Last year, the Cannes Film Festival rapturously welcomed Mad Max: Fury Road, the latest in George Miller‘s wildly inventive franchise, with the same kind of passion that audiences and cinephiles did stateside. The film screened out of competition, along with Pixar’s lovely Inside Out and Woody Allen‘s superb Irrational Man, but was reportedly the film that no one could stop talking about, which isn’t surprising. Meanwhile, in the competition, the Coen brothers, who served as jury president, awarded the top prize, the Palme d’Or, to Jacques Audiard‘s middling Dheepan, which edged out major new works from Todd Haynes (Carol), Jia Zhang-ke (the upcoming, astounding Mountains May Depart), Hou Hsiao-hsien (The Assassin), Denis Villeneuve (Sicario), and Laszlo Nemes (Son of Saul).
There’s no word as of yet as to what we should be expecting at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which bows in the middle of May, but Miller will be returning to the festival to serve as jury president this year. It would be nice to think that this would make an argument for a bit more daring perspective on the films that will hit the 69th iteration of the festival, steering it away from the track record of the Palme d’Or going to the blandly humanistic or cheaply provocative (with a few memorable exceptions), but that’s not necessarily likely. Miller will be sharing the jury room with a mixed bag of international film stars, screenwriters, and filmmakers, and no matter the ambitions and taste of the president, the award tends to be rather obviously political.
Of course, we’ll have to wait to get a gander at the film’s in this year’s competition to see what exactly we should be expecting as far as who will be anointed with the Palme d’Or. As cynical as I may be about the award in general, it’s worth pointing out that the prize has gone to out-and-out masterworks like Apichatpong Weerasethakul‘s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life, Abdellatif Kechiche‘s Blue is the Warmest Color, and Cristian Mungiu‘s 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days over the last decade. Miller might very well steer his jury to a similar crowning.