Palme d’Or winners: What a Turner events! Timothy Spall wins Best Actor award at Cannes Film Festival

English actor triumphs as eccentric artist, while the Turkish film ‘Winter Sleep’ takes Palme d’Or

Kitty Knowles
Monday 26 May 2014 09:22
Timothy Spall with the other winners at the awards ceremony
Timothy Spall with the other winners at the awards ceremony

British actor Timothy Spall has won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his role as the eccentric British artist in Mr Turner, directed by Mike Leigh.

Julianne Moore was named Best Actress for her performance as the crazed Hollywood dame in David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars.

And the bookies’ favourite, Winter Sleep – a Turkish film by director Nuri Bilge Ceylan – won the prestigious Palme d’Or.

Best Screenplay, meanwhile, was taken by Andrei Zvyaginstev for the hauntingly shot Leviathan – a tragic social drama set in contemporary Russia.

Of the 18 films competing for the Palme, Leviathan was also a favourite, with fierce competition from veteran filmmakers, such as French-Swiss director Jean Luc Godard, with Goodbye to Language, and the Belgian Dardenne brothers with working-class drama Two Days, One Night (a festival standout performance here by Marion Cotillard).

British rivals for the prize, awarded this year by a jury led by New Zealander Jane Campion, whose film The Piano won in 1993, included directors Ken Loach, with Jimmy’s Hall, an Irish period drama about political activist Jimmy Gralton, who was deported for building a dance hall, and Mr Turner, which also starred Lesley Manville. Briton Robert Pattinson, of Twilight, also featured in Maps to the Stars; he worked with Cronenberg in his 2012 Palme challenger, Cosmopolis.

Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan (L) poses with Festival President Gilles Jacob (R) after winning the Palme d'Or

This year’s ceremony moved to Saturday from its traditional Friday slot due to the European elections, while Cannes organisers also did away with the traditional Sunday night closing screening.

Separately, Daisy Jacobs, 26, of Portsmouth, saw her film The Bigger Picture screened, after coming third in the Cinéfondation student competition.

Also celebrating his festival debut was British editor-turned-director Andrew Hulme. His gritty East End drama Snow in Paradise, a real-life story of a petty criminal who turns to Islam, was a surprise Palme nominee. Snubbed by the National Lottery and the BFI, Hulme turned to crowd-funding platform Kickstarter and European investors to bring his film to cinema screens.

Ben Roberts, BFI Fund director, was delighted with the British showing. “Hearty felicitations to Timothy Spall, whose richly deserved best-actor win crowns a hat trick of awards for UK film talent,” he said. Newcomer writer Stephen Beresford’s Pride won the Queer Palm award, and Gaëlle Denis’s Crocodile scooped the Critics’ Week Canal+ prize for best short film.

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