Predicting the winners is always a mad dash in the Un Certain Regard section (the Cannes Film Festival’s second most prestigious competition) and it turned out tonight, as the little-heralded French entry “The Worst Ones (Les Pires) “, a The first feature film by director duo Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret received the first prize from jury president Valeria Golino — one of the first four films awarded at the ceremony.
A playful film within a film about the challenges and perils of street casting – following a film crew scouting local non-professional actors for a shoot in a working-class French town – ‘The Worst Ones’ has surpassed a number of the hottest critical favorites and hottest cast prospects to claim the award.
It is the second consecutive female feature film to be named best of the series: last year, the Prix Un Certain Regard was awarded to Russian director Kira Kovalenko’s coming-of-age drama, “Unclenching the Fists”. Socially aware yet bitingly comical, Akoka and Gueret’s quirky film is also one to watch for the festival’s Caméra d’Or prize for first feature films, which will be handed out at tomorrow’s closing ceremony.
Luxembourg actress Vicky Krieps, recently claimed by Hollywood in films such as “Old” and “Phantom Thread”, brought some power to the list of winners. She shared the best performance award for her devious and sultry turn in Marie Kreutzer’s “Corsage.” an elegant postmodern revision of the legend of Empress Elisabeth in Austria.
Variety’s Jessica Kiang was among hordes of critics singing the praises of Krieps and the film: “We’ve heard of actors disappearing in roles before,” she wrote, “but it’s rare for a role to disappear. so in an actor and become all the stronger, more subversive and persuasive for it. (She also starred alongside the later Gaspard Ulliel in a second Un Certain Regard selection, the romantic melodrama “More Than Ever,” though the jury citation was only for “Corsage.”) Krieps shared the award with the French rising star Adam Bessa, whose starring role in Tunisian social drama “Harka” inspired Tahar Rahim’s comparisons with critics.
The second jury prize went to another first feature film, this one being the clear favorite of the public: “Joyland”, the first Pakistani film to be screened at the festival. Director Saim Sadiq’s light-hearted, tender-hearted queer drama follows the budding relationship between a married man and a transgender exotic dancer in working-class Lahore, and received an enthusiastic standing ovation when it premiered earlier this week. Many expected it to win the top prize, given its combination of popular appeal and historical experience; he too enters tomorrow’s prizes as a serious candidate for the Camera d’Or.
Ditto yet another fictional feature debut, the Romanian entry “Metronom.” A youth-focused political drama against the Communist regime of the 1970s, it won Best Director for Alexandru Belc, a former docmaker with previous experience as a publicity and script director on key milestones in the short story. Romanian wave such as “4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days” and “Police adjective”.
Continuing the streak of success for newcomers, French talent Lola Quivoron won the Special Jury’s ‘Coup de Coeur’ award (translating as a heartthrob or mad crush) for her narrative debut ‘Rodeo’, a propulsive portrait and flashy. of a reckless young woman joining a biker gang. Palestinian-Israeli filmmaker Maha Haj, who scooped the best screenplay award for her second feature ‘Mediterranean Fever,’ a biting parable of modern boredom and Palestinian-Israeli tensions in a suburb of Haifa, prevented students freshman to wipe the slate clean – narrowly.
Among the films ignored, then, by Italian actor-filmmaker Golino and his fellow jurors – including Oscar-nominated American director Debra Granik, French musician Benjamin Biolay and actors Joanna Kulig and Edgar Ramirez – was the buzzing acquisition of Davy Chou’s Sony Pictures Classics “Return to Seoul,” Riley Keough’s directorial debut as co-director “War Pony,” Agnieszka Smoczynska’s “The Silent Twins” starring Letitia Wright, and the stark, visually ravishing religious drama ” Godland” by Hlynur Palmason, which drew some of the festival’s most ecstatic reviews.
In his preamble to the awards, Golino highlighted the difficulty of winnowing the competition, describing this year’s selection as “a tour de force of talent” and praising the filmmakers for their “bravery in looking at survival and existence, in the present and past, [in ways] which cannot be ignored. “We want to see more work from all of these artists,” she continued, before declining to give specific motivation behind each award. “We could give you a lot of boring details, but the films speak for themselves, and we don’t want to diminish them by giving reasons. We just want you to watch them, on the big screen.
Un Certain Regard Award: “The worst”, Lise Akoka, Romane Gueret
Jury Prize: “Joyland”, Saim Sadiq
Best Director: Alexandru Belc, “Metronome”
Best performance: Vicky Krieps, “Corsage” and Adam Bessa, “Harka”
Best Screenplay: Maha Haj, “Mediterranean fever”
Favorite price: “Rodeo”, Lola Quivoron