Tree of Life won the Palme d’Or! Congrats to 2011 Cannes Film Festival Winners!

What an interesting journey Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life has been at the 64th Cannes Film Festival. Just a week ago, it was booed in its first screening (read the story on Entertainment Weekly), but today it’s won the top honors the Palme d’Or for Best Picture! This isn’t the first time he nabbed top honors from Cannes, he actually won a directing prize for Days of Heaven back in 1979.

Apparently Malick is notoriously press-shy and is often absent from film festivals or even film premieres. This time is no different, so producers Dede Gardner and Bill Pohlad were on hand to receive the awards. “Why isn’t he here? I’m not saying it’s an easy question to answer, but he personally is a very humble guy and a very shy guy,” Pohlad said after the awards ceremony (per Washington Post). “He just very sincerely wants the work to speak for itself.” Minnesota-native Pohlad was actually at the Twin Cities Film Festival (TCFF) last year to promote the CIA drama Fair Game which concluded the festival. I’ve mentioned in my coverage of the event that he was producing this epic drama under his production company Apparition.

Check out the trailer below if you haven’t already:

After reading the reviews from Cannes, I must say I’m even more intrigued by this film (it’s one of my most anticipated movies this year). I came across this ScreenDaily article while checking out those reviews and found out that Malick is a devout Christian (Episcopalian to be specific) and according to Martin Sheen’s Wiki page, had a big influence in restoring the actor’s faith while filming Badlands. I guess I’m not terribly surprised by that and it certainly makes me like him more. I kinda thought that Days of Heaven had some Biblical allegory in it as this article suggests, so I wonder if the reason for the boos at Cannes is that the audience aren’t keen on the deeply spiritual aspects of the film? I won’t be surprised if that’s the case, either.

Anyway, here are the other major winners at the festival (per Yahoo News), chosen by a jury headed by Robert De Niro:

  • Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive
    I haven’t seen any of the Danish director’s work (still have to check out Valhalla Rising). His star is definitely on the rise and perhaps this movie will make him a household name? The story is certainly intriguing: A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong. It also has two super talented actors: Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. Reportedly Gosling handpicked Refn to direct the movie.

  • Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
    Awesome! I just put up the trailer last week and I must say Dujardin’s performance is a must-see. I hope this silent movie will find a decent audience here in the States.
  • Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia
    Happy for Kirsten but I don’t really care for the movie nor the filmmaker… as Castor reported last Thursday, Cannes’ organizers banned Melancholia‘s director Lars Von Trier from the festival for his remark about sympathizing with Hitler. I must say I’m glad they did, though I doubt he learned his lesson.

Big congrats to all the winners!

Well, what are your thoughts about the festival winners and specifically Tree of Life? Are you looking forward to seeing the film?

39 thoughts on “Tree of Life won the Palme d’Or! Congrats to 2011 Cannes Film Festival Winners!

  1. Yeah i found Lars comments offensive also(and being a jew myself certainly didn’t help). When i saw the video of the comments i felt so bad for Kirsten. She looked sooo uncomfortable. But despite all that i still really want to see the movie, and i’m particularly interested to see Kirstens performance. She was amazing in Inteview with a Vamipire, but hasn’t really done any role on par with Claudia recently, but it seems like Melancholia may remind people she is actually a good actress.

    I’m not a huge Malick fan as you know, and i’m also not a very religious person so when it i read about the spiritual elements it made me want to see Tree of Life even less. With all that said, i will most likely end up seeing it on dvd

    Valhalla Rising didn’t amaze me, but Drive sounds like it could be interesting.

    Oh i was wondering what is your fantasy movie going to be about?

    Mine is going to be a twist on a familiar fantasy plot(I will just say that in my movie the knight is going to end up being the villain rather than the hero of the story).

    1. I wouldn’t let spiritual aspects of a film put me off, it’s always nice to see a film with a spiritual element as it is so rare in Hollywood these days. I think it’s refreshing 🙂

    2. I’m with Dirtywithclass, spiritual and religious elements always make me not watch a certain film. I don’t like when art is used for religious propaganda.

      1. ‘Religious propaganda’? I don’t get that impression from ‘Tree of Life’ at all. It seems extremely personal, certainly very spiritual, but I doubt there’s an agenda of any kind at work here.

        1. @ Dezzy – I don’t see this as religious propaganda at all, I don’t think the critics were saying that either. Like Rich said, Tree of Life comes across as a deeply personal film and if a director is a spiritual man, then it’s only natural that his faith would influence his work, but I don’t think he’s being preachy or anything. Besides, this is a fiction, it’s not like the filmmaker is twisting real events and presents it as facts (i.e. Alejandro Amenábar w/ Agora), now that I have an issue with. Btw, There Be Dragons is a heavily-religious film as well, but you don’t seem to have a problem with that, Dez?

          @ Ronan – Totally agree w/ what you said.

    3. Julian – yeah it’s just poor taste really, I don’t care for people who are so smug they think they can say whatever they want without repercussions. Kirsten is talented for sure, oh yeah she was in ‘Interview w/ a Vampire’, she was good even at that age.

      As for my fantasy movie, well you’d have to tune in when the time comes 🙂 I’ll just tell you the genre, it’ll be a sci-fi.

        1. No worries, Julian. We’re all adults here, we can’t always agree on everything obviously, but we can still debate in a civil manner 🙂

          I’m curious to see your pitch as well.

          1. Well i’m glad it was kept civil. BTW i got my graduation post up on my blog

            Btw, are you going to make a post on your cast before posting your pitch?

            I was planning to after doing some more work on my pitch

  2. Ted S.

    I’m not surprised that Tree of Life got boos last week, the “leaked” script that I read had scenes where there were no dialog, just visual images. So far some of the reviews have said the film had little dialog so I guess Malick stayed true to the script. I didn’t think the script had any major religious meanings to it but since I haven’t seen the movie yet, maybe Malick changed the script and make it more religious? From what I remember reading the script, it was really about the beginning and ending of one’s life. Some critics who’ve seen the movie compared it to 2001: A Space Odyssey and if you saw that movie, you know it doesn’t have a lot of dialog, just visual. Of course being a fan of 2001 and Malick, I can’t wait to see Tree of Life.

    I’ve never seen any of Nicolas Winding Refn’s films either but he’s currently attached to do a remake of Logan’s Run and Gosling is his leading man.

    I don’t care for Lars Von Trier either, he’s one of those pretentious (sometime talented) director and I think he just want some controversies for his new film by saying what he said. His last film got tons of controversies because of its violent content. This is the same man a couple of years ago who said he doesn’t like America even though he’s never been here. I took quite an offense to that and I just don’t pay attention to him much.

    1. I agree Ted, I think the best reaction to behaviour like that is just not to react to it, at least not publicly or in the media. Maybe a press conference injunction or something?

    2. Hey Ted, I think that’s kind of Malick’s signature right… minutes can go by without any dialog at all, just picturesque and evocative scenery on screen. I don’t know if ‘religious’ is the word… more like spiritual, which seems to be a common theme in his films. I really should check out 2001 Space Odyssey, I’ve only seen parts of it.

      Refn’s star seems to be on the rise, and working w/ someone as talented as Gosling and Mulligan is certainly a good move. I’m really curious about Drive… definitely looks eons better than Drive Angry, ahah, and perhaps more substance than Transporter.

      Yep, that’s how I feel about Von Trier… I didn’t know he said that about the US. Sheesh, perhaps our gov’t should ban him from having his movies released in our shores and see how he likes that!

      1. Funk

        Ruth, how you doing! 2001 A Space Odyssey I think was not that well received when it first came out, but has weather time, I saw it at the big screen when it first came out, and was like wow what was that, had to talk my parents to let me go back the next night to see again, and since the dvd era usually watch it on a yearly basis now, I also listened to the audio book for the first time just a few short months ago, and I hit my head saying I should’ve read that when it first came out. The audio book was really good with a good speaker that made it hard to want to stop, and it’s not that long either, just short of 7 hours.
        I Can’t wait for The Tree of Life..

        1. Hi Dave! I’m well, hope you are too.

          Don’t hate me but I actually haven’t seen ‘2001’ but I really should one of these days. You said it has weather time, I hope it does as I was thinking that it might get dated now when I see it. I’ll let you know what I think once I see it.

          Glad you’re also looking forward to Tree of Life.

          1. Thanks. And yeah, i remember saying this to my dad after watching 2001 and he said i’m not the only one. I really wanted to like it, but it just didn’t happen for me

  3. Yes, somewhat surprising given the somewhat disappointing vibe it received when it was screened. Obviously, it was a movie expected a lot from and it couldn’t possibly fulfill those expectations so glad it won! Looking forward to see it in 2 weeks!!!

    1. Hey Castor! It was fun playing the draft thing this weekend, man.

      Yeah, I’m a bit surprised by it too, and I’m sure Malick himself didn’t see it coming either. I really respect him for letting the work speak for itself, not a lot of filmmakers can get away not promoting their work but if you’re good I guess people will see that. Can’t wait to see it, too!

      1. Always fun to have you participating!

        Also The Tree of Life will be going wide in July! You know, in case you don’t want to go to the Uptown Landmark 😉

  4. Happy Monday everyone…I am in a good mood today…HAHA

    Sorry I have nothing to add here. I just wanted to spread some comment love!!


    1. Hey Custard, no wonder you’re in a jolly mood! Congrats on making IMDb, too bad BlueHost is such an epic fail that they can’t handle the bandwidth!

      1. Bluehost are truly sucky. I dont know how to get my website off them now. I am not going to start again, because that would be a nightmare

  5. Someone asked me to review Tree of Life recently but annoyingly it is not out here yet. Really want to see it. We haven’t had There Be Dragons here yet either which I’d like to see.

    1. Now, speaking of There Be Dragons, that is definitely one w/ heavy religious overtones. Do you know much about the story Ronan? I’m curious how much liberties the filmmakers take regarding the ‘facts’ depicted in the film.

      1. I am interested in how St Josemaria Escriva is portrayed as I read his teachings and am interested in his life and work as ‘the saint of ordinary life’.

        1. Ah I see, sounds like it’s a story worth-telling. The trailer was quite compelling, I hope the actual film lives up to it. I like the actors in it, too. Charlie Cox was charming in Stardust and Dougray Scott is a good but under-appreciated actor. Nice to see Wes Bentley’s comeback as well.

  6. I was first shocked that he won the prize, since there were about 60% of critics who called his film a pompous, shallow and overly pretentious project, and maybe about 40% who gave it average scores. It was quite surprising reading so many totally opposing criticism. I guess all those Hollywood actors in the jury had something to do with it.

    1. Wow! Pompous, shallow and overly pretentious?? Are you sure that’s not about Von Trier? 😀

      I doubt the Hollywood actors can sway the jury verdict on this one Dezzy, I believe the jury is comprised of film folks from various nationalities. And it’s not like Malick was around hobnobbing w/ Cannes execs or kissing up trying to get people to vote for his movie 😀

  7. Mike

    Hmmm, I also read the movie was not so good, and then to find out it won top honors?!?! I’ll admit, 9 out of 10 times critically acclaimed films end up not being my favorites …

    1. Y’know, generally I think that way too, Mike. But I still would rather check it out for myself first before making judgments. After all I really like The King’s Speech even though I wasn’t um, blown away by Hurt Locker (pardon the pun) the previous year.

  8. Last week I figured out that TOL is opening in Toronto two weeks later than I thought it was.

    Really threw a wrench into my moviegoing plans.

    Just thought I’d share.

    1. I think it opens later than most people think unless you live by the only two theaters showing it this weekend 😉 Just glad it makes it to Minneapolis next week.

    2. Man, that’s a bummer. Sorry to hear that Hatter. So it’s not even opening in limited release over there? As Castor said, one theater has it here in Mpls but the bigger theaters won’t have it until July. You’d think that since it won Cannes they’d release it wide sooner rather than later.

  9. congrats to Tree of Life. Quite the fun stream of comments to read through here. to add my 2 cents:

    I agree with Ted in the concern of the lack of dialogue. I had read that myself last month and I hope it’s done artfully enough to still keep the attention.

    Perhaps I havent paid enough attention to the details of the film, but the idea of the film being “religious” in nature never really came to mind. But even with the inclusion of spirituality, it is a part of many people’s lives and can’t/shouldn’t be ignored…regardless of other’s beliefs.

    As a Christian myself, I see some “hollywood-ized religious films” as offensive and see others as decently portrayed. (the same with non-religious films). It all depends on the viewer and boils down to “Watch what you will and enjoy or don’t enjoy!” 🙂

    reading too much into films oftentimes takes away from the magic of them!

    1. Hey T, I think Malick’s work is an acquired taste. I was bored the first time I saw A New World but upon second viewing I appreciated it more. Then I saw two more of his work, Days of Heaven and Thin Red Line and like both of them very much, they’re definitely different from the pack. Whatever he does is not run-of-the-mill and he doesn’t seem concerned w/ what’s popular which makes me respect him more.

      I don’t see Tree of Life as religious from the first time I saw the trailer, it’s certainly feels ethereal and spiritual, but not in a preachy kind of way.

      Yep, I feel the same way about “hollywood-ized religious films” and Christianity certainly have their fair share of being the subject of mockery in various movies. I simply refuse to watch them and if atheists prefer not to watch Tree of Life then that is their choice as well.

  10. I can really recommend any of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher films. They are all good but especially the first one. I’m kind of amazed it hasn’t been remade in the US (there is actually a Bollywood remake of it).

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