The highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the Palme d’Or, often goes to arthouse films with important social messages. These films explore new horizons of cinematography and often impress cinephiles more than Academy Award winners. The purpose of the Cannes Film Festival is “to draw attention to and raise the profile of films, with the aim of contributing towards the development of cinema, boosting the film industry worldwide and celebrating cinema at an international level.”
In the 2010s, many great movies won the Palme d’Or. Parasite became only the third film in history to win both the Academy Award’s and Cannes Film Festival’s grand prizes. Michael Haneke and Ken Loach won Cannes’ highest prize for the second time, and their films, Amour and I, Daniel Blake, really deserved it. Here are all ten Palme d’Or winners of the 2010s, Ranked.
10 Blue Is the Warmest Colour
Blue Is the Warmest Colour is a sensual story about first love. The 2013 Cannes Film Festival-vining romance film detailing the relationships between 15-year-old Adèle (played by Adèle Exarchopoulos) and an older blue-haired art student Emma (played by Léa Seydoux). A movie about female sexuality was made by a man, Abdellatif Kechiche. Because of this, Blue Is the Warmest Colour is often criticized. On top of that, Exarchopoulos and Seydoux told Daily Beast that filming Blue Is the Warmest Colour was horrible; one sex scene took 10 days to shoot; the actresses were uncomfortable and felt manipulated. Although this film is truly one of the most realistic love stories, we can’t forget how it was filmed.
Jacques Audiard’s 2015 French crime drama Dheepan is a radical and powerful movie about the immigrant experience. The film follows Tamil refugees from war-torn Sri Lanka. Dheepan and two strangers, who pose as his family, flee their country to find themselves in Paris – but starting a new life is not so easy. “We see migrants as people who have no faces and no names, no identity, no unconscious, no dreams. And what happens to all the violence they’ve been through? I wanted to give them a name, a face, a shape – and give them a violence of their own,” Jacques Audiard told The Guardian.
8 I, Daniel Blake
Directed by Ken Loach, this 2016 British drama follows a widowed 59-year-old man, Daniel Blake, who is unable to work after a heart attack. With Daniel struggling to navigate the bureaucracy of the toxic social security system. I, Daniel Blake is a sad film about a battle of vulnerable people for their lives. Daniel’s heartbreaking speech from a desperate man lost in the system, when he says “I am not a blip on a computer screen or a national insurance number, I am a man,” makes us think about the injustice around us and how we can change it.
7 Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
In 2010, the poetic and unquestionably strange art drama Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul won the Palme d’Or. One of the most surrealistic movies ever about reincarnation (or anything else, really) centers on a terminally ill man, Boonmee, who spends his last days with the ghost of his dead wife and the spirit of his long-lost son. Boonmee travels through his past lives in order to understand his karma. It is a truly hypnotic movie that explores Buddhist ideas with artistry and compassion.
Winner of the 2018 Palme d’Or, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters centers on a Japanese family of small-time crooks, their life becomes dramatic after the family rescue a little girl who is hiding from her abusive parents. For a while, the clan of petty thievery looks happier than many blood relatives. The subject of this complex drama is the family, a topic that helps to explore a lot of themes, including poverty, trauma, and loss. It’s simply one of the best Japanese movies of recent years.
5 The Square
Winner of the 2017 Palme d’Or, Ruben Östlund’s high-concept satirical film The Square is dedicated to contemporary art. The film follows Christian, the director of an art museum in Stockholm, who plans a controversial exhibition. The promotion of this exhibition with the square leads to a terrible thing that goes viral and shocks everyone. This film feels like a performance itself, so The Square should be a must-watch on every modern art lover’s movie list. It also has one of the best Elisabeth Moss performances.
4 The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life took home the Palme d’Or in 2011, beating out notable films such as The Artist, Melancholia, Drive, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and others. Terrence Malick’s art film is a visually very beautiful tale of Jack’s (played as an adult by Sean Penn) life story. The Tree of Life explores not only Jack’s childhood memories, his gentle mother (played by Jessica Chastain), and strict father (played by Brad Pitt) – but examines the origins of life, nature versus nurture, and the meaning of everything. The film is shot through with biblical ideas and strong religious themes, though can be loved by anyone regardless of spirituality; The Tree of Life should be seen more than once to find all the symbolism.
3 Winter Sleep
Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the director of Winter Sleep, and his wife and co-screenwriter, Ebru Ceylan, did a beautiful job creating this film based on Anton Chekhov’s novella The Wife. Winter Sleep runs over three hours, but as Variety wrote, “it is the least boring 196-minute movie ever made.” The story is set in Anatolia, which constitutes the major part of Turkey. The film tells a painful story about a failing marriage. The melancholic winter landscape contrasts with the conflicts between a former actor who wants to write a book about Turkish theater, Aydin, and his young wife Nihal. It is a heartbreaking and emotional movie.
Parasite won not only the Palme d’Or but also the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 dark comedy thriller is definitely one of the 2010s greatest movies. Parasite follows a poor South Korean family, the Kims, who dares to commit a crazy scam in order to become their version of a wealthy family, the Parks. The New York Times described Parasite as “wildly entertaining, the kind of smart, generous, aesthetically energized movie that obliterates the tired distinctions between art films and popcorn movies,” and is thus a film that should be seen by all.
Coming in at number one on our list for every Palme d’Or winner of the 2010s is the 2012 romantic drama Amour. This is arguably the most heartbreaking and emotional romance movie ever made. Amour stars the great Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant as an elderly couple, Anne and Georges. After a surgery that goes wrong, Anna makes her husband promise to care for her and not to send her to the hospital. Michael Haneke transformed this sad story into a dark but beautiful masterpiece about true ultimate love. Critics applauded Amour, with The New York Times noting, “after its debut at Cannes this film already feels permanent.”
Every Best Picture Oscar Winner of the 2010s Ranked