ICS Cannes Awards 2016

We are hours away from the actual winners of the 69th Festival de Cannes, but the first prizes have already been decided. By the International Cinephile Society, of course! Following the official rules regarding which categories can win combined with which others, forced us to make some exceptional and dramatic decisions. All 14 members who scored this year’s competition films on our ICS grid, also voted for this year’s ICS Cannes Awards.

For the most coveted prize, the Palme d’Or, there was no discussion though: Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann was the clear winner in the most important category, with every member voting for it except for the one member who did not see it. The young German director’s third film wins our top prize, and she is the first female director to do so.

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle was the closest and clearest runner up as far as voting for the films went, so the director’s first French film wins the Grand Prix. And this is where it gets twisted, much like Elle: the lead actress of the film, French screen legend Isabelle Huppert, who carries the film single-handedly, was the highest vote-scoring performer. However, because the film already won the Grand Prix, Huppert could not win the Best Actress category anymore. In a decision only precedented by Steven Spielberg, the ICS has chosen to award this year’s Grand Prix to both the film and Isabelle Huppert.

Moving on to the Prix du Jury, Cristian Mungiu’s Bacalaureat took home third place. The Romanian film was one of two entries from the Eastern European country, but hold on, because Romania is not done yet for these awards.

But first, Best Director, where Spanish legend Pedro Almodóvar cleaned up with his latest film, Julieta. The delicately balanced tale of a mother-daughter relationship is an exemplary directorial effort by a true auteur whose hand can be seen in every frame of the film.

And now we get to the controversial stuff: for our Best Actor prize, there was no passion for any male effort on the Croisette this year, save for some for Peter Simonischek, the actor in Toni Erdmann. Because the film already won the Palme d’Or, the Austrian actor could not win the acting category. And since the brilliant comedy-drama is a success not just because of him, but also his on-screen daughter Sandra Hüller, as opposed to Isabelle Huppert who carries her film on her own, we decided we could not go the shared Palme road like we did for Elle. So, in an exceptional move, the ICS has decided to not give out a Best Actor prize this year.

After that shock, we get to the Best Actress category. As already stated, Huppert was the one who scored the best, but with her out of the way with the shared Grand Prix, in moves the grand dame of Brasilian cinema, Sonia Braga. For her powerful performance as a woman under siege from a pushy project developer in Aquarius, the ICS awards her the Best Actress prize in Cannes this year.

For our last award, Best Screenplay, we return to Eastern Europe, where Sieranevada‘s writer (and director) Cristi Puiu took home the award. So that’s two for two for Romania. Will the festival’s jury follow suit?

A recap of our winners:

Palme d’Or – Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
Grand Prix – Elle (Paul Verhoeven) and its lead actress Isabelle Huppert
Prix du Jury – Bacalaureat (Cristian Mungiu)
Best Director – Pedro Almodóvar (Julieta)
Best Actor – no award given
Best Actress – Sonia Braga (Aquarius)
Best Screenplay – Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)