Cannes Rewards Cosmically Ambitious Movies With Awards

Last night, the Cannes Film Festival concluded with the Robert DeNiro-helmed jury handing out the awards for the best movies and acting on display at the festival. And I am sensing a theme: apparently, the jury was all about films that mixed everyday stories with, well, the fate of the universe. The coveted Palme d’Or award—Cannes’ version of Best Picture Oscar—went to “Tree of Life,” the movie which follows a suburban Texas family in the 1950s through two generations (Brad Pitt is the dad, Sean Penn is his son) connecting them to the creation of the world and cosmos. Meanwhile, most people thought Tilda Swinton had the Best Actress award in the bag for “We Need To Talk About Kevin.” But she was upset by Kirsten Dunst, who stars in “Melancholia,” the story of a bride who begins to feel more and more disillusioned while, lightyears away, a planet threatens to collide with Earth. Oddly, both movies prominently feature eclipses in their trailers. What’s so interesting about both these prize-winning movie is that critics seemed to either love them or hate them. For example:

One reviewer of “Tree of Life” was ready to throw tomatoes:

“By the time the film reaches its final “big moment,” which I thought was pretty close to dopey, I found myself genuinely upset.  I thought I’d spend my whole morning in a frenzy, digging deeply into the text and subtext of the film, and instead, I find myself hard-pressed to find much more to say about the movie … For me, this is a pretty crushing disappointment.” [HitFix]

While another was ready to give a standing ovation:

The award for Best Actor in the festival went to Jean Dujardin of “The Artist,” the story of silent film actors preparing for the onslaught of talkies. So, yeah, that breaks the pattern. But still it has me wondering—will the Oscars this year reward movies for having such cosmic ambitions? After all, nothing starts Oscar buzz like winning awards at Cannes.