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Upsets mark Cannes Palms

In what was a real upset, the Tim Burton jury of the 63 rd Cannes Film Festival honoured the 39-year-old Thai director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, with the top Best Picture Palm d'Or for his spooky tale of reincarnation, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Gautaman Bhaskaran elaborates. Special coverage

entertainment Updated: May 24, 2010 12:56 IST
Gautaman Bhaskaran

In what was a real upset, the Tim Burton jury of the 63 rd Cannes Film Festival honoured the 39-year-old Thai director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, with the top Best Picture Palm d'Or for his spooky tale of reincarnation, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

The helmer, who has been earlier lauded at Cannes with the A Certain Regard Prize in 2002 for his Blissfully Yours and the Jury Prize in 2004 for Tropical Malady, surprised and shocked critics here who had placed their stars and bets on Mike Leigh's Another Year, a classic English look at loneliness, and South Korea's Poetry, by Lee Chang-Dong, an intensely poignant tale of a grandmother and her angst over her grandson's crime. Poetry managed to clinch only a screenplay Palm.

The third choice of the critics was the controversial French entry by Xavier Beauvois' Of Gods and Men that details the massacre of Christian monks in a remote Algerian village by Islamic extremists. With Franco-Algerian ties forever on tenterhooks, the movie provoked protests, but won the Festival's second most important award, Grand Prize.

The critics went wrong again with the Best Actress Award that finally went to Juliette Binoche (also featured in this year's Festival poster), who plays an unhappy antiques dealer in Abbas Kiarostami's first film set outside his native Iran, Certified Copy. Her character (who is never given a name) begins an awkward relationship with a visiting author (whose book, Certified Copy, has just been released). Yun Junghee, the Agatha Christie Miss Marple look-alike, who essays the 66-year-old grandmom in Poetry with quite dignity and disarming conscience, was heavily tipped to wow the jury that included India's dashing Shekar Kapur.

The Cannes critics were not far off the mark with their Best Actor Palm that was shared by Spain's Javier Bardem in Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Biutiful", and Italy's Elio Germano in Our Life by Daniele Luchetti. Both intense family dramas that spoke of pain, loss, suffering and sacrifice, the movies made their marks all right. As a drug peddler in Barcelona, Bardem plays a man with two children, separated from his alcoholic wife and dying of cancer. It was a hauntingly touching portrayal, yawningly different from the seductively irresistible artist he was in Woody Allen's Vicky Christina Barcelona. While the critics had largely favoured Bardem, there was a grudging sympathy for Germano, who is forced to take care of his three very young children after his wife dies of childbirth complications.

This year's prizes will probably go down as one of the most serious upsets, though there were similar occasions earlier on, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 being one instance when the Bush-bashing political documentary won the Palm d'Or, awarded by the Quentin Tarantino jury.