Palme d’Or in balance as Cannes wraps

Uncertainty surrounding which film will be declared best picture

Cast member Lea Seydoux kisses cast member Adele Exarchopoulos as they pose on the red carpet arriving for the screening of the film “La Vie D’Adele”. Photograph: REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Cast member Lea Seydoux kisses cast member Adele Exarchopoulos as they pose on the red carpet arriving for the screening of the film “La Vie D’Adele”. Photograph: REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

 

The 2013 Cannes festival wraps up with a cliffhanger ending today, with uncertainty surrounding which film will be declared best picture after a 12-day frenzy of premieres, celebrities, rain and dramatic jewellery thefts.

Twenty films packed with sex, violence and emotional anguish are vying at the world’s biggest cinema showcase for the Palme d’Or, one of the most coveted film awards after the Oscars.

Frontrunners include French director Abdellatif Kechiche’s love story “La Vie d’Adele” (Blue is the Warmest Colour) with its graphic lesbian sex scenes, and “Inside Llewyn Davis” about a struggling New York folk singer by the American Coen brothers.

Also on the short list are “La Grande Bellezza” (The Great Beauty) from Italy’s Paolo Sorrentino, a magical ode to the decadence of Rome, and “Le Passe” (The Past), a tension-filled domestic drama by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi.

Choosing the winner of the top prize and other awards is a jury led by US filmmaker Steven Spielberg with Australian actress Nicole Kidman and Oscar-winning director Ang Lee. “It’s been a good year at Cannes despite the terrible weather but it is harder than usual to predict the winner as there is no one stand-out film,” critic Jay Weissberg from trade publication Variety said.

“La Vie d’Adele had everyone buzzing but its sex scenes could be too intimate for this jury. You are never quite sure what the jury will decide.”

The jury members have mixed and mingled on the red carpet on Cannes’ palm-lined waterfront with A-list stars from around the globe since the festival opened with Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s lavish “The Great Gatsby” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The 66th Cannes festival got off to a violent start with a brutal torture scene in Mexican drama “Heli” and with China’s “Tian Zhu Ding” (A Touch of Sin) by Jia Zhangke, but the blood-letting in “Only God Forgives” by Denmark’s Nicolas Winding Refn sharply divided critics.

As usual at Cannes, sex was a key theme in many films, with French director Francois Ozon’s “Jeune & Jolie” (Young & Beautiful) focused on a 17-year-old prostitute and celebrated director Roman Polanski’s “La Venus a la Fourrure” (Venus in Fur) exploring a sexual power play between a writer and actress. US filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s “Behind the Candelabra” about the flamboyant pianist Liberace and his gay lover, played by Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, struggled to find funding in Hollywood but made it to the screen financed by Time Warner’s HBO cable network.

With stars out in force so was security, but they still failed to stop two jewellery thefts worthy of a Hollywood movie. A diamond necklace worth $2.6 million disappeared during a star-studded party held by Swiss jeweller De Grisogono while gems worth $1.4 million were stolen from Chopard jewellers when a safe was hacked out of the wall of a hotel room.