21 films in, and with all other awards now distributed (except the Camera d'Or, which will take place during tonight's Ceremonie de Cloture), film fans will spend today pondering and predicting as to the fate of the films in Cannes 2016's Official Competition. Despite some major duds in the lineup, and a general slackening in quality toward the festival's end, the consensus seems to be that this year's batch was a vintage one (just don't ask Peter Travers...). Below, a brief analysis of how SOS thinks the awards could go down, as well as some highly tentative predictions.
Naturally, one must expect the best-reviewed film of the festival to stand the best shot at winning its top award, and what better than the best-reviewed film of any Cannes Film Festival in recent years? For once, a female-directed film - the likes of which are generally rare in Official Comp - leads the way, with Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann claiming a record high on Screen Daily's 2016 Jury Grid. Whether or not George Miller's nine-strong festival jury will agree is impossible to say, but it's rightly regarded as being at the front of the queue by most onlookers.
Prediction: Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
Runners-Up: 2) Elle (Paul Verhoeven) / 3) Paterson (Jim Jarmusch) / 4) Graduation (Cristian Mungiu) / 5) Aquarius (Kleber Mendonca Filho)
The obvious choice for Cannes' second place award would surely be the film one predicts as second-most-likely to win the Palme, right? But the awards work differently from that, and beyond the Palme, the jury may opt to place some of their other favourite films in individual achievement categories. I consider Cristian Mungiu's Graduation a safe choice for a top award, given that it's a relatively soft contender in some of the other categories.
Prediction: Graduation (Cristian Mungiu)
Prix du Jury
The wider film community seems to be in agreement: Aquarius' Sonia Braga is the favourite to win the Female Performance award. Despite her status, and the reported standard of her work in the film, that's a hotly contested category this year; Aquarius is also strong in the top awards, and could prove a surprise winner of the Palme. I'm not predicting Kleber Mendonca Filho's first Cannes entry to perform that well, but it would do well to win the Jury Prize instead.
Prediction: Aquarius (Kleber Mendonca Filho)
Prix de la Mise-en-Scene
Cannes' Best Director award can often poach some of the more challenging, auteuristic films from the top award categories. These tend to be among the festival's most divisive, stylised offerings. It's reasonable to predict Paul Verhoeven's Elle to win something this evening, and my bet is that it'll take this award: the clearest shot it has at a win. Verhoeven's an icon by this stage in his career, and would be a popular winner in this often-overlooked category.
Prediction: Paul Verhoeven (Elle)
Runners-Up: 2) Jim Jarmusch (Paterson) / 3) Nicolas Winding Refn (The Neon Demon) / 4) Cristian Mungiu (Graduation) / 5) Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper)
Prix d'Interpretation Feminine
This is the award, outside of the Palme d'Or, that's got everyone talking. Countless contenders for the Female Performance award, with so many viable winners that a top five, as listed here, doesn't even begin to cover the possibilities. There are the consensus choices, like the aforementioned Sonia Braga, Kristen Stewart in Personal Shopper and Isabelle Huppert, vying for a record third win in this category for Elle. But those are all far safer swings, and I want my official predictions to reflect the surprising nature that the official jury awards often take at Cannes. I pick Sasha Lane's star-making turn in a film I feel sure will win something tonight, American Honey.
Prediction: Sasha Lane (American Honey)
Runners-Up: 2) Sonia Braga (Aquarius) / 3) Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper) / 4) Isabelle Huppert (Elle) / 5) Ruth Negga (Loving)
Prix d'Interpretation Masculine
A much quieter range of possibilities for the Male Performance award this year. As a result, one of the Palme frontrunners takes precedence here, given the lack of challengers. Paterson may be the kind of well-reviewed but gentle pictures that goes home empty-handed, but a win for Adam Driver would be a very popular choice from George Miller's jury, and seems a likely one too.
Prediction: Adam Driver (Paterson)
Runners-Up: 2) Peter Simonischek (Toni Erdmann) / 3) Adrian Titieni (Graduation) / 4) Shahab Hosseini (The Salesman) / 5) Babak Karimi (The Salesman)
Prix du Scenario
Usually considered the lowliest of the main prizes at Cannes, the Screenplay award is nevertheless a prestigious accolade in its own right. It's often awarded to serious, dialogue-heavy, morally-complex dramas, the likes of which tend to be fairly common at the festival. This would obviously put both of this selection's Romanian New Wave entries, Graduation, and the first film to screen, Sieranevada at the top of the list. Given that Graduation has an award under its belt already, I'll plump for Sieranevada here.
Prediction: Cristi Puiu (Sieranevada)
Runners-Up: 2) Cristian Mungiu (Graduation) / 3) Jim Jarmusch (Paterson) / 4) Andrea Arnold (American Honey) / 5) Asghar Farhadi (The Salesman)
Pulling from across Cannes' entire selection, though with no entries this year in the Official Competition, the Camera d'Or is awarded to the best first feature-length film at the festival. As ever, there are many good choices for the award this year, with a couple of animated titles surely in strong contention. My prediction is The Red Turtle, famously the final film with input from Studio Ghibli, not least given that it has thus far failed to win the top awards from either FIPRESCI or the Un Certain Regard jury, despite my prediction that it was first in line for both.
Prediction: The Red Turtle (Michael Dudok de Wit)
Runners-Up: 2) My Life as a Courgette (Claude Barras) / 3) Wolf and Sheep (Shahrbanoo Sadat) / 4) Raw (Julia Ducournau) / 5) Mercenary (Sacha Wolff)