Cannes Film Festival 2014: the winners… and the losers

Mr Turner and Foxcatcher had the critics on their feet but Grace of Monaco and Lost River tanked. Spectacularly.

The sun is setting on the Cannes Film Festival and, as we’ve come to expect from the Croisette, it’s been a delectable smorgasbord of frocks, five-star reviews and and some good old French booing. As the world of film descended on the glamorous Riviera, steely-eyed reviewers heaped praise and mockery in equal measure. So, who were the biggest winners and losers at Cannes 2014? Here’s your handy guide…



Mr Turner

The Timothy Spall-fronted biopic of British painter JMW Turner earned director Mike Leigh a slew of five-star reviews. Variety’s Scott Foundas hailed it “an exquisitely detailed, brilliantly acted biopic,” while This Is London’s David Sexton termed it “far and away Timothy Spall’s finest work” – and, judging by the first trailer, it’ll be prime awards season fodder come 2015…


Directed by Moneyball’s Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher sees a change of pace for funnymen Steve Carell and Channing Tatum – one that has been lauded by Cannes critics with Carell already tipped as an Oscars frontrunner. Tatum was even reduced to tears as a five-minute standing ovation followed the world premiere of his performance as Olympic wrestling champ Mark Schultz whose brother was murdered by paranoid schizophrenic John Du Pont (Carrell). 

Two Days, One Night

Five years on from her Oscars triumph, Marion Cotillard notches up another outstanding turn, as Sandra – a factory worker who has one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so she can keep her job. From the Dardenne brothers (Palme d’Or winners for Rosetta and L’Enfant) the film has been praised as “a powerful, finely-scripted issue movie, made all the more incisive by Marion Cotillard’s raw performance” (Screen International). 


Another serious contender for this year’s Palm d’Or is French drama Timbuktu. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw calles Abderrahmane Sissako’s “passionate and visually beautiful” piece a “cry from the heart – with all the more moral authority for being expressed with such grace and care.” A portrait of his native Mali, and in particular Timbuktu, the story focuses on the death of a cow – as Bradshaw puts it, “an appropriate symbol for a country that has lost its way.”


Grace of Monaco

There’s something rather delicious about reading an experienced film reviewer holding nothing back. You could almost sense the gleeful grins as critics went to task on Nicole Kidman’s Grace of Monaco which opened the festival…and bombed spectacularly. “So awe-inspiringly wooden that it is basically a fire-risk” (The Guardian) leaving viewers “curling up, like startled armadillos, into tight little balls of embarrassment” (The Telegraph), the flick based on actress-turned-first-lady Grace Kelly caused many a red face in the Weinstein corner. 

Lost River

Don’t know about you, but we were rather excited about looking at Matt Smith’s muscles. That is, until the reviews trickled in for Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut Lost River. Starring the former Doctor opposite Christina Hendricks and Eva Mendes, the film prompted acidic feedback from the critics, with The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin awarding just one star for the “mouth-dryingly lousy” flick while chief Variety critic Justin Chang termed it a “misguided passion project.”

The Captive

According to rumours, Ryan Reynolds was so bummed out by the response to his abduction thriller, he skipped his own after party. Who can blame him after the boos and stinking reviews that came out of the film’s Cannes screening. Directed by one-time critical darling Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) who, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “renders an already bogus story more proposterous”, the film follows married couple Matthew (Reynolds) and Tina (Mireille Enos) whose nine-year-old daughter vanishes without a trace, reappearing years later in far darker circumstances.

The Search

Rewind two years and Michel Hazanavicius was the toast of Hollywood, his silent comedy The Artist stealing the show at the 2012 Oscars ceremony. His follow-up sees him reunite with Berenice Bejo but, by all accounts, they fail to recapture the magic in The Search – a drama charting a lost child in the Chechen war. The Guardian’s Bradshaw questions the film’s “corny execution”, although it’s Variety’s Chang who really twists the knife, labelling it a “gruelling, lumbering and didactic war picture.”