Rooney Mara: Oscar possibilities for the Cannes 2015 winners

Yesterday, the Cannes Film Festival awarded their prizes for 2015, so as always, immediate attention has turned to Academy Award possibilities. Some years, there’s a dearth of contenders, while others have no shortage of them to sift through. It’s very much an American thing, as if a fest always needs to have an Oscar correlation to matter, but hey…who am I to argue? Luckily, this year we have a number of potential players worthy of discussion among the winners. There are some titles that went home empty handed that could easily hit with the Academy, including Sicario and Out of Competition entries like Inside Out, Irrational Man, and Mad Max: Fury Road, but for now I’ll limit it to only those that wound up In Competition and with a prize…

Obviously, we have to start with the Palme d’Or winning Dheepan, which likely will be a Best Foreign Language Feature contender or bust. The same can be said of Grand Prix (second place, basically) winner Son of Saul and The Assassin, which gave Hou Hsiao-Hsie a Best Director win. Those are harder to figure out right now since it winds up being one film per country in terms of Oscar submissions and we don’t know what else each nation will be choosing between, but these certainly go on the long list. Other longer shots include co-Best Actress winner (more on that shortly) Emmanuelle Bercot for Mon roi, Best Actor winner Stéphane Brize for The Measure of a Man, and Chronic, the Best Screenplay victor.

Then, we have the singular X factor that is The Lobster, winner of the Jury Prize (third place, essentially). Filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos got his very unique film Dogtooth into Best Foreign Language Feature a few years back, so his English language debut was on everyone’s radar. It apparently lived up to the hype too, so while this probably is too weird for Best Picture, there’s an outside shot that the Best Original Screenplay could be livened up by The Lobster’s presence. It was widely expected to win that prize at Cannes, so perhaps the Academy can choose to go where the fest did not this weekend?

Finally, the most likely contender out of this year’s festival crop is clearly Carol. Perhaps disappointing some by only leaving the fest with a tie in Best Actress, Todd Haynes’ movie is still the odds on favorite to translate to Oscar. An interesting development was to see Rooney Mara tie with the aforementioned Bercot in Actress, as opposed to co-str Cate Blanchett, or having Blanchett and Mara share the award. Clearly, this gives Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company fuel to make sure they both are in the race, with one probably being pushed to the Best Supporting Actress field. A Palme d’Or win would have positioned Carol as possibly the Best Picture frontrunner at this early juncture, but it’s still a safe bet to contend in lots of categories, including Best Director for Haynes and Best Adapted Screenplay for Phyllis Nagy, in addition to the just mentioned Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress races. Bet against Carol at your own risk, even after not coming home with the top prize at Cannes.

So, what can we realistically expect to see translate from Cannes to Oscar? Honestly, aside from potentially Mara getting into and possibly even winning Best Actress (though the safer bet is on Best Supporting Actress for her, knowing Weinstein), there’s nothing to really see as a likely contender. Sure, any of the foreign flicks could be Academy Award nominees or even winners in Best Foreign Language Feature, but you can’t hang your hat on one of them in particular. Keep in mind that the fest rarely launches a ton of contenders, so there’s that. For me though, this development has made Cannes this year especially interesting, as it has preserved some more of the award season mystery for the rest of 2015…

Stay tuned to see if Mara continues to win more acting prizes on the road to Oscar season!

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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