2022 Cannes Recap & Oscar Race Impact

Palme d’Or: “Triangle of Sadness,” Ruben Östlund

Distributor: NEON
Release Date: October 7, 2022


Director Ruben Östlund just won his second straight Palm d’Or – his first coming in 2017 for his Oscar-nominated film The Square. This comedy/drama/satire is led by Woody Harrelson and tells the story of a cruise ship for the super-rich sinking, and the survivors are trapped on an island.

What this means for the Oscars: NEON might be… no, they are the best distributor when it comes to getting their films awards consideration. They couldn’t break through with last year’s Titane, which was honestly always an uphill battle for them, and this year might prove just as difficult. Since the film is in English, that removes any possibility of an International Nomination, which means this film won’t have that luxury to fall back on even if it is not a US production. From there, NEON might have other priorities that could hold this film back.

Grand Prix — TIE: “Stars at Noon,” Claire Denis AND “Close,” Lukas Dhont

“Stars at Noon” Distributor: A24
“Stars at Noon” Release Date: 2022

Stars at Noon seemed to be one of the more divisive films coming out of Cannes, but that did not stop the Jury from awarding it a piece of the runner-up prize. Stars at Noon is one of two Claire Denis films this year, the other is Fire, and they are her first work since 2018’s High Life. It is the first major Cannes award the director has won.

What this means for the Oscars: Claire Denis has not had a film breakthrough in the Oscars race, but it doesn’t mean her time isn’t coming. That being said, given the still mediocre reaction to the film, and the fact that A24 will have other priorities, this film has an uphill battle that it might not be able to overcome.

“Close” Distributor: No US distributor
“Close” Release Date: November 3, 2022 (Netherlands)

Lukas Dhont won multiple Cannes awards with his debut feature Girl, and he seems to be inching up the ladder after sharing second place with Stars at Noon.

What this means for the Oscars: Similar to Stars at Noon, this doesn’t quite guarantee anything in the Oscars race. It would all come down to which distributor wanted to take on this film, and if Belgium ultimately submits this for International Feature.

Director: Park Chan-wook, “Decision to Leave”

Distributor: MUBI
Release Date: June 29, 2022 (South Korea)

Park Chan-wook has won two Jury prizes, but has never broken through and received the Palm d’Or. His newest film Decision to Leave couldn’t nab him his first Palm d’Or, but the legendary director received his first Best Director trophy from the Cannes Film Festival.

What this means for the Oscars: Since 2010, only two directors, Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher) and Paweł Pawlikowski (Cold War), have been able to turn a Cannes Best Director win into an Oscars Best Director nomination. While this win here doesn’t help Chan-wook’s case too much, it is hard to not have him as a realistic possibility if Decision to Leave does make awards run down the line, even if the awards race is a new journey for MUBI.

Actor: Song Kang-ho, “Broker”

Distributor: NEON
Release Date: June 8, 2022 (South Korea)

In the newest film from Hirokazu Koreeda, Broker tells the story of baby boxes, and the people who come to pick them up.

What this means for the Oscars: As we saw last year with Kristen Stewart, NEON knows how to campaign their actors. Song Kang-ho has been a legend of South Korean cinema. He is a frequent collaborator with Bong Joon-ho, and their most recent work together, Parasite, became the first non-American film to win Best Picture. I’m not sure if Broker can follow the same path as Parasite, but it doesn’t have to in Kang-ho’s case. Since 2010, only 4 actors have followed up this win with an Oscar nomination, even a win for Jean Dujardin in The Artist, and if NEON can bring the same tenacity this year as they have done awards seasons of the past, this overdue actor could be in contention for his first nomination.

Actress: Zar Amir-Ebrahimi, “Holy Spider”

Distributor: Utopia
Release Date: July 13, 2022 (France)

This is the first-ever nomination, and win, for Zar Amir-Ebrahimi. Holy Spider tells the story of journalists diving into the underbelly of Mashhad in order to find the “Spider Killer,” a serial killer who murders sex workers as an act of “cleansing the streets.”

What this means for the Oscars: Since 2010, there has been only one actress to go from Cannes Best Actress to an Oscar nomination with Rooney Mara for Carol. Renate Reinsve is believed to have been close last year – many felt like she was the next one up in the Best Actress race – but she still couldn’t make the leap, even if her film overperformed Oscar morning. It seems unlikely that Amir-Ebrahimi will be able to go the distance, and the distributor doesn’t give me much hope in the film’s awards chances either.

Screenplay: Tarik Saleh, “Boy From Heaven”

Distributor: No US distributor
Release Date: September 30, 2022 (Sweden)

This is writer/director Tarik Saleh’s first Cannes win. This film is said to be a dramatic thriller about a struggle for power.

What this means for the Oscars: Boy From Heaven is in good company winning the screenplay award as the previous winner was Drive My Car. Just like South Korea with Broker and Decision to Leave, Sweeden has an embarrassment of riches come Oscar season with Palm d’Or winner Triangle of Sadness being a Sweedish production as well. However, Boy From Heaven might get lucky as to be eligible for International Feature your film has to have over 50% of non-English dialogue. Triangle of Sadness would not be eligible in that case, given the film is in English, but Boy From Heaven is in Arabic, meaning it has a pretty good shot at being the representative of the country.

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