Popular winner in Cannes, U.S. films the big losers

Mon May 28, 2012 6:31am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White and Alexandria Sage

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Critics lauded the Cannes film festival jury on Monday for awarding director Michael Haneke's "Love" (Amour) the coveted Palme d'Or for best picture, justifying its status as favorite going into Sunday night's awards ceremony.

The Austrian has now won the top prize at the world's biggest cinema showcase twice, joining a small elite of multiple winners and cementing his place as a master of film making.

Slow and understated, Love's portrayal of an elderly French couple facing the last stages of life had audiences in tears and critics rushing off to write five-star reviews virtually across the board.

Its victory was particularly welcome in France, with the stars of the movie, both in their 80s, highly respected names in French cinema.

"The names of Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant ... will play in the public eye like a French victory," said Le Parisien newspaper.

Conspicuous in their absence from the awards ceremony that wrapped up the 12-day festival on the French Riviera were U.S. productions, five of which made it into the main competition of 22 entries.

Not even the acting talent of A-listers Nicole Kidman and Brad Pitt, alongside hot emerging Hollywood names like Jessica Chastain, Tom Hardy and Zac Efron, was enough to win over the judges led by Italian director Nanni Moretti.

Turn the clock back a year, and U.S. director Terrence Malick was winning the Palme d'Or for "The Tree of Life" and Kirsten Dunst scooped the actress award for her role in Lars Von Trier's apocalyptic epic "Melancholia".   Continued...

Director Michael Haneke poses with actors Emmanuelle Riva (L) and Jean-Louis Trintignant (R) during a photocall after receiving the Palme d'Or award for the film "Amour" (Love) at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, May 27, 2012. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier