)

Now, to the rankings. This was a pretty strong Cannes, and although I'm sorry I missed After the Storm, The Handmaiden, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki, Julieta, Raw and The Red Turtle, I'm very happy with what I saw. Links lead to full-length reviews...

33. It's Only the End of the World
32. Money Monster
31. The Last Face 
30. Blood Father 
29. Dog Eat Dog
28. Captain Fantastic
27. Staying Vertical
26. Loving
25. Midnight Return: The Story of Billy Hayes and Turkey
24. Hands of Stone
23. Slack Bay 
22. Cafe Society
21. Personal Affairs
20. The Neon Demon
19. Hell or High Water
18. The Cinema Travellers
17. The BFG
16. The Dancer
15. The Transfiguration
14. I, Daniel Blake 
13. Aquarius
12. The Salesman 
11. The Nice Guys
10. Sieranevada
9. The Unknown Girl
8. Ma' Rosa
7. The Student
6. Personal Shopper
5. Elle
4. Toni Erdmann
3. Graduation
2. Paterson
1. American Honey

I'm terrified Julieta is going to win the Palme d'Or, meaning I'll have missed the big prizewinner. But if I had to bet, I'd say Toni Erdmann will take the award. We'll see soon enough. As for me, American Honey was my film of the festival. All hail Sasha Lane (pictured above), who's a major discovery. I hope she had a good Cannes.