David Cronenberg (The crimes of the future), the Dardenne brothers (Tori and Lokita), James Gray (Armageddon Time), Arnaud Desplechin (Sibling)…The official selection of the 75th Cannes Film Festival shines with a thousand lights and the competition for the Palme d’Or promises to be high-flying. Before knowing the choice of the jury, chaired by Vincent Lindon, on May 28, the date of the closing ceremony, Marianne dives back into previous editions in search of the ten best films in the entire history of the festival. The choice was not easy but the masterpieces imposed themselves.
10. The wind picks upby Ken Loach (2006)
It was enough to let history speak to give birth to a great film, and Ken Loach had the wisdom to do so. With a sobriety that only underlines the violence of reality, The wind picks up, carried by the excellent Cillian Murphy, describes the trajectory of two brothers, united in the Irish War of Independence of 1919, then divided in the civil war which followed. Without Manichaeism or unwelcome moralism, this account of the Irish resistance, worthy of a army of shadows modern, finds a particular echo for a French spectator.
9. Loveby Michael Haneke (2012)
As often with Haneke, the drama takes place in an atmosphere of strangeness, of progressive tension. For Georges, a music teacher in Paris, it starts with a breakfast during which his wife, Anne, suddenly freezes, her eyes black, as if sucked into a parallel dimension. It has a name for this parallel dimension, or rather several: illness, addiction and soon death. And if the viewer’s stomach is so knotted, from the first minutes, it’s because he knows that emotion will soon overwhelm him in the solitude of this camera, where nothing and no one can come to free Georges, otherwise death itself. You don’t watch this Haneke film over and over again: just once is enough to mark you forever.
8. the childby the Dardenne brothers (2004)
The child of the title is not only the one to whom Sonia gives life, in the suburbs of Liège, and whom her father Bruno will soon sell to foreigners to earn a little money. The child is also Bruno himself who does not realize the taboo he is breaking and the harm he is causing Sonia and himself. Like a kid caught in the act, he will then try to make up for his crime, head on, so that humanity can save the animal he has become, caught in the urgency of poverty where only the law of the stomach ruled. . In tune with the energy expended by its main character, the film advances at full speed, feverish, burning, tragic, terrifying, until the last images where love finally appears and overwhelms us.
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7. Cheetah (1963)
Adaptation of the novel by Lampedusa, Cheetah makes the end of a man – Prince Salina, played by Burt Lancaster – coincide with the end of a world in which the Italian aristocracy, gradually replaced by the bourgeoisie, held the upper hand socially and morally. The prince watches with nostalgia as the opportunistic hordes of “hyenas and jackals” arrive, including his own nephew, Tancrède, played by Alain Delon. A turning point in the filmography of Visconti, now turned towards decadence, and in whom no more positive force comes to influence history.
6. Taxi Driverby Martin Scorsese (1976)
The loneliness of a man. The boring night. The New York filth of the 70s. The post-Vietnam madness that creeps in slyly, but surely. All these elements make the greatness of Taxi Driver, the first of many masterpieces by Martin Scorsese. We see a puny, pale, awkward Robert De Niro, who rages against an urban jungle whose codes he does not master… to the point of seeing it as a battleground, analogous to the one he experienced in Asia from the South East. Taxi driver at night, Travis Bickle cultivates a deplorable lifestyle. He roams the rooms that broadcast pornographic films. He fails to create lasting bonds with people, does not understand them. He gets it into his head to “save” a prostitute played by a young Jodie Foster. The two actors burst the screen. Everything in this film, which mixes the codes of noir crime fiction with the existential reflections of the time, bewitches the viewer. For contemporary generations, rediscovering this holder of the 1976 Palme d’Or is an incredible sensory, violent experience. It testifies to the exceptional natural talent of Scorsese, one of the great artists of the last half-century.
5. The Tree of Life by Terrence Mallick (2011)
Whether we love this metaphysical elegy or hate this trip bloated new-age, we can only salute the cinematographic ambition of Terrence Malick: to tackle head-on the link between the intimate and the universal. The filmmaker of nature and grace pushes his art to the limit. Prophetic in his best sequences, Malick reveals the invisible with his camera, well helped by the accuracy of Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, the photography of Emmanuel Lubezki and the support of the great classical composers.
4. Apocalypse now by Francis Ford Coppola (1979)
An extraordinary film, an extraordinary festival. For its 1979 edition, it was the novelist Françoise Sagan who chaired the Cannes jury. Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola’s opus on the Vietnamese conflict, is the heavyweight of the selection. The result of nightmarish filming, with hazards that have become mythical, this monument of cinema stands alone in the gallery of works dedicated to this war. Epic and psychedelic, elegiac and brutal, superbly photographed by Vittorio Storaro, Apocalypse Now is one of those films whose equivalents have been hard to find over the past twenty years. Since its initial release, moreover, Coppola himself hasn’t aroused greater excitement than when he unveiled new versions of it (the Final Cut being superior to Redux).
Except that in 1979, the director of Godfather and Godfather IIalready holder of a Palme d’Or for secret talk, became megalomaniac. His whims of a New Hollywood star pollute the organization of the festival: private plane, yacht 45 meters long for accommodation, suites at the Carlton for the family and those around him… The director, Gilles Jacob, gives in to everything. He knows how much the popularity of Apocalypse Now feeds the visibility of the event. Sagan, she remains unmoved. Not very fond of Coppola’s fresco, the president of the jury wants the prize to go to Volker Schlöndorff for The drum. At the end of not very rosy negotiations (and proscribed since), the two films were finally awarded.
3. The wages of fear by Henri-Georges Clouzot (1963)
Living with a Damocles sword above your head is much more intense when it takes the form of 400 kilos of nitroglycerine. The liquid, used to put out an oil well fire, has to be transported by truck from point A to point B over bumpy roads and could explode at any time. The drivers, including Mario (Yves Montand) and Jo (Charles Vanel) therefore live on borrowed time. Clouzot brilliantly mixes existential thriller and social satire. Special mention for Sorcererthe excellent remake of William Friedkin.
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2. Pulp Fictionby Quentin Tarantino (1994)
The best of Tarantino, of course: everything is enjoyable in this filmed comic strip, a dark tale where stories of gangsters, revenge and missteps are intertwined. What connects the characters above all is their terrible propensity to get themselves in dirty trouble, from fast-food robbers with nickel-plated feet, to the killer who is a little too attracted to his boss’s wife, to the boxer who refuses to respect the rigged market. Constantly surprising screenplay, slick direction, ultra-charismatic characters, lighting cast… We still can’t get enough of it.
1. Parasiteby Bong Joon Ho (2019)
A historic faultless. That’s what he did Parasite from spring 2019 to winter 2020, between its reception of the Cannes Palme and its triumph at the Oscars, which made it the first non-English language film to win Hollywood’s supreme trophy. Like most great Korean films, of which it is, Parasite is at the confluence of several genres. Is it a ruthless satire on class society in Seoul? A situation comedy about greed? A family drama? A claustrophobic thriller? A Ocean’s Eleven chamber music version? The brilliant Bong Joon-ho balances all these plates without breaking a single one. The exhilaration one feels when watching Parasite is a rarity in cinema. No need to be a fan of confidential works distributed in art galleries and essays. The dialogues and the play of the actors make it possible to identify, in one way or another, with each member of the two families which are at the heart of Parasite, despite their eccentricities. Even the decor, this luxurious and soulless residence, built from scratch for the film, becomes a character in its own right. The Palme awarded to Bong is the well-deserved reward for a director who is generous with his audience.
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Cannes Film Festival: the 10 best Palmes d’Or according to “Marianne”