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How might the Cannes winners impact the upcoming awards season?

Maps to The Stars Julianne Moore and Mia  600x338
Over the weekend, the Cannes Film Festival gave out its annual awards, highlighted by Winter Sleep taking the Palme d’Or, Bennett Miller taking the Best Director prize for Foxcatcher, Timothy Spall taking the Best Actor prize for Mr. Turner, and Julianne Moore taking the Best Actress prize for Maps to the Stars. Those films and performances now almost automatically have increased Oscar buzz, but what exactly does that mean? After all, these were citations given out in May, about six months before any of the other precursors are bestowed upon awards hopefuls. We can’t know exactly what it means, but on this day, I’d like to make a few educated guesses.

First off with the Palme d’Or winner, the Turkish film Winter Sleep is now basically assured of two things. One is that it’ll almost certainly play at the New York Film Festival (both of the past two winners in Amour and Blue is the Warmest Color made this trip as well, so it makes sense), while the other is that it now will have substantial Best Foreign Language Feature buzz. This is a challenging movie that will struggle for recognition anywhere else from the Academy and may even have trouble winning the Foreign Oscar, but it’s in the pole position right now, there’s no way around that. Beyond that, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s film is now in the history books, if nothing else.

With Miller’s win for his Foxcatcher direction, that more or less just confirms that he’s going to be a heavy hitter in the race. I don’t know of any other pundit who’d exclude him from their Best Director lineup if they were to do Oscar predictions, so this win only moves him up, potentially into a place where a win won’t be out of the question. Foxcatcher on the whole should be a major player, so while Steve Carrell didn’t receive an award for his acclaimed turn, Miller basically represents the film on the whole.

As for Spall, he’s yet to be nominated by the Academy, but this collaboration with Mike Leigh on Mr. Turner may very well be the one to do it. Much like Bruce Dern parlayed a Best Actor prize last year into an Oscar nomination for Nebraska, Spall could potentially do the same here. A nomination for Best Actor certainly isn’t out of the question, especially considering that Leigh films more often than not are cited somewhere by the Academy. At this point, it’d be foolish not to have him penciled into the lineup, at least at this early juncture.

Finally, with Moore, lots of folks seem to be waiting for her to finally win an Oscar, and while I don’t think this performance will be the one to do it, she’s certainly more heavily in contention today than she was just a few days ago. Working with David Cronenberg has never been a surefire way to be nominated, but Moore’s performance in Maps to the Stars could be too good to ignore (she was called best in show by just about everyone who saw Cronenberg’s latest). I’m on the fence about a nomination for her, but she’s right on the cusp of breaking into my predictions next time around, likely in Best Supporting Actress.

Of course, those are just the main beneficiaries. Xavier Dolan’s Mommy could make a play for Best Foreign Language Feature as well, along with a handful of other flicks that received some manner of citation. There are also the ones that won nothing, like The Homesman from Tommy Lee Jones, obviously winning creates positive perception. Especially this early on, that’s essential. Cannes winners aren’t guaranteed nominations, and in fact their odds aren’t especially great (though it all depends on the year, really), but this was certainly a boost, especially for Miller, Moore, and Spall.

Stay tuned next week for an updated set of Oscar predictions that will reflect the impact of the Cannes awards!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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