Östlund’s follow-up to his 2017 Palme-winning “The Square” takes a boat full of shallow people — models, millionaires and their various trophy partners — and abandons them in deep water, forcing the survivors to reconstruct a desert-island society where money holds no power. In such a system, for better or worse, beauty becomes the most valuable asset.
The jury spread the wealth, presenting three more awards than is typically expected of them — two ties and a special 75th anniversary trophy — for a total of 10 prizes, which means that nearly half of the movies in the 21-film competition went home with some kind of honor.
Tying for second place, Claire Denis’ “Stars at Noon” and Lukas Dhont’s “Close” shared the Grand Prix. In Denis’ divisive — but undeniably seductive — tropical drama, Margaret Qualley plays an American journalist whose assignment in Nicaragua has run its course, forcing her to use her wits and her wiles to find a way out of the country, with the help of a seductive stranger (Joe Alwyn). Less controversial (but still not without its critics), Belgian coming-of-age/coming-to-terms drama “Close” which moved many to tears in its portrayal of a tragic rift between two 13-year-old friends.
Continuing a hot streak for Korean cinema around the world, Park Chan-Wook won best director honors for his Hitchcockian thriller “Decision to Leave,” in which a detective falls for the widow of a possible murder victim. After convincing himself that the suspect is innocent, the cop must reassess his choices a few years later when her second husband also dies in a way that can’t possibly be an accident.
Every five years, Cannes organizers encourage their juries to give a special anniversary prize. To celebrate the 75th edition, the jury toasted two-time Palme d’Or winners Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne for their film “Tori & Lokita,” about two Ghanian immigrants hustling to make ends meet in Belgium.
In another tie, the jury prize went to both “The Eight Mountains” and “EO.” Co-directed by Belgian couple Félix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch (who made out on stage, mid-speech), “The Eight Mountains” sensitively tracks the friendship between two Italian boys — one from the city, the other a shepherd boy from the Alps — across decades. Combined with Dhont and the Dardennes, this marks a big night for Belgium, as all five directors from the small country went home with awards.
Sharing the jury prize, Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski’s “EO” is a loose, at-times-psychedelic remake of “Au Hasard Balthazar,” tracking the trans-European journey of a donkey through a series of challenging and often cruel interactions with various humans, each one taking him father from the circus performer he loves. “I would like to thank to my donkeys, all six of them,” Skolimowski said.
Swedish-born Tarik Saleh won the screenplay award for “Boy From Heaven,” which imagines a conspiracy by the Egyptian government to meddle in the appointment of a new grand imam. Banned from Egypt, Saleh was obliged to shoot the film in Turkey, but told the crowd he wishes he could return. “I want to dedicate this prize to the young filmmakers in Egypt, to raise your voices and tell your stories,” he said.
Best actress honors went to Zar Amir-Ebrahimi, who plays an Iranian reporter who risks her own life to catch a serial killer in “Holy Spider.” The tense true-crime thriller exposes the crimes of a man who targeted prostitutes, turning more chilling still when he is arrested and audiences realize that a segment of society supports his actions against sex workers.
“I have come a long way to be on this stage. It was humiliation [and] darkness, but there was cinema,” said Amir-Ebrahimi, who commended director Ali Abbasi for confronting all those things that can’t be done in Iranian cinema. ”It practically saved my life, and I know it will save lives again.”
The male performance prize went to Korean actor (and “Parasite” star) Song Kang-ho for his role in “Broker.” Song plays a man who sells abandoned babies on the black market in Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s first Korean-made feature. Unlike “Holy Spider,” this film actually wants audiences to forgive its criminals, but considering the crime, it takes a performer as likable as Song to pull that off.
Representing the Camera d’Or jury, Spanish actor Rossy de Palma presented the award for best first film to “War Pony,” by Gina Gammell and Riley Keough. “War Pony” tells the story of two young men from the Oglala Lakota tribe and was written and made in close collaboration with the Native American community it depicts. The Camera d’Or jury was also impressed with another debut, awarding a special mention to Japanese director Hayakawa Chie’s “Plan 75,” which imagines a future in which elderly citizens can elect to be euthanized.
Jury president Vincent Lindon, who won Cannes best actor honors in 2015, assured the crowd the the Palme d’Or winner was selected with a strong majority, joking that the festival organizers should change the rules: Instead of changing the members of the jury each year, he kidded, the festival ought to invite them back every year. “We need four more years,” he said.
Lindon co-presented the awards with fellow jurors Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, English actor-director Rebecca Hall, French director Ladj Ly, American director Jeff Nichols, Indian actor-producer Deepika Padukone, Swedish star Noomi Rapace, Norwegian director Joachim Trier and Italian actor-director Jasmine Trinca.
Full list of prizes below.
Palme d’Or: “Triangle of Sadness,” Ruben Östlund
Grand Prix — TIE: “Stars at Noon,” Claire Denis AND “Close,” Lukas Dhont
Director: Park Chan-wook, “Decision to Leave”
75th Anniversary Special Award: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, “Tori & Lokita”
Actor: Song Kang-ho, “Broker”
Actress: Zar Amir-Ebrahimi, “Holy Spider”
Jury Prize — TIE: “The Eight Mountains,” Félix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch AND “EO,” Jerzy Skolimowski
Screenplay: Tarik Saleh, “Boy From Heaven”
Camera d’Or: “War Horse,” Gina Gammell and Riley Keough
Camera d’Or Special Mention: “Plan 75,” Hayakawa Chie
Short Films Palme d’Or:“The Water Murmurs,” Jianying Chen
Short Films Special Mention:“Lori,” Abinash Bikram Shah
Golden Eye Documentary Prize: “All That Breathes,” Shaunak Sen
Queer Palm: “Joyland”
UN CERTAIN REGARD
Un Certain Regard Award: “The Worst Ones,” Lise Akoka, Romane Gueret
Jury Prize: “Joyland,” Saim Sadiq
Best Director Prize: Alexandru Belc, “Metronom”
Best Performance Prize — TIE: Vicky Krieps, “Corsage” and Adam Bessa, “Harka”
Best Screenplay Prize: Maha Haj, “Mediterranean Fever”
Coup de Coeur Award: “Rodeo,” Lola Quivoron
Europa Cinemas Label: “One Fine Morning,” Mia Hansen-Løve
Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers Prize: “The Mountain,” Thomas Salvador
Nespresso Grand Prize: “La Jauria,” Andres Ramirez Pulido
French Touch Prize: “Aftersun,” Charlotte Wells
GAN Foundation Award for Distribution: Urban Distribution, “The Woodcutter Story”
Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award: Zelda Samson, “Love According to Dalva”
First Prize: A Conspiracy Man,” Valerio Ferrara
Second Prize: “Somewhere,” Li Jiahe
Third Prize — TIE: “Glorious Revolution,” Masha Novikova AND “Humans Are Dumber When Crammed Up Together,” Laurène Fernandez