‘The Square’ Wins Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival

Sofia Coppola named best director for “The Beguiled”; Joaquin Phoenix and Diane Kruger win acting awards, while Nicole Kidman receives special prize

The Square
"The Square"

Ruben Ostlund’s seriocomic art-world satire “The Square” has won the Palme d’Or as the best film at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.

“The Square” stars Claes Bang as Christian, the curator of a museum that is courting contemporary art to stay current, while simultaneously courting the YouTube generation to stay solvent. When the film premiered at the festival on May 19, TheWrap called it “a long, scathing, brilliantly funny film with a jaw-dropping set piece …  It is a bold, generous and marvelously constructed exploration of its director’s favorite question: ‘Aren’t we humans a sorry lot?’”

Sofia Coppola won the best director prize for her Southern Gothic adaptation “The Beguiled,” becoming the second woman to win that award in the festival’s 70-year history, and the first since Yuliya Solntseva won in 1961.

Joaquin Phoenix was named the festival’s best actor for “You Were Never Really Here,” while the best actress award went to Diane Kruger for “In the Fade.”

Nicole Kidman, who appeared in four films at the festival, including the competition titles “The Beguiled” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” won a special 70th anniversary prize.

Robin Campillo’s “120 Beats Per Minute” won the Grand Prize and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless” won the Jury Prize; those are essentially Cannes’ second-place and third-place awards.

Two of the most daring films in the festival, Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here,” shared the screenplay award. The Ramsay film was the only one to win more than one award from the jury.

The jury, which was headed by director Pedro Almodovar, recognized most of the critical favorites at this year’s festival. Unlike last year, when acclaimed films like “Toni Erdmann” and “Paterson” were overlooked completely, this year’s awards went to celebrated films that, for the most part, had strong support from the press and from festivalgoers.

In Screen Daily’s critic’ scoreboard, “The Square” did not score as highly as “Loveless,” which topped the poll, or “You Were Never Really Here,” the runner-up, but it was solidly in the top rank of films.

Cannes entries that went home empty-handed included Todd Haynes’ time-hopping “Wonderstruck,” the Safdie brothers’ crime drama “Good Time,” Michel Hazanavicius‘ Godard riff “Redoubtable” and two-time Palme d’Or winner Michael Haneke’s viciously dark “Happy End.”

The two main-competition films from Netflix, Bong Joon Ho’s “Okja” and Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories,” also went unrewarded amidst controversy over the streaming service’s presence at the festival.

The Camera d’Or, which is given to the best first film from any section of the festival, went to Leonor Serrail’s “Jeune Femme,” which screened in the Un Certain Regard section.

Almodovar headed the Cannes jury that selected the winners. The other jurors were actors Jessica Chastain, Will Smith and Fan Bingbing; directors Maren Ade, Paolo Sorrentino and Park Chan-Wook; actress-director-screenwriter-singer Agnes Jaoui; and composer Gabriel Yared.

Other films competing for the Palme d’Or included Todd Haynes’ “Wonderstruck,” Bong Joon Ho’s “Okja,” Michel Hazanavicius‘ “Redoubtable,” Michael Haneke’s “Happy End,” the Safdie brothers’ “Good Time” and Francois Ozon’s “Amant Double.”

The winners:

Palme d’Or: “The Square,” Ruben Ostlund
Grand Prize: “120 Beats Per Minute,” Robin Campillo
Jury Prize: “Loveless,” Andrey Zvyagintsev
Best Director: Sofia Coppola, “The Beguiled”
Best Actress: Diane Kruger, “In the Fade”
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, “You Were Never Really Here”
Best Screenplay: (TIE) “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou; “You Were Never Really Here,” Lynne Ramsay
Camera d’Or (best first feature): “Jeune Femme” (“Montparnasse-Bienvenue”), Leonor Serrail
70th Anniversary Prize: Nicole Kidman, “The Beguiled,” “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” and “Top of the Lake: China Girl”
Best Short Film: “A Gentle Night,” Qiu Yang
Short Film Special Mention: “Katto,” Teppo Airaksinen