In Depth

Cannes Film Festival: surprise winners, losers and scandals

Critics bemused as Carol loses out to French film, while festival's feminist statement is undermined by shoes

The red carpet is being rolled up and the champagne corks swept away after the 2015 Cannes Film Festival closed this weekend on France's Cote d'Azur.

This year will be remembered for some surprise winners, some disappointments, and an attempt by the festival to make a feminist statement that was overshadowed by a shoe scandal.

Dheepan

Jacques Audiard's film Dheepan was the surprise success of the festival, wrong-footing most critics by taking out the top prize, the Palme d'Or. Audiard is a Cannes festival regular and well respected film maker in France, best known for his gritty prison drama The Prophet, and killer-whale melodrama Rust and Bone, but few critics tipped him to win this year.

His film Dheepan tells the story of a Tamil Tiger fighter who escapes Sri Lanka with a fake family composed of strangers, only to wind up on a tough housing estate in France where he is forced to deal with a drug turf-war.

The decision to award Dheepan to top prize was "baffling" because, while Audiard is "a brilliant director", this film "wasn't his finest work", says The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw.

There could be no accusations of French chauvinism though, as the jury was led by America's Coen brothers and included only one French national, actress Sophie Marceau.

Carol

Many commentators had expected American director Todd Haynes' film Carol, about a lesbian love affair in 1950s America, to win the top prize, and for Cate Blanchett, one of its leads, to pick up the best actress award.

In the end, the film did nab a best actress award, but for the film's younger co-star Rooney Mara. Mara shared the prize with Emmanuelle Bercot, who played a lovesick lawyer in the romantic melodrama Mon Roi.

But despite the disappointment of not picking up the top prize, Carol is still tipped for Oscars and box office success in the coming year.

The Assassin

Other films that had created a buzz at Cannes and went on to win prizes were The Assassin, a lyrical martial-arts drama from Hou Hsiao-Hsien; and Son of Saul, a Holocaust drama from the first-time Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes.

Hou went won best director, while Son of Saul picked up the Grand Prix.

The Daily Telegraph's critic Robbie Collin was also bemused by some of the Cannes jury's decisions, calling the awards "mostly exasperating" for critics, but he admitted that Hou's The Assassin was a deserving winner.

Collin writes that The Assassin is "among the very best films I have ever seen at Cannes, and one of the most purely beautiful I have ever seen anywhere".

The Lobster

There was some good news for the UK and Ireland among the awards, with the much talked about The Lobster. Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos's surreal black comedy starring Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell as singleton's in a world of enforced coupledom, was given the Jury Prize, the festival's bronze medal.

Hollywood hits and misses

Hollywood might not have won any top prizes, but it came out of the festival a winner with some of its out of competition hits. Mad Max: Fury Road was a rousing success when it screened at Cannes, as was Inside Out, Pixar's complex animated film adventure set inside a small girl's brain.

Another American director in competition, Gus Van Sant, turned out to be one of the competitions losers. His film The Sea of Trees, about a man who travels to Japan to commit suicide, bombed at its screening, drawing loud boos from the audience scathing reviews afterwards.

High heel scandal

But many commentators agreed that the festival's biggest loser was its antiquated and confusing dress code. Festival organisers had been proud to proclaim this the year of 'la femme', with women in film dominating many aspects of Cannes.

But while they were congratulating themselves for a rare festival opening by a female director - Emmanuelle Bercot's Standing Tall, and more women than ever on the Cannes jury, the festival's biggest scandal blew up.

Surprisingly, it wasn't the 3D sex film Love that caused the scandal, but reports that overzealous security guards denied several women access to the red carpet entrance because they were wearing flats instead of heels, says Steve Pond on the The Wrap.

The festival quickly denied that its dress code specified heels. But by that point the damage was done.

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