10 Good Palm d’Or Winners at Cannes

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 7:46 am

Filmmakers and various industry sycophants are living it up in the south of France right now; that’s because the Cannes Film Festival is in full swing. In honor of he festival’s highest award, I’ve compiled this list of 10 good Palme d’Or winners at Cannes. Also known as the Golden Palm, the Palm d’Or was first introduced in 1955, but it was discontinued after 1963 following copyright problems. It returned in 1975, and it’s been the most coveted award of the event ever since.

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Just in case you’re keeping score, here are the top winners of the Palm d’Or by nation:

I guess those results shouldn’t be surprising, as the U.S. film industry has more money and a larger talent pool than any other country involved. The most impressive result in my mind is Italy’s five wins, especially when you consider that they’re tied with the host nation. If you also include the years in which the Grand Prix Award was given as the top prize, the list looks like this:

Marty (1955) – One of only two films to win the top prize at both Cannes and the Oscars, Marty is the heart-wrenching tale of a 30ish Bronx butcher (Ernest Borgnine) whose marriage prospects don’t look good. Then he meets school teacher Clara (Betsy Blair), and a ray of sunshine appears on the horizon. But will Marty follow his heart or listen to the skeptical advice of his friends and mother? Borgnine is wonderful in the role of Marty, and he deservedly won the Best Actor Oscar after only a few years in Hollywood.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989) – When a sexually dysfunctional drifter (James Spader) enters her life, a button-down housewife (Andie MacDowell) begins to explore her more erotic side. This film brought director Steven Soderbergh to the attention of the mainstream film industry, and it’s a sexually-charged look at what goes on behind closed doors in America. Co-starring Laura San Giacomo and Peter Gallagher.

Paris, Texas (1984) – Kurt Cobain’s favorite film stars Harry Dean Stanton as a lost Texan who tries to figure out what went wrong with his life, especially his relationship with his wife (Nastassja Kinski) and child. Featuring plenty of shots of the Texas landscape, the film is actually a co-production between West Germany and France.

Taxi Driver (1976) – Robert De Niro left an indelible mark on pop culture as troubled cab driver Travis Bickle, a man grappling with a confused love life and disgusted by the human garbage of New York City. Martin Scorsese directs, and the film co-stars Harvey Keitel, Jodie Foster, and Cybill Shepherd.

La Dolce Vita (1960) – This masterpiece of cinema comes from Fellini and tells the story of Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni), a journalist who spends a week in Rome. While there, he engages in hedonistic behavior and searches for love and fulfillment. Anita Ekberg is a sight to behold as Marcello’s unattainable dream woman, and any red-blooded male should have fond memories of her scenes in the Trevi Fountain.

All That Jazz (1980) – Roy Scheider gives a bravura performance in this Bob Fosse production about a man at the end of his rope. Trying to finish a Hollywood film and put together a Broadway show, Joe Gideon (Scheider) is a workaholic who sleeps with any willing female and chain smokes to cope with the stress of life. But all his worries may soon be over, as a series of heart problems begin to escalate in severity. The film won four Oscars and was nominated for another five (including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director).

Pelle the Conqueror (1988) – This winning Danish entry takes place at the end of the 19th century as Swedish immigrants arrive in Denmark. Among them are Lasse (Max von Sydow) and his young son, Pelle (Pelle Hvenegaard). While facing discrimination and demeaning work, the two Swedes resolve to never give up. Sydow also received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a caring father who excels in the face of adversity.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) – The United Kingdom notched a win at Cannes with this film about two brothers (Padraic Delaney and Cillian Murphy) who join the IRA during the Irish War of Independence. When the British offer the Anglo-Irish Treaty to the freedom fighters, the siblings begin to seriously disagree about the future of their homeland. The film deftly captures the horrors of war and the toll it takes on the men (and women) involved.

Apocalypse Now (1979) – Francis Ford Coppola sets his adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novella during the Vietnam War, as a special operations officer (Martin Sheen) heads into the dark recesses of the Cambodian jungle to find and eliminate rogue US Special Forces officer Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Utter madness is the best way to describe this film, and it co-stars Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper and Laurence Fishburne. Look for Harrison Ford in an early (and small) role. Coppola, by the way, in one of six directors to have twice won the highest award at Cannes (the other was the Gran Prix for The Conversation).

The Cranes Are Flying (1957) – Made during the period of the Soviet Union, this Palm d’Or winner depicts the sacrifices made by the Russian people during World War II. The film follows Veronika (Tatyana Samojlova), a young war widow who refuses to believe her husband is dead. As she loses loved ones to German bombing raids, she tries to remain true to her husband despite the continual advances of the unethical Mark (Aleksandr Shvorin).

If you’re looking to purchase any of the films above, start your search at Amazon. They have a ton of international films, and their prices are much lower than what you’d expect. Ordering online is a snap, and UPS will deliver your movie right to the front door. We do get a commission if you buy something by clicking on our link, but all proceeds go right back into making OGM the best possible movie site that it can be.

If you’ve enjoyed this list of 10 good Palm d’Or winners at Cannes, be sure to check out these other posts from Only Good Movies:

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