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Cannes Film Festival: 7 Biggest Winners and Losers

The 70th Cannes Film Festival got off to a sluggish start. Buyers griped that packages were underwhelming and overpriced. Many of the competition titles, from “The Square” to “Wonderstruck,” were met with mixed reviews. There was a shortage of star power on the Croisette, and worst of all, beefed-up security measures dictated that premieres start earlier. That led to a horde of men in tuxedos sweating on the sun-drenched Palais red carpet, instead of benefiting from the cool breeze of an evening in the south of France.

Here are the 7 biggest winners and losers of Cannes so far.

1. Winner: Will Smith
The A-list star, who made his Cannes debut by serving on the jury, managed to bring a much-needed dose of fun to the buttoned-up Palais. “West Philadelphia is a long way from Cannes,” he said. When a reporter noted that ex-juror Kirsten Dunst donned 28 outfits on last year’s red carpets, Smith had the jokes ready. “I’ll be going for 32,” he said, admitting the warm weather threw a wrench in his fashion plans. “I wanted to be South of France Cannes sexy, but all that went out the window.”

2. Loser: The market
Forget about studios splurging $20 million on their next big hits. Not even a trickle of small deals made much of a splash because this year’s strongest projects had been scooped up at the script stage or at festivals like Sundance or SXSW.

3. Winner: “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
Yorgos Lanthimos’ terrifying drama starring Colin Farrell as a heart surgeon and Nicole Kidman as his wife is the best-in competition title yet to screen at Cannes, met with a rapturous standing ovation at its Monday night premiere. For Kidman, who has four projects here, the role is a tour-de-force performance that could be a fall awards-season contender.

4. Loser: “How to Talk to Girls at Parties”
John Cameron Mitchell sci-fi dramedy, about an alien (played by Elle Fanning) who romances a ’70s punk-rocker in England, received the most scathing reviews out of Cannes. One critic called it “unreleasable.”

5. Winner: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Emanuel Lubezki
The “Revenant” director and his frequent DP dazzled critics with virtual reality installation “Carne y Arena,” which puts viewers in the shoes of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S. border. Many speculated it could mark a new chapter in the way audiences consume stories.

6. Loser: Marion Cotillard
The Oscar-winning French actress’s performance as a ghost in the opening night film “Ismael’s Ghosts” landed with a thud.

7. Winner: Netflix 
The streaming giant arrived in Cannes for the first time ever with two competition premieres: “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories.” And it got caught up in controversy after French distributors protested its inclusion in the world’s most glamorous festival and jury president Pedro Almodovar huffed that he couldn’t imagine giving the Palme d’Or to a movie that didn’t open in theaters first. But when the dust cleared, Netflix had two of the strongest English-language films at Cannes. In other words, Netflix doesn’t need Cannes, but it’s hard to argue the reverse would be true.

A version of this story appeared in the print edition of Variety.

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