Past winners lead the pack for Cannes film award

Sat May 26, 2012 6:17pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The 2012 Cannes film festival ends on Sunday evening with the award of the Palme d'Or for best picture at a red carpet gala ceremony, the climax of a 12-day blur of screenings, photo shoots, parties and deal making.

As thousands of journalists, critics, executives and stars head home and luxury yachts weigh anchor for their next port of call, the big question is who will walk away with one of the most coveted film prizes after the Oscars.

Two previous winning directors are favorites, although up to half of the 22 entries in the main competition in Cannes this year have been named as potential victors.

Austria's Michael Haneke wowed Cannes yet again this year with "Amour" (Love), a stately tale of death and what it means for an elderly couple living in a Parisian apartment.

Set almost entirely in a single building, Haneke is typically unflinching in his film making, and the result had audiences in Cannes moved to tears.

"Whatever his message, the spell of this incandescent film will be an elevating memory," wrote Mary Corliss in Time Magazine. "In the history of movies about love, Amour lasts forever."

The two leading actors, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, are both in their 80s, and their memorable performances underlined a year in which the actors, particularly male, have universally impressed.

The other former winner in the leading pack for the Palme d'Or is Romania's Cristian Mungiu, whose "Beyond the Hills" is another austere tale of a couple's tragedy, this time two young women living together in a remote convent.   Continued...

Cast members Matthew McConaughey (R) and Reese Witherspoon arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Mud", in competition at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, May 26, 2012. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier