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Cannes 2014 predictions: Who will win the coveted Palme d'Or?

No standout candidate has emerged this year for the hotly contested prize

The Palme d’Or is the prize that many consider more important than the Oscars. It’s a prize that seems to treat cinema from all around the world on equal merit.

But this year, it has become obvious that there is no standout candidate.

In years with no obvious winner, Cannes juries have usually made politically expedient decisions and gone for the director who has made a good film - probably not their best film - but whose body of work and outstanding contribution to cinema have made him or her deserving of the prize.

It’s why Winter Sleep by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan was the bookies’ favourite before the festival started, and for my money why he remains so.

But it’s too close to call. The British entries by Ken Loach and Mike Leigh have a chance, especially Leigh’s JMW Turner biopic, which stars Timothy Spall in the title role.

Cannes usually has a policy of spreading the prizes between the films, which makes predicting the outcome even harder. But that hasn’t stopped me.

Cannes 2014 predictions

Palme d’or: Winter Sleep

Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Winters Sleep is tipped to win the Palme d'Or

Mike Leigh's Mr Turner, the Dardennes Brothers ' Two Days, One Night or Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher could win the big prize, but I’m still of the belief that Turkish pre-festival favourite directed by Nuri-Bilge Ceylan will scoop the trophy. 

Grand Prix – The Jury prize: Mommy


While some consider this the second prize, it’s not as straight forward as thinking that one of the candidates that lose out on the Palme d’Or will win this prize.

I see this as a battle between Naomi Kawase's Still the Water and Xavier Dolan's Mommy, and something tells me that the Montreal enfant terrible is going to pip the more formal Japanese auteur. The outside candidate is Andrey Zvyagintsev's Leviathan.

Best Actor: Timothy Spall, JMW Turner, Mr Turner

AN42481931Mr Turnerpress fi.jpg
Timothy Spall stars in Mike Leigh's new film Mr Turner


This will be a battle between Timothy Spall and Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher. I think the Oscars is when Carell will be rewarded for going against type and playing a straight role.

Best Actress: Anne Dorval, Mommy or Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night


This is the toughest one to call, as there are several good candidates. Julianne Moore is hilarious as a frustrated actor in Maps to the Stars, Juliette Binoche is supreme as an ageing actress in Clouds of Sils Maria, but a lot will depend on whether the jury decides to give Dolon another prize or the film two prizes.

I personally thing Dorval’s performance as the annoying title character in Dolon’s film was the best of the whole festival, but we may see the jury share out the prizes, and Cotillard playing a working class mother trying to convince her colleagues to forgo their bonus so she can keep her job might win. 

Best Director: Abderrahmane Sissako, Timbuktu


This is the most open category. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jean-Luc Godard picked up the prize for the sheer inventiveness of his use of 3D in Goodbye to Language. Kawase is another who may get the prize, or Britain may win with Leigh. But I think the combination of beautiful images, topical subject matter and narrative vibrancy will see French-Mali Sissako win for Timbuktu, a film about Islamists taking over a town.

Some have argued that it’s the year for a female director to win, and of the two female directors on show I would suggest that Japan’s Naomi Kawase with her first love tale Still The Water stands a better chance than Alice Rohrwacher’s Italian rural drama The Wonders.