Predicting the Cannes awards: What will win, and what should

CANNES – The sun is out, the  films have screened, the rosé has almost run dry, and every conversation on the Croisette seems to begin with, “So, what's winning the Palme d'Or?” And the answer that almost inevitably follows is, “Oh, I don't know.” Opinion varies this year as to whether it's been a very high-level Competition or a respectably disappointing one — but either way, the upshot is that it's the most seemingly competitive one in several years, with a handful of well-received films on the awards shuffle-board.

And “shuffle” is the operative word at Cannes — once you've identified the films that seem likely to be rewarded, there's little reliable logic dictating which one gets the Grand Prix and which one gets, say, Best Screenplay. As I say every year, predicting festival awards is a fool's errand, not least because the voting body changes every year: there's no precedent by which we can anticipate the preferences of a group that includes Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Nicolas Winding Refn, Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal.

Speculation, of course, is easy and tempting. I've found myself reasoning that filmmakers as sensually and visually oriented as Campion, Coppola and Refn might not be as responsive as some to the thick word soup of Nuri Bilge Ceylan's “Winter Sleep,” but the opposite might be the case: for every jury president that chooses a film seemingly reflective of their own aesthetic, there's another who goes in quite the opposite direction. (It hardly seemed obvious, for example, that David Cronenberg would hand the Dardenne brothers their first Palme d'Or in 1999.)  

Still, a fool's errand can still be a fun one. So here, with absolutely no claims to credibility whatsoever — well, I predicted “Heli's” Best Director win last year, but that's it — are my best/worst guesses for this evening's ceremony, accompanied with my own personal favorite in each category. Also check out my video chat with Greg, in which we hash out the possibilities in a little more detail. Join me later for the results, and revel in my wrongness.