Of course, awards don’t mean everything. A beautiful masterpiece can be overlooked just as simply as a vapid disaster can be praised for the wrong reasons. However, if there’s one award that tends to hold its weight, it’s the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or. Introduced in 1955, if nothing else, the award has been indicative of a film’s lasting power and the sustained and wonderful career if its director. From David Lynch and Wim Wenders to Bunuel and Antonioni to Coppola and Scorsese to Tarantino and Kiarostami, to Haneke and Malick, the Palme d’Or winning films of the last 66 years have been some of the most influential and beloved pieces of modern filmmaking around the world. So with Cannes in full swing, here’s a look at some of the best films to win the coveted award over the years. Enjoy.
Rome Open City, 1946
"Marking a watershed moment in Italian cinema, this galvanic work garnered awards around the globe and left the beginnings of a new film movement in its wake."
The Third Man, 1949
"Thanks to brilliant performances by Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles; Anton Karas’s evocative zither score; Graham Greene’s razor-sharp dialogue; and Robert Krasker’s dramatic use of light and shadow, The Third Man, directed by the inimitable Carol Reed, only grows in stature as the years pass."
The Wages of Fear, 1953
"If you’ve never seen Blowup before, prepare yourself for one of the cinema’s most unique experiences. If you have seen it before, prepare as well for rediscovering—much like the film’s hero—something you only thought you knew."
The Conversation, 1974
"It’s also about deeper issues such as guilt, paranoia, responsibility, absolution and redemption, themes that were common to American cinema in the 1970’s during the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam era. What is even more amazing is the fact that The Conversation is a film that most contemporary audiences have never even heard of. "
Taxi Driver, 1976
"To paraphrase Schrader, if you put Penn and Antonioni in bed together, put a gun to their heads and told them to fuck while Bresson watched through the keyhole, you got Taxi Driver."
Apocalypse Now, 1979
"…Apocalypse Now" is the best Vietnam film, one of the greatest of all films, because it pushes beyond the others, into the dark places of the soul. It is not about war so much as about how war reveals truths we would be happy never to discover."
Paris, Texas, 1984
"And what makes the film so emotionally and cinematically rich is the juxtaposition between Shepard and Wenders—the German with a fantastical pastiche obsession with Americana and the rough-tongued “rock and roll Jesus with a cowboy mouth” himself, whose words are engrained in the sprawling western landscape. The two have collaborated many times since, but this holds as by far their best work—creating something that speaks to the human condition so effortlessly in a way that few films have been able to. No one does melancholic American isolation like a misanthropic German. "
Wild at Heart, 1990
"A bizarre, fast-moving, occasionally erotic road movie, best enjoyed by those whose tongues rest firmly in their cheeks."
Pulp Fiction, 1994
Taste of Cherry, 1997
"…an emotionally complex meditation on life and death. Middle-aged Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) drives through the hilly outskirts of Tehran—searching for someone to rescue or bury him.
The White Ribbon, 2009
"Haneke’s genius is to embed these possibilities in films rooted in the daily lives of ordinary people. He denies us the simple solutions of most films, in which everything is settled by the violent victory of one side. His films are like parables, teaching that bad things sometimes happen simply because they . . . happen. The universe laughs at man’s laws and does what it will."
The Tree of Life, 2011
"The Tree of Life" has awe-inspiring visuals suggesting the birth and expansion of the universe, the appearance of life on a microscopic level and the evolution of species. This process leads to the present moment, and to all of us. We were created in the Big Bang and over untold millions of years, molecules formed themselves into, well, you and me."
"A film like "Amour" has a lesson for us that only the cinema can teach: the cinema, with its heedless ability to leap across time and transcend lives and dramatize what it means to be a member of humankind’s eternal audience."