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Film Comment’s Trivial Top 20® (expanded to 30): Best Cannes Palme d’Or Winners

By Film Comment

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Votes cast by Melissa Anderson, Geoff Andrew, Richard Brody, Michael Chaiken, Chris Chang, Chris Darke, Scott Foundas, J. Hoberman, Alexander Horwath, Kent Jones, Laura Kern, Nathan Lee, Elisabeth Lequeret, Adrian Martin, Olaf Möller, James Quandt, Jonathan Romney, Gavin Smith, Chuck Stephens, and Amy Taubin.

Village Voice critic J. Hoberman proposed that we make it a 10 Best and 10 Worst Palmes list and we solicited from him a personal list of 10 Worst:

A Man and a Woman

1. A Man and a Woman
Claude Lelouch, 1966

Barton Fink

2. Barton Fink
Joel & Ethan Coen, 1991

The Mission

3. The Mission
Roland Joffé, 1986

Paris, Texas

4. Paris, Texas
Wim Wenders, 1984

Pelle the Conqueror

5. Pelle the Conqueror
Bille August, 1988

The Best Intentions

6. The Best Intentions
Bille August, 1992

Black Orpheus

7. Black Orpheus
Marcel Camus, 1959

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

8. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Jacques Demy, 1964

When Father Was Away on Business

9. When Father Was Away on Business
Emir Kusturica, 1985

10. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Ken Loach, 2006

New Yorker film editor Richard Brody submitted a brief list with the following observations: “This is a fun question that is hard to answer seriously, because 1) there are a bunch I haven't seen, and 2) a serious answer would take into account the other movies in competition each year that these winners beat out and the respondents’ sense of whether the juries’ choices were good ones. To take two years chosen at random, 1991: Barton Fink is a nice movie, but it was up against Malina (Werner Schroeter) and Van Gogh (Maurice Pialat), two vastly superior films. 1957: Friendly Persuasion beat out Funny Face, The Nights of Cabiria, and A Man Escaped. 1946: Brief Encounter beat Open City. The more you look, the worse it gets; it’s easy to conclude that the best film in competition almost never won.

Another thing this list reveals is that Cannes is often five to 10 years behind the curve on the work of most filmmakers. For instance, why did Kiarostami win for Taste of Cherry in 1997 and not for more or less anything else he had been doing for the previous 10 years? Why Antonioni in 1966 for Blow-Up and not in 1960 for L’Avventura? Nothing ever for Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer, Rivette? Bergman, Bresson, Tati, Rossellini, Fassbinder, Jia Zhangke?”

Taxi Driver

1. Taxi Driver Martin Scorsese, 1976

The Leopard

2. The Leopard Luchino Visconti, 1963

Viridiana Luis Buñuel

3. Viridiana Luis Buñuel, 1961

The Conversation

4. The Conversation Francis Ford Coppola, 1979

The Third Man

5. The Third Man Carol Reed, 1949

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

6. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg Jacques Demy, 1964

Rosetta

7. Rosetta Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 1999

Blow-Up

8. Blow-Up Michelangelo Antonioni, 1967

Apocalypse Now

9. Apocalypse Now Francis Ford Coppola, 1979

The Wages of Fear

10. The Wages of Fear Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953

La Dolce Vita

11. La Dolce Vita Federico Fellini, 1960

Othello Orson Welles

12. Othello Orson Welles, 1952

Under the Sun

13. Under the Sun of Satan Maurice Pialat, 1987

Taste of Cherry

14. Taste of Cherry Abbas Kiarostami, 1997

If... Lindsay Anderson

15. If… Lindsay Anderson, 1969

The Wooden Clogs

16. The Tree of Wooden Clogs Ermanno Olmi, 1978

The Cranes Are Flying

17. The Cranes are Flying Mikhail Kalatozov, 1958

Kagemusha

18. Kagemusha Akira Kurosawa, 1980

Padre Padrone

19. Padre Padrone Paolo & Vittorio Taviani, 1977

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days Cristian Mungiu

20. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days Cristian Mungiu, 2007

The Ballad of Narayama

21. The Ballad of Narayama Shohei Imamura, 1983

Brief Encounter

22. Brief Encounter David Lean, 1946

The Working Class Goes to Heaven

23. The Working Class Goes to Heaven Elio Petri, 1972

The Go-Between

24. The Go-Between Joseph Losey, 1971

The Eel

25. The Eel Shohei Imamura, 1997

Pulp Fiction

26. Pulp Fiction Quentin Tarantino, 1994

The Tin Drum

27. The Tin Drum Volker Schlöndorff, 1979

Wild at Heart

28. Wild at Heart David Lynch, 1990

Underground Emir Kustirica

29. Underground Emir Kusturica, 1995

L'Enfant

30. L’Enfant Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 2005

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