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May 25, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Surprising absolutely no one, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite received the top award, the Palme d’Or, at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival on Saturday. Screened late in the competition, the film instantly became the first choice among critics, many of them writing panegyrical reviews — some calling it a “masterpiece” — that trumped their acclaim days earlier for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, which the Cannes judges eventually cold-shouldered. (In a controversial victory of art over commerce, the $100-million Tarantino film received not a single award at the festival.) Jury president Alejandro González Iñárritu said that the jury’s decision was unanimous. In Britain’s Guardian, critic Peter Bradshaw commented, “Bong Joon-ho’s is a superbly worthy winner of this year’s Palme d’Or — though it’s a real shame there was no recognition for Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.

Taking second place (the runner-up award at Cannes is called the Grand Prix) was Mati Diop’s Atlantique. The Senegalese drama was the first film directed by a black woman to be chosen for the principal competition at the festival. It received mixed reviews.

Antonio Banderas received the best-actor prize for his performance of a washed-up actor, suffering several painful ailments, in Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory. Taking a cue from the title, Banderas remarked as he accepted the award that an actor’s life is not all red carpets and such. “We suffer, we sacrifice, and there is a lot of pain. … But there is also glory, and this is my night of glory.”

In a decision that appeared to surprise even the winner herself, British actress Emily Beecham received the best actress award for her performance in Jessica Hausner’s Little Joe, a film about scientists who develop a flower through genetic modification that is intended to produce a meuphoric scent but has the side effect of taking over the minds of those who breathe it.

In perhaps the most controversial decision, the Cannes jury awarded its best director award to the team of Jean-Pierre Dardenne and his brother Luc for their Young Ahmed, a portrait of a radicalized Muslim teenager living in Belgium who intends to prove his dedication to the cause of jihad by attempting to murder his teacher. Noting that several films in the competition concerned controversial topics, Iñarito commented, “These were cinematic decisions, not political agendas.”

Other winners:

Jury Prize — (tie): Les Misérables, Ladj Ly; Bacurau, Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles

Screenplay: Céline Sciamma, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Special Mention: It Must Be Heaven, Elia Suleiman