Emilia Perez, Demi Moore and More

The Cannes Film Festival is nearing its conclusion, with plenty of films making a splash on the starry Croisette on the French Riviera. However, one studio executive tells Variety, “There aren’t many Oscar-buzzy titles to be excited about, not even in the international feature space.”

This year’s main competition jury, led by president Greta Gerwig and including J.A. Bayona, Ebru Ceylan, Pierfrancesco Favino, Lily Gladstone, Eva Green, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Nadine Labaki and Omar Sy, will name its winners on Saturday.

It was looking like a foregone conclusion that the Palme d’Or win would be bestowed upon Jacques Audiard’s Spanish-language musical “Emilia Pérez,” starring Zoe Saldaña, Selena Gomez, and Karla Sofía Gascón, which was picked up by Netflix. However, on Friday, Mohammad Rasoulof’s “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” garnered the most enthusiastic reactions on social media from attendees and the longest-standing ovation at 12 minutes. One awards publicist says, “It’s the only best picture player” to screen at this year’s fest.

The track record for Palme d’Or winners moving onto Oscar success has varied over the years. Over the past two decades, Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” (2002), Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” (2011), Michael Haneke’s “Amour” (2012), Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” (2019), Ruben Östlund’s “Triangle of Sadness” and last year’s “Anatomy of a Fall” from Justine Triet have received best picture nominations. However, “Parasite” is one of only two Cannes winners that have matched the Academy’s choice, with the other being “Marty” (1955). If Audiard wins the Palme he would be the 10th two time winner. Francis Ford Coppola would be the first three-time winners in Cannes history.

Coppola’s “Megalopolis” was surely the talk of the town, but not necessarily in the way the legendary filmmaker had hoped. It seems like a tough sell for U.S. distributors; nonetheless, his leading actress, Nathalie Emmanuel, received standout notices and could be among the favored names.

Several other acting contenders could emerge from Cannes in a good position.

All eyes are going to be on Demi Moore to see if she can kick off an awards campaign for her work in Coralie Fargeat’s body-horror flick “The Substance,” which was acquired by Mubi. With a rich and dynamic career that has bright spots like “Ghost” (1990), “If These Walls Could Talk” (1996), and “Bobby” (2006), the veteran star is said to have delivered the best performance of her career. It could have the makings of a critical darling akin to Toni Collette in “Hereditary” and Lupita Nyong’o in “Us.”

Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Kinds of Kindness” will surely divide audiences (what Yorgos movie hasn’t?), but embedded in the anthology dramedy is a trio of delectable performances from Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, and, most notably, Jesse Plemons.

Neon’s “Anora” from writer and director Sean Baker drew attention for breakout performer Mikey Madison. Noteworthy, the animated film “Flow” from the Un Certain Regard section has inspired praise from festivalgoers. With a next stop at the Annecy International Animation Festival in June, we could find a combined international and animated feature player, with Sideshow and Janus releasing in the U.S.

It’s impossible to gauge what films and performances will speak to the jury and their cinematic sensibilities. The longstanding Cannes policy prevents the winner of the Palme d’Or from capturing any other additional prize. So, getting the exact breakdown of things can be tricky.

Palme d’Or (Golden Palm), Grand Prix (Grand Prize of the Festival), Prix du Jury (Jury Prize)

  1. “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” — dir. Mohammad Rasoulof
  2. “Emilia Pérez” — dir. Jacques Audiard
  3. “All We Imagine as Light” — dir. Payal Kapadia

Prix de la mise en scene (best director)

  1. Jacques Audiard — “Emilia Pérez”
  2. Sean Baker — “Anora”
  3. Andrea Arnold — “Bird”

Prix d’interprétation masculine (best actor)

  1. Ben Whishaw — “Limonov: The Ballad”
  2. Jesse Plemons — “Kinds of Kindness
  3. Barry Keoghan — “Bird”

Prix d’interprétation feminine (best actress)

  1. Demi Moore — “The Substance”
  2. Karla Sofía Gascón — “Emilia Pérez”
  3. Mikey Madison — “Anora”

Prix du scénario (best screenplay)

  1. “All We Imagine as Light” — Payal Kapadia
  2. “Bird” — Andrea Arnold
  3. “Kinds of Kindness” — Yorgos Lanthimos

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