CANNES: The Cannes film festival ends Saturday with the race for the Palme d’Or wide open and a cracking crop of movies vying for the top prize.
With the jury now deliberating in secret in a villa overlooking the Mediterranean, four films have emerged as the favourites from a field The Guardian described as “outstanding”.
The Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar has made the running almost from the start of the 12-day marathon with his most personal film yet, “Pain & Glory”, in which Antonio Banderas plays an ageing gay director not unlike the maker of “All About My Mother”.
Almodovar, 69, has yet to win the Palme d’Or in six attempts, but has brought up the big emotional guns this time, with Penelope Cruz playing his mother.
Whether a jury led by the Oscar-winning Mexican tyro Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of “Birdman” and “The Revenant” fame will be swayed by such an array of Latin talent remains to be seen.
Nor is there much arguing with the star power of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”, which brings Tinseltown’s two most dashing leading men, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, together on screen for the first time.
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Many critics loved the rollicking odyssey through the Los Angeles of 1969 in the period leading up to the Manson family murders, particularly Pitt’s performance as a hoary stuntman.
But there were haters too, and the French actress Emmanuelle Seigner fired a shot across Tarantino’s bows by complaining that he did not consult her husband, director Roman Polanski, whose murdered wife Sharon Tate is at the film’s heart.
Tellingly, Tarantino — who won the Palme d’Or 25 years ago for “Pulp Fiction” — has stayed behind in Cannes, prompting speculation that he is set for a big prize.
He collected the Palm Dog prize Friday for Cannes’ best canine performance at the festival, joking, “At least I do not go home empty-handed.”